By: Rana Pratap Saikia
It is said that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. However, one could be forgiven for overlooking the heroic potential in Onen Nenty — bubbly, chic, stylish, the quintessential ‘girl-next-door’. Yet, she is the same Ao girl from who grabbed national headlines after the Nagaland Governor flagged her off on a solo trip to all the 11 districts of the state carrying the message of ‘women empowerment’. What is the secret behind her meteoric rise to stardom? The 27-year-old biker reveals it all in an exclusive interaction with Inside Northeast.
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Believe it or not, her whole journey started with a scooty! “I had an accident during my college days, and couldn’t walk far. Then, my mother, out of the generosity of her heart, decided to buy me a scooty”, reveals the bubbly Nenty.
This Ao-tribe girl from Mokokchung district’s Chuchuyimpang village soon discovered that she truly enjoyed the thrill of riding a two-wheeler and was soon riding superbikes around Kohima town! ” I had some guy friends…bikers…who had these really fast, really amazing bikes. They taught me how to ride them, and soon, I would zoom around town on the bikes. Needless to say, people started noticing that”, she adds.
However, Onen Nenty soon discovered the price of fame when some social media users started rebuking her for her passion and was horrified at the criticism directed at her from her own Naga brethren. “Stop wasting your parents’ money and go work in your kitchen” was perhaps the harshest comment she had received, and it got her thinking.
“There is no tag that says bikes are for boys, is there? I simply wanted to end the stigma that is attached to girls riding bikes, which is what took me towards my next step..”, says the Naga beauty.
Finally, she decided to go on the solo tour to all the districts of her state and interact with women. Friends, well wishers, and family chimed in with financial contributions, and soon, she had enough money to begin the voyage.
To begin the trip, however, she had to quit her lucrative job at a multinational bank. Was it difficult? “Not quite, to be honest”, she smiles, adding that she had found a greater calling, however she still cherishes hee experience as a banker. “I am thankful for what the job taught me. Being a bank employee, you learn patience–perseverance–discipline–so, I am thankful. In fact, there was a time when I was unemployed, so the bank job came knocking at just the right time”, she says.
She was flagged off from Kohima amid much fanfare by then-Governor PB Acharya, and it was widely circulated in the media that she was taking the message of women empowerment with her, but to what extent was she successful?
“Well, I wanted to meet the NGOs, the women’s organizations, and the bikers across the state. It gave me great joy to discuss the problems with the women and to try and find solutions their issues”, she reveals.
Nenty says that she discovered that although women are empowered, educated, and enlightened, they are still lagging behind when it comes to decision-making.
And she believes she can help them with her motto, “PASSION WITH A MISSION“. “My mission is to met different women and get inspired by their stories, and its well and good if they get inspired by my solo tour story. We inspire each other and give hope to each other. Sometimes, even the president of India needs inspiration, and we need to be there for each other. Women should never have to grow up believing there are limitations to their dreams..”, she says.
She reveals that although women in Nagaland are educated and smart, they are only comfortable in their comfort zones. “I want to encourage women to come out of their comfort zones and go beyond the kitchen. Life is just not about kitchen for women. We are here in this earth to fulfil God’S purpose. We are gifted and talented people. We must make use of these opportunities and put smile on each other’s faces”, she adds.
The biggest obstacles that Onen Nenty faced during her ‘women empowerment’ tour? Social media trolls! “Yes, it is true. There is still little acceptance among guys. They treat ‘women empowerment’ as if it’s a dirty word, and I was attacked by trolls on social media for speaking out about these issues. I believe it is their insecurity speaking. It is truly disheartening to see these attacks on women”, says the biker girl from Nagaland, her usual smile giving way to a frown.
Nenty believes that it is time for the men to finally step up and embrace the changes which are taking place. “Naga men verbally support their women, but when it push comes to shove they have this perception of “maiki ase tho mota ki chance debi” (Why give chance to women when men are there?)
This Naga girl is of the belief that nobody should be served anything on a platter, not even women. “Its important to know our women’s rights, but we should also work hard and be capable. Women should never have to grow up believing there are limitations to their dreams”, she says with a tone of finality.
Riding her powerful Royal Enfield Himalayan over the rugged roads, she conquered the roads of Nagaland. “At times, I could hear the sound of mud slushing, and you tend to confused whether you are walking or riding. I truly feel we are lucky to be in the Northeast because of the bountiful of natural beauty in these states”, she smiles.
After vising all the 11 districts, she believes that the dream of women empowerment is not too distant. “I saw that the Government schemes are yet to make an impact in some of the districts. I believe with the proper implementation of these schemes and the development of skills, the women can truly be empowered. Through the development of skillsets, and the inculcation of the zeal of spirit of entrepreneurship, I felt that these women can be truly empowered”, adds Onen Nenty.
Her takeaway from her historic solo tour? “Positivity. That is most important. I have always been very positive, but this tour taught me to be even more positive and fearless. Hopefully, I can take this message of positivity going forward”, she says.
She also wants to quash the rumors that adventurous tours cost a lot of money. “You can definitely go on adventures if you spend within your limits, and as long as there is no GST”, she says, visibly amused at her own joke.
What is next for this woman of the roads? “My next plan is God’s plan”, she says with a mysterious smile.
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