As soon as those first drops of blood trickled between my thighs, my world changed. I was a girl with short hair, one who loved playing with her brothers, but now I was being told, repeatedly, to ‘behave like a woman’. This was my teenage, in a family run by a strong single mother and all I wanted was to escape.

In July 2016, I travelled to the Himalayas documenting two young girls, Manisha and Babita. Holding on to each other’s hands, they were best friends. Our friendship too, blossomed with teenage intensity. Amidst lush pine forests, beneath a blanket of mist, we would walk for miles together, giggling and confiding. It was strangely familiar yet different, as I witnessed the fragility of teen age unfold. My bond became so strong that I would keep returning to the place year after year.

Life in the mountains is particularly harsh for women. Their days are filled with household chores, often locked in toxic smoke filled tiny rooms. These teenagers were already exposed to this harshness. They were not obsessing over shoes or daydreaming about their first kiss or concerned about their changing bodies. They did not fear ‘becoming a woman’. They were already treated as one.

Nature, though, was a haven. I documented their lives spontaneously. The photographs shown here are but a slice of their lives. I only focused on the tender moments, free of any sort of worry and expectations. The moments which allowed them to escape their reality.

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