“Having lost my mother to cancer when I was 10 years old, I was brought up mostly by my older sister and dad. My step mother too supported me and my sisters.
My father always told us we could do whatever we wanted as long as it was educational and useful to us. His main goal was always to make sure all of his children got an education, we even lived right opposite a library. When I was old enough to study seriously, he enrolled me in a Home Science college that taught us creche and preschool training. It is here that I learnt that the first five years of a child’s life is the most influential.
I landed a postal job based on merit, and did my BA simultaneously, but it was at this time that India went into a state of emergency, and all central government jobs were no longer available. While this was expected to last only a couple of years, that ban on the postal department was only lifted this year! My economics professor would say things like “I don’t understand why you women want to study when you’re just going to get married and sit at home”, but I never let it affect me. I knew how much I wanted my education.
In 1987, I got married into a very orthodox family. They followed rules like the women only sitting on the floor, and eating only after the men were finished. However, I did my best to urge the girls of the family to get an education. Even the boys, in fact. They were quite shocked when I first asked them why I couldn’t sit on a chair when it was empty!
At the time, I was working in a school coaching young children, which I managed to continue doing even after having my first child. However, as I mentioned earlier, I knew her first few years were very important and so I quit working. I decided that my childrens’ education is more important than my own, because at the end of the day, they are our future generation! A lot of people would ask me why I gave so much focus to their vocabulary training and reading, but now in hindsight, I know I was right to do it. Alongside this, I also gave tuitions to children in the locality. In the following years, through ups and downs, I learnt the art of sewing soft toys; it wasn’t very hard as I was sewing my own clothes since the 7th grade. I also completed a food technology and entrepreneurship course. I was 50 years old when I restarted my education, but it didn’t hold me back in the least!
Thanks to my father, I learnt the right way to bring up a child. He would always say “Jeevitham lo ee Pani chesina andarini upayoga pade pani cheyyali amma” (Translation: What ever you do in life, ensure it’s helpful for everyone.)
The three R’s were crucial in my household: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Another memory I have is that when I would ask him how I looked in my new clothes, he would tell me that what matters is not on the outside, but on the inside, something I have passed on to my daughters as well.
Both my daughters are now well educated. While my older one has an MBA, my second daughter has a masters’ degree in Livelihood and Social Entrepreneurship. Infact, she actually paid for me to do masters in Koti Women’s College in family counseling at the age of 50.
During this lockdown, I’ve done a course on sustainability, and a distance education course from Venkateshwara University in Tirupati. I’m proud to say I have a library at home for the children I tutor, and have gotten them all involved in planting saplings and promoting conservation. Gardening has always been a passion of mine, and I grow all of my own vegetables on my terrace now. I intend to do my PhD now, I’m going to submit my application soon!
The major opinion I want to put out is that while gender equality should exist in every aspect, it is important to inculcate it into our children from the very beginning. Also, that age is no bar to learning new things. Just look at me!”
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