via Humans of Bombay:
“While growing up, I lived in a cramped 1 BHK with 9 other people. We had so many problems, that sending a young girl like me to school, seemed like a complete waste to my family, but still, my parents found a way to send me to school. I’d wake up early, help my mother cook, go to school, come back home and help with the housework. Often, I’d squeeze in studying pages between my chores and at night I would hide under my blanket and study using a torch. If ever I got caught, my uncles would make an issue of how my parents were wasting money by sending a ‘girl’ to school.
It was around that time that my mother got pregnant and went to a female gynecologist. I still remember when I saw the doctor for the first time — she came in a big car, had an amazing aura and commanded respect from both men and women. She was everything I ever wanted to be and that’s when I decided that I wouldn’t let my uncles or anyone else tell me how worthy I was.
I studied my heart out and stood first in my center during the 10th, passed my 12th with flying colors and then decided to pursue my MBBS. I was going to become a doctor.
Still, the patriarchy continued — no one cared about my exams or how hard studying medicine is. I still remember, before my final exam my grandmother fell ill, so I was given a tonne of work. I couldn’t even touch my books all night — I woke up in the morning, exhausted and underprepared but I still gave the exam and miraculously passed!
When I finally became a doctor, I was married off to another doctor and was given the responsibility of taking care of him and his 6 siblings. Still, everything had prepared me for this and I continued to pursue my gynecology and finally, in 1962, I became the first gynecologist to open a clinic in Malad!
My husband and I both contributed towards our first home and every step of the way then on, we were equals. From earning for our children to building a life — we’ve been equal partners. Today, I’m 81 and teaching young girls with the hope that I can inspire them with my story.
I was always ‘told’ what to do, and there were always ‘expectations’ from me — only because I was born a girl. Even though it’s taken decades for me to prove otherwise, I’d do it all over again only because I know I matter and I can make a difference.”
Originally appeared in Humans of Bombay’s Facebook Page.