"I got married when I was in Class 10 to a perfect stranger. I even distributed sweets in my school to celebrate my engagement. Soon after my wedding, I found out that I stood first in the matriculation finals. This was when my journey as a bahu and an aspiring academician started. I learnt to juggle recipes and notes. The intervals between pressure cooker whistles were the perfect study periods. Thanks to the blotches on my notes, my classmates could even tell which daal I had cooked that day. Since my in-laws were not enthusiastic about my academic career and didn’t want to pay for my studies, I funded my entire education through scholarships.
I still remember the day - I had been worried about how many spoons of butter to put in butter chicken - when my friend called to tell me that I stood first in my university’s undergraduate programme. I wasn’t able to collect my results for weeks because of all the work that I had to do at home.
During the two years of the Master's program, I couldn’t attend a single lecture. Not only had my responsibilities at home increased, but my mother-in-law had also started facing health issues. The burden of running the household efficiently and juggling that with my studies fell on me. I would tidy the house, cook food and then run to the exam hall for my exams. When all this effort paid off in the form of the second position in the programme, people wondered how many hours my day had. In the meantime, I decided to do a PhD. Now that my dreams were close to being realised, I worked even harder. I ensured that my mother-in-law’s stay at the hospital was as comfortable as I could make it, while also working on a thesis that I had to ensure was authentic.
Today, I am a professor at a prominent college in Patna and have been serving as the head of the Philosophy department for a number of years. People say that my grit and determination in the face of overwhelming odds have brought me to where I am today. I wonder, though, whether my life is truly inspiring or the story of pretty much any married woman."