Women personify perseverance. They battle it out with life, fight against the odds, and withstand the storms, to reach where they want to be. Be it their personal life or professional, women need to be fighters to get what they want.
However, the fight is harder for some women than for others. And for some, it is no less than a fully blown out day-to-day war. Supraja Sirala from Hyderabad is one such woman who has battled every hurdle in her way for her basic rights of education and happiness.
Born in a conservative middle-class South Indian family, Supraja dreamt of making it big in the corporate world. Her childhood dreams were to see herself sitting in a boardroom taking decisions and leading people.
When she joined one of the top engineering colleges in the city, she was sure she was moving towards her goal. But then her parents wanted her to focus elsewhere. When she was in the third year of her college, her parents got an irresistible marriage proposal for her.
Just as any dutiful daughter would do, she said yes, as she didn’t want to hurt her parents. Also, there was no reason to say no, as her parents and to-be-husband agreed for her condition that she would continue her college after marriage. Thus, she got married as early as 19, an age when girls still talk about their crush in college.
True to their promise, Supraja’s family made sure she continued her education. But fate had something else in store. She accidentally conceived within a month of her marriage. The couple was not ready for a baby but they decided to go ahead with it.
Pregnancy, too, didn’t stop her from attending classes, even if it meant traveling four hours in a bus every day. Imagine a young to-be-mother traveling so long, and then sitting the whole day in a classroom trying to focus on the lectures. Not just that, she had to climb a staircase to reach her classroom on the fourth floor. And she did that even in her ninth month!
All this amidst the regular pregnancy woes like nausea and vomiting. In fact, the bouts of vomiting were so severe that she would vomit blood and her trachea was slightly damaged.
Then what she has been dreaming of all through her college days has happened. She got selected in Tech Mahindra’s campus placement in her third year. It was a dream come true, alas at the wrong time. She had to reject the offer because of her pregnancy and the upcoming responsibilities.
In the final year, all hell broke out for her. She had to shift priorities due to her pregnancy and delivery. This meant she had to take long leaves from college. She couldn’t put up the attendance that was mandatory to appear for exams.
Her only hope was that her principal would consider hers a special case and allow her to appear for the examinations. She used to wait outside the principal’s room for an appointment and plead with her to let her write the exams, as all the effort that she had put in for three years would go wasted.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t convince the college management. Going by the rule book, she was told that colleges do not have maternity breaks! Repeated pleas from her and her family fell on deaf ears and she was detained in the final year.
Supraja was determined to complete her graduation. She joined back in the college and did her fourth year again. But this time her husband had to pay Rs 1 lakh for that one year!
She struck back with a vengeance and never missed a class. But that wasn’t easy. She didn’t have any friends in the class, as all of them were her juniors. They would give her weird looks, and gossip about her – something which was so painful that she would weep secretly.
The determined young girl says she would have never been able to pass through that phase without the strong support she got from her husband and parents-in-law. Her mother-in-law would take care of the baby when Supraja was in college. She would call her mother-in-law every two hours to check on her baby.
Only a mother can understand how much Supraja must have missed her months-old daughter, her smiles, and her warmth. And how guilty she must have felt for not being able to hold the little one close to her bosom and breastfeed her.
At the end of the year, she came out with flying colors and cracked all the campus placements that she attended. She chose to attend an interview with Amazon and thus began her career.
Supraja’s daughter was nine months old when she started working. She was working in shifts, which was insane, but she could do that with the continuous support of her husband and mother-in-law.
However, she couldn’t continue the shift job for long, and now she works with IncNut Digital, the parent company of MomJunction. Her daughter is two years old and is in pre-school.
After almost four years of struggle, Supraja’s life seems to have stabilized, at least until she embarks on her next adventure!
While getting married early and having a baby almost immediately is her decision, MomJunction salutes the grit of this young lady, on a day when we are celebrating womanhood and its magic.