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Babykala

General Assembly Associate,
Ola Futurefactory

babykala-1

“I’ve grown up being fascinated by different shades and colours of sarees that women in our village wear. And then, when I was old enough, those sarees found home in my wardrobe too. In fact, for the next 20 years, that's all I wore!

But that changed last year, when I got a job at Ola. I had to wear t-shirts and pants—that was our uniform. Naturally, I became conscious of being ‘different’ from other girls. On my way to and from work, I’d awkwardly walk through the lanes of my village making sure people wouldn’t pass comments. My heart would beat faster every time I’d cross someone. I’d worry that they would comment on my attire.

I still remember, a few months ago, some of my neighbours were staring at me while I was returning home. Embarrassed, I tried ignoring them, but when the staring didn’t stop, I couldn't take it anymore. Something inside me snapped, and I went up to them and asked, ‘Is there a problem?’

The moment I said those words, my heart started pounding—I’d never taken a stand for myself like that; I wasn’t even used to talking much! But that day, something switched in me.

"What surprised me more was their response! They said, ‘We were talking about how proud we are that a girl from our village is working!’ At first, I couldn’t believe my ears. It took a moment to sink in, and then… my heart was so full!"

At that moment, I could only think about Amma - my Amma, a bidi-seller who raised me against all odds and through every challenge to make sure I got educated!

At that moment, I could only think about Amma - my Amma, a bidi-seller who raised me against all odds and through every challenge to make sure I got educated!

Who thought that a mere bidi-seller wouldn’t just raise her daughter to be independent, but would also nudge an entire village to consider a different possibility?”

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