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Anu

Battery Shop Associate,
Ola Futurefactory

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“One day, in the middle of a quiet classroom, I asked a friend of mine, ‘What do you want to become when you grow up?’ Playing with her long oiled braid, she whispered, ‘Amma says I’ll be a good wife!’ I didn’t get it — why didn’t she want to be something… someone? With a puffed chest, I told her, ‘I’ll be an engineer and work at a big company!’ She just laughed. 

Her laughter raised a ‘what if’ inside of me — ‘What if my parents eventually want this too?’ I walked the dusty path home with sunken shoulders. But as I reached home, Appa was waiting with a booklet in his hands — it had information about a diploma course. 

Although we lived in a tiny home that barely housed the 4 of us, I had a small secluded space where I could study. So, I went there and did a little dance! I realised Appa would never be the thorn in my dreams-Appa was the reason I had dreams! He’d tell Amma, ‘My girls are my strengths.’ 

"And I just wanted to give him more reasons to be proud."

I was in 10th at the time and so, I left no leaf unturned in my preparations.

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But a few months later, my world came to a screeching halt when Appa, our biggest support system, left us. Seeing him lay lifeless was my worst nightmare. The next few days were a blur. 

I couldn’t bring myself to accept it or face it. I just went along with the formalities of the funeral. It was only after a week, that seeing a garland on Appa’s picture, a wave of grief hit me. I broke down. I cried my heart out and stopped only when I saw Amma’s sunken figure in a corner. 

 It broke my heart to see her state. She’d somehow aged 10 years in the last 7 days worried sick by having to keep us afloat. It was only after talking to her that I realised how bad our situation was. 

We were already knee-deep in debt when Appa was alive, and now with funeral costs and other expenses, we were left with nothing. I felt a sense of responsibility land on my shoulders as I took Amma’s hands in mine and promised her, ‘I got it from here — I’ll get us out of this!’ Her whimpers turned into sobs, and with each sob, my resolve doubled. 

We couldn’t afford the school fees so my sister and I had to quit. With a heavy heart, we sold off our books and whatever was left of Amma’s jewellery. It pinched me to part from things that Appa had so lovingly bought. But the hunger was painful—we needed to feed our stomachs. 

Later, I got a job at a nearby cell-phone repair shop as a receptionist. I considered myself lucky to be able to put food on the table — I even opened a bank account and started loving the sound of the ATM each time I withdrew cash. But as happy as I was, I mourned for my broken dreams.

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Over two years went by like this. And that’s when I realised that Amma had been seeing my strife all along. One day, she came to me and lovingly caressed my head saying, ‘Your Appa would have never wanted you to give up on your dreams—don’t let him down!’ And then she showed me the booklet about that diploma course. Looking at it, I broke down and felt all the built-up tension inside me dissolve. 

I was determined to make something out of my life — that’s what Appa would’ve wanted. I took out an education loan and boarded a train to Bangalore. 

I worked hard for 3 years. I couldn’t go home for months at a time—I never had the money. Some nights, I went to bed starving. But I kept telling myself, ‘This will pass soon.’ And at the end of those 3 years, when I walked up for my convocation, I felt I’d won the world! I told Amma that day, ‘It’s only up from here!’ 

Immediately after, I started looking for jobs. And this time, I wasn’t just looking out of desperation to feed my family, but for a gateway to my dreams. And shortly, I found that gateway in the form of Ola — I was selected as a Trainee! I felt happy tears roll down my cheeks; I couldn’t believe I had a real job! 

I was put in charge of testing every battery before it was installed in the scooters and loved every minute of it. Each day at my job has been like a huge playground for the science geek inside me. 

Now, I am happy that not only do I get to work on my passion, but I also support my family completely—I’ve started repaying my loan and I even helped Amma set up her tailoring business. 

""Today, I'm the 'someone' I aspired to be — wherever Appa is, I hope he is proud!”"

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