Raised by highly supportive parents who believed in gender equality, Komal Gantara never had to fight for her rights as a girl. But, hardly she knew her life will take an ugly turn as when she will grow up into a woman.
Belonging to a small town in Amreli district, Gujarat, Komal was raised very differently than her friends.
While she was always encouraged to think independently and make her own decisions, her female friends were raised with rigid restrictions set by society and their families.
While sharing her childhood experiences with The Better India (TBI), Komal shared,
“Upbringing makes a lot of difference and determines the kind of person you will be. My father always taught me to dream big and form an identity of my own. His teachings helped me immensely to overcome challenges at every point.”
Though Komal’s parents always gave wings to her to fly high and dream big, hardly they knew that her in-laws will try to chain her down.
After completing her graduation and earning a Visharad degree, Komal soon started preparing for the UPSC exam to become IAS. During this time, her marriage was fixed in 2008 with an NRI from New Zealand.
And, like many other daughters, Komal gave up her dream for the sake of her family and her in-laws. And, at 26, she got married.
Though her husband belonged to an educated family, it seemed that they were no better than the uneducated and backward family.
Her in-laws demanded dowry and even asked her to leave the house when she refused to be a part of such a regressive practice. Within 15 days of her marriage, her husband left for New Zealand, never to return.
This broke Komal and her family. She felt that her life was over. But thanks to her strong upbringing and education, Komal again gathered her strength to take charge of her life.
Komal shared with TBI,
“Taking revenge was never my plan, but I deserved justice.
So, I acted to set the right example for people who think they can get away with wrongdoings, and also for those who believe that justice is not for everyone”
Though she approached the police and the government, it didn’t help. To find her husband, she wrote to the Governor-General of New Zealand but received a disappointing response.
It was this disappointment with the system, which fueled Komal’s determination to bring change.
“At one point, I realised that chasing a man who left me would only disturb my mental peace. I channelised all my emotions and feelings to clear the UPSC exams.”
But society and relatives made sure her journey wasn’t easy.
To avoid social shaming, Komal took up a job as a government teacher in a small village in Bhavnagar, with a meagre salary of Rs 5,000.
Komal knew that she had minimal means to prepare for UPSC. The village had no access to the internet, smartphones, English newspapers or laptops. She had no money to buy books.
But Komal refused to give up!
While sharing her struggle, Komal shared:
“I had no idea how civil aspirants prepared for the exams and that strangely kind of helped me stay calm.
From Monday-Friday I would teach, and on weekends I would travel to Ahmedabad to take the classes.”
In 2012, Komal cleared the civil services exam. No one can deny the struggle that Komal went through is quite inspiring.
Among constant taunts from relatives, traveling long hours, late sleepless nights, Komal made sure to be mentally strong and emerge as a fighter.
Komal is now posted in the Ministry of Defence as an Administrative Officer in Delhi. She remarried and now has a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter named Takshvi.
Today, Komal has everything, and she credits her struggles and difficulties for it,
“If it weren’t for my struggles, I would never have become so strong. My past taught me the virtues of independence and self-sufficiency.”
She further shared with TBI,
“Even now life for women is not a cake-walk. To them, I would say that financial independence and education are significant.
A woman should never depend on anyone; instead, be a strong pillar for her loved ones.”
At IForHer, we salute Komal’s courage and strength.
Her difficult journey could be an inspiration to so many young women who are trying to rewrite their destinies after a bad and ugly phase of life.
If you also know of such an inspiring story, please share it with us to be published on IFORHER platform.