We have been raised in a society that lays down so many rules and norms around what women should and shouldn’t do. And, in the hope of being an ideal daughter, sanskari bahu and a perfect mother, many of us align to those unfair norms against our wishes & dreams. At times, we are later disappointed by the fact that whatever we do would never be enough. And, then one fine day, a restless regret pops up in our head –“I wish I would have lived life on my own terms. I would have made decisions to build my life the way I wanted & not what society wanted.”
But some of us gather the courage to break the age-old norms and live the life that we wish for. And are labeled as rebels. And, one such rebel is Sudha Murthy.
If you are a strong independent Indian woman, who is trying hard to create her own place in men’s dominated world, or a parent who is raising a brave daughter, you will relate to Sudha Murthy’s badass take on life.
While sharing one such instance about being the only girl in an engineering college, a course considered only for men at the time, Sudha Murthy said:
“I was a seventeen-year-old girl with an abundance of courage, confidence and the dream to become an engineer. I came from an educated, though middle-class, conservative Brahmin family. I had always been fascinated with science, even more so with its application. Engineering was one of those branches of science that would allow me to utilize my creativity, especially in design. But it was as if I had dropped a bomb inside our house. The immediate reaction was of shock. Engineering was clearly an all-male domain and hence considered a taboo for girls in those days.”
But it wasn’t only her family that had concerns about her engineering dream. She shares about how even her college’s principal was skeptical of her joining the course.
“He (the principal) told my father, “Doctor Sahib, I know that your daughter is very intelligent and that she has been given admission only because of merit, but I’m afraid we have some problems. She will be the only girl in college. It is going to be difficult for her. First, we don’t have a ladies’ toilet on campus. We don’t have a ladies’ room for her to relax either. Second, our boys are young with raging hormones and I am sure that they will trouble her.”
Recalling her struggles and harassment that she faced at the hands of the boys in her college for being the only girl, she shared:
“When I entered the room on the ground floor, there were 149 pairs of eyes staring at me as though I were some kind of an exotic animal. It was true though. I was the one hundred and fiftieth animal in this zoo! I knew that some of them wanted to whistle but I kept a straight face and looked around for a place to sit. The first bench was empty. As I was about to sit there, I saw that someone had spilt blue ink right in the middle of the seat. This was obviously meant for me. I felt tears threatening to spill over, but I blinked them away.”
In another instance, she shared:
At times, they would throw paper airplanes at my back. Unfolding the papers, I would find comments such as, “A woman’s place is in the kitchen or in medical science or as a professor, definitely not in an engineering college.” Others would read, “We really pity you. Why are you performing penance like Goddess Parvati? At least Parvati had a reason for it. She wanted to marry Shiva. Who is your Shiva?” I would keep the paper planes and refrain from replying.”
However, Sudha never gave up on her dreams & herself. Rather than letting people pull her down, she went about her studies and gave it back to the boys by bagging the first rank in the university.
“In time, I became unfazed that my marks were displayed on the notice board. On the contrary, I was proud that I was beating all the boys at their own game as I kept bagging the first rank in the university.”
In today’s world, when many of us are pushing the societal boundaries to find our rightful place in society, Sudha Murthy’s story is a source of inspiration for us. It’s a compelling lesson to stay persistent and most importantly, never let anyone come in the way of your dreams. No matter who they are!
Like Sudha Murthy, if you are also one of thoseREBELSwho never gave up in the face of adversity and never let anyone come in the way of your dreams, please share your inspiring story with us. You can read the entire excerpt here.