Thursday, 24 April 2014


Sukanya - all of 19 years, dalit, landless, mother working as a sweeper, father abandoned the family in her early childhood ... a smiling child, a mentor to all the village children. 

She grew up partly in a SC hostel and partly with her grandmother who used to herd sheep. 

In her 10th, she failed her maths paper by a mark, and spent that year grazeing sheep in the forest. She used to tell us stories in the evening. Once a sheep delivered on the way, and she described how all the other sheep would come one by one to look at the baby and the mother, 'just like humans'.
The next year we somehow arranged tutions and stay in Tirupathi the last two months and helped her to pass her 10th, ... She cooked for herself in a dingy shared room and walked four kilometers one way daily to the tution place. She passed her tenth.
Next we suggested she do an ANM nursing course as that may give her better employment possibilities. A better nursing course like the GNM course or B.Sc Nursing was not possible financially. Her mother paid  part of the fees of the course while we paid  part. Sukanya worked very hard. After one and a half years she got her nursing diploma and a job in a hospital as a assistant nurse for Rs. 3000/- for a 12 hour job. 
Then we realized what a nursing job meant. She works seven days a week, twelve hours a day for three thousand rupees a month. As she is a very responsible and cheerful worker, she is valued. But that value translates into more work, and not more pay. There is an oversupply of ANM nurses. She badly wished to study more ... with her present qualification her salary would never get higher and overwork would be the norm. 
We told her to check nursing options, saying that maybe we could see if funding was possible, and she ran from pillar to post to find out. She then found out that she could not do her B.Sc nursing because she should have done her Biology in 11th and 12th.
So that boat was missed.
That was missed solely due to her poverty. After she failed 10th, and we managed to get her pass it again. But we were unsure of helping her with biology in 11th. Also she needed to start earning as her mother was unwell ... life took its course.
She found out that she could do her 3 year GNM course which may cost her about 3K per month for 3 years. She was eager to do it - and was ready to forgo her nurse (ANM) salary - her mother, a road sweper, is willing to support her through these years.  
She managed to find out about a parttime intermediate course and completed it on the side.
Meantime her mother agreed to marry her to V, U’s son, as they were related and dowry would be bypassed. Dowry would have been beyond the mothers means. But Usha Rani’s son turned out to be a drunk and a wastrel, and Sukanya despite intense pressure from his family refused the marriage. Some months later he committed suicide. While we were grateful that she had not married him before this event, his family projected his suicide as due to her rejecting him. So the village blamed her for the death.
 At that time a friend of ours was willing to fund her GNM (Nursing) course. I Sukanya beamed down the phone at the news, immediately went  around colleges, found out the costs, called me up to confirm if she may pay the chalaan. She convinced her mother, a sweeper, that she has to study further. The mother has agreed to run the house with only her salary while she studies. Sukanya is a student once again ...
28 November 2014

Sukanya called up from the nurseing hostel in tirupathi to tell me that her first year first exam was today, and that she has done well. I have known her since she was a child of class 3.

8th May 2017

Sukanya called me up now. From Hyderabad. She has joined as nurse with a salary of 12,000/-. She called me as she is grateful to me. It was my friend Mary who gave me a blank cheque that day underwriting all her GNM expenses when I told her her story. I played only the part of translater over the years, and sometimes handled a transfer.
Sukanya will now care for her mother, who abandoned by her husband, brought up Sukanya while working as a sweeper.
I need people who will own up other children. Jayanthi, Kavya, Nandini, Nagamani, Shravanthi. Hard working children. In my village - one of the many villages caught in the thores of drought.

There are Sukanyas in every village.

30 June 2017

7:48 AM, 6/30/2017] : Sukanya, so everything is fine? Work, food, friends? - Aparna
[5:43 PM, 6/30/2017] Sukanya : Yes madam bt I can't undastand hindi I don't no proper English also
[8:42 PM, 6/30/2017] : Others all know better English? 
You will learn fast. don't worry.

[9:06 PM, 6/30/2017] Sukanya : Ya madam they are BSc nursing. They know very well
[9:48 PM, 6/30/2017] : That is good. Because then you will learm fast ! In one month you will be far better ! Just wait for a month.
I know well that given the snob nalue of English she will be looked down on by the more privileged nurses. BSc Nursing costs many lakhs and was not a possibility. We helped her through her GNM.
I will message her daily in English. As in the village I made her read English story books daily through the years to face a world where she would need to sell herself hard. To be poor and landless in bad enough. Her burderns were many more.
Each of their lives is uphill. The heart aches for then. But their smile stays unpertrubed, and gives strength to everyone alse as well.

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