Girl’s education is accepted as a fait accompli in our day and age. However this was not so when my mother was young. Today on her 16th death anniversary I remember with fondness the way she told me about her early school days in Meerut in the early 1920s.
“When Raghunath Girl’s School opened there were no students. The teacher a Christian lady went around looking for students as her job was at stake! My father, after much persuasion by my mother and grandmother, two extremely modern women, accepted to let me go. Every morning the teacher used to come in a doli, carried by two men. The doli was placed in the inner veranda and the men left. I use to sit in it and the purdah (curtain) was then drawn. I was just 8 years old!
“When I sat for my class 6 examination I was very excited. I was made to wear a thick khadi sari over the long khadi shorts and shirt which used to be my usual attire. Belonging to a nationalist freedom fighter family, we all wore thick home spun khadi. While answering my paper the sari was in the way and I took it off. After the paper was over I ran home excited to show my answers to my father. I had forgotten all about the sari. Later the teacher brought it home.
“I managed to continue my studies with the support of my mother and grandmother. My father wanted me to stop but the two ladies would put up a great show. They would stand with long faces while papa had lunch and then would say “Kamala has not eaten, she is on hunger strike”. Needless to say papa would lose his appetite not knowing that I had been surreptitiously fed at night! A day or two later he would relent. I went on to do my matriculation, my BA and even my MA thanks to many well orchestrated hunger strikes!”
My mother, Kamala Goburdhun, nee Sinha [1917-1990] went from being a small town girl to an Ambassador’s wife. Along the way she even got her Doctorate. Much of what i am, is because of this special woman. You can read more about her life here.