Yesterday I had the privilege to meet a wonderful person. A lady who is not so educated, who works in a social service firm, who is separated, and who had two children. She is like every common person in India. She is concerned about her children’s education, food inflation, and how to move ahead in life.

But ordinary Chetna is somewhat different than many of us. Different in kinds of challenges which she has been facing. Challenges of separated women, challenges of being less educated, challenges of being the mother of a mentally challenged kid, and challenges of her own health.

If one listens to her story from the third person, one would feel sorry for her but as soon as one meets her, one feels proud of her as a human being. Yesterday I had that privileged to witness the winning attitude, the courage, the quest to move forward in life, and being a fighter against all odds of life when I met her.

Chetna was born in a lower-middle-class family in a community that considers girl child to be more of a burden than a matter of pride. She was always discouraged to study since her parents believed that girls must learn how to cook and not how to read.

She still managed to study till 8th std but she was forced to leave her studies by her parents. As soon as she was 16, she got married to a man who believed that wife is more a tool to take care of his needs than a plain human being.

As soon as she gave birth to a girl child, she started getting more problems from her husband and in-laws. She was pressurized to conceive at earliest (as if it is in her hand). One year later she gave birth to a male child.

Chetna was not happy with the environment of her Sasural. She was worried about her girl child’s future. Her husband was noncooperative and a habitual drinker. She was soon getting fed up with the situation. Amidst all these, she developed a health issue, which was considered to be too expensive by her in-laws.

After years of struggling to make a decision , she finally walked out of her marriage. Life was still tough since she had not so happy parents (because of her decision), she had 2 kids to nurture and she lacked the skills to earn her livelihood. She started applying for a job and manage to get a job in NGO.

Right now Chetna is doing reasonably well supporting NGO activities and impacting society at large. She is providing right environment for her kids and is pretty optimistic about their future. Her health challenge still remains but she is looking forward to moving ahead in life. She gave the 10th exam a year back and want to become a graduate in the future. She also learned English and is now learning the computer.

What did appeal to me in Chetna is her attitude towards life and her courage to face all odds and not give up. What I was inspired by meeting her was her determination and commitment for her children for a better life.

It is ordinary people like Chetna who keep India going. It is aam aadmi and their courage which makes India move ahead. It is these real stories that make India. I salute Chetna and wish her well in life.

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