Devasiyon Ki Dhani, Ramasariya
Pushpa Choudhary is an enigma as well as an inspiration!
She is an enigma as she falls silent when asked how, she alone in her family of three siblings and in her husband’s family of four siblings, managed to break free from the shackles and taint of dropping out of school and graduating with a college degree, a BA.
She is the only one in her family and her husband’s family to have gone to school “every day, not missing a single day” despite all her siblings and her friends in her village dropping out. What adds to the mystique is that she is not only the eldest of the three siblings in her family, but she is also the only girl. Her two brothers dropped out of school after the 8th standard.
Her husband, Goma Ram, studied till the fifth standard, but Pushpa says, he is illiterate. He works as a labourer doing odd jobs in the fields and in urban surroundings. Her husband’s siblings, (they are two brothers and one sister), are also illiterate. To add to their woes, each of her siblings’ spouses and each of the husband’s siblings’ spouses are also illiterate.
One would expect the eldest girl in a family whose members have no education, from which she was betrothed to marry into another family, also with no education, to remain analphabetic.
Not so Pushpa Choudhary!
She was 18 when she finally moved to her husband’s home at which time she had managed to somehow not only not drop out of school but also pass her 12th standard.
How true it is, Pushpa says, that it is not for us to judge where and what our social standing is at any point in time, but how far we have come to where we stand at any point in time.
Visit Pushpa Choudhary’s home in Ramsariya village, and one can sit down anywhere, lay oneself down in any nook, any corner and breathe easy, for it is spick and span wherever one turns, wherever one glances.
Her two children, a daughter who is four (Lalitha) and a son who is six (Harish) frolic in the compound of her home, plastered with newly plastered dung that has since dried exposed to the rays of the beating sun. The floors in their two room house gleam even when the lights are not turned on. Look around the walls and there is a place for everything and everything in place.
Pushpa Choudhary’s husband is away working. She hardly ever smiles, but she admits proudly to being the ‘go-to’ person not only in her family but several families in the village. One can sense though, that she is living beyond her time in the setting and circumstances she is born into. She realises, she says, that she could have achieved so much more with a proper education in an urban environment. And so despite being the queen of letters among the members of her family and to a large extent, even among the villagers in her village, she seems to be only intent in ensuring that her two children continue their education “forever and ever”. She says this without smiling.