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‘My Dad Saved for My Education Instead of Dowry; He Stood by Me & Changed My Life’

Prachi Thakur, a PhD graduate from IIT Roorkee explains how her father was the wind beneath her wings pushing her to constantly soar higher.

‘My Dad Saved for My Education Instead of Dowry; He Stood by Me & Changed My Life’

The town in Bihar where I  grew up witnessed girls my age being married right after Class 10. It was customary for fathers to set aside money for their dowry. But, I had different dreams. And so my father invested that same money into my education. Things were not always easy as we lived in a kaccha (makeshift) house. My father would repair gas stoves to make ends meet. But even when finances were low he ensured I studied. 

Though my family was supportive of my dreams, there was another challenge to deal with — relatives. Right from telling my father he was wasting money on my education to advising him to marry me off, they tried their best to discourage him. They even tried forcing me to cook and be like the other girls they knew, but my dad became my shield against these taunts and pressure. And that’s how I grew up protected from the outside world.  

But while in later years I began to appreciate this side of life, I hadn’t always. In school, I remember writing, “Bauji (father) is a businessman, and Amma (mother) is a tailor.” I was scared I would get bullied if my friends discovered my father ran a paan thela (betel leaf stall). 

I even remember asking him repeatedly why he couldn’t be like the other parents, who worked in offices and wore ironed shirts. His response would always be the same, “Money isn’t everything in life.” 

I did not understand the value of his words, but now I do. 

While there was a time I thought I did not have as much as other children, today I realise I always had something that none of the others did — a father who believed fiercely in my dreams and cared for them and the future I wanted to create. He is my biggest cheerleader and the secret of my confidence. 

As a PhD graduate from IIT Roorkee, a diversity strategist at World Women Tourism and a TEDx speaker, I am thankful to my father for taking me to events and letting me host, for teaching me the tricks to be confident on stage even as other girls were being taught to lower their voices. 

I owe where I am to my father who made the best lemon tea with all the lemons that life dealt us. They say ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ I don’t know about a village, but it definitely takes a strong family. 

Salute to fathers who guard their daughters and protect them from the fire-spitting dragons of customs, traditions and rules that could have otherwise burnt their dreams to the ground.  

— As narrated by Prachi Thakur.

Watch Prachi’s inspiring story: 

(Edited by Padmashree Pande)

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