“One of my earliest memories of childhood was of extreme poverty. Being the youngest of three siblings, we have seen extreme poverty from a very young age. My father worked as a watchman for the central government on a contract basis so each day, with whatever he brought, we would have dinner or go to sleep without any dinner. Being posted in Vijayawada, all three of us siblings were schooled in private schools as my father wanted the best possible education for us.
So on days when we delayed paying the fees, we would be made to stand outside the class. Somewhere in my 5th grade, I started working as an apprentice with different people and brought home whatever I could. Seeing my hard work, the school we were studying in offered me a full scholarship for my 10th grade and I emerged as a rank holder in the district level earning a name for my school as well.
Shortly after my 10th grade, my dad was transferred to his hometown of Thanjavur and he made the decision to bring us back to Tamil Nadu on the assumption that we could stay with our family here. So paying off all our loans with mom’s jewellery and having the bare minimum for the train, we wound up our belongings and made our way to TN.
Here is where we had the shock of our life. My dad’s family refused to house us and we were left to be stranded on the streets once again, without a single penny to eat. Staying in our maternal uncle’s place for a few days, we decided to sort things out for a while before diving into something.
And here, I decided to give up on my education and join work full time. I started working as a full time employee at the age of 15. Doing odd jobs here and there, I joined a pharmacy as a service staff. Having taken a loan with my employer there to pay off my sister’s loan, I was under a pact to work for free at their office till the time my loan dues were fulfilled. So, three years of my work years went in working for free.
It was probably one of the worst phases of my life where I was subject to extreme bullying and eventually succumbed to depression. My day would start at 4 where I would do small tasks like delivering newspapers and milk and report to my work at 7 AM in the morning. The day would go on and end at 12 AM in the night. I would cycle back home, have my dinner and once again start my work the next day at 4 AM in the morning.”