Prachi Thakur grew up in a Bihar village where girls would be married soon after Class 10. But where other fathers were saving their earnings for future dowry, Prachi’s bauji spent it on his daughter’s education. She is now a diversity strategist at World Women’s Tourism and a TEDx speaker.
Recently, Prachi shared a LinkedIn post about how she was ashamed of her father, and how much she values him now. “He worked at a small shop on the side of the road, fixing people’s gas stoves and cookers. We lived in Supaul, a small town in Bihar. All we had was a kacha house, and a mitti ka aangan outside. And we ate the same thing most days — roti, onions, and achaar,” the post read.
When Prachi was asked to write about her family, she simply wrote, “Bauji is a businessman, and Amma is a tailor.” She was bullied by her classmates and would run home crying. But when she would innocently ask her father why he couldn’t work in an office like the others, he would wipe her tears and say, “Money isn’t everything in life.” She wrote, “But back then, I didn’t realise the value of his words.”
But little did she know how her father defended her in front of their relatives about sending her off to far away places for education.
They asked him, “Why waste money? Marry her off.” But the man stood firm to support his daughter’s dreams.
“While girls in my area went to cooking classes, my father cooked for us. I realised that I had something none of them had — a father who cared about my dreams. It changed the way I looked at him. I felt proud to be his daughter! I started wearing my old uniform with pride, and happily used my torn books,” she shared.
In the next two years of her studies, people in the village spread rumours that she had gotten pregnant and ran away. Her father, unlike others, laughed these jibes off and gave her confidence. He used to take Prachi to anchor local events in their village and when she got nervous he told her to consider that the people sitting in front are just a sack of potatoes. “From performing guest lectures at universities to sharing my life at a TEDx, ‘the sack of potatoes’ has worked for me,” wrote Prachi.
After completing her masters, Prachi took a PhD and kept her head high in front of everyone who bullied her. Moreover, the girl who was once ashamed of “being a paanwala’s daughter, is ready to place the world at his feet!”
The LinkedIn post received more than 3,000 comments. Ashwini Mahajan, a software engineer, wrote, “My father was a tailor shop owner. I was ashamed of it. My father was not that educated but my parents always inspired me to study. Even though they couldn’t afford it, they had given me quality education in the best school in Mumbai where I grew up. People think that educating girls is a waste of money, whereas my father spent most of his earnings for my education. Thank you for writing about your father.”
Edited by Divya Sethu