It is hard to imagine to imagine an unlikelier background for a young woman lawyer: born into a poor family, once forced to stop schooling to take up a tailoring job to support her family, now a proud standard bearer for her family, her village, and others like her.
But Priya, from Aroor in Dharmapuri district, did not once give up her goals. In spite of the circumstances, she managed to join and study in a school run under the National Child Labour Scheme and has risen to become a lawyer.
Priya’s father was born into a very backward family and made a living gilding and polishing vessels. Her mother was a tailor. They lived in a small house with just a single bulb, and led a precarious, hand-to-mouth existence.
However, her mother was particular about providing an education for her children and got admitted Priya in the Vallalar matriculation school. The girl studied there till 5th standard, but her family circumstances made her shift to a government school for the 6th and 7th. Meanwhile, in an unfortunate development, her father went away, deserting the family. This forced her family to move to her grandmother’s place, Aroor.
In Priya’s own words: “We went through very difficult times, and our family depended entirely on whatever mother could earn in her tailoring work. So, I could not join any school and study. I was intent on helping my mother, by doing button stitching work, and I missed out on school education for 1 whole year. Then I was admitted into a school run under the child labour scheme. I did my 9th and 10th in the Aroor government school and secured 455 out of 500 marks in the 10th examination. I was really happy”.
“Subsequently, thanks to the efforts of Sri Saravanan, director of the Dharmapuri district child labour scheme, I could join a private school in Tiruchengode and stay in the hostel there. I studied biology, mathematics, physics and chemistry in plus 2, and got 960 out of 1200 marks in the examination. However, what I really wanted was to do law and become an advocate. I got a scholarship under the child labour education scheme, thanks once again to Sri Saravanan, and joined the BA-BL course in the government law college, Coimbatore. I passed in first class. Now I have applied for registering as a member of the Bar Council. After completing the course, I am also training in a lawyer’s office in Aroor, for the past 2 months. My mother still does tailoring and helps teach others, and I help out in my spare time.”
“My mother wants me to do a master’s in law and teach in law college, but I want to become an advocate. After getting trained by experienced lawyers, I am planning to practice independently. My family has always lived in poverty, and I want to earn and help them lead a decent life. I am sure I can do that.” The 24-year-old Priya sounds confident.
Priya’s younger sister Russia too studied in the school for child labour, and is now in the fourth year in Coimbatore law college. She will thus be the second lawyer from the family. Their brother is in school now. This family worked hard and dared to hope… and the results are plain to see.