I am from Chachiyawas, a village in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district. My older sister is married and my brother works in a different city. And so, for many years, I was responsible for the household chores and for taking care of my mother who suffers from a mental illness. The norm in my village is for girls to get married even as they pursue a BA degree. The same was expected of me, but I didn’t want this—I knew it wouldn’t make me happy. I wanted to build a life for myself.
I was always creatively inclined and would make dress designs while sitting in the classroom. I didn’t know that design could be a profession, but when my teachers told me about it, I knew I had to try. I started studying about fashion design from YouTube and even cleared the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) entrance exam. But the entrance fee of INR 1 lakh was beyond my means, and I couldn’t enrol for the course. I even took admission in a BA course, but decided not to continue with it because my priority was earning an income.
This is when I got connected to IPE Global’s Project Manzil, which facilitates skill-based training and job placements. After discussing my career aspirations with the project team, I moved to Jaipur city and completed the AWS certification, a cloud computing course.
The course was challenging to get through as I had no prior experience of using a computer—in the beginning, I didn’t even know how to turn it on. But gradually, I learned and got better at it, and at the end of the course I got a job in Jaipur.
It was difficult to explain to my parents why I wanted to be financially independent. When I decided to leave home, my father was upset. In my absence, he would have to bear the complete share of my duties—from household responsibilities to looking after my mother. He didn’t talk to me for a few months. But with time, my family has accepted my decision, even though our neighbours still criticise them for this. I also send money to my father to help him with household expenses.
The decision to leave wasn’t easy for me either; initially, I was scared. But I knew I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. Once I moved to Jaipur, I rented a room, and now I manage everything on my own—from cooking to my expenses. My confidence has grown. Every once in a while, I visit home. In a way, both my father and I have adapted to our new circumstances.
Now that I have settled into my job and have financial responsibilities—my own and my parents’—to fulfil, my hopes of getting back into fashion design—or even being able to afford the course fee—appear dim. However, I am determined not to give up. So, I keep trying to find ways to earn an additional income. Sometimes, I work overtime. I recently started investing a small amount of my income in SIPs and have also been using YouTube to learn about trading on the stock market. My work with technology has made me adept at navigating the intricacies of the internet—including choosing the right content creators with the maximum hits and those whose content is easy to understand. I listen to audiobooks to understand complex trading concepts better. I’m also looking for an online certificate course on fashion design and I’ve re-enrolled for a BA course to complete my graduation degree. I’ve felt a change in me since I’ve come to Jaipur, and I wish to make up for the time I’ve lost.
Deepa Sharda works in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Know more: Read more about how rural youth are recreating their identity in cities.
Do more: Connect with the author at [email protected] to learn more about and support her work.