Thought Box

A Tale of True Grit

A Tale of True Grit

by Deepa Gahlot July 19 2018, 5:12 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 50 secs

Today, if a girl wants to be a doctor, she is encouraged by her parents and teachers to go for the high marks needed for medical college. But there was a time when just going to school was an uphill task for girls, that needed courage and revolutionary fervor; and back then in the late 19th century, a young married Brahmin woman aspired to study medicine and succeeded against seemingly insurmountable odds.

A girl called Yamuna was born in 1865—unwanted and mistreated by her own mother who was hoping for a son after two daughters. But the girl was brave and resilient. As was the practice in those days, she was married at age eleven to a man twenty year her senior. Again as was the custom then (which is still quite prevalent) her name is changed to Anandi.  Her husband Gopal Joshi fancies himself as a social reformer and ‘allows’ her an education.

The true-grit story of Yamuna/Anandi forms the basis of Manoj Shah’s play Dr Anandibai Joshi: Like, Comment, Share, written by Geeta Manek and performed by Manasi Prabhakar Joshi.  Shah is partial to minimalistic solo-actor productions, so that the story and its message can be conveyed without dilution.


Anandibai

Perhaps to appeal to a younger audience, the playwright has woven in today’s social media lingo, but the story remains powerful as it is. Anandi gives birth to a son when she is only twelve, and loses him. Even though it seems like an impossible dream, she hopes to become a doctor, so that she can help other women like herself. This was a time when a girl going to school was spat at and had stones flung at her.

When they move to Calcutta, she manages to get the support of some of the British people there, and an open invitation from an Amerian woman called Theodicia Carpenter, who offers her all help and a home if she decides to go to New York to study medicine.  Against all opposition from conservatives, she makes the arduous two-month journey by ship, and Theodicia makes good on her promise to help the young woman.


facebook

Anandi gets into medical school, when there were very few white women encouraged to go for higher education. Battling the cold, near starvation and nasty letters from her suspicious husband, she gets through medical school, and returns to India in triumph as Dr Anandibai Joshi, India’s first female doctor.  But she contracted tuberculous and died a few months later, when she was barely twenty-two.

She may not have been able to practice, but Anandibai’s struggle and success made it possible for women like Rakhmabai and Kadambini Ganguly to become doctors and then open the floodgates for others to follow.


indiatoday.in

Geeta Manek has infused some humour into the play and director Manoj Shah has got Manasi Prabhakar Joshi to act with admirable vivacity for two hours on a nearly empty stage with just a backdrop of green nine-yard saris that Dr Anandibai wore. 

It is a fascinating story, well documented in books and television series, but it still needs to be told again and again, because it is an inspiration for women, or for anybody, who wants to fight the word ‘impossible.’



Since you are here...

--- we have a very small favour to ask. More people are reading The Daily Eye now than ever. The Daily Eye is run by a team that believes in amplifying voices of those who otherwise find it hard to be heard, highlighting all the good work done by influencers, leaders, celebrities and informing readers about the latest in the efforts being made by so many of us to heal our world. We work hard to serve you regularly and we don't carry advertisements or anything that would adulterate your experience. We do our best to keep our content enriched, wholesome and inspiring and we do everything under the sun to stay positive and informed along with you.

If you are not well acquainted with our humble website, you might not be aware of the social work we do like mentoring underprivileged children and youth by providing filmmaking workshops besides the articles and films we produce on a regular basis. All this requires funding. If you like our work then please help us to secure our future. For as little as $1 or Rs.65 you can support The Daily Eye - and it won't take you more than a minute. Thanks for hearing us out!


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of thedailyeye.info. The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.

Is the Content on this page relevent?


Is there Something you do not like about this page?