Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022
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From Busting Boulders To A PhD From Swedish University

Meet Bindhu Sunil who took doctorate from the school of hard knocks

Courtesy: Facebook/Bindhu Sunil Karingannoor

She had slogged as a farm hand, sweated out in scorching sun to black-top roads, did punishing masonry, ferried load on her head and scarred her hands busting boulders for a living from the age of 15, and now she is a PhD holder from the famous Lund University in Sweden.

What spotlighted her battle-hardened past in a small village in Kerala’s Kollam district, first chronicled by Malayala Manorama, was her thank-you-all post in Facebook listing out the names of all those who lent their hands to lift her out of the quagmire of poverty and helped her in the journey to doctorate.

The emotional Facebook post, in which she calls all the good Samaritans as god-incarnate, has since gone viral and earned her the good wishes of thousands. On top of the list is her neighbour Swarnamma, who fostered Bindhu while her parents, both daily wage earners, went out for work. She let Bindhu share her daughter’s textbooks and fed her when hungry.

Bindhu voluntarily helped her in household chores in return for the benevolence. Bindhu has dedicated her thesis to Swarnamma, whom she calls amma (mother).

Here is the post translated from Malayalam: 

(“My first thesis…my first book...courtesy Gods, yes, to a lot of god-incarnates. To my teachers at Vikas Tutorial who never threw me out despite never being able to pay the fees in time… 
to Johnson sir who, shocked to see me as a daily wage earner cleaning out cow dung from his house, silently scolded me to never repeat it while paying me for the day’s work...

to the cashew factory owner who gave an extra Rs 200 as pay to my mother when she proudly announced to him that I passed out of Class 10 in first class.. 

to the footwear shop owner who gave me a pair of sandals  and the clutch of coins I sheepishly handed over to him while whispering I needed slippers to go to college but didn’t have enough cash to buy one…

to my BSc mates who pooled in money on my behalf to take me on a college tour.. to  Saliyannan  who thrust Rs 200 into my hands before going on tour saying ‘keep it you might need since your college mates are from well-to-do families’…

to the bus conductor who waived fare with a friendly shrug after seeing my eyes well up because I didn’t have enough money…

to the disabled hotel server who, away from the eyes of his owner, secretly offered extra dosas knowing well that the two I order daily were my only food of the day… to my friends who joined me to play down my embarrassment when they saw me snacking on hostel guava..to my teachers who loved us by calling makkale (roughly beta in Hindi)…
and all those who helped me.”

After earning a doctorate from one of the top universities of the world, for me, who began doing manual labour at the age of 15, everybody who comes across are go-incarnate and every hassle a blessing in disguise…I should be thanking my parents who sent me to school despite being unlettered, my brothers, my teachers and my villagers and the friends mentioned above… they the real god-incarnate, aren’t they?

Read her original Facebook post in Malayalam:

After her post was shared by her friends, who were former classmates and villagers, she was flooded with calls and wishes congratulating her.

However, she said in another post, there were Doubting Thomas-es among the crowd of well-wishers. To them, she said there are others like her who underwent brutal tests of life to come out shining. There were students who spent their day in college and night cleaning the drains to earn a living, others who did masonry during the day and spent the night preparing for government exams.

Bindhu, who researched and found out that the protein content in oats can be multiplied through cross-pollination, plans to come back to her village after her current stint in a food manufacturing major. And, of course, she plans to take up farming when she is back.


Click here to read the article in Malayala Manorama

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