“I’ve spent numerous nights without food and sleep. I’ve spent many afternoons walking for miles on end. My blood, sweat, and tears have amalgamated into courage to pursue my dreams. Being a rickshaw driver’s daughter, I never had the opportunity to attend school as I had to start working in my teens. All the clothes I had were hand-me-downs. I yearned for books, but luck wasn’t in my favour. Eventually, my parents mortgaged whatever little jewellery my mother had to ensure that I paid my exam fees in order to earn a degree (sic).”Manya Singh’s chilling, candid confession on the social media went viral in no time. Her arduos journey from a small town of Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh to making it to the Miss India speaks volumes about her strong grit and determination.
Manya further adds, “My mother has suffered a lot to provide for me. At 14, I ran away from home. I somehow managed to complete my studies in the day, became a dishwasher in the evening and worked at a call centre at night. I’ve walked hours to reach places so I could save the rickshaw fare. I am here today at the VLCC Femina Miss India 2020 runner-up stage to uplift my father, my mother, and my young brother and to show the world that all is possible if you are committed to yourself and your dreams. “It was a long struggle for Manya before reaching where she is today. In her ‘get to know me’ post during the Miss India competition, she shared that she scored 80% in her Class 10th while also working in a Pizza Hut at the same time. “I knew I couldn’t afford grooming classes but I learnt by observing people. Maine modelling join ki, auditions pejaatithi logon ko observe karnekeliye. I saw how girls carried themselves, how to put makeup and that is how I groomed myself. Whatever I am today is because of that observation.”
While in college ,she started working in a call centre and decided to pursue her dream of becoming Miss India. She sais, “I started applying for Miss India in 2016, those were my failed attempts. I tried participating in Campus Princess, and mujhebahut logon ne bola ‘you are not the Miss India type, you are dusky’, but I believed in myself. I knew I will do what I want to do. I joined a call centre because I knew mujheapne language mein fluency laanihai, whether English or Hindi. Mujhepaisebhichahiyethayjisse main apnagharchalasakoon. When I entered the PI round of Miss India, I told them that I am not just representing UP, I am representing all women. If I am getting this opportunity, I would like to be a role model for women who want to do something big in their life.”
While Manya’s parents are proud of her accomplishment, the family struggled to even send her to school. She says that she wasn’t officially enrolled in any school till Class 9th. They could only afford the exam fee and she used to go to school only to sit for exams. “When I told my mom about becoming a Miss India, she said, ‘You need to have a strong background for Miss India. Humarejaise log aisesapnenahidekhte. Kabhiaukaat se badhkarsapnenahideknechahiye’. But I told her to believe in me and that it was time to change the world and what it expects out of us. I would like to say this to everyone out there that believe in your dreams, jitney bade sapne, utni difficulties aayengi, but believe in your dreams,” says Miss India 2020.
Manya, who now stays with her family in Mumbai, called her parents after the win. “They were in tears when I video-called them. They could not believe that I made this dream come true but this is just the beginning.” She said. Indeed a huge accomplishment for her and her family too, Manya also gave hope to all those people belonging to small towns with meagre means and yet dare to dream big.