Recently, Manya Singh from Mumbai was crowned as the runner-up of Femina Miss India and while it's a big achievement in itself, what makes it even more inspiring is her journey.
In the latest post on Humans of Bombay, she opened up about her life and we can't help but be completely in awe of her spirit.
Manya came to Mumbai at the young age of 14. All alone, wanting to make it big. And the first thing she saw in the 'city of dreams' was a Pizza Hut. So she started working there.
I knew I was meant to achieve great things. When I walked out of the station, Pizza Hut was the first place I saw. I somehow got myself a part-time job there & temporary accommodation.
When she called home a few days later, her dad answered the phone and she couldn't stop her tears. However, she was certain that this is what she is meant to do and seeing her commitment, her parents also shifted to the city.
And from there her journey to become a star, began.
Papa said, ‘We’ll support you’; he drove an auto to make a living. Still, they put me in a good school. Alongside, I also worked part-time. I earned Rs.15,000 a month.
It was around that time that she watched Femina Miss India for the first time and decided that she is going be up on that stage some day.
I was 15 when I watched the Miss India Pageant for the first time. I thought, "I’m going to win that crown someday and make papa proud".
There were hurdles on her path as her family members did not think she should be going out and participating in a beauty contest. That is when her father, who rides a rickshaw, stepped in and asked her to keep following her dreams.
Coming from a patriarchal family, I was told that women are lesser than men. Tauji would say, "Ladkiyon ko padhai karke bhi shaadi hi karni padti hai". But when I told Papa, "I want to compete for a beauty pageant", he said, "Keep working hard & you’ll get there".
From that point on there was no looking back. Yes, she faced rejections and people even said she was trying to do everything "for attention". But Manya did not lose focus. She used to look at people who came to Pizza Hut, noticed how they carried themselves and even mopped the floor when she needed extra money to pay for clothes.
During my graduation, I auditioned for over 10 pageants, but they’d say, "Shakal achi nahi hai", or, "You don’t even know English". Things weren’t easy at home either. Papa had mortgaged our jewellery to pay my fees. So if I’d need money to buy clothes, I’d mop the floor at the pizza place.
Ultimately, all the struggles paid off as she was crowned as the runner-up of the biggest beauty paegent in the country.
2 months later, I was declared the VLCC Femina Miss India 2020 - Runner Up! Papa hugged me and said, "Manya Omprakash Singh has made it".
And now, all she wants to do is, give back to her parents who worked hard for decades and had belief in a 14-year-old child's dream.
Papa believed in a 14-year-old’s frivolous dream of making it big in the city. He believed in me…and that’s why, today, a rickshaw driver’s daughter is standing with a crown on her head.
You can read the complete post here: