India: Miss India 2020 runner-up Manya Singh, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, has left everyone feeling proud after her story went viral on social media. Manya is a daughter of an autorickshaw driver, and following the win, her struggles and inspiring story won praise all over the country.
Now, in an emotionally-charged Humans of Bombay post, Manya is talking about her childhood struggles, her parent’s belief in her dreams and the way she was criticized because of her looks.
Manya talked about how she left home at 14 to come to Mumbai and pursue her dreams. She had to work at a Pizza Hut store to earn an income. She said, “At 14, I boarded the train from my village & left for Mumbai to pursue my dreams, all by myself. I didn’t know where it would lead me, but I knew I was meant to achieve great things. When I walked out of the station, Pizza Hut was the first place I sawI somehow got myself a part-time job there & temporary accommodation (sic).”
According to Manya, her parents were always supportive of her dreams. A few days after she arrived in Mumbai, they followed her there, took up a job and supported her.
“2 days later, when I called Papa, he started crying. But I reassured him, ‘This is where I belong.’ So the next day, both my parents came to Mumbai. 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-timeI earned Rs.15,000 a month,” she added.
Talking about her dream of winning the Miss India pageant, she said, “I was 15 when I watched the Miss India Pageant for the first timeI thought, ‘I’m going to win that crown someday & make Papa proud.’ But 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!’ (sic).”
She revealed that in the beginning she had to face rejection because of her looks or her English. She was once told that she does not have a nice face. “I auditioned for over 10 pageants, but they’d say, ‘Shakal achi nahi hai’ (you don’t have a nice face) or ‘You don’t even know English!’ Things weren’t easy at home eitherPapa 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. There, I observed how people carried themselves & in college, I’d observe how my friends spoke English (sic),” Manya said.
Manya also said the win will help her in fulfilling her dreams and provide for her family. “Now, I finally have the chance to give my parents everything; I’m going to start by buying them a home.”
She added, “He believed in me& that’s why, today, a rickshaw driver’s daughter is standing with a crown on her head (sic).”
While Manya was crowned Miss India 2020 runner-up, Haryana’s Manika Sheokand was declared Miss Grand India 2020. Telangana’s Manasa Varanasi became the Miss India World 2020.