Two girls in India have earned the praise of the entire nation after they disguised as boys just to keep their father’s barbershop running when he fell ill.
The girls, Jyoti Kumari, 18, and her 16-year-old sister, Neha, took over their father’s barbershop in 2014 when he suffered severe paralytic attack and could no longer work and was bedridden.
The girls who were 13 and 11 at the time had to take over their father’s barbershop because it was the family’s only source of income.
The decision was a tough one for the girls as many men couldn’t trust them with trimming their beards while others treats them badly. To avoid losing customers, they began disguising like men.
“This was indeed a tough job but we had no option as well. So we transformed ourselves [to look] like boys. We changed our names like males, dressed ourselves like boys, sported boys’ hairstyle[s] and also behaved like boys,” Jyoti recalled.
“But for our efforts, my family would have died of starvation and our study would have been affected.”
The young girls changed their names to Deepak and Raju and started dressing like men. Their neighbors were, however, aware of their true names and who they really are.
With the disguise, they were able to make 400 Rupees per day which was enough to cater for their family and see to the treatment of their father.
The sisters managed to keep their gender secret even in the face of mockery from their community. However, as time went by, they grew confident and started to show off their real identitiy.
“Now we have gained enough confidence and don’t fear anyone.”
“The majority of people have come to know that we are girls.”
Jyoti and Neha earned the praise of the entire nation and the local authorities after a journalist published their story.
“Unfazed by taunts coming from society, they carried the family’s responsibility on their shoulders and arranged livelihood for their parents, braving all odds. This is a wonderful story which the society must be told [about] and they indeed deserve
honours,” local official Abhishek Pandey told reporters.
“They are [a] brilliant example of women empowerment and we have recommended to the state government [that they get] suitable rewards.”
Their father who only recently started walking again, couldn’t hide his emotions as he declared how proud he is of his daughters:
“They have run the family showing the highest level of grit and I am proud of them.”