Palak a journalism graduate believes in simplifying the complicated and writing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She calls herself a " hodophile" or in layman words- a person who loves to travel.
I was born in Nainital, a quaint little town in the state of Uttarakhand and my journey of fighting the odds began when I was merely 15-days-old.
And the problem?
Being a girl.
I was abandoned by my mother because she was not expecting a girl child. My parents decided to part ways owing to constant conflicts. Eventually, my father was suggested by the relatives to set me up for adoption since, according to them, it would be difficult for a man to raise a child single-handedly.
Luckily, my father rejected their suggestion and decided to raise me. Little did I know that it would be one-of-the-firsts in my family— in smashing the stereotypes.
During the initial years, some family members helped my father while he donned the role of both the parents to a new-born. He worked as a teacher in Birla Vidya Mandir, a residential public school for boys in Nainital, to provide for us.
Since he worked for most of the waking hours, I had learnt to be on my own.
With no one to remind me to have meals on time or to complete my homework, I had learnt to be independent at a very young age but I always wrestled with the nutrition aspect in life which impacted my immunity.
Focussing on the bright side, I used to get a lot of unrestricted time to play sports and interaction with the boys from the school helped me to delve into open conversations about several topics, helping me to explore the extrovert inside.
Things, however, started taking an ugly turn as I grew up. As a motherless child and due to family and societal pressure, I was married off when I was barely 18. I was told that this decision would ensure that the rest of my life becomes smooth-sailing.
Life had different plans for me.
I suffered grave disturbances in my marriage as well. It was later revealed that my partner was involved in illegal business deals and controversial connections. Everything that was communicated to us about his family was untrue.
My father decided to get me home, back to Nainital. Later, I decided to file for divorce.
I was already battling a number of fights. As a teenager, I was not completely able to grasp the effect of the chaos that my life had become at that point. I slipped into depression.
My father and I were cautioned against filing for a divorce as it would impact our reputation in the society, so giving in to the pressure, we decided to give the relationship another chance and I moved in to stay with the man.
What happened next shattered my strength and hollowed me from within.
I was not ready for any physical relationship with the man. But, he forced himself into me and little did I know that I had experienced marital rape at that time. I decided to pull the plug and went back to my home in Nainital.
Depression started taking a toll on my physical health as well. Too many things that I could fix! I attempted suicide thrice but in vain. Later, I came to know that I was three months pregnant.
My body was extremely weak so was my immune system, therefore, abortion was ruled out. I had to undergo several medical procedures to stabilise my health and pregnancy.
My daughter's birth was like a silver lining in my life. Eventually, she became the source of motivation for me— to move forward and to realise the purpose of my life.
Achieving a goal is a wildly exhilarating thing. If you're flirting with the idea of giving up, you could be throwing away something wonderful.
Keeping those lines in mind to guide me, I started the journey to become self-reliant and financially independent for my own sake and to secure my daughter's future.
After juggling moving in and out of several cities looking for the work I was interested and passionate about, in 2014, I shifted to Mayanagri, Mumbai.
The purpose I was searching for, and there it was all this while right in front of my eyes and I couldn't see it. The only thing that I wanted to focus on and knew could give me immense pleasure had been health and fitness. I decided to explore the fitness industry as I was good at sports since childhood.
I dedicated myself entirely to accomplishing my goals. The overjoyed child inside screamed to have found it's lost home yet again. I felt alive after many years.
With no prior knowledge about the industry, the initial years were difficult, I joined yoga classes, attended martial arts sessions and thereafter joined a gym club.
My persistence and focus started paying, I started competing in many private competitions and attended many fitness exhibitions. I also started educating myself on the industry and worked on upskilling myself.
Today, I am an internationally certified personal trainer, boxing coach, kettlebell teacher, national champion in powerlifting and co-founder of Mountstrong Personal fitness studio in Dehradun.
I want to tell all the young women to believe in themselves and not to give up on the face of adversities. Hence, I am sharing the lessons that I have learned from my life.
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