“Women hold up half the sky” is a famous Chinese proverb which means that nature sees women as equal to men but does the society really see women as equal to men? There is no doubt that biologically females have been made different from males but mentally we have given equal grit and determination to singlehandedly carry out any task.
The story of Punam Rai from Varanasi is another story of grit, empowerment, and determination. The perfect epitome of strength and courage and the sheer determination of not giving up. Born to a PWD engineer and a homemaker in Vaishali Bihar, only sister to two elder brothers was always loved and pampered and never discriminated against. Punam Rai completed her graduation from BHU in Painting Honors she got married in 1997 with a belief that she was getting married to an Engineer from Mahipal University, which turned out to be a lie, little did she know that this fact was being used to extort dowry from her family in reality her husband was not even an intermediate graduate. Her parents fulfilled all the demands of groom’s side giving two trucks full of dowry, but this did not guarantee their daughters happiness. She faced brutal taunts incessant fights, but things turned upside down when she was only 22 She delivered a girl, her in laws and her husband tried to throw her down from third floor of the building on the pretext of second marriage.
Days later Punam opened her eyes in a hospital bed with her body being paralyzed, being left bed ridden for 15 years. As the years progressed with hours of physiotherapy and exercise her condition started improving albeit slowly.
Punam recalls everything changed when she lost her father in 2014 who was her pillar of support. After his death, she started an NGO in his name Bindeshwar Rai emancipating hundreds of children through painting and taekwondo. She teaches painting herself, but she has hired taekwondo trainers for her NGO.
Through her NGO, Punam emphasizes on women being independent and being aware with self defense techniques. With her NGO she has successfully trained over 3000 students. Well versed herself in painting, she wishes to gift Hon’ble PM with painting titled ‘The Phases of Faces’. From being completely bed ridden to managing her own NGO Punam has come a long way she is the best example that words like can’t, impossible, no doesn’t exist in her dictionary. Her spine may have been broken but her spirits are very much intact. She is definitely a woman of steel.