Mission Delhi – Poonam Yadav, Sector 11
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s late night and Poonam Yadav is sitting by the desk, with her laptop and scores of bulky books on Corporate Tax, Strategic Management and other subjects of the kind. “I have my first of the final year exams in the morning,” she says, looking half-amused as she chats on WhatsApp video. Is she smiling at the ironic timing of this rare power cut, that has forced her to light a candle? She playfully shrugs.
A masters student in commerce, Ms Yadav is the only one in the family to be awake at this hour, in the third-floor house in Gurgaon’s Sector 11. In her mid-20s, she will be the only person in her family to become a post-graduate. She is also the family’s only earning female. “I’m a beauty professional.”
In the eerie stillness of the quiet hour, Ms Yadav explains that she prefers to depend on herself to finance her dreams. “I don’t being told, ‘Ab study band karo aur shaadi karo (now, stop the studies and get married).’”
Three years ago, she trained in a beauty salon and started a salon-at-home service. It’s by diving into her earnings drawn in this career that she bought her study table, laptop and a series of mobiles—while the supportive family paid half the amount for the scooty.
Not looking an inch nervous about the approaching Cost Accounting Standard and Reporting exam, she declares she has many plans. “If I like anything I have to learn it quick… so I learned stitching from mummy, driving the car from bhayya, and in the lockdown I taught myself pickle-making on YouTube.” She also set up a kitchen garden on her terrace as her beauty business took a severe beating due to the pandemic, “perhaps because my regular clients fear calling me at home due to virus threat.”
After finishing her exams, Ms Yadav intends to prepare for scores of competitive entrances for clerical-level placements in government departments. Winning one of those hard-to-get jobs won’t be the culmination of her ambitions. Leaning closer to the phone screen, she says, “I do not want to stick to just one thing… I have many dreams, I want to try them all.”
Even so, she confesses: “At some point I would be obliged to marry. Then, what I will be doing will also depend on the expectations of the family I go into.”
By now it’s almost midnight, and she must get back to her books. The exam starts at 10 am tomorrow.
[This is the 370th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Her plans for tomorrow, and for days after tomorrow