Gatecrasher with a Miss India dream

Ms Manya Singh's hard-fought journey to the Miss India 2020 runner-up title last week has left many in India inspired.

The 19-year-old, who hails from a lower middle-class family, overcame several obstacles to record the biggest triumph of her young life.

Born in Mumbai, she was raised in Hata, a small town in Uttar Pradesh. At a young age she moved to Mumbai, the city of dreams, for a better life.

Her father Omprakash Singh is an auto-rickshaw driver and mother Manorama works in a beauty parlour.

Her parents were barely able to make ends meet and struggled to pay for her education. She had to start working at an early age and spent many nights without food.

Ms Manya told the Miss India website that life was never easy in Hata but she decided to change things at age 14.

She ran away from her village after she completed high school and took the train to Mumbai.

"When a girl runs away, people start talking about you," she said.

"Naturally, my parents were worried. When I called my father, he started crying. In a broken voice, he asked me what was I doing there all alone. But I had to run away."

Her parents followed her to Mumbai but a battle in the big city awaited the small-town girl.

She worked at a pizza outlet to complete her junior college.

"I would mop the floor, do the dishes and also sleep in the storeroom," she told The Indian Express. "On the job, I observed how people carried themselves, how they'd dress, talk to each other. It was massive learning for me."

She later joined a call centre and worked in several companies throughout her graduation.

"There I polished my language, worked on my diction and voice. I started work to support my education but even that shaped up my personality," she said.

Ms Manya then realised that a platform like Miss India would recognise her rebellious voice and support her larger-than-life dreams.

But Mr Omprakash said his daughter was denied entry to a Miss India event in Mumbai by a gatekeeper. "She walked four kilometres to gatecrash the event through a rear entrance rather than giving up the hope," he said.

Ms Manya said she was scared to even dream of Miss India. "I would often get goosebumps and feel how can someone like me carry this big a dream," she told the Press Trust of India.

"But today when it has come true, there's this sense of peace that I made it, that I've made my parents proud. I feel there's a halo."

Mrs Manorama said she is fortunate to have a daughter like Ms Manya.

"She struggled hard, day and night, to achieve her dream," said Mrs Manorama. "We stood by her and gave it our all. Back then, it did look out of reach. But she did it. Now, I hope all parents encourage their daughters to touch the sky. Please support your daughters, so that they continue to dream."

Indian cricketer Shikhar Dhawan said Ms Manya is proof that dreams do come true.

"Manya Singh... what an inspirational story! Believe in your goals and you will rise above the odds to achieve them," he tweeted.

Indo-Asian News Service

"Naturally, my parents were worried. When I called my father, he started crying. In a broken voice, he asked me what was I doing there all alone. But I had to run away." --- Ms Manya Singh


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