The beauty queen rode an autorickshaw to her alma mater on Tuesday, her father in the driver’s seat and her mother holding her hand sitting at the back, a family that dared to dream big and gave it their all to make it come true.
Miss India 2020 runner-up Manya Singh’s father Omprakash led the 18-vehicle strong autorickshaw rally for the one kilometre-long stretch, from the end of Thakur village area to her college, the Thakur College of Science and Commerce, the humble three-wheeler getting pride of place in the celebration of her win.
“Today when I was driving the auto, there was this uncontrollable happiness. I was trying hard not to cry. I remembered how I would sometimes drop her to her college. Today, I was taking her with the crown on her head. I feel I’ve got my life’s worth of happiness,’ her father Omprakash, an autorickshaw driver, told PTI.
As they drove into the college, from where she graduated in Banking and Insurance, students, teachers and the management broke into spontaneous applause.
And the road, where Omprakash would wait for his next passenger, turned into a passage of jubilation with passersby stopping to see the autorickshaw cavalcade with placards and cheering once they realised what was happening.
‘I am fortunate to have a daughter like Manya. She struggled hard, day and night, to achieve her dream. 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,’ the 19-year-old’s mother Manorama said after the rally.
It was the fairytale story but not without its twists and turns.
Born in Mumbai to and raised in the small town of Hata in Uttar Pradesh, Manya was crowned VLCC Femina Miss India 2020 runner-up in a ceremony last week.
The 19-year-old’s story of perseverance and single-minded focus in the face of difficulties has touched a chord with people.
Omprakash, 45, tried hard to fight his tears when he reached the venue with his family, while Manorama, 38, recalled their struggle to educate her daughter and younger son.
From 4th standard till 10th, Manya’s parents were only able to afford exam fees at Lohia Inter College, Sahwa in Uttar Pradesh and at one point, her mother was forced to sell her anklet to get her admission.
Manya was academically bright but that didn’t dictate her career choices, as she dreamed of something different.
When Manya grew frustrated with the limited opportunities in her village, she ran away from home to Mumbai at the age of 14. Worried for their daughter, the Singh family packed bags and left for Mumbai immediately.
Manya found the grounding for her dreams in the suburban Kandivali as she funded her education by managing two jobs at a pizza joint and at a call centre.
At the college, Manorama, a housewife-turned-beautician, kept fighting her tears throughout the event, as her wish to see her daughter get recognised in her college, had finally come true.
‘I would take my seat in the back of this auditorium and watch others’ achievements. My daughter and her efforts have ensured that today I am on the stage. This is her story, of making an impossible dream possible,’ her mother said.
‘When Manya was being honoured, when there were students screaming they love her, I could only think of the past and our journey. I pray to God, that the days we saw in the past, we don’t see them anymore. That this opens up new doors,’ Manorama said.
Amid the chants of ‘we are proud of you Manya’ from students and peers, Manya made her parents wear her Miss India crown as a symbolic acknowledgment of their hard work behind her win.
‘There was a time when people told me I wasn’t good-looking, or tried to shame me for my roots. I toiled hard to make every bit count, to dream big even when the circumstances didn’t allow me.
‘This is where I began my journey and here I am again. I feel incredibly nostalgic and extremely emotional that I’m sharing this platform with my family,’ Manya told PTI.
At this year’s pageant, Manasa Varanasi, an engineer from Telangana, emerged as the winner, VLCC Femina Miss India World 2020, while Haryana’s Manika Sheokand was crowned VLCC Femina Miss Grand India 2020.