N. Anjana (Anjana Vedapuri), B.A, Ethiraj College, Chennai, 1970

Photo taken in 1972

“To the best of our knowledge, my mother, Anjana Vedapuri, is the first female graduate in her family.

N.Anjana (as she was called then) finished her graduation in English Literature from Ethiraj College, Chennai in 1970. While her family could be called conservative in some ways, they were also highly supportive of girls’ education, and her grandfather, especially, encouraged her love of language and literature.

In the late 60s and early 70s, even in urban India, graduation was still not considered essential for a young woman. Among her friends, while some pursued graduate and then post-graduate degrees, others stopped with an ‘SSLC’. In her own family, most women of the earlier generation had stopped at various levels of middle or high school.

My mother finished her graduation, and then worked for a few years at the Parliament library in New Delhi, at a job she loved (with the incredible perk of being able to read all the books that publishers sent for the library shelves!)

Once she got married and had children, she could no longer pursue this career, given my dad’s transferrable job; yet, in all the years at home, with three children taking up most of her time, she did not lose her love of language.

In her early 40s, my mother went back to college, completed her post-graduation (now in a different field, Hindi literature), got herself a B.Ed. degree as well and went back to work as a teacher.

My mother’s story of Education inspires me, and I hope, will inspire many other women who seek to study, at any point of their lives, not just when they are young students.”

Contributor: Aparna Vedapuri Singh (daughter)

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