Once upon a time there was one quintessential Indian woman wearing other’s choices , a demure creature letting the men folk of the house take the lead, take the decisions that may be affecting her life in a long term. No matter she was facing sexual abuse in the protected environment she stayed, emotional abuse at the relations she was known by and her only talent was to suffer in silence.
Take a look around at the bus stops , metro stations ,roads you can view endless number of women smartly dressed managing work with family, supermoms breaking the shackles ,participating in a wave of change that is swept through India .These are the makers of modern India.
You all must have visited any hospital. Smartly dressed women with a doctor’s coat , engrossed in work and saving lives is a common sight these days.i will take you back to 1885 ,yup 200 years backAnandibai was born as Yamuna in an orthodox brahmin family. Her family used to be the landlords in Kalyan they lost heir riches. At age 9, she was married to Gopalrao Joshi because of the pressure laid by her family, who was a widower almost twenty years her senior. After the marriage, her husband renamed Yamuna to Anandi.
Gopalrao worked as a postal clerk in Kalyan. Later, he was transferred to Calcutta. He was a progressive thinker, and supported the education of women, which was not very prevalent in India at the time.
It was common for Brahmins in those times to be proficient in Sanskrit; however, influenced by Lokhitwadi's Shat Patre, Gopalrao regarded learning English well as more important than Sanskrit. Noticing Anandibai's interest, he helped her receive education and learn English.
At age of 14, Anandibai gave birth to a boy. But the child survived only ten days because the necessary medical care was unavailable. This situation proved a turning point in Anandibai's life, and inspired her to become a physician.
Gopalrao was an obsessed man. One day, when she was found helping her grandmother in the kitchen, Gopalrao flew into an uncontrollable rage and beat the young girl with a bamboo stick. The neighbourhood was agog: husbands beat wives for not cooking — but whoever had heard of a wife being beaten for cooking when she should have been reading.
Anandi gradually turned into a well-read intellectual girl. All this change took place in the face of stiff opposition from her parents, frequent bickering in the family and the stubborn attitude of her husband.
In 1880, he sent a letter to a well-known American missionary, Royal Wilder, stating his wife’s keenness to study medicine in America and if he would be able to help them. Wilder agreed to help the couple on the condition that they convert to Christianity. This proposition was not accepted by the Joshis.
Wilder extended his help by writing about it in a local paper, and Theodicia Carpenter, a rich American from New Jersey, saw the articles, and offered to help Anandi as she was impressed by the earnestness and keenness of Anandi to study medicine.
In the meanwhile, Anandi’s health was constantly declining. She suffered from weakness, constant headaches, occasional fever, and, sometimes, breathlessness. Initially reluctant to go abroad due to her bad health, Anandi eventually agreed after much persuasion from her husband and started studying medicine in Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (now known as Drexel University College of Medicine) at the age of 19 and got her M.D. degree in 1886. On her graduation, Queen Victoria sent her a congratulatory message. She completed her thesis on obstetric practices among the ancient Hindus.
Anandi’s extract from her letter of application to WMCP says,
“[The] determination which has brought me to your country against the combined opposition of my friends and caste ought to go a long way towards helping me to carry out the purpose for which I came, i.e. is to render to my poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician. The voice of humanity is with me and I must not fail. My soul is moved to help the many who cannot help themselves.”
Anandi was already ill with the first symptoms of the tuberculosis that would ultimately kill her. Her health worsened when she returned to India in 1886. She received a grand welcome and The princely state of Kolhapur appointed her as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital.
Anandi recieved a letter from Lokmanya Tilak, Editor “Kesari”, saying, inter alia,
“I know how in the face of all the difficulties you went to a foreign country and acquired knowledge with such diligence. You are one of the greatest women of our modern era. It came to my knowledge that you need money desperately. I am a newspaper editor. I do not have a large income. Even then I wish to give you one hundred rupees.”
Anandi died a few days after it. She passed away on 26th February 1887, a month before turning 22. Her ashes were sent to Mrs. Carpenter, her host in America who placed them in her family cemetery near New York.
Caroline Wells Healey Dall wrote Anandibai’s biography in 1888. Doordarshan aired a Hindi serial named “Anandi Gopal” based on Anandibai’s life. (Kamlakar Sarang directed the serial.) Shrikrishna Janardan Joshi wrote a fictionalized account of Anandabai ‘s life in his Marathi novel Anandi Gopal. (The novel has been translated in an abridged form in English by Asha Damle.) It has also been adapted into a play of the same name by Ram G. Joglekar.
Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences (IRDS), a Non-governmental organization from Lucknow has been awarding the Anandibai Joshi award for Medicine in reverence to her early contributions to the cause of Medical sciences in India.
Frantz Fanon “ A modern woman is the one who literally forged a new place by her sheer strength ,where men’s words were no longer law and where women were no longer silent”
I could not think of a better person than Dr Anandibai who did not settle for being a homemaker or accept it as a destiny that her young child passed away.She took her life in her own hands and proved to be a hindu housewife and a doctor too. Salute to her determination and courage
Source-Wikipedia, The better India ,Biography “The Life of Dr Anandibai Joshee”