Published: 11th December 2019
A Class X dropout, this 41-year-old mother of two from Kochi is now a lawyer. This is her incredible story
Neena K G passed her class X equivalency exam through the Kerala Literacy Mission's continuing education programme. Later, she passed her class XI and XII exams through NIOS
Neena K G was on her way to the store to buy some new clothes when we first spoke over the phone. New clothes for what? A few days from then, precisely on December 15, she will be enrolling herself as a lawyer at the Bar Council of Kerala. Now what is so special about someone enrolling as a lawyer, one may ask. Here's your answer: She's 41, a mother of two, passed her class X exam through the Kerala Literacy Mission's Continuing Education programme and worked regularly during the five years of her LLB and supported her family and children's education.
This is a true testament to how much you can make of your life even if you missed out on graduating from +2 the first time around, "I'd dreamt of being a lawyer right from very the day I registered for the literacy mission's class X equivalency examination. Now that it is all set to become a reality, I'm really excited," says Neena. "I really hope that this will inspire a lot more people who had to discontinue education, to study further and achieve their dreams," she says.
Why did she not completed her schooling? One of society's longest prevailing shackles for women. An early marriage. Neena recalls how she used to be a really bright student in school, until class X. "That was around the time that I got married and was forced to discontinue my studies. Soon, I had two children," she says. "I always wanted to continue studying, especially since all of my classmates went to college." But she never did get the chance.
As the years rolled by, she says that she was forced to look for a job to support her family. "My children were growing up and I had to pay the rent too. But finding a job was quite difficult without a class X certificate. That was when I realised the importance of continuing my studies," she says. She did find a job in a wood godown and then in a private firm. "Later, I was hired as a clerk in a lawyer's office. Over the years, I learned how to type," she says.
That was around the same time that a neighbour, who was also a prerak with the literacy mission, told her about the class X equivalency examination. "I thought I shouldn't miss this opportunity. I enrolled in the programme and started attending classes every Sunday, adamant that I would become a lawyer someday. Eventually, I passed the class X exam in 2010," she says. Through the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), she passed the class XI and XII examinations in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
The next hurdle on the list was to write the law entrance test. But that was the year in which the government had put an age bar of 22 years to appear for the exam. "I wasn't ready to back off. A few of us filed a writ petition in the High Court challenging this. The court ruled in our favour in 2013," she says. Following this win, that very year she wrote the law entrance and joined the Government Law College in Ernakulam.
"This was one of the happiest days of my life. I was a step closer to my dream," she says. "I did not discontinue work even while in college. It was obviously difficult, but thanks to my family, boss and teachers for making it easier," she says.
Is that the end of her bucket list? "I really hope that I can start practising as my boss' lawyer in the same office. That's my new dream," she laughs.