I want you to go back to when you were small 13-year-old. I want you to imagine walking to your father. And, I want you to contemplate what would have been his response had you confronted him that you want to become a racer. I want you to imagine what would have been the reaction? Would they have been supportive?

Leaving you with your answers, I would assume that in most cases the answer would have been a negative one. The case of Dr. Bani Yadav was no different. She was just 13 when she ambitiously told her father that she wanted to become a rally racer. And, owing to host of possible reasons, she didn’t get the support she yearned for.

Firstly of course, India of those days didn’t have the infrastructure to cultivate racers. Then, racing has always been associated with the males of the society. Thirdly, well it often sounds a risky activity to pursue. Thus, because all sorts of reasons, Dr. Yadav couldn’t pursue her will then.

Thereafter that 13-year-old grew up and got married. She moved on with life. Or maybe I should say, life kept pushing her on a course she never wanted to head towards. But, whatever odds came her way, whatever way her life changed, despite whatever responsibilities she had on her head now, she never let her dream die. She kept it breathing right inside of herself. And, long after she had gotten married, this woman accomplished her desire.

No doubt, it took a really long time for her to realize that desire of her. But, she kept that fire burning in her heart for all that long. She kept it alive. She didn’t succumb to life. She didn’t ever say, “That’s life.”

Instead, when she felt that yeah now is the time that she could stand up and pursue her dream, she freaking gave it all in to it. And, she succeeded because unlike most people like you and I, she turned her only passion into her only purpose, stuck to it, and nailed it.

In fact, she aced it.

Dr. Bani Yadav has not just broken a lot of stereotypes but also a lot many male egos. When on tracks, most of her competitors have always been male. And, many of them never miss a chance to quip stereotypical remarks as normal people often do about women drivers on roads. And, Dr. Yadav defeating them by crossing the finish line before them every time, that’s the way she chooses to shut such mouths.

I adore such women to an astounding extent. Women who challenge the status quo and make people rethink their established notions on gender roles and identities. That’s the kind of gutsy and ambitious women we need in our society. At least, I feel that’s the kind of women I would want to see coming up in my family. Women who stand up for themselves, and don’t look for a man’s assistance.

I often wonder, why young girls in our country or even outside are only exposed to barbies and fairy tales. Why they are always shown movies which end up with a ripped and muscular Prince Charming with shiny-silky hair coming to rescue her from sundry odds, and then rides her away on a sparkling white horse. Why don’t we recite to our girls the stories of Rani Lakshmi Bai who fought the British, riding a horse, with a sword in a hand, a shield in another, all while her baby was tied to her back. She stood as her own guard. She stood for her own interests and fought whatever odds life threw her way.

Rani Lakshmi Bai didn’t wait for a Prince Charming at that difficult hour. Instead she became a Princess Badass!

I think, there are many such examples of women who stand up for themselves every day. And, I see Dr. Bani Yadav in that same light. The way she realized her cherished dream which is mostly identified popular among males and the way she never gave up on her dreams even after decades having passed by, it is great tale of how our females should be.

Thus, here goes my proverbial hat in her respect. And, not just her respect, but for all such amazing women who we often encounter in our lives.

I had the honour to meet and briefly interact with Dr. Bani Yadav on 25th August 2018 when I was hosting TEDx ABVIIITMG where she gave an amazing talk.

Signing off,

Shilanjan

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