Aparna Malikar-Life, before and after KBC
NAGPUR: Aparna Malikar was living a miserable life after her husband Sanjay committed suicide in 2008. She was suddenly responsible for paying a farm loan she never knew her husband had taken. Her in-laws disowned her, did not allow her to take part in the funeral, and refused to feed her or the two children. Above all, the farm cultivated by the family was embroiled in a legal dispute over ownership and the other party was close to winning the case.
Then, luck smiled on her and Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) happened. Aparna received a call from Swapna Nayar, who had been given Aparna's name by farm activist Kishore Tiwari, who heads the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti. Today, life is on a completely different trajectory now that she has won Rs 6.5 lakh on the game show.
However, it was not all that easy for Aparna. KBC personnel first interviewed her at length. Then, Nayar came down to meet her, see her surroundings and watch her working on the farm.
"I had hardly gone out of the house for some five years after my marriage in 2005. Let alone visiting other cities, the most I travelled was to Pandharkawda. I used to restrict myself to the home and take care of my kids," Aparna says.
Like most women in rural areas, at 25, Aparna was contented with her family of husband and two little daughters - Rohini (7) and Samruddhi (3). However, the world came crashing down when her husband, a cotton farmer, committed suicide in 2008 due to mounting debt.
Aparna was also left facing a family disputes, where she accused her brother-in-law and former deputy mayor Raghunath Malikar of not paying any attention to her family. "After my hubby's death, I was forced out during the last rites and never allowed to speak to the police. In fact, false charges were levelled against my father and brother, and they spent 10 days in jail."
She says that even though she was in a state of shock her in-laws, including Raghunath, never came to her help. She was left alone to fend for herself and her kids. "Me and the kids remained hungry for about three days, with only the villagers helping us," she says.
However, she fought against all odds and took up farming on their six acre plot of land. She started tilling the land to pay off the farm loan that her husband had taken without telling her. Slowly, she not only became adept at farming, but also learnt many intricacies of the profession. "I now use only organic manure made at home using human and animal waste. I want thousands widows like me to live a dignified life," she says.
Aparna also took up the challenge of saving other women facing similar tragedies. She and other women in her Self Help Group (SHG) fought hard to close down a liquor shop in their village. "Our village was in the grip of liquor. First we approached the police, but when they failed to take action we barged into the shop, damaged their stock and forced it to close down," she says.
Then came the invite from KBC and her meeting with Amitabh Bachchan, which left the superstar dazzled and impressed. Aparna, however, was not dazzled by the glitzy world she saw outside her village.
After the KBC win that gave her the license to dream, she has made the education of her children the immediate priority. "I don't mind joining politics, but I am concerned about the education of my daughters. I want them to take up careers like engineering and medical. I never wish them to take up farming, which I this is the worst profession in India."
Despite the huge change of luck, life will still not be easy for Aparna. She is all set to lose her six-acre farm, which she cultivated herself after her hubby's death. "The farm was disputed property, and the opposite party has won the legal battle. But I've some land in my husband's name, and I also plan to open a beauty salon, since I've completed a diploma in beauty parlour. I would have thought of opening another, bigger business, if I had answered the Rs 12 lakh question correctly."