Sisters turn barbers in UP’s Kushinagar, shave off poverty
Teen sisters of Gorakhpur turn barber to
Two teenaged sisters have probably breached one of the last male bastions by becoming barbers and giving haircuts and shaving beards at a men’s saloon in Kushinagar district.
Nearly five years ago, sisters Jyoti (18) and Neha (16) started working as barbers at a makeshift shop owned by their father Dhruv Narayan in Banwari Tola village in Padrauna, Kushinagar, in the guise of boys.
It was only in recent times that people outside the village discovered that they were girls doing a job mostly done by men.
The girls say that they picked up the scissors not by choice but out of compulsion after their father suffered a paralysis attack.
“Though my grandfather and father worked as barbers, we never thought that we would also have to take up this job. It was our poor family condition that compelled us to step into our father’s shoes. I was studying when my father fell ill and had to close down his shop. As it became a matter of survival for us, we were left with no other option but to reopen the shop,” says Jyoti.
To avoid criticism and ridicule, Jyoti started off in the guise of a boy and was later joined by her younger sister Neha.
Youngest among eight sisters, six of whom have been married off, Jyoti and Neha dressed up as boys and sported short hair to let the customers feel comfortable.
The sisters say that the customers initially treated them as boys but later they came to know about the reality which drew sharp criticism from relatives, who never stood by them in their trying times.
Jyoti dropped out after class 12 while Neha discontinued studies after class 10.
The hard work put in by them yielded good income to support their family and helped in the treatment of their father. The girls turned their makeshift shop into a saloon and now earn around Rs 400-500 daily.
“When I started off, I had no idea about shaving or haircut. I changed my named as Deepak aka Raju to hide my identity. Later, Neha also shunned hesitation and joined me,” says Jyoti.
“Today, we do not need to hide our identity as everyone know us. Our relatives still feel that this work lacks dignity. I now want to switch to beauty parlour business which is today a source of dignified livelihood to thousands of women in India,” she adds.
Dhruv Narayan, who has still not recovered fully, says: “I feel proud of my daughters who supported the family in crisis.”
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