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Rags to riches: Anusuya's stunning story

Anusuya Ghosh has come a long way, having had her schooling under a mango tree. From poverty-stricken days to rearing cattle and fetching water from faraway ponds, her formative years were all miserable. But she was not ready to get bogged down by those desolate experiences, and she rose like a phoenix. Call it destiny or tremendous hard work and grit, Anusuya landed at IIT-Kharagpur. If you wonder how? Read on.

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In a November, I was born. Nobody remembers the date, not even my parents, a tragedy in my life. Few places do not appear on the map. My birthplace is one of them. I grew up in that village with tribal called “Santal”. I played with them. I ate their rotten food. I went to the fields to harvest crops and to catch fish. We all were very poor but we had a big heart.

I started my school under a mango tree. Every student had to carry a piece of cloth to sit in the class under the tree. So was I. We did not have enough money to buy a school bag. So, I used to carry my books in a medium-sized nylon bag.

My routine was to wake up around 4 am in the morning, then study. After that, I had to go to our fields to guard and to watch if any animal is coming to eat our corps. I used to sit there for hours under the scorching Sun. One day I discovered a tall Cotton tree beside the fields. The whole time I used to collect the seeds of cotton and bring them to my home. My mom used to make pillows with those cotton.

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It is either hot summer or cold winter, every night my parents had to sit and guard our cattle against the possibility of dacoit attack. I was in Class III and my parents decide to move to the nearest town. I appeared in the entrance exam and after a huge competition, I got selected. That time, I used to stay at my relative’s place. Besides reading, I had to perform several household activities there. Every day, I had to fetch 10-15 buckets of water from a municipality tap to my relative’s home. But I did, without any complaints.

My school was really popular. Every year students from my school used to take top positions in the state. I was a girl with the highest marks in Mathematics every year, without any fail. Mostly I used to secure full marks in that subject. I was among the top 2 in class. My father was doing the job of a postman. During heavy rains, he used to wear my raincoat, which normally was very tight in his body and go for his duty. I was very thin and without girly features. Few friends used to comment me as if I am a boy. I used to feel very ashamed of my physical appearance. My school tiffin was always chapati and sabji. My friends used to mock me seeing my tiffin box. I was matured enough to understand our financial position.

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At 12th I secured a position in WBJEE, a top Engineering College as well as in a Medical College. We went for counseling. I realized, Engineering and Medical both would be hard, as my father would not be able to afford the monthly expense. I gave up the dream and took admission in a government college in B.Sc Hons in Mathematics. Fortunately, I got a place to stay in a government hostel too. I made lots of friends at the hostel. After a few months of staying there, someone stole their costly cosmetics or shampoo and I was being accused of it by my friends. I was left all alone with an invalid accusation. My college life went by and I secured a position in IIT-Kharagpur Department of Mathematics through JAM Examination.

I moved to a new life at IIT-Kharagpur with a very good scholarship. After two years of hard work, I again took the second topper position and received “The Best Project of the Year 2009”. I had a dream to become a doctor, which was not possible due to our scarcity. I decided to do PhD in Mathematics. Among 90 competitors, only three were selected and I was one among them. I still remember the written test at IIT-Bombay where I wrote “This question is wrong” in the place of answer section in the admission Examination. I became that much confident in my subject.

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PhD life did not start smoothly because of the discouraging comments from known people around me. But I was happy that I will get enough scholarship which I can send to home every month. Days passed by. I was doing PhD on Convex Analysis which was one of the toughest subjects in the world. I was criticized by my lab mates that I do not deserve PhD degree. They made a lot of controversies about my personal life too. I was struggling with my results every day. My guide even could not assist me which is normal in research life. I was even demotivated by people saying that I should leave PhD.

The things which cannot break you, make you stronger. That was the threshold. First, I was able to make a solo trip to Egypt, on the way to a Conference at New York, with a scholarship. I enlarge my circle by joining dance, art, trekking, photography, painting, act, play and modeling in IIT Bombay. I finished 24 trekking in the Western Ghats including the Himalayas. I did waterfall rappelling, scuba diving, rafting, river crossing. I learnt German, learnt Salsa. I made acquaintances in my institute. My modeling made me feel that I am beautiful and made me proud of my appearance. My boyish look was hot and attractive!

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I made my Ph.D. at the end with numerous results in theory and applications. I was invited as a speaker at IIT Madras, IISc Bangalore and CMI. I joined the industry after that. I am into good earning although obviously not rich.

In my whole journey, I was continuously demotivated, criticized, demeaned, and judged by known/unknown people and that makes me feel a real celebrity. A king in my own life!

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