Jyoti Kumari, 18, and her 16-year-old sister, Neha, have been honoured by the Indian government after it was discovered that the duo ran their father’s barbershop pretending to be boys for four years. The sisters not only kept their father’s business running while he was sick but were also completing their education side by side.
The girls not only adopted male names Deepak and Raju for this work but also cut their hair short so that nobody could identify them. Customers were initially sceptical about having their hair or moustaches trimmed by young women, while others “did not behave well towards us”, Jyoti told the Guardian. “So we decided to change our whole get-up so that none could identify us.” “You could not identify me even today.”
“We faced a lot of troubles when we started the job in 2014,” Neha said. “Others in the village mocked us but we ignored them and focused on work since we had no other option.”
The duo used to make approximately 400 rupees a day, supported their home and took care of their father’s treatment by maintaining his business.
“Now we have gained enough confidence and don’t fear anyone,” Neha said. “The majority of people have come to know that we are girls.”
Nobody knew about them until a journalist from Gorakhpur published their story in a local newspaper, and soon they were honoured for their work by the Indian Government itself.
Dhruv Narayan, the girls’ father, said: “This gives me a lot of pain when I find them at work but I am very proud of my daughters. They have extricated the family out of a sudden crisis.”