Two Indian teenage girls, 18-year-old Jyoti Kumari and 16-year-old Neha, took over their father’s business in Uttar Pradesh after he fell ill in 2014.
For four years they pretended to be guys in order to run their father’s barber shop. The barbershop had initially closed but the shop was the family’s only source of income.
So, the girls decided to take matters into their own hands and run it themselves. Initially, the customers were sceptical about getting their moustaches trimmed and hair cut by women and did not behave well with them, Jyoti told The Guardian. .
“So we decided to change our whole get-up so that none could identify us,” she added. The girls cut their hair short and adopted names Deepak and Raju.
100 houses in their village knew their real identities but the surrounding communities had no idea, Neha said. The pair earned almost 400 rupees every day, which was enough for them to pay for their father’s treatment and support the family.
“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.”
But that was not it, the girls would open the shop in the afternoon so that they could continue studying in the morning. Jyoti has now graduated and Neha is still studying.
“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.” Jyoti has started regrowing her hair.
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.”
The two girls were honoured by the government for their spirit and determination.