Bhubaneswar: The journey from Ratikant Pradhan to Aishwarya Rituparna Pradhan has been both harrowing and fulfilling.
The castigation, the volleys of insults and the pain of almost being ostracised that followed the struggle for an identity would have crippled her, had Bhumika Sahu not been around to support and goad her to carve a niche for herself.
Now, posted at Paradip as Commercial Tax Officer (CTO), Aishwarya spoke to Odisha Bytes about her hardships and their friendship.
“What would I do without my best friend? I go to her both in my bad times as well as good times. She appreciates my good works and peps me up when down and out,” she said.
Aishwarya said Bhumika is an epitome of friendship, who has always been there with her through thick and thin.
“I had to go through a humiliating journey in my search for an identity of my own and Bhumika has always been by my side,” she said.
Both Aishwarya and Bhumika belong to Kanabagiri village under G Udaygiri block of Kandhamal district.
“She is my childhood friend. We both went to the same school in our village and continue to confide in each other,” she said.
Aishwarya has completed her Master’s degree in Public Administration from Utkal University and a one-year PG diploma course in journalism from Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Dhenkanal.
She worked with the Syndicate Bank before joining the Odisha Finance Service. She had to struggle her way up.
“My stay in the hostel was no less harrowing. The students made fun of me and I was even sexually assaulted by a few hostel mates. At one time, I decided to quit studies. It was Bhumika, who gave me the courage and asked me to continue my studies despite all odds,” said Aishwarya.
She stood like a pillar of strength and goaded her to chart the course forward. “I owe it to her. It is because of her that I continue my studies and could finally clear Odisha Civil Services examination,” she added.
Even as a youngster when she was going through the identity crisis with parents giving her a cold shoulder and reprimanding her for what they called behaving in an ‘abnormal way’, it was Bhumika who lend an ear and supported her. “I was more comfortable in women attire, which my family found it hard to digest. My parents scolded me. My father and brother used to treat me very badly. I was feeling suffocated at that time. I used to share everything with her,” said Aishwarya.
This rock solid friendship has withstood the test of time and has only got stronger with every passing year. “We stay together and continue to share our problems. I value her friendship the most in my life,” she said before signing off.