After the floods destroyed their house, advocate Pramitha Augustine has been living in a makeshift room with her siblings and parents.

Braving odds This Kerala woman fought financial crisis floods to become a lawyer
news Human Interest Monday, June 24, 2019 - 09:37

From her congenital health condition to the devastating Kerala floods, odds were many against this 28-year-old woman from Ernakulam. But nothing ever hampered her spirits. In fact, Pramitha Augustine just accomplished one of her most cherished dreams of becoming an advocate. On June 16, Pramitha got enrolled as an advocate in the Kerala High Court.

Pramitha hails from North Kuthiyathode, a small village bordering Ernakulam and Thrissur districts. A graduate in Economics from St Xavier’s College for Women in Aluva, Pramitha pursued Law from Government Law College in Ernakulam.

In addition to getting a degree in Law, the college education instilled confidence in her. Yet, she says she needs to push herself further.

Education over health, financial crisis

Pramitha is about 3.5 feet tall, and being a person with short stature, she was often teased at school. She can still recount the confidence issues she suffered during her school days.

“Children used to ridicule me for my height and this pained me as a child. I studied at two schools near my house, until class seven. After that, I stayed in a convent in Thrikkakara in Kochi with my aunt, who is a nun there, to complete my high school education,” says Pramitha.

She has weak bones since birth, which restricts her movement and prevents her from doing any strenuous activities. She cannot walk long distances. “It is also not possible for me to write exams at a pace that other students normally do because of this condition. This was one of the challenges I faced even while preparing for Law,” recalls Pramitha.

She was born into an agricultural family, with severe financial crisis looming large over them. But her parents had set their priorities straight- to give their children a good education, and that is what Pramitha believes is her biggest asset.

Pramitha with her father Augustine and mother Mercy

“My father is a heart patient and my mother’s kidneys were affected due to medical negligence a few years ago. Since the last 20 years, my family has been going through a severe financial crisis over a legal case involving a bank loan. Amidst these hurdles, my parents never stopped me from pursuing my dreams,” Pramitha tells TNM.

Growing up watching the legal struggles the family faced over the repayment of an agriculture loan, inspired her to become a lawyer. “The lawyers had their part in dragging this case on for nearly 20 years, as we were not aware of the legalities involved,” she adds.

When floods forced the family out of house

Though she achieved one of her biggest dreams, which she believes will give the family a better life, yet another unexpected tragedy hit them during the devastating floods last year. The family, consisting of her three siblings and parents, lost their only house to the flood.

“On the night of floods in August, our neighbour called us on the phone and said that the dams have been opened and there will be a flood. Soon, we realised that the water had already entered our house. Suddenly, water was all over, with the water level up to my height. My parents found it difficult to even shift me outside the house. We took shelter in about three relief camps," recalls Pramitha.

A few months ago, the local body in the area helped the family build a makeshift room in the place where their house once stood. The family of six now lives in this room. “With the relief aid we received from the government, we constructed the foundation of a new house. Now, I will have to find some other means to build it further,” says Pramitha.

The fight goes on

Even while talking about all the challenges she had to face, Pramitha’s voice beams with confidence.

“Life has not taken shape as how I wanted it. But being an advocate is the one thing that happened as I wanted. There will be obstacles; there will be challenges to knock you down. But never go down, look ahead and fight it out,” Pramitha says.

She doesn’t consider this success as an end to her fight against survival. Pramitha is now focused on doing justice to her profession.

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