Just like the present time, patriarchy was not criticised often in the late 20th century when India was still governed by the British. Men and women clearly had their roles differentiated where women always on the box of disadvantage. They used to spend their whole lives in the kitchen, taking care of the whole family and often tortured by the male chauvinists. Even women were denied their basic rights such as education by society back then. But exceptions are always there, and those exceptions light up the candles of hope for the rest of the people. Kamini Roy was one of them. And if you have not heard it, here we are going to tell you about it. Kamini Roy, the story of first Indian Women Graduate, is beyond fascinating.
Early Years of Kamini Roy
Born on 12th October, 1864, Kamini Roy was brought up in the village of now Barisal District, Bangladesh. She came from a prolific elite family where her father, Chandi Charan Sen was a writer and a judge. He was also a member of the ‘Brahmo Somaj’ movement. Her brother was a renowned barrister of Calcutta High Court. Kamini Roy is considered to be a child prodigy who had a keen interest in mathematics. But her father’s Sanskrit influenced her, and soon she switched her interest to literature. Since very young age, she used to play with words and write poetry.
Paving the way for Better Education – College Life
Although she came from a progressive family, it was not easy for her to continue education. Roy took the entrance exam to Bethune College in the year of 1880 and cleared it. Despite having many obstacles, she graduated from Bethune College in 1886 and became the First Indian Woman Honours graduate with a degree of bachelor in Sanskrit. She was a strong lady who supported women empowerment and feminism. While in college, she took an active part in the Ilbert Bill agitation.
Feminism and Writing – Two Sides of a Coin, Kamini Roy
As it was said earlier, Roy had a keen interest in writing poetry; it turned out to be a great weapon to churn the patriarchy out of the system. Her first published work is ‘Alo Chhaya’ in 1889. She took her cue for feminism from Abala Bose and raised her voice many times against many injustices. In her own words,
“The male desire to rule is the primary, if not the only, stumbling block to women’s enlightenment… They are extremely suspicious of women’s emancipation. Why? The same old fear – ‘Lest they become like us’.”
Even in 1921, she joined the ‘Nari Samaj’ along with Kumudini Mitra and Mrinalini Sen. She was one of the leaders and raised her voice against the woman suffrage. Kamini Roy was also a member of the Female Labour Investigation Committee.
Personal and Professional Life
After graduating from Bethune College, she joined the same college as a teacher. During this time she published many books. However, she quit teaching after 1894, when she got married.
She was married to Kedarnath Roy at the age of 30, which was considered an improper age for a girl to get married. However, after having two children, Kamini Roy gave up on her writing profession. She again started writing in 1909, after her husband died. Some of her notable works are – Pundorik, Dwip O Dhup, Jibon Pathey, Gunjan etc. Later, the Calcutta University honoured her with ‘Jagattarini Gold Medal.’
Although Kamini Roy died on 27th September 1933, she has not stopped inspiring millions of men and women in India. She ignited the hope which we are carrying still with us. May her soul rest in peace!
Written By: Subharthi Bhattacharya