Married off at an early age of 10 by her neighbors in order to protect her from her step-mother, did no good to her already cursed life, as she got in exchange of her cruel step-mother, an idle and violent husband. This marriage gave her two daughters, the elder one about to complete her teacher’s training course, while the other is just inkling from the God almighty that hard times are yet to come, she is an epileptic.
Vellitingal Vijaya, 48, after all these odds she hasn’t stopped dreaming. Her dream is to win a gold medal in the national veteran’s athletic meet and being able to qualify for the veterans Olympic. When Hyderabad based Vijaya is not running, she works as a housemaid in eight houses, earning around Rs. 2500 per month, and runs a dosa joint on handcart.
Her day starts at sharp 5 in the morning. After finishing her house chores she rushes in a track suit to the Police Parade Ground. After running 10 laps of 800 meter track, she heads towards the three houses where she is a domestic helper. Then she pushes her handcart to serve steaming dosas and tea- and its not even 9 a.m. As the office rush dies out she closes her tiny mobile shop and scampers down to the remaining five houses where she helps in. Before her way to home she once again runs, but this time 6 laps and finally the day ends for her.
In 1999, then 41, she went to work in a Malayali household, who treated her like a family member and she started accompanying the daughter of the family to the nearby Police Parade Ground. It was here only that she saw older and less fit women running and decided to try herself. Vijaya started running barefoot wearing sari.
One morning Krishna, the instructor in the police gym advised her to swap sari with a track suit which was hassle free. In reply Vijaya told him that she doesn’t have enough money to buy it; but still wanted to run. Surprised by the answer Krishna threw a deal, that if she is able to finish 20 laps of the field, he would give her Rs 100. Vijaya ran 22 laps; Krishna gave her Rs. 200 and asked her to use the ground for training.
Vijaya got to know about the veteran’s meet in Guntur through Krishna only. But officials as expected were quite skeptical. Eventually they took her for the meet, her first ever, where she won gold for the 500m dash, silver for 800m and 1500m. Thereafter, she has only won gold at the state level and silver and bronze at national.
But still all’s not well even after such an achievement. A veteran’s meet costs her more than what she earns. She has to borrow money which is unavoidable and pays back from her paltry salary. But amidst all this, her undying passion to run and her determination to make a mark in her life got noticed by T V 9, which honoured her. Renuka Chaudhary, minister for women and child development was the chief guest at the ceremony to felicitate her. Vijaya while receiving the award voiced her desire to participate in the International meets and her major problem i.e. lack of funds. Miss Chaudhary readily agreed to sponsor Vijaya. Now it is up to her to prove herself, to make her dreams come true in this once in a lifetime opportunity.
May god bless her.