Since she was 10-years-old, Sonal Sharma’s daily routine was to wake up at 4 am, help her father milk cows, clean the cowsheds, collect dung, and distribute milk in her neighbourhood in Udaipur.
But on December 23, Sonal’s life changed forever as she received a notification informing her of her selection in the Rajasthan Judicial Services.
The 26-year-old was on cloud nine as her dream of becoming a judge had come true.
“I always wanted to be a judge because to be able to provide justice is a rewarding job. And because I have seen poverty and I know what poor people face, I feel I will be able to do my job well,” she said.
Sonal, the daughter of a milkman, will now be posted as a first-class magistrate in the sessions court after a year of training at the judicial academy in Jodhpur.
“When I was in school and college, my chappals would often be smeared with cow dung. I used to feel ashamed to tell others that my father was a milkman. But today I am proud of my father and my family background,” she says.
Sonal’s inspiring story is one of grit and determination.
Coming from a humble background, she did not have money for coaching classes and prepared for the exam on her own, studying 10-12 hours daily. She used to cycle to her university library and take copious notes as she could not buy expensive books.
“I had no other distractions. I am not on any social media and I was determined to achieve my goal,” she said.
Even while preparing for the exam, she had to help her father in his small dairy located in Pratap Nagar area of Udaipur. After finishing her work, she would study in a corner of the cow shed on a study table made of empty oil cans.
Sonal appeared for the RJS 2018 exam and the results were announced in November 2019. She missed the general cut-off list by just one mark and was placed on the waiting list.
“I worked hard and I was sure I would clear the exam. But when I failed by one mark, I was very depressed,” recalls Sonal.
However, Sonal later found out that seven candidates who had cleared the RJS exam had not joined. She filed a petition in the high court in September this year for waiting list candidates to be inducted on the seven vacant seats.
On December 23, her wait was finally over when she received a notification from the high court informing her of selection.
Sonal has been a meritorious student throughout. In the class 12 CBSE exam, she topped the state in Economics and was the all-India topper in Hindi.
She did her post graduation from Mohan Lal Sukhadia University, topping her BA.LL.B and LL.M exams and received two gold medals and the Chancellor’s medal at the convocation held on December 22.
Sonal is the second of four children of Khyali Lal Sharma. “My friends would tell me there is no need to educate daughters. Marry them off. But it is the duty of parents to support their children. I am very proud of Sonal. I have advised her to compromise on her integrity,” he says.
Sonal now looks forward to providing a comfortable life to her parents.
“My father has worked hard to provide for us. He wakes up at 4 am and sleeps around midnight. He spent his life milking cows and selling milk. He even took loans to ensure that we could all complete our education. He has never complained. Now it is my turn to take care of my parents,” she says.
Sonal has an elder sister who is a translator with the CAG office in Agartala while her brother and sister are pursuing their graduation.