From not being able to afford a computer to working at one of the world's biggest Tech companies, from "sleeping on roads" to living in a spacious Mumbai house- Shaheena Attarwala has come out victorious from all the hardships life threw at her. Attarwala, who is a Product Design Manager at Microsoft, shared about her experience of growing up in a slum area and how that went on to shape her life in a Twitter thread going viral on the micro-blogging platform.
Attarwala was taken back in time after she spotted her old house in a Netflix series. "The Netflix series 'Bad Boy Billionaires: India" captures a birds-eye view of the slum in Bombay I grew up before moving out alone in 2015 to build my life. One of the homes you see in the photos is ours," she wrote on Twitter.
The @netflix series "Bad Boy Billionaires - India" Captures a birds-eye view of the slum in Bombay I grew up before moving out alone in 2015 to build my life.— Shaheena Attarwala شاہینہ (@RuthlessUx) January 26, 2022
One of the homes you see in the photos is ours. You also see better public toilets which were not like this before. pic.twitter.com/fODoTEolvS
Attarwala told NDTV that she lived in the Darga Galli slum near Bandra railway station. Her father was a hawker of essential oils who shifted from Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai. "Life in the slum was hard and exposed me to severest living conditions, gender bias, and sexual harassment but it also fueled my curiosity to learn and to design a different life for myself," she said.
"By the age of 15, I had observed many women around me were helpless, dependent, abused, and going through life without having the freedom to make their own choices or to be who they wanted to be.
"I did not want to accept the default fate that awaited me," she told NDTV.
The first time Attarwala saw a computer in school, she was extremely fascinated by it. "I believed that computers could be a great leveller, that anyone who was sitting in front of it would have opportunities," she said.
However, bad grades meant that she was asked to do needlework instead of attending computer classes. That did not stop her and despite the rejection, she dreamed of pursuing a career in technology.
Shaheena Attarwala forced her father to borrow money so she could admit herself in a local computer class. To raise the cash she needed to buy her own computer, she skipped lunches and started walking back home.
After that, there was no looking back for the determined young girl.
"I quit programming and chose to pursue a career in design because the design made me believe that possibilities exist and things can change and technology is that tool to the change," said Attarwala.
Last year, after years of hard work, Attarwala and her family shfted to an apartment with adequate sunlight, ventilation and greenery. After a childhood of living in a slum and skipping meals, the development was a big step and a stellar proof of her hard work.
"From my father being a hawker and sleeping on roads to having a life we could barely dream of. Luck, hard work and picking battles that matter," she wrote on Twitter.
In 2021 my family moved to an apartment where we can see the sky from home, good sunlight & ventilation. Surrounded by birds & Greenery. From my father being a hawker & sleeping on roads to having a life, we could barely dream of. Luck, Hardwork & picking battles that matter😌 pic.twitter.com/J2Ws2i4ffA— Shaheena Attarwala شاہینہ (@RuthlessUx) January 26, 2022
And now, for young girls who are in the same position she once was, Attarwala's advice remains, "Do whatever it takes to acquire education, skills, and careers, this is what's going to be a huge game-changer for young girls," she says.
Her Twitter thread has gone viral with nearly 4,000 'likes' and hundreds of replies.