Dreams cut short, kin of TSPSC aspirant Pravalika want justice, dignity as politics engulfs grieving family

Pravallika died allegedly by suicide on 13 October in her hostel room. While TSPSC exam delay was seen as cause, police pointed to relationship issues.

ByDeepika Pasham

Published Oct 17, 2023 | 4:19 PMUpdatedOct 17, 2023 | 4:25 PM

Marri Pravalika

“Every time she visited us from Hyderabad, it was like a festival for me,” a teary-eyed Vijaya said, still in disbelief that her life has changed forever.

Her daughter — Marri Pravalika, a TSPSC exam aspirant — was supposed to come home to celebrate Dasara with them. Instead, she came home wrapped in a shroud, lifeless — leaving the family in agonising grief.

The tragedy of their daughter’s suicide has turned into torment for this farming family from Bikkajipally in Warangal.

The judgmental eyes of society, a police inquiry that has set tongues wagging over their child’s character and, worse of all, politicians building narratives in an election-bound state around their daughter’s unfortunate and untimely death has made matters worse for Pravalika’s family.

“We are trying to get the family some help from the government, so don’t write anything against BRS. It may dent our chances,” a former gram panchayat leader from the village told South First, not leaving the family’s side even for a moment, lest they say anything contradictory.

A few yards away, workers of the Congress approached South First to share photocopies of Pravalika’s hall ticket confirming her attempts for Group exams of TSPSC — an attempt to counter BRS leaders’ claims that she wasn’t an aspirant. Her home has become ground-zero for political narratives.

For the grieving family none of these matters. They have lost their child who was full of aspirations and dreams.

Pravalika, the passionate student

Pravalika, a 23-year-old from a remote village in Warangal and TSPSC exam aspirant, met a tragic end by her own hands in her Hyderabad hostel on Friday, 13 October.

Her story is one of untapped potential, dreams that remained unfulfilled, and a family left in utter anguish — not entirely by the girl’s actions but also by the words of those around them.

“Is it a crime for young people to aspire to secure a government job? The rumours and character assassinations swirling around Pravalika won’t erase the fact that she was a determined and studious young woman,” says Vijaya, a woman wracked with grief.

Posters around the village mourning the loss of Pravallika. (South First)

Posters around the village mourning the loss of Pravalika. (South First)

“My daughter was a bookworm, passionate about her studies. There were times when I, and my husband, both farmers, would implore her to join us in the fields. But Pravalika dreamt of achieving independence by cracking a government job to support our family,” Vijaya says, her voice choked with emotion.

“After school, she would walk straight home. Nobody knew that there was a girl in our home because of her quiet nature. My daughter was very dear to her father. After moving to Hyderabad, she would call us twice a day and if she visited the village along with her brother, it was like a festival for me. But even here, she would wake up by 9 am, eat, and then get back to her books. The three of us always saw her with her books, though she came home only for two or three days,” her mother recalls.

“We paid ₹80,000 for her coaching in Hyderabad to prepare her for competitive examinations. After completion of coaching, she stayed in private hostels close to the study centres,” she says.

She adds, “We expect the media and politicians to allow her soul to get peace. We have no expectations from any government officers. If my son completes his degree and attempts the government exams, then we would like to see at least him gets a government job. It would make my daughter happy.”

The family wants nothing from anyone, just peace.

Vijaya confesses that she wanted Pravalika to get married and adds that they were in the process of making arrangements for it, but the young woman was clear that a government job was her first priority.

Related: Protest in after woman dies by suicide over ‘TSPSC exam delay’

A bright future cut short   

The day of the tragedy was like any other, until it wasn’t.

In the last phone call to her family, at 6.30 pm, Pravalika had asked if her parents had had dinner. Vijaya, busy in the kitchen, told her that she was cooking. Pravallika then said that she was going to eat and would call back.

By 7.45 pm, Vijaya received a call that was to change their lives forever.

Pravallika's family home. (South First)

Pravalika’s family home. (South First)

“Are you Pravalika parents?” The voice on the other end reported that she had fallen unconscious in her hostel. In a panic, her brother prepared to rush to Hyderabad. But the next call, at 8.10 pm, brought the crushing news — they had lost their daughter to suicide.

It is believed by many, including her own brother, that the young woman took the extreme step as she was disheartened over the repeated postponement of the TSPSC exams as it was placing a financial burden on her family.

However, amid a police investigation by the Chikkadpally police, the family was confronted with shocking revelations about Pravalika’s alleged boyfriend, Shivaram Rathod. The police maintained that she was dejected when her “boyfriend” left her for another woman.

The family was blindsided, as their daughter had never shared any such information with them. They were left grappling with the harsh glare of scrutiny and people’s judgement on their daughter’s character.

“The concerns raised about Pravalika’s character are baseless,” a resolute Vijaya insists. “My daughter never confided in us about any romantic involvement. If she did have secrets, they were hers to keep. Why has her personal life become a topic of discussion?”

Pravalika’s father, a man tormented by grief, is unable to speak to us. He clings to his daughter’s books, running his fingers over the pages, a silent testament to her lost potential.

Related: TSPSC aspirant suicide: ‘We have to bear the brunt,’ says hostel management 

A bright student

Despite the heartbreaking turn of events, it’s crucial to remember the Pravalika who once lived — vibrant, intelligent, and brimming with promise.

The Anganwadi centre where Pravalikka studied. (South First)

The Anganwadi centre where Pravalikka studied. (South First)

She was among the top five students in her school, scoring an impressive 8.5 grade in the SSC exams at the Zilla Parishad Government School of Bikkajipally. She left the village after her 10th Grade. Her journey continued as she moved to Hanamkonda, where she excelled in her Intermediate studies in Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry at Shivani College, with a score of 960.

Her passion for learning led her to pursue a BSc in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Computer Science (MCCS) at Geetanjali College in Hanamkonda.

Pravalika was more than just an academic achiever; she was a dedicated student who actively participated in educational activities, her eyes set on the future.

Her younger brother, Pranay, her confidant and companion in Hyderabad, feels the void left by her. “My sister and I were living in two different locations in Hyderabad. I am in my second year of BBA at Nizam College of Hyderabad. If my sister wished to buy anything, I would accompany her,” he recalls.

He says, “I have never seen my sister hang out with friends, instead she preferred to sit in study centres. First, she was preparing for exams in Himayatnagar and, then, after coaching, she was living in Dilsukhnagar. Just 15 days ago, she moved to Ashok Nagar as the study centres were close by.”

Also read: Police say betrayal by boyfriend reason for TSPSC aspirant’s suicide

A village in pain but divided on opinions

Despite the heart-wrenching nature of her death, the discussion in the village of Bikkajipally took a disheartening turn.

Instead of mourning the loss of a bright young woman, they questioned why a girl was permitted to pursue education. The whispers in the village weren’t about Pravalika’s dreams or aspirations, but why her parents hadn’t chosen the conventional path of marriage for her. She should have been the mother of two children by now, they mused.

Bikkajipally is a small village in Duggondi Mandal in Warangal district of Telangana. (South First)

Bikkajipally is a small village in Duggondi Mandal in Warangal district of Telangana. (South First)

The villagers who watched Pravalika’s life from a distance offer their perspective, unaware of the inner struggles she faced.

In a traditional community that typically expects marriage by the age of 21 or 22, Pravalika’s family made the courageous choice to support their daughter’s dreams of achieving a government job.

A woman in the village says, “The family was looking for a marriage proposal and making arrangements, but she should have gotten married earlier so that she would have been a mother of two children already. The money they spent both on her education and the girl itself are gone now.”

The pain this family bears is magnified by the village’s relentless gaze, casting judgement and blame. The village has a woman Sarpanch — Bhagyalakshmi — but it is her husband, Lingaiah, who speaks on her behalf. He insists that the village understands the depth of the tragedy but adds that in such rural, patriarchal settings, the honour of a family is at stake.

Speaking to South First, he says, “The damage is done to the family. It is our bad fate. The girl should have not died by suicide, instead should have told us what had been happening to her in the city. Keeping everything to herself is a serious concern for the prestige of the family. As it is a rural patriarchal village, the questions are on the father and mother.”

As they attempt to console the family, they realise that the wounds run deep and the road to recovery will be long and arduous.

Also read: Southern states witness 2,900 student suicides every year

‘Village youth want careers’

A mother of two young women, who got government jobs, tells South First, “My house is metres away from Pravalika house. I have two daughters and a son. Both my daughters are government teachers and one of them is still studying to get a promotion to teach higher education. My son is a software engineer. They rarely travel to the village because it is difficult for them amid hectic jobs.”

Satish, a youth living in the village, tells South First, “This is not the first case. In this year, a 21-year-old died in a fire accident in the Swapnalok building where she was working. We have no awareness of what alternative to choose if we do not succeed in getting a government job. Some of us take part-time jobs in the city and prepare for competitive exams on the side.”

Anganwadi teacher Saraswati tells South First, “In the village, recently, two men got selected for constable jobs and also for government teacher jobs. My son is in the army. So, the youth aspire for careers and they will be depressed if they are trying hard to achieve but are unable to succeed. This needs awareness.”

Whatever her reasons were to take her own life, Pravalika’s story is a stark illustration of the toll such tragedies exact on those left behind.