Now, twenty-three years later, Pooja, a vivacious young woman, has become a quintessential example of the axiom: every cloud has a silver lining.
She has also become a symbol for the campaign against a tradition that values boys above girls.
"When my mum walked out on my dad, she said to him, 'One day this girl will make me proud'. All my life I've wanted my mum to be proud of the decision that she chose me," The Times quoted Pooja, as saying.
Her success has brought Neera into the limelight.
Neera's husband had a respectable job but was a philanderer, prone to domestic violence.
After the birth of her first child, a girl named Shubhra, he made her life a misery. When she became pregnant again, seven years later, Neera clung to the hope that if the baby was a boy her marriage could be saved. Instead she had Pooja. Her husband and his relatives refused to visit the baby in hospital.
"I had to make a choice. I left the house with my girls and I haven't seen my husband since," Neera said.
He married another woman and refused to give any financial support to his daughters. Neera worked incessantly to provide for them: "I used to struggle for shoes, socks, uniforms. Sometimes I couldn't put two square meals a day on the table."
Pooja had nothing to say to her father, who "does not exist" for her.
"I don't even know if my father knows it is me, his daughter, who has set out to conquer the world. Today, when people call to congratulate me, it's not me they pay tribute to, but to [my mother's] life and her struggle. She's the true woman of substance," she said.
Miss India World Raised by Heroine Mom
The Times of India
A true Miss India, say touched readers!
Neera Chopra's story about her struggle as a single mother in Times Life, Times of India's Sunday supplement, took B. Moses to a time 40 years ago, when his father deserted his mother.
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