Kolkata: In what is a 'rags to riches' story, Chanda Zaveri fled from the pressures of getting married at 17 and returned home 30 years later as a millionaire. Born in a conservative Marwari family, her mother wanted to force her into a marriage that she did not want and a life that she did not choose.
Activator CEO Chanda Zaveri said, "I explained to her that this is not my path, my journey is somewhere else, she did not listen to me and said if you don't get married, I will kill myself."
At 17, with three saris and no money, Chanda went to America to live with strangers she had befriended in India. The strangers later became her foster family. "I had lost my country, my home, everything I knew and at that time I felt freedom. At that time I felt autonomous, I felt free," she said.
But for her family back home in India her escape meant shame. Her brother Arun Kumar said, "We were criticised. Our neighbours made fun of us, they said your woman has fled. Everyone laughed."
Today, Chanda is an inspiration for her community. A successful molecular biologist with four patents, she is a CEO of a successful skin care company in the US. This is a life that she chose, a life of freedom. "I have no regrets, I have no sadness, if I have to do it again, I will do the same."