When Dr Arpita Chinnu Sabu (31) from Kottarakkara in Kerala stood on the stage after winning the second runner-up position in the ‘Mrs India – Wings to Your Dreams’ competition, it was not just the honour of a beauty pageant contest that she was cherishing, but her success of braving innumerable odds that had filled her thorny path so far.
Arpita was the only contestant hailing from Kerala at the event and, she had just overcome a postpartum depression bout at the time of the competition. Arpita speaks about her journey.
Crisis sets in
“I was enjoying motherhood following the birth of a daughter after a long wait when postpartum depression brought misery to my life. Initially, I wished to withdraw into a shell. However, I soon resolved to face the challenge head-on,” says Arpita. Moreover, the young woman was encouraged to make preparations for the Mrs India competition by friends who had secured prizes in beauty pageants.
The preparations paid off and Arpita was selected to compete in the Mrs India contest organized in Mumbai by ‘Make your presence’, an organization that works for women’s empowerment. Arpita completed all preparations for the event in a mere three months. She reduced her weight and studied hard for the question round at the contest.
“The event presented me with an opportunity to find a new meaning for my life. The aim was not just winning the crown,” she says. The efforts paid off with the second runner-up position, along with the title of ‘The Empress Diva – South.’
Arpita developed a deep devotion since childhood as her father, K Sabu, is a priest. While growing up, she realized that faith was more important than external beauty. “As an adult, I explored new paths which allowed me to respect others and empathize with them, even while following my faith,” she says.
Incidentally, Arpita had tried to participate in Miss India contests during her college days. However, she had to abandon those dreams after failing to meet certain criteria.
However, on learning that the Mrs India competition gave more importance to the skills and personality of the contestants than physical beauty, Arpita’s father supported her move to the contest. Moreover, the event was organized to spread the message of women’s empowerment.
“Many women believe that wearing makeup or clothes of their choice would alter their personality. The gathering at the Mrs India event was amazed listening to the experiences of the participants in reaching that stage. All of them belonged to diverse backgrounds,” said Arpita.
Arpita studied at various schools in the country as her father had to regularly move as part of his work. In Kerala, she attended Marthoma Public School in Kakkanad and Marthoma Senior Secondary School in Kozhencherry. She became interested in appearing on stage after anchoring shows at the Kakkanad school. Arpita later pursued her higher studies at The Oxford College of Pharmacy in Bengaluru. She now lives in Bengaluru and has been working as a patient services leader at Navya Care, a cancer clinical informatics institution for the past seven years.
The first major crisis in Arpita’s life occurred following the unexpected demise of her mother Asha Sabu in 2015. Asha’s life was dedicated to her family and those around her. When she died due to a medical lapse, Arpita was shaken. “Mother used to encourage and support women who were engaged in efforts to attain financial freedom. After my mother's death, I resolved to give wings to my dreams and also empower women who could not pursue their ambitions owing to several reasons,” said Arpita.
She believes that the Mrs India contest was the initial step towards realizing this goal. “Women belonging to different ages took part in the event. I could learn much from them,” she says.
Miracles in life
Arpita also recalls some miraculous incidents in her life. ‘’These experiences offered hope. The most important among them were the last words of my mother. She told me that even though I would get married soon, she would not be around. I earnestly hoped that those words would not come true,” says Arpita.
Over the last six years, Arpita faced disappointment several times when her hopes for a child did not come true. Still, passages from the holy Bible provided her confidence.
Another miracle was an indication that she would be happy after overcoming misery during February. This proved true following her daughter’s birth and the baby was named Jezreel, inspired by the Holy Book. “The meaning of the name is, ‘it is God who sows’,” explains Arpita.
Mrs India second runner-up feels that self-confidence and hard work lead us along a path we love. “When there is also a supportive family, you will be lucky. During a crisis, I received support from my spouse, Arpan Daniel Varghese, a deputy news editor with Reuters,” she says.
Arpita’s sister Anugraha Mariyam Sabu is another person who extends all encouragement to her.