“I don’t want to go to school!” 5-year-old Usha shouted at her older brother, pulling his hair. Later she would become one of the first Nepali women with advanced degrees in both medicine and public administration, but as a little girl, she didn’t yet realize what a privilege education was.
Her parents knew, however. Uneducated himself and determined his daughter would have a different future, Usha’s father picked her up and carried her on foot to the private school where she’d been admitted. As Usha continued to struggle and cry about not wanting to go, he said, “If you say that again, I’ll throw you off this wall.”
“I think he was just making it up. He loved me so much,” Usha told LDS Living. But the trick worked: Usha decided to go.
From that day on, Usha loved school. She quickly became top of her class, and her teachers made her skip grades twice. Still, Usha became the top student.
Usha gives credit for her success to her older sister, who gave her math and other work to complete while she watched her favorite cartoons. “I didn’t realize that I was practicing. I thought I was just enjoying cartoons, but I was doing other things too,” Usha says.
After 12th grade, many of Usha’s friends, who were hoping to become dentists and doctors, enrolled in a medical preparatory class during summer break. Although Usha wanted to be a pilot, she “didn’t want to waste time” and thought, “Why not try it?” She took the admission exam and got into the medical prep class with her friends. Two years later, at age 17, she won a full-ride scholarship to medical school.
“My parents were very happy because the medical studies would be very expensive,” Usha says. “Back then I think it was about 30,000 dollars.” For a comparison, Usha would later live off 200 dollars a month.
Curiosity in Christ
Shortly after starting medical school, Usha received a Bible from a Christian group on campus. Although she’d grown up Hindu, she was drawn to the beautiful passages in Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. “I loved it,” Usha says.
In the back of the book was a statement that said something like, “If you’d like to give your life to Jesus, sign here.”
“Jokingly I signed it because I liked it,” Usha says.
Not long after, Usha was talking with her cousin, and her cousin mentioned the name Jehovah.
“Who is Jehovah?” Usha asked. “I want to know about Jehovah.”
Her cousin became excited. “I’ll tell you about Jehovah,” she says, and she immediately closed her shop and began explaining.
“She had a lot of business going on, and she shut the shop just for me, to tell me about Jehovah,” Usha says, recalling how the action impressed her. She decided to check out the congregation her cousin attended and soon became a regular attendee at the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall.
She didn’t immediately give up her Hindu tradition, however. Although Usha was attracted to the idea of a “living God,” she was afraid to offend the gods of the Hindu temples where she’d worshipped with her mother all her life. She continued to worship both Jehovah and the Hindu gods, praying for an answer about the truth.
Then, one day, she read Psalms 135:15-17, which says, “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.”
The passage struck her heart. “That changed my course of how I would view God. . . . After I knew that there was never looking back,” Usha says.