Tears were flowing through my eyes as I read that mail. It was an event invitation along with her kind letter, and these were tears of joy. I never thought my words that I uttered would come back and disparage me years later. I couldn’t help but smile.
It all started thirty six years ago. Back then in my early-fifties, I was principal of a Government school and was considered a wise man in my area. It was one fine evening that the previous peon of our school brought her to me. She was his youngest daughter, five years old then and looked quite scared. He told me that I should put some sense in her as she was insisting on going to school despite knowing that he can’t afford it. He was right, as there was no proper source of income for his family. He was forced to retire from peon job due to his severe illness. Since then, his wife had taken care of family by sewing clothes for locals and he wanted his daughter to learn sewing and help her.
I asked her what she would want to become when she grow up. Her answer was a shock as she said her dream was to help poor girls go to school. Seeing her resolve, I told her father that I would pay for her fees and she should go to school.
Years went by. Her father died due to his illness but I kept my promise. I was retired from job when one day her mother brought her to me. Her mother was insisting her to take medical career but she was not interested. I told her to be realistic and opt for a dependable career. She argued she didn’t want such dependable career which was forced upon her and would not feel fulfilled. She continued that with void in her life, she wouldn’t be able to serve as doctor with much eagerness. I was shocked and confronted her about her motives of getting education if it wasn’t for her career. Her answer struck hard me when she said that purpose of education was to broaden our horizons and to help us architect our dreams.
Our meeting was futile, I wished her luck and she pursued with her choice. She got busy in her life and occasionally I used to hear about her. She talked to few university students and together opened a tuition center in her area by renting out upper portion of one of her neighbors. Later at one time, she started selling home-made skin care remedies, prepared by her old aunt in her kitchen.
Some years later, she purchased few sewing machines and started small training institute at her home with her mother as trainer. When some girls of her area were trained, with help of a local shopkeeper, she established a small factory of garments. She was one of her kind who never settled until she got what she aimed for.
Nothing of what she did was easier at all. I presume those were the toughest days of her life. And she didn’t excel in everything she did. In fact she failed in a lot of things but she never stopped trying. Most amazing part was that in a matter of few years, she was able to bring prominent changes in her entire neighborhood.
Today, thirty six years later since I first met that five years old girl, she had invited me as chief guest on inauguration of her first school for Orphans. She is running a successful business and more importantly has impacted lives of many people around her. She has asked me to join her and honor her school. Though I am not completely fit but I will go. I will go to salute her who made me realize at this old age that people can beat all our realistic odds with tenacity and passion. All elders need to support and flourish them. Rational approach according to us, may not give them the fulfilled life they once dreamed of as child. Let our kids be the architect of their own dreams.