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Debashrita Panda

Drama Inspirational


4  

Debashrita Panda

Drama Inspirational


Destiny's Highway

Destiny's Highway

4 mins 165 4 mins 165

I remember the day Dad was smiling at me, standing outside the college auditorium. He could still notice my anxiety amongst 800+ students on the campus, trying to make a space of their own.

I was dressed up in formals- no heels, no makeup, and hair tied back into a bun. I looked plain and ordinary. I was brimming with excitement, yet, somehow, I had a feeling that I did not belong here.

Dad left for Ethiopia around afternoon, while I was in the mesmerizing auditorium of SBM, NMIMS, one of the top 20 B-Schools of the country.

Ever since I had started my preparation for CAT, my dad had envisioned me studying from this university. Somehow, he could feel the resonance between my strengths and NMAT. Somehow, he knows everything.

********

8th Sept, 2020

Dad was 3 days old in quarantine, and he called me to the first floor. I stood outside, while he was sitting on a quaint chair in the centre of the room.

“I want you to type out a scholarship form and a notice.”

“What for?” I was curious.

“I want to give some money to meritorious girl students from my old school every year who are not getting any sort of assistance from the state government to fulfil their education.”

“But, but….. you don’t have a job right now!”

“I have created a fixed deposit just for this cause. It won’t be a burden. Just a few thousand rupees every year. Just think how much value it will bring into the kids’ lives!”

There was a long pause.

“I have paid minimal fees for my schooling, and now, I have everything one could ever ask for. I can never repay back the burden of the debt that I carry on my chest.”

********

My father was born in 1966 in a remote village of Kendrapada district in Odisha. My grandparents had 6 other kids to look after, and were poor farmers. There was never enough food for everyone at home.

My dad was not the brightest of all the siblings, but he was the most determined of the lot. He knew he could change his destiny.

“If you are born poor, it’s not your mistake, but if you die poor, it’s your mistake.

-Bill Gates

I remember one story from his childhood about how his school uniform was torn beyond repair and he had to borrow a pair of trousers from his neighbour to attend school that day. Another story of how my grandma used to go to bed with an empty stomach on a regular basis gives me the chills because by the time Dad used to come back from his tuition classes at night, there would be no food left.

Dad wanted to become a doctor, but he did not have enough percentage to be accepted into the Science stream of his local junior level college. So, he decided to take up Commerce and became a CA instead.

Years of burning midnight oil has partially damaged his left eye. But any damage to his dedication and confidence? Never. Dad still did not have money when he was in Kolkata, while preparing to be a CA. He would end up sitting in the library for straight 12 hours a day, would have 2 meals a day and walk to destinations to save money.

********

It has been nearly 27 years since he had started his career, and my father is doing well. He resigned as a General Manager of Finance and Accounts of a Mumbai based construction company. He was posted in Ethiopia, a country in Western Africa, and was heading the construction of a National Highway between Sudan and Ethiopia, backed by the World Bank.

From carrying his old cycle across muddy pools of rainwater in the late 1970s to making his daughter study at such a prestigious (read expensive) institution, my father has surely come a long way.

I start questioning my existence when I wonder about him and his sacrifices. My schooling, my graduation, and now my Masters….he has always risen above my expectations. He has always motivated me to work hard and excel. He is the one who teaches me how to dream. I can’t remember the countless souls who have given up on me; but my father has always had my back. Now when I finally see him in front of my eyes after 6 long months (he came back via an Air Bubble, thanks to the Indian Embassy), I feel that I am the luckiest daughter on this planet.

I have never, ever felt like I did not have an opportunity that other kids of my age have/had. Now as I am growing up, I realise that our parents sell their dreams to buy ours.

Life has been harsh to him; has pulled him down, tossed him here and there, and ridiculed him. But he has no regrets. He is grateful to God for all his blessings.

I wish we could all take a page or two from his story.

P.S. God could not be everywhere, so he created Fathers!


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