One Life to Give

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”

~William Shakespeare

Sipping his evening tea, Rupesh looked over his window and his mind started recollecting the meet with Manish.

That morning Manish, a boy from the neighbouring slum, had come with a wide smile on his face. He was accompanied by his entire family and a sweet box

Rupesh: Hie, Manish, How are you? Hope you are doing well these days?

Manish: Yes sir, Absolutely well. I wanted to share something very important and close to my heart.

Rupesh (laughing): Are you getting married ?? 

Manish: No, Sir. Actually this is more important than that too. I have been selected as Trainee Engineer in a reputed Company.

Rupesh: Wow!!! That’s really a wonderful news and I’m very happy for your achievement. Congratulations to you and your entire family.

Manish: Thank you sir. All credit for this goes to you and your initiative of Reading Room concept you introduced.

********

Rupesh hailed from a middle class family with a humble background. Right from early days, he was aware of the responsibilities as the only ‘Son’ of the family. His father worked in the administration department of a small factory with a meagre salary and his mother was a teacher in a nearby school. Those days were tough for the entire family. Though there was no dearth for necessities, luxuries were few and little. 

Rupesh many-a-times overheard his parents’ worried discussion about stretching the budget to cover the expenses of the last few days of the month and promised to himself to help them lead a good old age life to the best of his abilities. The parents were clear about one thing – No compromise as far as Education was concerned. All the siblings were part of the only English medium school in the vicinity. Being admitted in an English medium school itself was a big deal in that neighbourhood and they would be the talk of many evening gossips in the area.

Life was full of sacrifices and Rupesh learnt the way to live a life in the worst situations. However, he was determined to focus on the positive outcome rather than be bitter about the problems that he faced. Fortunately, he had a few good habits which included reading variety of books and keep the momentum going. His philosophy of life was “Smile and spread smiles”. He believed in the quote – “Do not count what the Society has given you, rather, always ask yourself what have you done for the society”

Rupesh, followed the mantra of “Earn and Learn” ever since he joined Higher secondary education. He undertook the grinding routine of delivering milk and newspaper to the homes in his neighbourhood to supplement the family’s income. After this daily routine, he attended college and took time to help his friends with their studies in the evenings.. Within 2- 3 years, he had built up a reputation for teaching and students from neighbouring areas flocked to join his tuitions. He earned enough to discontinue his morning deliveries.

His earnings reached to an extent where not only his daily needs  but sisters’ education was covered too. In between, he even managed to give them pocket money. Rupesh started taking bigger responsibilities on his shoulders and relieving his parents from the tough life they were living. As he was the elder most siblings, everyone expected a matured behavior and Rupesh did not disappoint anybody. 

From a One room Kitchen in a Chawl, he moved his parents to a One Bed room hall Kitchen flat in a better locality but his roots remained firm. He was connected with everyone in the old area directly or indirectly. He used to think constantly about upliftment of the entire society and he was sure about Education being the most important aspect for development of students in the locality. Just then, the idea of “Reading Room” clicked.

A place to read available for entire 24 hours was a huge boost for the student fraternity. Such a noble move was unexpected and it garnered positive impact from every corner of the society. No one could ever imagine something of this to happen in their locality. Students from nearby areas too started flocking the reading room and within a year of its existence, it became an instant hit.

There were many innovations in that reading room. Every student was given a scheduled time to read. Though Rupesh could not make a full-fledged library with books for all classes, he ensured everyone got their share of timing to be comfortably placed and read. The reading room concept was unique and appreciated by all for more than one reasons. The supervisors ensured that the students occupying chairs were not wasting their time. The concept of “Buddy Study” worked effectively. When everyone around was studying, how can one be left out without studying. Mobile phones were strictly not allowed during the studying hours. The entire concept was offered “free” to students’ community and this played a major role for its massive growth instantly.

Even Rupesh did not expect this to happen within a month of its inauguration of Reading room. Through reading room, he could connect to students’ community directly and share his mind of positive growth of the entire society. He used to conduct guidance lecture on various aspects related to career as well as other practical issues related to students’ community. He then got a sponsorship of 2 desktops to be placed in the Reading room with internet connectivity. This could be used by students for doing projects and also help them in the field of research. Use of Social media sites was a clear No-No in the library and that kept away many a problems. 

After the entire set up was ready to run on its own, he started charging very economical fees from students using the advantage of reading room, computers. The logic of charging fees served dual purpose, the unwanted elements of society were kept at bay and the monthly maintenance charges of the library were taken care of by itself. The reading room was now a self-sufficient and independent project taking care of its expenses.

Once the reading room concept was hit amongst the students and started functioning independently, Rupesh searched other areas of improvement in the society. He found many of them but he looked for self-sustaining model like the reading room. During all these years, he was closely involved with arranging blood donation camps. He thought the next big move to start a Blood Bank in his area which was non-existent.

His thought process was simple, to make research of the project to be undertaken and take a decision either in favour or against the project. Based on his previous project success, the support from the society was favourable too. Many business stalwarts and other Samaritans’ came forward for this next project. 

The blood bank set up involved initial capital expenditure which was huge amount along with permissions from various authorities. The public participation in this project ensured that all the formalities could be completed properly within the expected time. Regular donations were received and the project became an upliftment movement where everyone involved felt as their personal project. Rupesh believed in this magical power of “Public Participation” and also ensured that Blood bank served general public at an economical cost. The most important need for any blood bank was “Blood Camps” and since it was a public initiative, many registered Mandals organized blood donation camps to add to the storage. The next major need for his locality was accomplished.

Whilst all these major developments were happening for society, Rupesh too completed his post-graduation and enrolled for research studies. In the mean-time, he guided thousands of students throughout the year and imparted them the power of education. He held various webinars for self-development of students. Rupesh strongly believed in the development of good communication skills for growth of individual person.

During all his teachings, he never forgot to share his life learnings amongst his students and always wished 1% of the student community followed his way of life. His contribution to Education and Health field ensured that he was able to bring transformation in the lives of many individuals. He did not expect anything in return for whatever he had done for the society. This was his way of repaying for the benefits he got as a student during tougher days of life.

Rupesh read extensively on life biographies of APJ Abdul Kalam, JRD Tata, Sudha Murthy, Aziz Premji – all of whom believed in the power of giving. Each one of the stalwarts ensured to preach what they practiced and motivate young minds to follow the path. Rupesh was playing his part actively and carried on the role of Social responsibility effectively. He became an epitome of – “Simple living, High Thinking” concept.

Rupesh encouraged every student at his library to contribute in the best possible manner. Like APJ Kalam sir said, “Every student who wanted to serve the nation can do it by visiting any old age home spending time with people with old age or visit any hospital and give flowers to those patients whose family failed to ask for their wellness. This kind of volunteering did not require any money. The only investment expected was time and wide smile”. Such examples were a regular feature of Rupeshs’ talks with his students and naturally students enjoyed such motivational lectures from their favourite teacher. In this modern world, where teacher-student relationship has hit a new low due to commercialisation, Rupesh proved that good teachers exist with a clear vision of development of entire society than development of a few chosen favourite students.

******

Manish was a rag picker’s son, whom Rupesh had diverted to his classroom from the neighbourhood. Initially, Manish was a hard nut to crack. No amount of counselling could divert Manish to be attracted to studies. Once, Rupesh offered him lunch and to his surprise Manish accepted the offer. Rupesh understood the need for such people was food and not education. So in the first few months, Manish would turn up regularly, neat and tidy to have good lunch. He started bringing along a few of his friends too for good treat available. Rupesh, through his volunteer network would first teach these slum students for 2 hours and then serve them food. Manish turned out to be a bright student who could build a good rapport with his Master instantly and enjoyed learning process. It’s the magic of time, which flies away before anyone realizes and today, Manish after completing his Engineering degree was selected as trainee. 

No doubt, he was over the moon and emotions were running high, his eyes were moist and there was a lump in the throat. Not only Manish but this entire family acknowledged the role of Rupesh for his growth. They appreciated Rupesh for the good work done by him not for a day but for years together. 

Manish asked: Sir, how can I repay for all the kindness you have showered upon me? I know it is impossible and even you do not expect anything but still is there a way?

(To everyone’s  surprise),

Rupesh: Yes, there is definitely a way out. You need to help one more Manish, whenever you find him. Pick him from the scratch, nurture him and make him an independent person, just like you”. 

Manish was in tears and so was his family. Before, leaving the place, 

Manish: “Sir, I don’t promise because promises may be broken but take the responsibility of transforming not one Manish but every Manish I meet in this lifetime”

This was a highly emotional moment for everyone present there. 

A single positive ray of light has now hit the prism and within no time, it would be many rays of light spreading smiles and happiness at various corners of the society. 

******

Rupesh, looking out of window, was proud of the transformation of a rag picker guy to a qualified Engineer and felt satisfied that he got to play a small role in this huge turn of events. Things changed, time flew and he could do what he dreamt of doing always. 

He knew he had created his first own clone as he dreamt of few years back. He was also aware that many more might be working silently who might not have informed anyone regarding the same. The single line motto to each such person would be – “One life to Live, How much more lives can you give”. 

There are many areas in the society which needs improvisation. With growing population and uneven distribution of wealth, this society is need of field marshals like Rupesh and his students team. The only requirement for all is clear thought process and life beyond receiving personal benefits. Are you ready for One Life to Give?
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1 Comments

  1. Bindu Pillai

    Reply

    Well written story. Loved the noble deeds of Rupesh. Positive quotes interwoven in the story were really brilliant.

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