National Secretary, Indian Youth Congress
My father left us when I was just 14, and everything changed after that. Everyone started avoiding us and this can be extremely alienating especially when you live in a chawl in Bombay. our relatives & neighbours stopped inviting us for functions. No one, literally no one, offered any support. Mummy had been forced to drop out after class X so she had to work very hard to support us. She worked as a door-to-door saleswoman, selling home products. She left at 09:00 am and returned only by 8:30 pm. She often had to do overtime & there were several times when she fainted due to sheer exhaustion. But despite everything, she ensured that we had food on the table & clean school uniforms. She could have saved some money but insisted that we study in an English medium school. She wanted us to make something of ourselves.
In a different way, things weren’t easy for me either. I was depressed & didn’t have many friends either. I couldn’t focus for a really long time. Other kids had all kinds of support systems- their parents were educated, they could afford tuitions/extra-curriculars & they always had someone to do things for them. I was struggling with the smallest of things. But because I could see Mummy struggling so much, I felt compelled to do more. So I forced myself to work harder. I even ended up getting above 80% in my 10th.
When I went to college, I was determined not to financially burden Mummy anymore. In five years of college, I worked as a tele-caller, event hostess, production intern among other things. So when a friend asked me to join NSUI, I dismissed it outright. How could I possibly afford to get involved in politics? I didn’t have the luxury to be so adventurous. But to my great surprise, Mummy pushed me to get involved. I remember that day as if it was yesterday- she said that if I did well, I could help many mothers like her. She made me promise that I would make a difference in the lives of at least 10 people. Whenever I am faced with new challenges or difficulties along my way; or if I ever feel let down and feel like giving up, it is that promise which holds me true.