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Overcoming the Odds! – The story of Kajal…

Photo by Igor Rodrigues on Unsplash

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.

Wilma Rudolph

There have been many instances which have impressed upon me the awe inspiring ideals of self-belief and hard work. The relentless force of human endeavour has often moved mountains. To see someone persist despite overwhelming odds is an exhilarating experience which inspires confidence in the most cynical. Truly, there are no limits to what human endeavour can accomplish with its determined resolve.

As an Indian, living in a developing economy, I see many people around me grappling with abject poverty and ruin. Such hardships have a way of putting your entire life in perspective. While we crib about missed deadlines or project due dates, there are people who have no opportunity to experience this mild form of discomfort. The honour of this privilege and its subsequent responsibility has often motivated me to go that extra mile. One never knows when circumstances change and these inconveniences become a veritable luxury. Coming from a country where such issues are routine, has given me empathy for those in distress. It helps me reach out and appreciate the challenges which people around me battle everyday. Sometimes, what people really need, is a considerate helping hand and I have been a shoulder to cry on for many of my friends.

In my first year of college, after classes were done for the day, I would head to the gazebo where the students of Child Development Programme could be found waiting for their instructors. These bright minds from underprivileged families would gather for an hour of learning and the occasional game or two, and I was one of their instructors. Most students did not go to school and those who did, went to ones which were woefully deficient in giving them a quality education. The toothy grins from these tiny tots who had no material means, was uniquely therapeutic. A hard day of study would melt away when I spent time with them and I would go back, refreshed to face the challenges of a new day.

Kajal was one such wonder with sparkling eyes and a ready smile. She loved to sketch deities,
mountains, rainbows, and the like. She wanted to learn but was bogged down by familial responsibilities. Her drunken father would while away her mother’s hard earned income as Kajal
looked after her younger siblings. Her mother wanted her to leave school and start working. Kajal’s defiant refusal complicated matters. She could not brush up on her classes and would often lag behind. I admired her resilience and decided to help. We would revise important concepts and try questions for additional practice. She showed tremendous promise.

One September evening, I found out that my second year time table would not permit another year with the kids. I hated to see their smiles dampen as I broke this news. On my last day, I gave them a final test to assess their growth through the year. Kajal, with her boundless courage, scored the highest. As I looked at her work with barely restrained pride, she fished out her drawing of Lord Shiva, a deity in Hindu mythology famous as the transforming force in the universe, and presented it to me with a flourish. There are many accomplishments I am proud of, but none of them could match the enormity of this one.

My experiences have led me to believe in the limitless energy of the human spirit. Even in the face of adversity, holding your chin up and fighting on is the way forward. Many obstacles have been surmounted by sheer dint of obstinacy. I feel privileged to have witnessed these incredible stories of courage and determination. Every time I see my friends feel low, I remind them of the challenges they have overcome themselves in the past. I am happy to share this strength with more and more people as I journey through life and cultures. A friendly pat on the shoulder, a loving hug and a small encouraging smile can let them know that you hear them and you understand. That’s all they really need!



Hi, I’m Sabhya. I grew up in Lucknow, India. After a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Lady Shri College of Women at the University of Delhi, I moved to Singapore in 2018 for my yearlong post graduate studies. I graduated with a Master in Management from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School. Since young, I’ve been a prolific writer who has travelled extensively across India and has also been a public speaker since the fifth grade. As I navigate and transits through my new life in the little red dot – Singapore, I hope that I can regale you with my anecdotal tales.

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