As I pen down with a heavy heart my reflective note of acceptance this lockdown, it guides me into thinking that, these experiences of mine many liberate dynamic individuals who have lost their childhood, into grooming themselves to be strong, independent and humane beings. My life has been a magical journey so far and very lately I discovered this fact. I hail from an environment that normalises turbulence and epitomises trauma, which I initially thought is a mandatory part of every child’s existence. Now that I have grown into a hardworking sensitive adult in the community, my heart still shouts out to those children and youth who are silently suffering and have accepted the cycle of helplessness and hopelessness.

I vaguely remember my school that claimed to be religious and gave me memories of discrimination and failures. My dreams were majestic and my shoulders too weak to carry them. I have faint memories of the smiles on my rickshaw driver’s face, who I used to teach a poem every day. Each time I uttered a story from my English class to my elders, I would get a bash that made me fall on the ground. I never understood why, as for me it was my best narration.

I made friends from the slums who were labelled as marginalised and weak, who I used to meet everyday on my way back from school. I used to sing their songs that had so many colours, ate their rice with salt that churned my taste buds and imitated their grins of freedom, hope and happiness. They had nothing but it felt they had everything as they ran around those railway tracks, plucked mangoes from the nearby garden and danced to the tunes of rains. Everyday my school gave me new scars on my face and the next day I used to go to my class with bruises, purple clots all over my arms and thighs and tattered lips that still wanted to sing songs of love. It was told to me that these marks symbolised affection and the greater grades I get, these marks are going to reduce. Years went by and these marks increased and it became a part of my lifestyle. I never wanted to accomplish myself and had no educational aspirations. The world near me was flourishing and I was drooping with self-esteem that increased my stammering skills. I was termed as obese and struggled to clear my boards. After that, one day my bags were packed and I was sent to a place that teaches me life.

I was 17 when I reached Bangalore and the last seat was reserved for me in college. I knew I would stay for few days and the institution would again label me and dispatch me to my hometown, Kolkata. On the first day of class the educator told us about how our ways are chosen and given to us to take it forward victoriously. My teacher motivated and guided me to complete my graduation with a distinction. I had never seen a first class in my life and I was thrilled by the meaning of ‘what’s distinction?In the process of my presentations I never realised when my stammering disappeared.

I was taught humanitarian qualities and in return I took up this majestic profession and mirrored the qualities of my educator, I was moulded to be an adolescent counsellor and now the curator of my own foundation. From then, there has been no looking back and I emerged to be an epitome of my educator’s radiating light.

I was blessed and gained strength in my willpower and could move out of my toxic environment. But I left behind my companions who lost the zeal to live and empower. They dwelled themselves into the menace of self-destruction and individuality. I realised that education gave me the power to bounce back and made me reach out to the youth who have lost their sense of belongingness. Today through my work I appeal to the older generation to modify their parenting skills, to educators to accept learners in their own beauty, to policy makers to make every norm humane with compassion.

Youth are our greatest asset and loosing them is like breaking a part of us, its time we understand their troubles and eagerly listen to their stories and mould them into blooming holistically. They are the transitional driving force of social change and are directed towards resurrecting our economy and traditions. I am grateful for my experiences and through my life I want to inspire those who have forgotten to dream. I appeal to the youth who is reading this, “Never train your mind into cultivation of negative thoughts, you all are unique with immense potential to create something new. Compete with yourself and achieve to the best of your abilities. Explore, evolve and ignite your passion. Only when I dreamt, I was able to achieve victory over fear, light over darkness and strength over failures. Today when I stand like a mighty orator, I represent all children and youth of my community and world, who are innate achievers. So, remember when you fail, I too fail with you all. And when you rise, I too move ahead with you all like a Phoenix”.

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