Nalini and Radha were childhood friends. Radha profusely admired Nalini because she was such an optimist who appreciated even the tiny opportunities. The onus to do well, according to her was always on us and she would emphasize that one must not revel in the lack of privileges.
Once, when they must have been sixteen, Nalini seemed stressed.
Radha pressed her to open up.
Nalini sobbed inconsolably as she spoke her heart out.
Nalini’s father who worked in a small shop was a drunkard who exhausted all the money on alcohol. This infuriated her mother; the couple fought over it regularly. Sometimes, the fights became violent. Not long ago, Nalini’s mother had lost her job as a nanny since the neighbors thought leaving their kids at Nalini’s home was dangerous.
Nalini’s father had succumbed to the perilous habit like a hopeless victim, leading the family to utter poverty. Nalini had lived through the ordeal for years but kept a dignified silence about it. She had finally spoken when it became impossible for her to study for the board exams.
Nalini was a studious child who treated education as a weapon to fight societal evils. A girl child needed it to propel forward.
The environment at her home had gone awry; neither did she find peace in the morning nor when she went back in the evening. Her grades were plummeting.
Nalini confessed to Radha, about need for a quiet place to study.
Radha invited Nalini home without a second thought.
They both studied at Radha’s home for the next four months under the care of Radha’s parents. Nalini lied to her own parents that school gave free tuition and accommodation.
Thanks to her indomitable will and relentless efforts, Nalini topped her school.
Three decades later
Once, Radha was on her way back from work and the bus broke down midway. She reluctantly waited for an auto. Just then, she saw someone familiar advancing towards her. A minute later, she realized the person was Nalini!
Old friends are a rare joy. Nalini and Radha hugged and became emotional.
When Radha moved out of locality, they had failed to keep in touch.
Nalini took Radha to her beautiful home and treated with a sumptuous dinner. They spoke about many little things and before it slipped out of their minds, they made note of phone numbers lest they lose touch again.
The home exuded exceptional warmth. What struck Radha the most was, the large room on the second floor. It had neatly arranged study equipment and furniture.
Nalini explained that she worked as a Headmistress in a leading school. She ran an NGO that supports quality education for girl children free-of-cost. Additionally, she dedicated the quiet space on the second floor for study. She invited kids from the impoverished sections who lacked a proper environment. In her home, they could stay for as long as they desired. She solved their study doubts too.
Nalini pointed that children need to be in a safe set-up so they enjoy the process of studying. Otherwise, no matter what the resources, the motivation to study is compromised.
Radha had tears rolling down her cheeks.
Nalini responded, “I am not doing anything great. In fact, I learnt this from your parents and you, Radha.”
Radha was touched that an act of welcoming Nalini to study at her home had impacted so significantly that she championed the noble cause all her life.
“No matter how small the help, I shall always do it wholeheartedly for I may never know its profound impact on the receiver.” Radha reminded herself.
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