My father walked briskly, and I struggled to keep up with him. I was seven, and I did not understand why he couldn’t hold my hand like all dads did. “You must always walk fast and with purpose”, he said, “like Gandhi.” Gandhi was only a figure I had seen on TV, walking quickly during the Dandi March, protesting against the salt taxes in pre-independent India – but what my father said had a lasting impact on me. Even today, I walk fast and I walk with purpose.
I have carried this philosophy to my entire life. I strive to live life to the fullest, and to live life with purpose. I ask myself each day what I can do each day to make the world a little bit better for someone. I have realized that my life’s purpose can be helping someone else reach his or hers. Be it with Asha for Education, an organization I volunteer with, or with friends and family.
My father spent long days at work – leaving home before 8 AM, and coming back most days after 9:00 PM. I wondered why he couldn’t be like other dads and come home earlier. After all, he worked for a government organization where he was not particularly well paid. However, once again, I have learned a life's lesson from him. I inject passion into the work I do. Being well paid is good, but doing something you enjoy is so much better.
Once every four years, our family would go on vacation using my dad’s Leave Travel Concession, a bonus of his job, even when it felt like we were stretching ends to pay for it. A lot of other families in our position would pocket the money and stay home. As a teenager, I wondered why we forced ourselves to go on vacation when it felt like we couldn’t afford it, going to parts of India where the language and food was different and the travel inconvenient. As an adult, I have realized that money and possessions may come and go, but experiences last a lifetime. I am so grateful for having had the opportunities to see so many parts of India that many others haven’t. As an adult, I have developed a love for travel. I love my job that requires me to travel to small towns and large cities, meeting new people.
What I have finally realized is that my father was holding my hands, even when it seemed like he was not.My Story: Holding Hands