Few years back I was returning from a tour and got off at the Kota railway station an unknown person suddenly waved his hand towards me while I was waiting for an auto. He came near me and said “Nilesh sir, I will drop you.” Since he addressed me by my name, I didn’t ask further but I was surprised he knew my name.
He introduced himself as the father of one of my students who was studying in class 9th. He told me he had shifted to Kota because of his son’s studies and sold his little agriculture land to arrange for money for the coaching fee. He was running an auto in Kota since he was not educated and his dream was that both his sons should get into JEE. His elder son was in class 9th and the younger one was in class 7th. He had put elder son in our coaching classes but was not able to arrange the money for his younger son so he had left him behind in his village. His elder son, despite being a topper in his village, was facing difficulties here because of the language and the tough competition.
I asked him to meet me the next day in office. He was very pleased to get a personal appointment. He came to meet along with his son. I asked my staff to give me all his test records. His elder son's name was Aakash and he had managed to get only passing marks in our selection test. I looked at Aakash, he was in a white shirt and grey trousers, with a completely expressionless face, looking totally nonplussed. I tried to speak to him but hardly got any responses, his father did most of the talking on his behalf. His father had a lot of insight into his academic problems and said Aakash had a problem in understanding few teachers who spoke very fast in English because of his Hindi medium background
I assured his father that I would provide a teacher separately till he is at ease in the class. Thereafter he became a very regular visitor to my office; however he was still very hesitant in entering in my office and used to wait for hours outside. I also used to run into him on the road, where we used to have casual discussions about Aakash studies.
He often came with a list of chapters in which Aakash was having difficulties, seeking a possible solution. I used to provide extra books or extra sheets whenever he needed them. I rarely checked Aakash’s performance because of my initial impression that he had barely managed to clear our selection test.
Almost six months later, he entered my office along with his son and showed me his performance report. I was surprised to see his son had risen to the top batch and was amongst the top 10 percentile of the class 9th students and was doing exceedingly well. It felt like a miracle to see a student who could barely clear our entrance test rising to the top 10 percentile.
But Aaksah’s father had something even more ambitious in his mind. He asked me for one set of IIT JEE study material. It was a very unusual request for a 9th class student but he wanted his son to start solving IIT JEE sheets. He came with a list of topics, which he needed in physics, chemistry, and maths. I reluctantly agreed to it. I also asked him to call his younger son to Kota and assured him that he didn’t need to worry about the money.
Our meetings became more infrequent when Aakash came to class 11th and after a while I came to know he had joined Bansal classes. I was slightly disturbed to know that Aakash had joined Bansal. In the mid of session I ran into him once again at the railway station. He took my suitcase and put it into the auto. However, I was a little unhappy that his son was studying in some other coaching centre now. He broke the silence by saying that he had opted for Bansal as his son had got admitted on 100% scholarship for two years. I asked him why he hadn't come to me if there was an issue with finances. He folded his hands and said, "Nilesh sir, we are already so obliged of you. You have already waived off my younger son’s fee. You have also helped Aakash so many times by providing books and teachers. I felt hesitant to ask for more favours. I found another angel like you whose son is a topper at Bansal classes. When I told him about Aakash, he spoke to Bansal and got me 100% rebate in the fee. Infact, he is also providing extra material in the form of books and notes,” he summed up with tears in his eyes.
Any complaint I had disappeared after hearing his story. We didn’t speak the entire way. He dropped me at home and put my luggage in front of the gate. I took out my wallet and took out a Rs100 note to give him. He stopped me and left without saying anything. I stood there for 2 min, not knowing what to say.
Two years passed without meeting him again and I had almost forgotten this incident. One evening I was strolling outside my house and an auto stopped in front of me, I immediately recognised the auto wala and Aakash, both of whom were looking very happy. Aakash touched my feet and his father folded his hands in greeting. There were carrying a packet of sweets.
Aakash had been selected in JEE 2010 with a 6,000 rank and this was a very proud moment for them, his father told me in one breath. He pointed to his auto and said "I will run this auto for two more years till my younger son gets into JEE,". Since I had witnessed his struggle in Kota for the past four years I understood the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment he must have been feeling.
It was yet another story of the extraordinary things parents will do for their children and the sacrifices they are ready to make.
I asked both my kids to touch his feet and seek his blessings. I wondered whether 10 years down the line, when Aakash will be doing well in his professional life, people around him will never know the man behind his success.