These are a few words from a dear student, Anek Mukherjee, who I met while teaching at an engineering college for a few months around 2001.
Anek is from a remote area of North Bengal. He studied at a small-town engineering college -- one of the new techs that came up in the 1990s in West Bengal, a college that didn't have an aura around it. (It still doesn't have.) They could hardly organise campus placements, and after graduation, Anek was without a job.
And that is when Anek showed his strength of character. Instead of wallowing in self pity, instead of blaming the world and giving up, he hung on doggedly, managing just to survive in Kolkata. He worked hard to find an opening and was ready to accept anything that came his way, including selling credit cards alongside school drop-outs. After switching jobs a few times, he got into Cognizant Technology Solutions, a leading multi-national technology company as a software engineer.
He has been working with them since then, has married a colleague, Sukanya, and they have a two-year-old son. He's lived abroad for many years now. By all accounts, he is one of the successful young professionals who have made India proud. On the face of it, there are lots of people like Anek, but can we say his story is special?
Yes, we can. Anek has travelled an enormously long distance from a small market town in Bengal where opportunities are not limited, but non-existent. Nothing has been served to him on a platter and he has had to struggle all the way. But even during his most difficult days, I never saw him without a happy smile. Even when there was no light at the other end of the tunnel, there was never a shadow of despondency on his face.
For some reasons, Anek believes I have contributed to his success. He has said so many a time. His words do fill my heart with joy, but I know that whatever he’s achieved he has achieved because of his intrinsic qualities and strength of character. Because of his sincerity, hard work, and honesty. And no wonder that such people will have a strong sense of gratitude too. Men like Anek just can't be defeated.
I am sure some of you who are reading this are in the situation that Anek was in 15 years ago. Let's all learn from him. Never say die, just keep trying. You can win.
I am proud of you, Anek. And you and Sukanya continue to put in honest efforts. I know that you will travel much farther. My very best wishes and Cheers!
Kolkata / Monday, 11 January 2016