“Mera beta age ja ke kuch karega” was a dream that my father could not live long enough to see as he passed away when I was in the 4th standard. Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect. My mother took a loan and opened up a small shop in my village to provide for my family. As I sat at the thela, I realised that Navodaya Vidyalaya, a residential public school which would cover my education expenses till class XII was my beacon of hope. I still remember counting thirty 1 Re coins from the thela in order to pay for transportation from my village to the examination centre. When I got through to NV the village revelled in my glory. It was as if the entire village had adopted me.
My time at NV was when I learnt to balance academics with my passion for dance, music and sports. My love for dance stems from a deep-rooted desire to express myself. I guess I was never afraid of what the soothsayers might say. That is why I was always willing to try out new things – whether it is dance, playing the flute and guitar, cooking or playing the nationals in hockey.
A mother’s love for her children is so unconditional that she often neglects her own well-being. When I was in the 8th standard my mother passed away from jaundice. My aunt took my elder sister under her wing while my younger brother was sent to a residential school in Ahmednagar. I went back to my school with renewed vigour, determined to make something of my life. I survived because the fire inside me burnt brighter than the fire around me.
When I was in in Class XII, my brother left us all too after an unfortunate accident. I’ve seen people crib about their day-to-day problems. Life may not have been very kind to me but whenever it gave me lemons, I tried to make lemonade of it.
“Andhera gehera hota raha; mereko pata nahi tha ujala kab ayega”. I could not afford to fill forms for IITJEE. AIEEE was my one good shot and I made the most of it when I got into NIT Nagpur.
My family was very proud of me when I made it to Pepsi during the final year of my college. I remember counting days until my placements before my grandfather every time I visited the village. He would happily recite the countdown to his friends saying “Just a few months more and then Kumar will get a job and take me with him to the city”. I did get a job but unfortunately my grandfather wasn’t there for me to share the news with.
What drives me today is the urge to give back what I have learnt along the journey. I try to mentor and support children from my village in a world where engineering and MBA is almost unheard of. Here at IIM Lucknow, through my involvement in Student Council, Random Walk and sports, I got umpteen chances to develop new bonds and rediscover myself. I hope that one day when I look back at my life, I’d be able to say that I’m proud of myself and my story has a happy ending after all.
Kumar Nikale , IIM Lucknow , Batch of 2020