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The role model I never saw

We all look up to our parents and learn from them so it is inevitable that they play a big role in our lives. They will be someone we care for, respect and are proud of, throughout the rocky roads of life. But sometimes, there are certain individuals who cross our path fleetingly and yet leave such an impact on us with their deeds that we remember them even decades later.
I have been blessed to come across one such individual. The irony? I never got to lay eyes on the man.

This incident happened when I was probably in 3rd or 4th standard. 
It was a more serene age back then in Dubai with no Burj Al Arabs or man-made islands around - nothing like the carnival it's become over the last decade. A dirham got you 3 chapatis and 10 dirhams got you an audio cassette. Yet, even then, at those times, there were obviously families struggling to make ends meet. As kids who shared the same bus, played, studied, compared He-man comics and struggled to put on our ties, we were blissfully oblivious to the financial demands we put on our parents with our school fees.



The first time it struck the guys in my class of this problem was when the class teacher called a friend of ours and talked to him in private. The second time this scene repeated itself a few days later, curiosity got the better of us all and we asked him what was going on. His voice cracked a little as he informed us that he'd been unable to pay the fees this term ( there were three terms in a year, if I recall correctly ) and so had been asked to inform his parents that he could not attend school unless he had the cash the next day. 
I remember feeling sad for him that evening after class... I wondered if he's have to leave school and where he'd go or what he'd do next. I was too young then to wonder how much it would break his parents' hearts or how they would feel.


The next day, he showed up back in school in the morning. For a brief moment, we were all excited. But, no, he had not paid his fees, he told us. While his dad had been asking friends across Dubai for a loan, no one had come through for him. We all returned back to our seats dejected. Somewhere into the third period of the day, our class teacher walked back into the class and spoke a few words to the teacher in the classroom. Their eyes were fixed on our friend and we all knew what was coming when she called him to come towards them. He too seemed resigned to his fate - a 7 year old child knowing he was going to have to leave school for no fault of his. He had packed his bag even while the two teachers were talking with each other and carried it with him as he went to meet them. 
I still remember he didn't cry... then.

The tears did start a few minutes later though as the teachers smilingly informed him that his fees had been paid by one of my other classmate's father, who'd felt gutted as he listened to the story the previous night over dinner. He had come over the next morning to the school and paid the fees for this child he had never met. His child, our friend sat quietly and watched events unfold that morning. Neither did he  seek the limelight that day, nor did his father demand a repayment of the fees later on. 

I still remember this as the moment I realized what the difference between being rich and being great was. Because that was the adjective that we seven year olds used that day - not "he is rich", but "he is great."  

I never met the man who paid the fees. But 25 years later, I still remember his selfless act.  
Even if you become a crorepati, in today's day and age, you're still just one-in-a-thousand. You're still nobody to anybody who doesn't need your money. Instead, try to be the one-in-a-million miracle man... the person who will be remembered even decades later by people who have witnessed the good deeds that you've done.

His selfless act and the impact it had upon us young kids would inspire me to do more deeds for others without looking for glory. It would lead me down a road that would eventually cause me to choose the medical field as my career option so that I could be of help to those who were in need. Being an anaesthesiologist in the end would in fact be an icing on the cake for me as I could relieve people of not just their physical pain directly but also the mental stress and trauma that their loved ones faced during their bad times.

But it all started with watching an act of selflessness in a classroom back in the 1980s.

Authors note:
I am writing about #MyRoleModel as a part of the activity by Gillette India in association with BlogAdda.com.

17 comments:

  1. Sure there is a difference between being rich and 'great'. And to be great one needn't be rich. But our society needs only the rich ones :-/
    That man was really great, because he had touched the lives of other children and his own, not just the child he paid the fees for.

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    1. exactly Anita.. in todays world, rich automatically equals big heart and good, which is frankly ridiculous to me...

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  2. Tears in my throat as I type this. I have heard of people who reach out and do things so selflessly. It is always a pleasure to read about such people over and over again. Thanks for this, Roshan!

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    1. True. We don't focus on such stories Shailaja and I think that is something we need to do more often... the media anyway does a good job of showing us that crime does pay. The least we can do is try to showcase the true good-ones-at-heart.

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  3. this was indeed a genuine act of kindness. He truly is a rich man, an act like this is hard to forget and leaves an impression for long.

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    1. I agree... I'm sure other classmates too remember this incident. That is heartening...

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  4. what a selfless man, he has truly touched many lives through this incident .Thank you for sharing - makes me believe in humanity again.
    On another note the days of getting 3 chappatis for 1dhs really sent me back to the karachi durbar restaurant days..*drool**

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    1. sigh... I remember Sindh Punjab in Karama near old Woodlands.. They had awesome food. So many names come to mind when I think of it :)

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    2. Aaah ! we used to go there too... n buy choodu parottas from a malu place near the fish market, munching on them on the walk back home.. nostalgia! Sorry for drooling over your blog :P

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    3. oof... compare the size and variety of the fish in the market there with what we have here :(

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  5. Touching post

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  6. My eyes welled up reading about this man.

    I don't understand why people who have so much money can't spare even like 0.001% for those who need it. Even if we all contributed that much towards the society, there will be no poverty. And these acts are not selfless, they make us feel so good. You don't become great... but you do feel great. Isn't that what we all live for?

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    1. I totally agree with what you said... sadly, u and i are in the minority in what we think as far as the last line is concerned.

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  7. Wonderful!!! Hope that good Samaritan put many a poor kids in the school later on...

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    1. I dont doubt that he would have done more wonderful acts in the days since...

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