“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”- Muriel Rukeyser He was sitting at the rear end of the auditorium, watching the proceedings on stage
He was sitting at the rear end of the auditorium, watching the proceedings on stage with dispassionate interest. Teachers’ day was being celebrated at SIIB and like every year the Kshitij team had taken the responsibility of making all the arrangements.
The teachers of SIIB were being commemorated with hand-crafted cards made by the children of Kshitij when suddenly an announcement was made requesting the members of the Kshitij team from the senior batch to come up on stage. He got up from his slouch and looked around. Realising there were only 2 senior members present in the auditorium and he was one of them, he decided he had no other choice but to oblige. As he began the long march from the back of the audi to the stage he thought back to how he had come to be a part of this inspiring initiative.
A year ago when he first came to SIIB he was 21 and Ksitij was just another credit course that he had to put up with. He picked Ksitij because he thought how hard could it be to teach a few scrawny kids, right? Considering that some people still considered him a kid or rather “kiddo”, if we were to adhere strictly to the terminology used by some people to address him, it should have been a cake walk for him. A kid teaching other kids! Brilliant! An easy 2 credits.
So 21 years old and not a damn thing in his life he could be proud of. That was the mentality with which his MBA journey began. Two things have changed since then. One, he had learned the meaning of the word sonder. What is sonder you ask? Well, I will tell you. It is the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk…
Now, if you haven’t really understood what it means don’t worry. You will once you read change number two.
So two, he now had done something he was proud of. As a mentor for three kids in Ksitij it was soon clear to him that this was not going to be an easy two credits. This was not just any other credit assignment. It was so much more than just credits. Not only did it demand a great deal of his time and attention but also his affection and attachment. These kids did not come from affluent families who could afford the best education. But they had hopes and dreams and aspirations to make it big, just like him. And they had the ability and determination to achieve them as well, but unlike him, they lacked the resources. And so it was in him that they placed their trust that he would make all possible effort towards their education and encourage their dreams.
If he had not been a part of Ksitij he would just been a blur in the lives of these children as so many people had been in his. An extra sipping coffee in the background, a blur of traffic passing on the highway, a lighted window at dusk…
But now he was a part of their complex and rich stories. Indeed, in some ways he had now affected those stories forever. He was entrenched in the elaborate labyrinth of their lives. Yes, he was no longer just a random passerby. As their teacher, mentor and friend he had made a difference. Minuscule maybe, but a difference indeed.
And as he stood on stage in front of everyone and received a memento as commemoration he knew he had reason to be proud as did everyone associated with Kshitij.
– Contributed by Debdeep Majumdar