Updated: Jun 24, 2020
| This is the 452nd story of Our Life Logs |
I was born in 1988 to a poor family. We lived in a small town in Utter Pradesh, India, where my father was a poor shopkeeper with little earnings to feed, clothe, and provide for my mother, my four siblings, and me. I remember when our budget was at its tightest. Because we didn’t have the money for the required school uniform or oftentimes the school fees, my absentee rate was incredibly high. When I was 13, my mother was so desperate to feed us that she would bring leftover food home from others who took pity on our situation. My siblings and I wolfed down the scraps, though, it was usually food contained fewer nutritional values, freshness, basic vitamins, and proteins, but we didn’t have room to despair about it. We needed to survive.
Growing up, I dreamed of a better life. Instead of walking around in the rejected clothing of the rich kids in the village, I used to imagine a life where I could buy new pants and shirts in my favorite colors from the shops that I had never been inside. I used to wonder when our plight would be over. But I wondered that all my adolescence.
The community we lived in was full of poor folks like us, some even worse off. I’d see strangers wandering the streets and suffering from drug addiction and other vices. And, I guess I should note that we had mediocre health facilities, which meant many in the town had health problems. Living in run-down conditions, tropical diseases spread fast and weakened hundreds of the poorest and most vulnerable people in my community. But what could we do? My family couldn’t afford to move, even when my father became ill.
He was admitted to the local public-sector hospital, but since we didn’t have money to purchase the prescribed medication, we begged the medical staff to provide it for us. But due to a lack of government funding, they couldn’t give away the medicine, even if they wanted to. My father spent three weeks in a terrible condition, two of which were spent in the hospital. Luckily, he recovered, but the fear and helplessness we felt were unlike anything we’d ever felt before.
What happened to my father was no different than many in the community. People simply weren’t given the proper information or access to services that could prevent diseases. So, many suffered. I told myself that I would become a medical doctor. I would treat and heal the people who deserved and yet, could not afford, the procedures and medicine they needed to simply live.
I held onto that desire because truly, I did not have much else to call my own. Bless my father, for, by some miracle, he was able to get me into a local community school for secondary school. Most of my fellow students were from financially-stable families on the rich side of town. As I was coming from the opposite end, those kids looked down on me, as did the teachers and tutors alike. The previous school my father had sent me to had the sole purpose of providing basic education to the children of poor people—nothing more. Because of this, my point of view wasn’t considered relevant in the academic world and my ambitions for the future were scoffed at.
One day, I discovered that my classmates had written awful things about poor people on the notice board. They said things like, “Poor have no right to learn higher studies and experience the better parts of life,” and, “Poor people are inferior and should focus on basic necessities over education.” Seeing comments like that brought a sharp pain to my chest, but despite the harsh words, I just kept studying. I wanted to become a medical specialist and prove all those people wrong.
My father continued trying to earn more money for us to improve our living, but fate was unkind. During my first year of secondary school in 2013, I became so depressed. I felt hopeless from the cultural and social barriers I faced in getting my education. It wasn’t enough to worry about tests and homework. I lived in perpetual fear of debts, fees, and the voice inside my head that reminded me of the thin line I walked.
It wasn’t until my second year that I realized the best way to get through was to accept and face the harsh realities of life with a brave heart. I had to keep going even when it felt hopeless. For if I wasn’t able to go back to my neighborhood with some hope, there was no guarantee another would take my place.
Keeping heart in the difficult times paid off, and I passed my secondary school education with distinction. Many (including relatives) who had distanced from me when they heard of my educational aspirations were now proud and happy for me. Determined to become a physician, I continued for a college degree.
All my dedication and efforts led to me finding a job with the nearby newspaper as a news report writer. Through that job, I was able to finance my degree in medical science, but I got by on the skin of my teeth. While I was paying my school fees, I was also supporting my family. It was the least I could do for my parents who trusted and supported me and my education, even during difficult times.
After extra hard work at my studies, I entered my master’s program. Even in the higher academic world, I was treated as inferior whether it be for my clothes, my background, or my personality. The well-off students couldn’t understand how I’d infiltrated their classist club and would say awful things to try to break my spirit. How they tried! Unfortunately for them, by then, I was so used to these kinds of comments that they slid off my back with ease. I always replied, “My time will come.” I knew in my heart that I would serve people with greater passion and dedication than those who were studying for no other reason than to have the title.
At last, I completed my degree in 2018 with a broad smile and a happy heart. From there, I kept my promise by posting in the nearby village to help the poor who were in need of proper healthcare facilities. It was incredible to know that my dream came true, despite financial and social obstacles, I had made it! A part of me had always feared that I’d never get to serve the communities of needy people even with my best efforts. But what better way to silence the dark voices of the heart than with truth!
The best part? It paid off in so many ways. My hard work motivated my brother and sister to continue their schooling, and because I was able to help support them, they too succeeded. Like me, they never lost heart, and I’m proud to have set that example. Today, my sister has married abroad and is enjoying her life with her husband, one of my brothers has obtained a Master’s in Education, and another one passed his engineering course. I have helped shift my family into the main town since I got into the medical field, and I have helped them find a better residence.
I think the most important thing I’ve learned from my experience is to never lose heart, even when life feels like a continuous struggle. That struggle is never for nothing. I believe that I still have more challenges ahead in serving the local communities, but I am willing to face them. No matter what happens, I will not lose heart.
This is the story of Krishan Kumar
Krishan is currently a medical science graduate, serving the poor communities of Utter Pradesh, India. Born into a community stricken with poverty where his father was a shopkeeper that struggled to provide for his family, Krishan dreamed of higher education and become a doctor to help the poor people in his community someday. The road to get there was windy and difficult and many times he had little or nothing to his name, but he made it out on the other side with a master’s and the opportunity to fulfill his dream. Krishan never lost hope and he plans to give the people of his community hope and aid. Many people aren’t given the proper education on how to treat and prevent diseases in his town, and he wants to provide that information so that those who are poor will have a chance at a long and better life.
This story first touched our hearts on November 14, 2019.
| Writer: Krishan Kumar | Editor: Colleen Walker |