Kittu whenever he came to his hometown would try to put some sense in Mohan about the importance of education but to no avail. For Mohan who had always been pampered by everyone, who had got everything easily, studying was a pain. And so Raghav thought it was better if he started working than to become a wayward.
Whenever Kittu and Harish would get some holidays they would take their bicycles and roam. It was at one of those holidays that Harish told of his family. He told of his siblings, of how they were surviving amidst odds. A philanthropic father who served others forgetting his own children; of how he and his elder brother had worked odd jobs to support their family, of his sister who wanted to study but could not. Of how lovely she was, how modest, loving and kind she was. And at that moment Kittu promised Harish that he would marry his sister-Karuna once he got a job.
Kittu’s troubles were not yet over. There was a slump in the market and he did not get a job as soon as he graduated. And he did not want to go back and be a burden on his brothers. So he took up a job in nearby Mangalore. A job which seldom paid him. He was taken in as an apprentice but the statutory stipend was seldom paid and so he again took up tutoring to fund himself. It was after some months that he came to know of Bhilai-the steel plant in Madhya Pradesh that was going to come up and for which recruitment was on.
He was selected.
What followed was uproar. His mother was aghast as to how her son would manage alone in an alien place. Karuna fainted. Others felt that he had betrayed his dharma. It was Harish who stood rock solid beside him.
Kittu’s possessions were little but his dreams were not. As he travelled on the wooden planks of the India Railways from Mangalore to Madras, then to Nagpur and then to Bhilai, he fixed up goals to be achieved in the coming months.
The training was tough for others but not for Kittu. Life had hardened him and made him strong. His first home was in a tent until the accommodation was readied. The first thing he bought himself was not a pair of trousers but a bicycle which he would use to cycle himself from home to the plant and to travel about.
The group of youngsters had fire in the belly and dreams in their eyes. Jawaharlal Nehru’s statement of temples of modern India ignited them.
Kittu worked hard. He and Savitri communicated regularly. Once he had accumulated enough, he along with his sister Savitri with the help of a third party bought their ancestral home from their aunt and uncle. If they had gone to buy it themselves, his uncle would never had sold it to them.
The look on Rukmini’s face was enough for Kittu. The family moved back into their home. And after a few days of holidaying, Kittu returned to Bhilai where a surprise awaited him. He had been chosen with some others to be sent on training to Russia.
He was proud. He sent message back home but there a pandemonium broke out. The people of their community said that it was not right for him to go beyond the country, his religion would be lost. Some said that the family would be an outcast. Rukmini was in a dilemma. What was she to do whether to follow the dictates of society or let him follow his dreams?
Radha came forward then and said, ‘Amma where were these so-called pillars of society when we were thrown out of our home’
Rukmini got some strength from her words. But she was worried about how Karuna and her family would feel. True they were only betrothed but Karuna’s family may object to Kittu’s training in Russia. So she called upon Harish.
Harish upon hearing that Kittu had been selected for training in Russia, started dancing in joy.
‘Will your people have any objection?’, asked Rukmini
‘Objection, why? It is such an honour, Mayi. Why will they object?’, said Harish. Rukmini’s worries melted away.
Kittu returned from Russia with new vigour. The training had been good, now it was time for implementing what he had learnt. Also there was something more which he was looking forward to. His and Karuna’s wedding had been fixed two months hence. A wait of over six years was finally being culminated in marriage. He felt pride that a promise that he had made of marrying without any dowry to a girl who was good natured, intelligent and hardworking was going to be fulfilled.
Rukmini looked around with pride at the banner which read, KARUNA WEDS KRISHNA. The boy who had always given her trouble for food and otherwise was today getting married to a lovely lady. Even in her wildest dreams she had not imagined that the imp of a boy would strive to do something which would change the course of the entire family.
It had all been possible because his teacher had challenged him to earn his own tuition fees.
‘Ahh Rao sahib, welcome to the wedding of your pupil’, she said welcoming the visionary teacher unto the wedding hall.
And with this I conclude this series. If you have not guessed it yet, let me tell you that this is the story of my father. A person who fought destiny to pave his own path. He celebrates his 78th birthday in two weeks time. Please keep him in your prayers.