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Born in a humble family, like all parents, my parents also had a dream to give me the best possible education. Although I couldn’t get into the best of colleges, because of limited financial resources, I kept on improving and flourishing my skills. Unlike the dreams of most youngsters, I kept chasing mine.
From day one, I was well aware of my parents’ financial state. Most of my needs were dealt with wants by my parents and were often ignored. I would snub their response at first but deep inside, I knew I had to do something. This realization hit me the most when I had the admission offer from one of the best universities in my country but couldn’t get admission because I couldn’t afford the fee. Being in the top twenty on the merit list was not enough to secure admission to the university. That was the first ever day in my life when I felt helpless. After having a wonderful interview, I was stuck with a time bomb to submit the fee within two days by the interviewer which I believed was not possible.
I went home devastated. When my mother inquired, I explained the whole situation to them. They calmly told me not to worry. I got a little irritated by how lightly she was taking the situation. She was acting like she was unaware of the seriousness of the situation. She smiled. It was that smile that brought a ray of hope. Then she offered me something for which I would be forever in her debt. She put off the necklace and gestured it towards me.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was her wedding necklace, the one and only thing that she got from my father as her wedding gift. Tears rolled down my eyes. I shook my head in disapproval. She wiped my tears and said, “this thing has no value compared with my child’s future.” I would have never accepted it if it was not for my future. With a heavy heart, I took the necklace to the nearest dealer.
Today, when I see someone struggling to keep on their studies because of financial constraints, I always compare it with my situation. In my situation, it was my mother’s necklace which saved me but most of these talented minds don’t even have a necklace to save them. I remember a child sitting on a roadside in Swat selling tomatoes. She was rather busy doing her homework than to attract the passing by people towards the tomatoes. Each year, I come across such situations and it leaves me with more and more pain every single time.
One day, a friend of mine called me late at night. He said that a girl in the final year of masters needed financial assistance. She was having her final exams the day after. “If her account wasn’t clear before the paper, she would have to wait for her degree for one more year, or maybe she would never be able to complete it who knows,” he sounded down. I think it was this call that woke the humanity inside me.
All night, I was thinking about this pitiable girl, would she sit in the exam?… maybe? … but how? All these questions clouded my mind. So, I just picked up my phone and redialed my friend’s number. “Tell her to come for the paper….. she will sit for the exam,” I said without thinking twice. “But how will you manage the money,” he replied. “Just tell her to be there for the paper tomorrow,” I told him and then cut the phone. I wasn’t sure myself what would I do. I just knew that I had to do something.
My gut feeling was saying that I would be able to gather a fund for her. The paper was at 09:00 am tomorrow and the bank was going to open at 08:00 am. Before that, I had to collect the money and deposit it in her name. The next day, I woke up early. I started calling the people on my contact list hoping for a positive response. Most of the call wasn’t even answered and some of those who picked the phone cursed for disturbing their peaceful dreams for such nonsense. I was only able to gather a few thousand rupees.
Went to university to meet the girl and told her that I was sorry for giving her false hopes and the grievance this would cause her. I saw the girl standing at the University bank entrance. I was moving towards with heavy steps as soon as her sight caught me, I saw a glimpse of hope which brought a sparkle to her eyes. The fidgeting and restlessness which she was having a second ago were gone. She started walking towards me. I was gathering the courage to inform her that she was not going to sit for the exam. I was thinking of ways how to break the news it was then I realized that she was then almost running towards.
I could hear her thanking me even without listening to what I was going to tell her. Even at my best efforts, I failed to gather the audacity to tell her the truth. I went to the bank and paid her fee waiver out of my scholarship fund. I didn’t tell her this. I told her a lie that one of the uncles was well off enough that without even listening to her story, he handed my check. She bought this. Although I wasn’t sure how I will pay my fee, I kept this thought aside and let myself led by where my instincts were leading me.