Rajeev Poddar - Warrior through the Dark
Part – 1
“You need an M.B.B.S to become a doctor; an LLB to become a lawyer and to become a teacher, a bachelor’s degree is minimum, isn’t it?
Who would’ve thought that a bedridden 2nd class dropout like me would become an Economics lecturer one day?
I was 9 – it was a regular day, I returned from school, did my homework, went out to play, came back, had dinner, and slept. I suddenly woke up with a fever that night. And, when I tried to get up the next morning, I fell. Mom thought that it was a sign of weakness and put me to bed. After some time, I realized and told her ‘Mom, I’m not able to feel my legs.’
She tried to pinch my legs, but I had no sensation. Panicking at my condition, my parents took me to the hospital. The doctor’s examined me and concluded that the body below my shoulders was paralyzed.
But my parents didn’t give up and for the next couple of years we tried everything from the best doctors in town to homeopathy and tantriks – but nothing worked.
After years of witnessing all the efforts going in vain, I told my parents ‘I know that I have a wheelchair life, and I’m not going to consult any doctors further on’. My condition has only deteriorated ever since. Owing to my condition, schooling was completely ruled out. Back in the day, there were no mobile phones or TVs. My friends would come home to play board games, par kitni der rehte; unlike me, they had school the next day.
Looking at the sky from my window was all I had. So, when The Telegraph – a daily newspaper, was launched in Kolkata, I was over the moon. I would read it from cover to cover, it had become a part of my staple diet! I would also read my friend’s textbooks to keep up with the academics; nonetheless, a part of me always knew that they would all finish their education and get a job but I would still be stuck at home.
But, it wasn’t until 23, when I discovered my purpose. While all of my friends graduated and were done with academics, my journey with studies had just begun…
Part – 2
One of my neighbors came to me asking ‘Bhayya, can you teach us how to take L.C.M’. I had never taught before, but it seemed fun so I gave in.
They liked my whimsical teaching method so much that they returned the next day and asked if I would be their tutor. I happily agreed! Soon, their friends started to join in as well and in no time the number of students expanded from 5-10 to thousands.
The room I’d stay in 24 hours a day, 365 days a year had also become a room where I taught my students; my lifelong cage had come alive!
I had also started Knowledge Capsules as an initiative to bring news and current affairs in a simpler form to the students. I would also conduct quizzes and give away pizzas to motivate the students. Looking at my initiatives, a lot of people ask me why I don’t charge my students. But the fact is ‘it’s not them, but me who’s indebted, if not for them I would never have found my purpose’.
I’ve not been keeping well nowadays so the number of batches has reduced. But, with the entire pandemic, I’ve started to create awareness videos on YouTube now. Also, with the second lockdown kicking in, a lot of people are finding it hard to cope up with. But take it from me – who has been in quarantine for almost his entire life,’ Kya hai ye depression life itself is a celebration.’
I had no skill, no education, no plans – but the willpower to not cry myself to death. And, if I could make it so far with that ray of hope, imagine what the future has in store for you!