Sudeeksha, this one is for you. You taught us to take challenges head-on. Today, as I try to comprehend your untimely demise, I feel I must share your journey. As a counsellor, I always hear about the successes, the dreams, aspirations and disappointments but this was a first; to hear one of my brightest sparks taken away so early. While I bristle with anger at the eve-teasers who were instrumental in this accident, I centre myself to share with people how special you were.
The first time I met Sudeeksha, it was in a workshop on writing for Vidya Gyan students. Shy at first, Sudeeksha and I soon became great friends. Our love for reading was a bond. She would excitedly share all her thoughts. “I want to do International Relations,” she would say. We would relentlessly argue over whether she should apply for IR or business. Finally, we decided it would be business as that was her dream.
She had been part of 4 Indian students selected to attend a four-week Global Entrepreneurship Program at Lehigh University, USA. There she had met young and successful entrepreneurs. Their stories had made her feel that she could do incredible things. Sudeeksha shared with me her dream of starting a chain of evening schools in rural areas of India for children, especially girls.
She wrote, “I have one more battle that I need to win. All the decisions for girls were taken by the male members. Girls of my community had to follow different norms. We should be proficient in performing household chores. We should neither complain nor demand. I decided that I would break the stereotype of a woman doing business in my family and community.”
She broke that stereotype a thousand times. She won a full scholarship to Babson College to study Business. She became the hero not only of her family but her entire community. She became famous as the tea-seller’s daughter who had won a 3.8 crore scholarship. Now, in her junior year, she decided to come back to India due to COVID-19 as she wanted to work in her village.
On interviewing her as to how she was facing the COVID crisis as a college student, she told me, “I am very inclined towards social entrepreneurship. I often think about how we were running after money or careers without thinking about our health or spending time with our loved ones. The lockdown has affected those without privilege very badly and we must all think about how we can serve those in need. I continue to be inspired by how my college community has responded to this crisis and it has taught me that this is a time for all of us to reflect and do better.” I was so amazed by her maturity and sensitivity. Full of passion to make the future of her community better, she was working towards projects that would help fulfil this dream. She wanted to take these issues to a global stage, represent her country at the UN. Unfortunately, fate had other plans.
Personally, this video captures Sudeeksha’s spirit for me. May it be an inspiration for other students who dream of seemingly impossible things. As for me, I will take her advice to reflect and do better.
Sudeeksha Bhatti, student of Vidya Gyan School and Babson College.