It was lunch time. Junior faculty members were chatting at the university cafeteria. Topic of discussion ranged from issues related to politics, disparity in pay scale from other universities, and finally their own dreams, ambitions and future. Most of them wanted to marry, get promoted, find a better opportunity and eventually settle down. Akash stood out like a fish out of water. He wanted to study more. He wanted to climb up, higher and higher. His thirst for knowledge was yet to quench.
“How much longer you want to study, yaar?” commented one colleague, “ time for you to settle down. Leave something for our students to do.”
“Act like an adult and shoulder some responsibility for your family yaar; I heard you father is retired, your sister to be married and you want to study?” remarked his second colleague, “you already have a masters degree and you are enrolled for a doctoral program here while you work. What more do you want?”
“Yaar, I want to do my doctorate. Who knows, post doctorate also and operate independent grant, ” Akash said passionately, “I want to immerse myself in science. Nothing else excites me..”
But how? Akash had joined his current position with the hope that he will get his doctorate degree and at the same time teach. Hope was, when he got out he would have a doctorate plus professional teaching experience. On paper the arrangement looked good, but to an ambitious person like Akash, the organization lacked both a research culture and infrastructure. As if that was not enough, the place was teeming with disgruntled faculty more eager to discuss politics than science. Out of desperation and frustration, Akash had applied to a few universities abroad. So far he had only seen rejection.
Today, on his way back from cafeteria, Akash saw the letter addressed to him in the mail room. Without waiting for the mail to be delivered, Akash carried the letter to his cubicle that was his office. There it was, a fully paid invite for graduate studies.
Now that he had a letter of admission in his hand, hurdles began to surface. To him, the biggest obstacle to his dream was financial situation of his family. There was no denying that father has aged. He needed someone to share his burden and support family. A steady source of income was a must. It was expected that some people might say that it was wrong for Akash to go abroad for higher studies. Such abdication of responsibility could be considered selfish and self centred. Akash knew he could neither blame critics, nor could he shut their voices. But he also has his dreams and once in a life time opportunity.
After discussing with his family, with his father’s blessing, Akash decided to take up the opportunity to study abroad. He promised to keep supporting his family financially, by saving from his scholarship. May be he would live an austere life.
Today a decade after he left for his higher studies, Akash had not reneged on his commitment to his family and to his dream of pursing science.