light up. I once went to school with a fever, just because I didn’t want to lose out on my 100 percent attendance record.
Meanwhile, life at the Yogashram proved beneficial. During weekends, I took free yoga lessons. People from all over the world came there. Interacting with them and attending lectures taught me about other cultures. I was also learning to speak English more fluently.
The Raos continued to pay my fees, buy me books and help in whatever way the retired couple, who got by on Mr Rao’s government pension, could afford. I was 13 and in the seventh standard when they had to move to Mysore. I felt orphaned and realized how much they meant to me. But life had to go on. Before leaving, they opened a bank account for me and topped it up regularly so that my studies would not suffer.
When I finished high school creditably, my mother was anxious about getting me married. “It is my responsibility,” she explained. Thankfully, that did not happen and I was free to continue with my studies. I joined the science stream for my pre-university course and loved biology and chemistry best of all.
I took the medical college entrance exam, but didn’t make it. My dream of walking down hospital corridors in a white coat was beginning to fade. There were medical seats reserved for those willing to pay lakhs of rupees in donations, which we could never afford.
Ammavru and Appavru advised me to opt for a BSc in chemistry, zoology and microbiology, a subject Ammavru had once studied. I became fascinated with microbiology. In the lab, it was compulsory to wear a white coat!
After graduation, I was desperate to find a job and help my mother. I did not succeed but Ammavru encouraged me to pursue post-graduate studies. I was lucky to get a merit-seat in Bangalore University for my master’s degree in microbiology.
After that, life took a happy turn when I got a lecturer’s job in a Bangalore college. I enjoyed teaching, but missed lab work and the white coats. So I applied for a research scientist’s position at the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore, and was selected. Now I’d once again be near Ammavru and Appavru after all those years. I was thrilled and stayed with them for the first few days until I found my own accommodation. I started working with a renewed zest and sense of responsibility. Every weekend, I visited Ammavru and Appavru and had a wonderful time. “Now you must complete your doctorate!” they’d remind me.
After two years at CFTRI, a friend helped me to apply for a Mexican government scholarship. I was called for an
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