Dubai Diaries: Who is your role model?
Growing up, I tended to gravitate towards people with empathy — of which the most shining example in my immediate circle, was my mother.
Can an inspiring influence in your childhood go on to shape who you are as a person? Growing up, I tended to gravitate towards people with empathy — of which the most shining example in my immediate circle, was my mother Zarina. When I was born in the mid ‘70s, she, a science student who had gone on to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Education, already had a couple of years of teaching to her credit.
As a young child, I never gauged exactly what her former students had thought of her or whether she had left a lasting impression on them. When we shifted to Dubai, she taught at my school; her students would often seek me out in the playground or in corridors, telling me how ‘Ms Parker is very nice’.
Once, on a trip back to India in the summer vacations, we visited her old school, Mount Carmel, and when word spread she was around I heard yells and cheers from some of the upper classrooms. I saw girls from the senior section hanging out of windows, waving at us in excitement, motioning my mother to come and meet them.
People sometimes ask me who the first celebrity I became aware of as a child is. While I grew up on films and television serials and had the occasional attachment to a famous face, I never saw anyone in real life win so many hearts as my mother. And as I evolved from child to teenager, I began to understand many of her endearing qualities.
She was always kind and encouraging, even through her own personal battles. If her colleagues approached her for help, she never refused; she would make posters late into the night when fellow teachers asked for assistance, knowing she had an artistic streak. I remember how she counselled friends in their time of need, offering any kind of support she could give, whether monetary or otherwise.
In school, she was the kind of teacher who inspired you to speak up, to hone your creativity, to think beyond what was written in a textbook. Once, when a new term began with a fresh set of students, there was a girl who sat silent, withdrawn and unwilling to participate in any interaction. Through a gently encouraging attitude, my mother eventually managed to get through to her and bring out a drastic change in her demeanor.
As I went to bed that night after listening to her story, I wondered how many lives my mother had touched over the years, with even a small gesture, a smile or a word of encouragement. Years ago, I found her in tears upon returning from school; a former student had passed away after battling leukemia.
She would always keep a small pink greeting card in her purse, in memory of that child. In much the same way, a snapshot of my mother adorns my wallet, a constant reminder of a loved one who left behind an emotional legacy that I strive to emulate every day.
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