Dust, Poverty, and Life’s Lessons

The road not taken

When I left science at the age of forty, after having had to go through a Ph.D. program in Illinois, and went back to school to get a formal education in writing and journalism, I had no idea how that risky decision would take me to what uncertain economic future.

Plus, some people — including close friends and relatives — thought I was crazy.

We were actually poor immigrants in America at that time. My wife and family stood beside me, as they knew about my yearning, and were pained to see me emotionally going downhill, doing things that I never cared for that much. I was basically wasting my life, and my health was breaking down.

Columbia University Journalism School 2011 Graduating Class.
Columbia University Journalism School.

The rigorous training at Columbia University not just put me in touch with well-known personalities in politics and media, but it also gave me a deep, spiritual contentment. The school recognized my traits. A few great friends and teachers also made me believe that even though I rose from the dust of North Calcutta, I was not going to end up in dust.

Plus, that dust in Bengal was sacred: that was the dust that carried the history of Tagore, Sri Chaitanya, Ram Mohan Ray, Swami Vivekananda, and Vidyasagar. That dust is where my mother’s and grandmother’s souls transposed from mortality to immortality.

People who are unsure about their abilities and talents, just because they came from a humble background, must find confidence and solace that a humble background does not necessarily mean poor background. And a poor background does never mean spiritual impoverishment.

In fact, poverty, death, and hopelessness often make a man or woman more ready than the solvent and affluent, to face life’s reality. It is the blacksmith’s coal furnace that shapes a lump of iron into a sharp, strong steel, ready for the battle.

I have written a lot about my life both in India and America, and if you have time, visit my blog or Wikipedia page, to get a glimpse of it.

Thank you for indulging in this rather personal rambling.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Courtesy: www.terrainspotter.com
North Calcutta. Courtesy: http://www.terrainspotter.com

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