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My father always knew my potential, he's the reason I'm where I am today…

( words)
*For representational purpose only.

Hi, I am Puja, working with ABP Network (ABP News), and here's my story, which I would like to share with you: It's about a journey filled with struggles, heartbreaks, resilience, and triumph. 

Born and raised in the vibrant city of Kolkata, my story begins with aspirations different from where life has led me. After completing my schooling and graduation in Kolkata, I had my eyes set on becoming a lawyer, not a journalist.

However, my father, with an uncanny understanding of my potential, saw my future in communications.

And so, against my original plans, I ventured into the realm of mass communication. 

The pivotal chapter of my narrative unfolds during my third year of graduation. As I prepared for the entrance exams for post-graduation in journalism and mass communication, financial constraints became an unyielding barrier. Despite clearing entrance exams at prestigious institutions in Mumbai, such as Symbiosis and the MIT International School of Broadcasting and Journalism, I couldn't join due to financial limitations. 

With little hope, the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) emerged as the last resort. Its challenging entrance exam, interviews, and GDPI rounds made success seem distant. A coaching teacher, convinced of my potential, confronted my father about the decision to not send me to Symbiosis, sparking a night of unwavering confidence from my father. 

However, just days before the IIMC entrance exams on May 21, 2012, my father suffered another heart attack, throwing our lives into uncertainty once again. As he lay in the ICU, I silently fulfilled his simple wish for Kurkure, realising the gravity of the situation as the doctor hinted at an imminent departure.

Since my early childhood, we have lived with the understanding that my father could leave us at any moment, surviving on sheer willpower despite doctors giving up on treatment in the 1990s. 

The night before my entrance exam, my father, in the ICU, wished me well, unaware that the doctor had already forewarned me about the impending tragedy. The next day, I appeared for the exam at Presidency College, a whirlwind of emotions clouding my mind. 

Fortunately, my father got discharged, bringing a brief respite. The culmination of this tumultuous period came on July 19, when the IIMC entrance exam results were announced, and my name appeared on the list. It was a moment of triumph tainted by life's unpredictable blows. A breakup on July 26 marked the beginning of a new chapter. 

On August 31, I left for my IIMC hostel in Odisha, my father's declining health compelled him to send me off with my mother and uncle. October 8, my birthday, brought joy as my roommate and I surprised my family, including my ailing father, before returning to the hostel.

As my sister's wedding approached, my father, though unwell, made every effort to contribute to the preparations. However, on November 10, he was hospitalised again, fuelled by the hope of attending his elder daughter's wedding on November 24. Deep down, I felt this time he wouldn't return.

I booked my ticket for November 16, and I was excited to return home. On Diwali, my father was moved to the semi-ICU with the assurance of discharge by November 14. Little did I know that the universe had different plans. 

On November 13, my sister called my friends in the hostel, revealing my father's sudden passing. I rushed back to Kolkata, I reached home after a gruelling 9-hour road journey, only to be informed that my father was no more. 

At 22, I faced heartbreak and loss simultaneously. My sister got married three months after my father’s passing. 

With a meagre pension of Rs. 5,000, my mother navigated the challenges, and I resumed my studies at IIMC and appeared for my 1st-semester exams just 15 days after my father's demise, ranking first in the class. In the final semester, I was on the list of the top 10 students (IIMC, All Six Campuses). And all this happened while I was depressed.

In the aftermath, I faced a series of setbacks—health issues, a missed job opportunity at The Times of India, and a return to Kolkata from Jaipur (after my internship at TOI). After a four-month struggle, I finally found a job in Bhubaneswar in 2013 for a salary of 20K. I moved there along with my mother and lived there for three years. 

In 2016, my mother and I moved to Delhi from Bhubaneswar. Marriage was never on my agenda, but fate led me to Alok, a loving and caring partner, in 2022 (it was an arranged marriage).

Walking down the aisle, I held my father's photo, honouring the man who shaped my journey. I found solace in honouring his memory during my wedding ceremonies. I was very close to my father. I wanted him to be a part of my wedding day. 

Today, residing in a 3BHK apartment in Noida, which I have beautifully decorated and set up in all these years (since the passing away of my father in 2012 till date), I reflect on my transformation from a meagre Rs. 5,000 per month to a life of abundance. 

My journey, though tumultuous, has made me proud of my roots and achievements. I am grateful for the struggles that shaped me. In every challenge, I found strength, and in every setback, a lesson. My parents, through their sacrifices, laid the foundation for my success. Their teachings shaped me into a hard-working, grounded individual. 

Life has been a rollercoaster, but I stand tall, proud of my journey. I am thankful for the support of those who crossed my path, and I am eternally grateful for the lessons learned from my extraordinary parents.

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