Life has this strange way of carving a path without you having any idea about it. What we call fate, hardwork, talent, destiny or luck, is a result of a series of experiences influenced by few individuals around us. One such great lady in my life was Gori Aaai. For those who do not know Oriya, Gori means fair. And fair she was in her looks and judgement. I met her when she was our neighbour in Balasore living a peaceful life with her husband (whom I fondly called Jeje). Today although I do not remember what her name was. She remains the ever so lovable Gori Aaai.
She was a retired teacher, mother of three kids and quite modern in her outlook for those times. All her kids were married and were away living their respective lives. During the summer, all her kids used to visit her along with their families. And me being the kid next door, I used to be a regular at their house helping Aaai with her daily chores - sometimes it meant getting stuff from the local market and some other times it meant just being there to give the couple company.
I vividly remember the day, when during one of such summers, Aaai was my saviour. Her elder daughter asked me what I want to become in life, quite synically. Since, she knew I was just an average student unlike my elder brother who used to be quite brilliant at acdemics. I was stuck. I had no accomplishments to back my vision. And I had no vision backed by the inner call. Gori Aai heard it from a distance and came to my rescue. She said, "God would have given him some skill to be successful in life. One day, he will find his calling." That one sentence has remained with me for the last 20+ years. And when I look back, that note of encouragement means the world. Aaai, you are in my prayers and heart.