The Chinese Bamboo tree starts from a tiny seed. It requires nurturing – water, fertile soil, sunshine. More than anything…. Patience! A farmer plants the seed. Despite all his efforts, very little happens in the first year.

So…..the second, third even fourth year he patiently waters, fertilizes and protects the seed…..Nothing happens!

Finally, during the fifth year, the Bamboo plant begins to grow. In fact, it grows 90 feet tall in just 6 weeks! as if growing right in front of his eyes.

But did the bamboo tree grow 90 feet in six weeks or in five years?

A dream requires long-term nurturing. It takes faith, it takes perseverance and it takes patience to turn a dream into reality. I learnt this from my grandfather and this post is his inspiring story.

Once upon a time in the sleepy coastal town of Ankola, in Uttara Kannada of Karnataka State in India…..

My maternal grandfather Shri Shankar Naik had a dream – to see each of his daughters educated!

To him education was empowerment; and that applied as much to girls as to boys.

Today education is rightfully widespread. I am grateful to be born in the most favorable of times. But back in the 1960s things were different. Back then, educating a girl was not a priority. It was a luxury of the rich. My grandfather’s frugal income as a Thahshildar, barely supported his family. Education was expensive and not a priority. Lack of awareness, access to schools, early marriages raised additional barriers for girls. And my grandfather had not one or two; but six daughters! and one son.

But he had an unshakable faith, to see them all stand on their own feet. He decided not to get them married until they have a job in hand. This thought was way too bold during his time.

So he went on to nurture his dream in the fertile soil of perseverance. With thick glasses on his face and a classic umbrella in his hand he walked to his workplace every day. He got transferred several times, but opted to travel alone and keep his family in town so his children could go to good school. Soon, they were growing up and so were their expenses. There were times of humiliation when he was unable to pay their tuition fees on time, times of criticism that brought tears of pain when his own people saw no worth in girls’ education, despite all his efforts. He endured physical exhaustion; but he continued gave his children immense motivation. The only person who saw his vision was his wife, my loving grandmother Manorama. She is one of the most organized and disciplined individuals I have seen in my life. Repaired clothes, hungry nights were her share too. Savings was necessary. Every penny she saved was a penny earned for the family.

Did their efforts pay off?

Like the bamboo seed growing strong roots in almost half a decade that one day supports a 90 feet tall plant, the children in all these years of struggle developed strong will power that would one day support their success.

Yes. The efforts did pay off.

The eldest daughter (Dodda-aunty Dr Sarojini) became a renowned ophthalmologist in Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences, Hubballi.

The second daughter (Suma aunty) specialized in economics and went on to become Principal of Women’s college in Bellary.

The third daughter (Sheela aunty) and fourth daughter (my mommy, Indu) took up language studies. While the elder became a Sanskrit teacher in Sorab High School, Sagara, the fourth one my mum – took up English, served as lecturer and later in-charge Principal in Baad Junior college, Kumta.

His only son (Ganesh mama) became the Director of Secondary Education Board, Karnataka.

The fifth daughter (Pushpa aunty) had a passion for law. She expressed interest to be a lawyer once. Many thought the idea was preposterous. But my grandfather was patient and supportive. She took her to law school in Mysore and later she went on to become Deputy Director of Public prosecution in Bangalore.

When his youngest daughter (Rekha aunty) became a civil advocate in Bangalore, it was his day – when his long-standing distant dream had turned into a dynamic reality.

A reality in which not just his children were educated, but a human capital was built with confident young women in the society. This has opened doors of opportunities that benefited generations that came after, including me. My grandfather through his passionate dream and relentless struggle contributed his share to a developing economy thorough his well educated daughters.

With faith, perseverance and patience, we have no idea what we can achieve.

Do you have a dream?