Tag Archives: mother teresa

Right Here, Next To Me


Unfailingly, sometime in the course of your education you have been asked who your role model was, am I right? I know I have, way back in the 4th grade. Who even knows what a role model is at the age of 10? Since I most definitively didn’t, I researched fitting role models. Let me tell you, back then female role models were limited – and between Mother Teresa and Princess Diana, no offence to Mother Teresa at all – but I had the makings of a Princess Diana shrine. She got the Prince, the heirs to the longest ruling monarchy in the world, a fantabulous dress and got to travel to all parts of the earth to do great things. I was awed.

Until I handed in my assignment, and everyone else had written about their mothers, teachers, sisters, or some other family member that I should have written about my mother or my grandmother too. They have surely come so far for women of their generations, and it’s definitely because of them that I have come as far as I have. But let me explain, I love my mother. I’m not an ungrateful daughter. I appreciate all of her stubbornness and word of law in my upbringing. I’m thankful for her constantly pushing me and her sacrifices. I’d like to tell her that she knows me so well, I’d like to fool myself into thinking that she could pass a test of my life – but she won’t, and till this day she thinks I have been a fool on several occasions. While she might think so, I’ve always been totally aware of the situation. We don’t have that best friend relationship. As much as I look up to her, she could not be my role model.

The dictionary states that a role model is a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people. Now looking back, I knew exactly who my role model was. I changed school so much, I was in one school from Gr 3 up to Gr 7. That’s where I had 2 great role models, both were successive head girls – Kaleivani and Pavithra. They don’t have a particularly inspirational story and I might even have a distorted view of them since they were miles older than me – but I looked up to them for the strength they exudated with their silence, in their manners while dealing with problems of different ages, and that they were always approachable if the need arose. To me that was what a role model needed to be: inspiring in their hard work, in their choices, in their approach, in their proximity, in their problem-solving. They inspired in me a goal of one day being head girl, I wanted to meet that mark, that standard, the seriousness in which that role was voted on, I wanted to inspire others to be the best versions of themselves.

It’s been a long time since then. Due to unforeseen routes of destiny, I didn’t get the chance to be head girl, but I still want to be inspiring to others. But that’s not why I’m writing today. After Pavithra left school and I moved around some more, I struggled to find another role model to look up to. It is quite sad that there is a shortage of inspiring people in our daily lives. I’m not talking about sportsmen or writers or celebrities – I’m talking about everyday heroes; everyday people. I did find one, and today I’m writing about him. 

He is not perfect, like every human he has his flaws. Never-the-less, he is inspiring at the most. He is my role model because he inspires me, and he hasn’t failed to continue inspiring me in the past decade or so which is a really difficult feat because I’m so fickle. He inspires me because he fights for his dreams – he doesn’t give up when things get hard and he knows when to move on when there is nothing left to gain. He inspires me in his friendship – he doesn’t give the time of day to negative people, but will bend backwards for those who have been through thick and thin with him. He inspires me through his faith – for his incessant journey to know more, to have greater iman, to be closer to Allah. He inspires me with his character – loyal, harsh, yet kind. He inspires me in the ways he helps people, knowingly or not. He inspires me in how he knows when to be serious and when not. He inspires me through how far he has come as a person through change and self-improvement. He inspires me to never settle for less than I am. He inspires me to keep fighting when I’m ready to give up. He inspires me to keep turning to Allah when I’m stuck because no one else can really do anything to help me. He inspires me to be kind even if it’s the smallest thing. He inspires me to be resilient and tough, yet gentle. He inspires me to think about the bigger picture and not focus too much on the insignificant little things. He inspires me to stay true to myself and what I believe in even if I’m going against the wave. He inspires me to be honest, loyal and confident. He inspires me to set my bar high and work hard enough to catch those dreams in the palms of my hand. He inspires me to always test before trusting. He inspires me by always being a phone call away no matter the distance in miles.

That is what a role model is – someone who greatly inspires you to be exactly who you want to be. This world has become so career orientated, that most of our role models have something to do with what career path we choose, or some this-or-that celebrity that has gone through some this-or-that adversity. I don’t think I have a role model in my field. In fact I have no clue about celebrities and awards and nobel peace prizes and innovation awards. I don’t need it. I don’t need a role model for my career. But I need a role model for my life.

You don’t have to be famous to leave a mark on the world. Sometimes all you need to be is – inspiring. And for that, I’d take him over Princess Diana any day. Right here, next to me.