This I Believe

Kamali - Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Entered on September 4, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in education. Born in a very small village in India in the

50s, where there was no railway station or a bus route, running behind my grand mother bare feet in the paddy fields, my education is solely responsible for what I am and who I am. The culture, tradition and geographical location were not conducive for a female to get college level or even high school level education.

I thank my aging parents for realizing early on, the value of education. My father traveled a lot as a sales man for a company and my mother, from this small village in southern India stayed back with me and my older brother because my parents did not think she could survive in a city. When I was seven and my brother twelve, they decided to move to a town for their children’s education. After a year in the town of Trichi, they moved to one of the big cities in India called Madras or Chennai, as it is called now. I started my fifth grade in Madras and had seen and still remember the ordeals my mother had to go through to survive in the city. I got my doctorate from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Madras.

Keeping with the tradition, I got married. It was an arranged marriage i.e. my parents chose my husband for me and his parents chose me for him. I came to Houston, TX in 1980. I did two post doctoral fellowships with Univ of Texas. I had been in education all these years, because I believe in it.

When I visited my village in June 2006 with my daughters, we were walking along the river bank, I was walking with my older daughter and my mother was a little behind with my 17 year old younger daughter. I saw my mother talking with a stranger. He looked like a farmer with a wrap around on his waist; bare upper body and carrying a hoe on his shoulder. When my mother caught up with me, she told me that the farmer asked her – “Is that Kamali walking there? I was her class mate in the second grade.”

It made me realize where I started and where I am. I do not see anything wrong with being a farmer in a village, but I don’t think I would have been happy.

It makes me appreciate the education I was fortunate enough to receive. The education that has provided me the critical and analytical thinking skills needed in the decision making processes in all walks of life.

Thanks Amma, thanks Appa.