HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!! We truly treasure the fathers that make our family feel strong and complete. I am introducing today, one such rare FATHER. Read the story of this parent from his child’s narration and in the end, bask in the wisdom shared by this marvelous human being. Today, we are talking about Mwalimu Desai or in other words Mr. Raman Desai. (Mwalimu means Teacher in Ki-Swahili).
It is not like diamonds are found everywhere. Precious things rare, so are precious people.
Mwalimu Desai is a highly sought out person in Mwanza city (Tanzania country in Central East Africa) and immensely loved by the locals. Mind you, do not be fooled by his simple dressing – usually a pale white or brown pant with a simple T-shirt tucked into a black belt. The Kikapu (a little bamboo suitcase) and his white hat are a part of his signature dressing. As he passes the streets filled with hustle of several hundreds, watch his popularity wave by.
Behind the warmth of this soothing smile, is a man who has fought the worst battles of Parenthood in a span of over 2 decades; nightmares that can make our skin disown us and yet through the turbulence, he has managed to emerge victorious. He kept moving on through the rocky roads of life and demanded victory over each moment. Today his life may seem to be at a lot more at ease while he still continues to spread his down-to-earth generosity. Jan 15th of this year, he celebrated his 81st Birthday!
The crux of this biography is – “It is easy to survive through the toughest times but it is not easy to LIVE through life’s traumas, emerge victorious and yet continue to live with enthusiasm, modesty and selflessly”.
Raman Desai experienced a sudden crash in his financial situation at the most crucial juncture of life. He had 2 kids, one who was 1 year old and other just 5. All of a sudden the roof over his head was ripped off, everything was lost, everything! Having 2 children to feed and a very simple salary to work off on, he knew, he had no choice but to STEER through his situation! For 25 years since then, he put his sweat and blood together to ensure that his children get EVERYTHING THAT THEY DESERVE. In that tough journey, he had the courage and companionship of the most important person – his Wife: Late Mrs. Vandana Desai.
A MESSAGE FROM HIS SON
- “Dad had a very basic salary. He would wear old clothes for several years, even patch them up so that they would last longer. It was a tough situation financially but dad and mom never brought those troubles to the forefront. They did their best to give us everything they could and always gave priority to our needs. They would work for 20 hours a day (with no exaggeration). Yes, 20 hours – day and night, cyclostyling; which they did for years! (*An ancient device for duplicating handwriting, in which a pen with a small toothed wheel pricks holes in a sheet of waxed paper, which is then used as a stencil). If you know how a cyclostyle works, it requires a lot of hand effort and doing that for so many hours each day sounds painful!
- This was just ‘One of the several jobs’ they did to make sure we had food to eat, clothes to wear and books to study from. In fact, I had a major illness as a child. I had severe asthama since age 4 till my 20s. I would get asthama attacks and my health would be down for days. Mom and Dad had to call the doctors in emergency several times, stay up late at night for days together. NEVER, NOT ONCE, did they complain for the long drooling hours of no sleep and the efforts they had to put in for my care. I knew I was strictly not allowed to eat certain things but I would be careless but still they stayed calm and accepting of me. It is phenomenal how affectionate, caring, and kind they were.
- Dad gave us the best education. We had to be sent far for our education starting standard (Grade) 7th. It was a tough decision as expenses were higher with flight travels, abroad stays and lots of other challenges especially due to my health problems. We were some of lucky few children who were sent out of Mwanza city and in the States for higher studies. There were other parents in town who could very well afford it financially but they did not send their children. With my parents, it was the opposite situation. We literally went abroad with pennies in our pockets but my dad’s faith, his courage and his support did it for us! It was completely unimaginable and I still cant fathom how my parents did it.
- Till date, I do not know how many LOANS he had taken over the years to put us through these schools; he has NEVER told us or made us feel short. And today both me and my sister are well settled at such wonderful jobs and lives. We continue to follow my dad’s philosophy – he always taught us to be generous, kind and content with what we have. We were among the poorest in town but yet, my parents gave the most donations of food to the needy.
- They taught us to give others even when we did not have enough to eat at home. They taught me to help others and they always PRACTICED WHAT THEY TAUGHT US. They also instilled in us the values of FAMILY LIFE. For several years they stayed awake and worked 19-20 hours a day, yet they would remove time to play games with us each evening. They also added a lot of fun and humor to our daily lives, it did not even make us realize what their sorrows were. And in spite of all those sorrows, they have always supported us in our endeavors and wishes.
A MESSAGE FROM MWALIMU RAMAN DESAI
My (late) wife and I have never asked for any help. We worked day and night to raise our children in the right and the best way. And even when our children were small, they extended help to us. Yes, there were times when we argued and fought. It was not all rosy and easy. But love abided within us and in the end, we were one always! This is the greatest challenge of a parent – to teach unity and love to overcome all the small difficulties or faults that we see in life or each other. Our goal was to bring them up and give them the best type of education that they can lead a good life and help other needy people.
I hope other parents feel encouraged and inspired from this message. That is the purpose of me writing here. Consider your child as a lovely plant in the garden. The tree grows with time and only the one which is nurtured the best from inside, no matter what weather conditions were outside, bears fresh, fruits for years to come!”