When I took to this unknown terrain of jotting down my emotions as blogs, I didn’t know it will become a weekly affair. It has now become a habit to share Saturday blogs. I go through comments on my blog and see the immense love poured on me by my readers. I observe that you all love to read about my personal experiences, right-from-heart stories, incredible struggles and solemn resilience. And I hope I will keep up this spirit of exchange of stories and ideas.

Yesterday, I lost my second eldest sister, Manni. She is the first among all my siblings to pass away. Her demise has created a vacuum which can not be filled. It is an irreparable loss for all of us and after the death of my mother, this is the first major loss that has shook all of us, reminding us how ephemeral our life is. I would like to share with you all some pages of my life related to my deceased sister, Manni.

As it is known to all, I was born into a poor family and was brought up with six siblings. All my siblings focussed on studies and education, but my second eldest sister wasn’t much into studies. She was interested in everything apart from academics. My siblings and mother tried to convince her to study but she didn’t like it. Soon after my father’s unfortunate death, my mother married my sister off so that she could start a new chapter in her life. In hindsight, it was a good decision because she was ready to take responsibility of a family, but didn’t like studying.

My sister was married into a poor family. The social hierarchy worked like that in those times. The poor married into poor families, so that they don’t break out from the chains of poverty, or worse lose self-respect and start begging. She moved to Malkangiri to live a modest life with her new family. She had four children. She managed to raise her children and get them married. Her children are all settled now. Though she was not formally educated, she was a bold woman, to manage her responsibilities as a wife and a mother really well.

In the year 2016, our beloved mother passed away. She came all the way from Malkangiri to Bhubaneswar with her family to attend Maa’s last rituals. Now that she is gone, there is a void that can not be filled. In her lifetime, she had never asked me for money. Although she knew my capacity and the number of people I have helped, she never demanded for any luxury. It is astonishing and also a matter of pride that she lived a selfless life with dignity. She wasn’t dependant on me or my name. She was not greedy, or selfish to ask money or any help from me for herself or her children.

Back in 2016, I learnt that she was getting weak and was in dire need of money. Though she never asked, I decided to give Rs 15,000 a month to her. This was the only aid she took from me with which she managed her family.

I would like to mention that not just her, all my siblings lead a simple, humble and independent life. The have made no demands to me for money or assistance. Every time there would be a marriage or a big pompous festival in the family, I gave whatever gifts I wished to give. In fact, none of them ever visited KIIT or KISS, or became its stakeholders. It is only my youngest sister, Iti, only a month old when my father expired, who manages one of my initiatives in the field of literature and media for the past two decades. I provide support to all the activities I had launched and ‘Kadambini’, most popular Odia feature magazine happens to be one amongst them.

I would like to thank god and my mother for giving me such good brothers and sisters. My mother who was filled with the virtues of humility and selflessness has managed to pass it on to all her children. Today, I am honest and transparent because none of my siblings have ever demanded or have been envy of my achievements and we create an example which is inspirational, reiterating the importance of dignity and self esteem over everything else.