Today, I attended the eleventh day ritual of Late Manorama Mahapatra of Keonjhar. I prayed for her departed soul to rest in peace. At her mourning ceremony, I recollected our strong bond and how she plays an important role in my life.

Back in 1994, when KIIT was in its most formative stage and we were struggling for each pie, we had finalised a piece of land in the Nandankanan Road for setting up the campus. We wanted to buy that land because it suited all our requirements. With a lot of difficulty, we were able to trace the owners of the land. In those days you could not google it and this part of Bhubaneswar was not even very developed to be able to know the real owners. We learnt that the owners of land were a mother-son duo from Keonjhar.

But then that didn’t solve the purpose. We didn’t know how to pay for it. I went to Keonjhar which took eight hours back then to reach. I took a leap of faith by asking the owners to allow me to pay in instalment. Within me, I knew I was asking too much. I told them that I could give 50 percent of the agreed amount first and the rest as deferred payment as soon as I gather the funds. I never thought they will agree.

But to my surprise the owners agreed to it. They allowed me to set up the campus on their land with half the payment made. This was the first piece of land ever bought for KIIT. The world now knows it as Campus 1. Had they not agreed to it and not trusted a struggling stranger who committed to pay them later, KIIT would not have become what it is today. It was the beginning of the growth of KIIT, rest of which is history.

The owner was none other than Manorama Mahapatra who we lost a couple of days back. She treated me like her son. She was a pious soul and was engaged in a lot of social work. Her son too, inspired by our work started a school for around 300 orphans and empowers them holistically. From time to time, we also help their cause.

Be true to the salt you eat. I told this at the mourning ceremony as well. Being grateful is the way of my life. If any one has helped me ever, I try to give back as much as I can and as long as I can and remain indebted for life. Gratitude is the best compassion in action, afterall.