Story of Narendra Kumar, the son of an agricultural labourer is a perfect example of ‘life is what you make it’

Narendra is the first person in his family to pass class 12 now intends to finish school and work towards a national award.

Narendra is the first person in his family to pass class 12 and to score 94% in his exams. And he is certainly the first person to make art his career among all the people his family and he have ever known.

Born to parents who were agricultural labourers, Narendra grew up with only the faintest idea of how hard they worked to keep their family of 9 fed and clothed. When they found out about VidyaGyan, Narendra was very excited, but his father asked him not to build his hopes up; what if he didn’t get in? Narendra said, ‘Then I will work in the fields like you.’ His father slapped him.

Later on, Narendra would look back on this moment to remind himself how grateful he was for getting a place in VidyaGyan. He says, ‘I felt very happy to be there. Everything a child wants was made available to me. Firstly, I had never eaten such good food, and so much of it, in my life. Talking to people, having fun, watching TV… And the teachers. We didn’t miss our parents – they made us feel very nice.’ His parents were extremely proud of him and declared that he had brought honor to the family name.

Narendra was very good at art and sports. He managed well in academics too. Certain teachers recognized his talents and helped him develop them to a great degree. ‘Devender Sarkar sir gave me a different direction in life through art, and Jyoti ma’am in sports. Eventually, I decided to focus on painting. Sir guided me so well, that I began painting at a much better level. He also helped me learn how to balance art and my studies so I could do well in both.’ His teacher helped with his portfolio and to prepare for entrance exams in art schools. Narendra got admission into 3-4 top art colleges and chose Jamia Millia in Delhi, where he ranked 5th in his entrance exam.

Narendra’s parents were concerned about his career choice and the expenses of college but when he started winning prizes in art school and received scholarships as well, they began again to support him whole-heartedly. The self-confidence and passion to carry on in the face of adversity make this young man special.

Narendra’s inspiration comes from his father and his teachers. He says, ‘I know now the value that artists have. To leave this level and go and teach small children in a school… and teach us so well… He filled me with so much energy and passion.

Narendra intends to finish art school and then work towards a national award. He wants to get a job as an art teacher, and also open a studio of his own. ‘My education gave me a clear direction’, he says. ‘It would not have been possible to be here without it. It gave me the tools to work, to develop my skills and to calm my mind through my art.’

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