In the 16 years of my life, I have often faced questions about my identity. Who are you? your parents….? where have you come from? Questions to which I had no answers. I simply did not know. I remember that at age 5, I was on a railway platform when a cop confronted me with the same set of questions. I told him my name-I am Shivaji; he asked me where I came from? ‘Amaravati in Maharashtra’, I said. That was all I knew.
Since then I have remained enrolled in an institution for care and protection. No one ever visited me, I don’t know who has given me my surname.
Initially the questions would disturb me-even make me angry. When I was 13 yrs old I moved into the Boys observation Home in Pune, Maharashtra. This was a nice place; importantly, there were many others like me-with no identity. We lived together as one, big family; I mingled with my classmates, made friends, found supervisors who could guide me. It was here that I came across CSA. I was in the 8th standard and CSA had arranged coaching classes for us. CSA also organized several education, and fun events that got all of us together. Sometimes, even boys from other institutions joined us.
With help available, I found myself doing better in school. My performance had improved; I was more attentive; above all I was now interested in my life.
Last year I completed high school and I did well scoring first-class grades. More importantly, I took the semi-English option i.e. clearing all the papers in 2 languages-my mother tongue (Marathi) and, English. In the Home, I was the first one to do so and suddenly, I was a hero! I began to be called ‘Shivaji the Topper’!!!
Now, it seems like I have an identity-my very own. My achievements will, I realize, speak for me. I have enrolled for first year Diploma course of Mechanical Engineering and yesterday, I received my first engineering-instruments’ kit from CSA. Soon I will be ‘Shivaji the Engineer! And that will be my identity!!!
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