Stories of Shining Stars

Ishani Ahmed


Sum of Serendipities    

Serendipity: (noun) the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. 

I firmly believe that my life has been a sum of a series of serendipities. Growing up in the small town of my childhood, life still rode on a slow rhythmic wave of crests and troughs. My childhood revolved around my parents, mornings with Mother getting ready for school, weekend trips to the newly opened restaurant with Father. As I strolled on the firefly-lit streets holding his hand, he would tell me about the far-off lands, the Oxfords and the Cambridges, and the possibilities that life offered to those who worked hard and studied. And I did that. I studied, worked hard to excel in class, whilst enjoying the process so that it wasn't a meaningless chore for me. Yet, I grew up with a bundle of insecurities. I was made aware of the God I prayed to, and the connotations it carried. Nonetheless, life still rode into the sunset.  I remember an afternoon hour at school when we were given a free period. I glanced up at the sky and was amazed by the magnanimity of the horizon which held both the sun and the moon. I was oblivious to the fact that this literal broadening of horizon would metaphorically alter the course of my life. I was made aware by a teacher of my innate affinity towards words and the canvas it provided to those who dared up to paint it. I also discovered that I was the happiest when I created things. But this discovery and my realised passion towards literature brought me at a crossroad. I had an apprehension about what my parents would say of this diversion. I still concentrated on Maths and Science. I loved the sense of satisfaction one got after solving a problem, the reason why people slipped on watery floors and that the white spectrum consisted of all colours there is in the universe.  I learnt what it was to love the unpredictability of life. I saw that I wasn't the only one having hardships and that some chose to see the silver linings and spread happiness inspite of the sadness surrounding them. Slowly and surely, I chose to follow Frost on the road less travelled. I ended my 10th on a high, securing a 10-point grade, refuting the claim by many that humanities was a stream only for those who didn't study. When I told my father about my wish, he was surprisingly happy. He agreed on my choice to study in Guwahati, gave me the freedom to carve out my own future. For that, I will be eternally grateful to him.  So, after ten years in Kendriya Vidyalaya Jagiroad, I shifted to a new school- Gurukul Grammar Senior Secondary School. It was here that I realised the pace the world lived in, the continuous struggle to carve out a niche for oneself amongst all the crowd. The teachers were very supportive, they took care of me knowing that I was far away from home. Their belief in me was more than I had in myself which showed when I was elected the Head Girl of my school. It will be one of the happiest and proudest moments of my life. Since then life has been one journey after another, a serendipitous chain of events that led me to Delhi. I am presently studying in Hansraj College, University of Delhi, after securing a percentage of 96.25.  To the ones still in their formative years, struggling for identity and a place for yourself, have faith- in yourself, in your abilities, in your hard work. Dream and work diligently to achieve that dream, for there is no power in the world to stop you from dreaming. And when you fail, remember that it took a thousand failed attempts for Edison to achieve his light. It is a great, big world out there, with stories, legends, tragedies and myths. Be brave to create one for yourself. 

“Here's to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem.”     

Ms. Ishani Ahmed 3rd Semester Department of English, Hansraj College New Delhi  

Sampurna Bordoloi


What do you want to be when you grow up? 

The question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is one that constantly haunts a child growing up in an average Indian household. The baggage of future aspirations is thrust onto the child at a very delicate age and the answer often happens to be, predictably enough, a doctor or an engineer. The choice implicit in the question is a mere illusion; the answer has already been decided for them. I too was no exception. Answering the question with “Doctor” had become a default instinct. However, watching a Nat Geo programme of archaeologists discovering Mathura (possibly) underwater in the 3rd grade changed the typical career trajectory for me. A child’s curiosity was ignited that day and further nourished on a steady diet of myths, tales, novels and exposure to tangible forms of history. I was always clear on wanting to pursue my interest in archaeology and history, almost to the point of being stubborn. I distinctly recall that when I took up history as one of my electives in class 11, many people advised me to drop it. They felt that history does not fetch marks and it will bring down my aggregate. Ironically, it was in history that I obtained the highest marks in my 12th boards (99 out of 100). There can be no better answer for critics that denigrate a particular discipline. 

A certain miscalculation on my part led to a year loss as I had decided to change universities after a year of pursuing my graduation. This was a most trying time for me. The frustration of a lost year coupled with a perceived inferiority in comparison to Delhi University students took a heavy toll on me. It is only because of the incredible encouragement of my parents, friends and the help I received from my teachers at Jagannath Barooah College, Jorhat that I managed to get my confidence back. They had faith in me even when I had turned into a pale shadow of my former self. This disruption was a sobering time of reflection and I chose to take it as a teaching moment. I was determined to do better. Getting into my dream university JNU for my masters was a moment of jubilation and frankly, incredulity. I am currently doing my masters in Ancient History from JNU and actively pursuing my interest in archaeology. 

If there is anything I have learnt, it’s to follow your heart. We may come from small towns but our minds need not be limited. Our minds and dreams are infinite. Therefore, read extensively, learn enthusiastically and let the creative light inside you burn bright.     

Ms. Sampurna Bordoloi   

M.A., Centre for Historical Studies,  

Jawahalal Nehru University, New Delhi     

Sristi Sruti Srivastava



When I was a little girl, the favourite pass time of the old and young around me, was to pester me with their confusing questions. Trickiest of all being, “What do you want to be, when you grow up?”. Most kids give varying answers but mine was always the same “doctor” and more specifically “cardiologist” (although a for a long while I wanted to be the President of India).

What am I now? I am a dentist. Not bad! Still not what I aspired to become. I was always a lucky person. Blessed with a set of loving and supporting parents who have never stopped me from spreading my wings and flying high, amazing teachers to guide me, I was always a scholar, an artist, a social being. What could have gone wrong? The entrance exams were too difficult? No! It’s always easy to make excuses and blame others, blame the circumstances, blame fortune.

I am not a cardiologist because I could not set my priorities right, because the energy I should have invested in studies did not reach the threshold it demanded. I involved myself more in partying, social media, and obviously love flings. Not that any of it is wrong but as some great chef has said, “excess of sugar and spice makes the biriyani not so nice”.

I ask myself the question whether any of those things which topped my priority list then, mean anything to me now. Between then and now many years have elapsed. The social media is still here, and after some time of continuous exposure to its repetitive happenings, it becomes boring. Well talking about parties, I must point out that the more you earn the more you party, and to earn you eventually must study unless of course your only aim in life is to be the spoilt brat of a fabulously rich parent handicapped by inherited wealth. About the males of human species, my experiences have taught me that inner beauty is way more attractive, real and relevant for the look of your face and figure will attract a boy ready for a temporary fling, but a real man will be attracted by emotion, compassion and grey matter; and that’s where stands commitment coupled with contentment.

Unfortunately, I often hear about a boy of 15 in the next lane attempting suicide because of being rejected in love, or about the girl next door falling in depression because she doesn’t look good. All I have to say to all those kids is that please prioritize, please get your priorities right. Yes, I know I am not a cardiologist today, but ending my life back then would have deprived me of offers my present life showers on me. I got my priorities mixed up and I had paid a heavy price for that. Interestingly that paved the way for my future, a future that was unexpected and interesting. The future happened because I didn’t give up. Our priority should be to live a fulfilling life.

Believe me life is full of opportunities and all doors are never shut. If we look hard, then we can always find a way out of failure and fear of failure. Presently, I am the university topper in my batch; and I am good in oral surgery and diagnosis. The best thing is that I enjoy being good in that. I failed to be a cardiologist but that was not the end of me or my dreams. Today I aspire to be a MDS in orthodontics. I may succeed, or I may not, because all that matters is that I am studying hard and I have classified my priorities right. Doors of opportunity will shut, doors of fortune will open; and I am ready for now I know that life is never about the destination but about the journey and the journey continues.

A daughter, doctor, dreamer.

Ms. Sristi Sruti Srivastava

Intern, College of Dental Sciences and Hospital,

Rau, Madhya Pradesh

Akhil Bhatt


Measuring Success

Success is not measured by what you achieve but rather by what you learn and how you evolve to be a better being more at peace with the universe. 

I never achieved anything significant in my life but out of all the experiences and situations faced, I can proudly say that the one thing that I have learnt is to know how to remain happy and contented with whatever we have at that moment. According to me being happy with ourself no matter what the situation is, is the biggest thing required in one’s life to help us in moving forward and also in achieving all the goals and dreams we aspire for without actually being disappointed even if we fail. But in the process one of the key factors is to realize the learning out of it. We must be able to understand what we have learnt even if we fail. 

The journey of learning for me started way back in class 7 when I met the best teacher/guru, Mr Saptarshi Majumder. In life rarely, you get to meet some people who transform you into a better human being. I can say that this way of living life with the attitude of being happy no matter what the situation is, I owe to my beloved teacher. I never scored good marks in his subject, my English is poor, but he was not a teacher who would teach you to speak better English or to get good grades, but he'll teach you how to be a good person and human being which ultimately matters the most in life.


We all are not content with what we have, all of us want more and more in life, but in a time where you have so much stress around you, it is important for everyone to find your guru or a motivational force who/that would guide you to live happily. Today I am not in some 'A' grade college, I never scored good, never achieved anything significant in life but in-spite of all this I am happy with life, I am happy for the fact that I am able to find happiness in small things in life and no matter what or how much I score I am happy for the fact that this experience of living life is never wasted and that every day it gives me a new reason to smile and be happy about.

Career is something we all worry about, getting good grades, getting into good college etc. but it is important to realize that there is right time for everything. All we must do is be patient and wait for it because to reach the goal before time, we often skip one step in life and all these little steps that we skip, matters the most in the end. So, let me just sum it up by saying that don't be in a rush to achieve everything now, don't jump over those crucial steps of life, live the present moment and learn how to be happy because if you are happy with what you have achieved no matter how small and big it is, you will eventually succeed in life because ultimately people won't remember you for what you score but they will remember you for the reason that you made them happy in some point of time in their life and it was only possible because you were happy from within. The goal is not to be a great achiever but to be a better human being.

Mr. Akhil Bhatt



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Stories of Shining Stars

Inspiring Stories  of  Real  People  like  You  and  Me.

Ishani Ahmed (pdf)


Sampurna Bordoloi (pdf)


Akhil Bhatt (pdf)


Sristi Sruti Srivastava (pdf)