By Dr. George Jacob
Kochi: These days we hear many stories of weak-kneed youth giving up before testing realities of life. Raised on the bed of roses with kid gloves, the modern generation chooses suicide when faced with thorns. Lacking crucial equanimity, guile, ability to adjust and grit to take life head-on, they ‘quit’ without a fight.
An exception is Hanan Hamid, a BSc Chemistry student from Kerala who has drawn public adulation and applause.
Hailing from a poor family, she sells fish to support her mother and brother, and pursues her studies concomitantly. She has a tryst to keep- to become a doctor.
On August 18, the 21-year-old woman recreated the biblical story of the widow’s mite when she donated 150,000 rupees (US$2,140) to the disaster relief fund of the chief minister of Kerala. An unprecedented flood fury in a century has devastated the southern Indian state. More than 400 people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands were displaced in the floods caused by incessant rains that began in mid June forcing authorities to release water from more than 40 dams and reservoirs in the state.
Hanan said the money was donated by various people after social media highlighted her struggle.
“I had got the amount from people and I am happy to give back the amount to the needy,” she told reporters.
Hanan, who also worked as an anchor and flower girl for programs to make ends meet, requested people to donate for the relief work.
Hanan’s story had gone viral some weeks ago after a Malayalam daily reported her struggles.
Getting up at 3 am to brush up her portions, she cycles to the fish market at four. She transports the fish and her bicycle into Kochi, Kerala’s commercial capital, in an auto rickshaw. Leaving them for safe-keeping in a house nearby, she leaves for college. After college, she returns to Cochin, and sells fish until 9 pm. She then goes home to hit the bed.
Life had been a struggle for Hanan since she was in the seventh grade when her parents separated. But the she decided to take life by its ears. She quit selling fish once, ‘after going through an unpleasant experience with a male colleague, old enough to be her father.’ She undertook many jobs such as giving tuition, making jewelry for sale, dubbing, and acting in plays, to support her family in dire financial straits.
Later, she returned to more profitable fish trade. Talented at penning poems, she caught the attention of the late Malayalam actor and entertainer Kalabhavan Mani, who had her share stage with him. She was subsequently offered roles in movies. Her struggles caught the media’s attention. The world applauded the self-made daring teenager.
True to the times, she was victimized by a predacious and insensitive social media, which described her grit as ‘gimmicks to promote a film’, and a ‘fake publicity stunt.’ The ensuing commotion at her fish ‘shop’ had the police asking her to leave. The dejected and teary-eyed Hanan appealed to her critics to leave her alone.
Gritty Hanan’s story bears striking similarity to creation of a pearl within an oyster. A grain of sand slips in between the shells of an oyster, through a wound. To protect itself from irritation caused by the grain of sand, the oyster covers it with multiple layers of nacre, until the iridescent gem is ultimately formed- a painful process, according to scientists.
It takes a wound on the oyster’s shell, and a painful process for a pearl to form. Hanan covered her life’s challenges with layers of determination, perseverance and daring to produce a pearl out of her life. Her well-wishers hope she succeeds in creating and wearing a more beautiful pearl – a medical degree, to be emulated by her weak-kneed contemporaries, who quit before lesser trials, conveying her message, loud and clear – ‘no wound, no pearl’!