From Bangalore, I called a local cake shop in Bahadurgarh. It is my father’s 70th birthday.
I discussed the cake, I sent him a few pictures of the yesteryears I wanted on the design.
He responds, ‘Kal Thomaskutty Sir ka birthday hai?‘
I have not shared my name or his.
My dad is no tycoon, nor is he the cool founder of a fancy startup. His name is hardly ever published in the media. He is the son of teachers who wanted that “access to good education” should not be limited to a few.
As the principal of a school he was employed at, he changed everything. The school went from 8th to 10th and then 12th, from a state syllabus to a CBSE-affiliated one. He made the town his home and went on to do it again for an institution he started in 1995.
I was 12 then when he started his school in a rented building.
Over his years, dad’s legacy is that he has changed lives and provided tens of thousands of kids and their families an opportunity for education. Today those students are building their own legacies!
I am not naive. I know there are hundreds of schools today in Bahadurgarh. But when we were kids, proper schooling in an English medium CBSE school, preferably without broken glass windows and a decent playground, meant a 2-3 hour travel to Delhi.
We did that bus ride, but today our kids don’t.
My nieces and nephews study in those schools, and the people of Bahadurgarh now have options, the power of choice. Today the city can choose between many International and private schools, but I believe he paved the way for change and inspired us and many others.
And for this reason, people, old and young, recognize him, and I will always be “Thomas Sir ki Beti”.
And proudly so!