“Through hard work, perseverance and a faith in God, you can live your dreams.”
He was pulling a rickshaw in Jaipur, on the steep upslope of Brahmapuri.The sweltering heat and the weight of three passengers was making him sweat profusely .He was feeling exhausted. Thinking about the circumstances, that made him a rickshaw puller brought tears in his eyes. His life was confined to the rickshaw, so much so that he had to eat and even sleep there. Sometimes he used to come to drop passengers at the gate of Rajasthan University, but he could not dare to enter the University campus.Lo and behold, this lad has now become an Assistant Professor in Rajasthan University.
Let’s turn the clock of time back by a few years, to track how this incredible success story materialized.Jagdeesh Meena was born in a poor farmer’s family in Karnaver village (District Baswa) Rajasthan. Shortage of irrigation facilities forced his father to abandon farming and work as a mason to sustain his family .Jagdeesh was the second among five siblings. Financial crisis always gripped the family .During his school days he was fond of drawing. “I used to make drawings on the blank spaces in my book, which would annoy the teachers” recalls Jagdeesh.His Art teachers always encouraged him to pursue drawing and painting. In due course of time he passed the Class X examination. As the board and colours were expensive he resorted to making pencil sketches. Sometimes he would go to nearby parks and Jawahar Art Centre to make pencil sketches of people for a paltry sum of Rs 100. “I would make a pencil portrait in just about 10-15 minutes” he recalls. These earnings would supplement his father’s income.
He was always on the lookout for finding ways to earn money. He came to know that some boys used to go to Jaipur and pull rickshaws to earn money. He decided to join them, oblivious of the fact that it involved grueling physical labour.But he was not prepared to sacrifice his studies, so he would pull the rickshaw only seven days in a month. Having earned some money he would come back to his village and rejoin school. Remembering those difficult days he said, “I used to feel suffocated among the rickshaw pullers who used to smoke ‘beedis’ and talk in uncultured language. When asked about the turning point of his life Jagdeesh said, “Whenever I used to come to the gate of Rajasthan University to drop passengers, I would park my rickshaw on the left side of the gate.I used to tell myself that if I compromise on studies now,I will have to remain a rickshaw puller all through my life. It was then, that I nurtured a dream to become a Professor one day.” He continued this routine of rickshaw pulling from Class X to XII.
After passing Class XII Meena got admission in BA Fine Arts in Rajasthan University. He was staying in the hostel. His parents had to borrow money and send him about Rs 2000 every month to meet the hostel expenses. Sometimes even this was not possible owing to financial constraints. He evolved a novel method to earn money. He used to serve as a waiter in marriages and other functions at night. In 2007 Meena got admission in MA (Fine Arts).He used to take drawing classes in private schools to meet the hostel expenses. He remained committed to his goal and each day brought him closer to it. He surprised everyone by topping the list of successful candidates, and winning the gold medal. It was a moment of pride and glory.Jagdeesh thanked God from the core of his heart, as he always believed that one can only put in his best but the result is in the hands on God.
After completing his post-graduation he cleared UGC NET examination in 2009 and subsequently enrolled for PhD .He got selected as an Art teacher in a government school in Rajgarh, where he worked for three years. After a long gap of 31 years the posts of Assistant Professor in Rajasthan University were advertised.Jagdeesh applied and got selected. He is happily married and his wife is an Assistant Engineer. He is busy preparing his thesis for the topic “A study of Indian miniature paintings depicting Mahabharat”.In a message to people in similar situations, he said “don’t be afraid of difficulties or problems, and face them. Chase your dreams and God will help you”.Not content to rest on his laurels ,Jagdeesh wants to keep on perfecting his Art and find a place in the top ten artists of the world.
(The above success story is based on the interview of Jagdeesh Meena by Major Pradeep Khare)