Atelier Diva: Work, Play, Love
August 23, 2021
A Ray of Light
August 18, 2021 COMMENT comment
A Ray of Light
By Annie Johnny, Photographs by Ridhima Sikka
Twenty-year old Aamir, talks shyly about his ‘didi’ with whose help he has finally been able to reach the ninth grade. He also support his family financially with what he earns while working at   ‘didi’s’ house. For him 37 year old, Mansi Arora or 'didi' as he calls her is a beacon of hope who inspired him to continue studying.
Arora runs a coaching centre in her apartment at Vikaspuri and teaches English to aspiring English (Hons) students. On weekends she teaches at the nearby slum, Hastsal Village. She writes for magazines, blogs and is planning to soon open a public library in her apartment complex. Arora is an inspiration to many people- her students, her family, friends and even acquaintances. But it wasn’t always like this.
Coming from a Delhi-based middle class family Arora was born with dwarfism, something that always subjected her to ridicule and discrimination while growing up.
“I was used to being called names, and laughed at. It wasn't easy. By the age of 18, I was depressed and slowly loosing all hope in life. Even in terms of my career it was very difficult. This is when I started thinking of the darker side of life,” says Arora.
It was her trip to the U.S to meet her aunt that gave her a new lease on life. With the help of new friends she made in the U.S and her family members, she was able to explore her capabilities. The scars of the past started healing as she discovered the strength of positive thinking.
“The trip to U.S was the turning point of my life. I was able to rediscover myself,” Arora, who still visits U.S once in every two years.
She started the coaching centre in 2002 after returning from the U.S. Today there are about 140 students who come to her to learn English literature and grammar.
“I started the institution because I felt this was my calling. I feel that I was destined to go through those challenges in my life to better understand problems of other people,” says Arora who finds teaching a very rewarding experience.
Arora in fact sees her reflection in some of the children.
“I hated the rote learning culture in school. But I was a very good learner. This is the reason that I can understand the needs of many of my students, as I was one of them. I teach them tricks and steps to learn things in an easy manner. I love my kids, they are like my family, they make me complete,” says Arora.
She even goes beyond curriculum-based teaching and extends her help to solve personal problems and sometimes even counsels them. Apart from teaching she has provided employment to her students and physically challenged youths in the institution.
“I have a deaf and dumb girl who works here who does all my typing and email transactions. I even have an old widow, who works here as a teacher, ” says Arora.
She believes that every woman has the power to become a diva.
“God has given life as a gift and whatever you make out of it will be a beautiful gift for him. Whether its by remaining single or married everything is what you make out of it,” says Arora.
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