My mentor and role-model Vina, soon to be 80, has a secret recipe for happiness: make young friends, she advises.
At 52, I am in that category for her and our friendship makes me feel good while it keeps her in touch with a whole world she might otherwise know nothing of.
But I am just one of many, and I watch with amazement as she cultivates the friendship of my own children, the young staff of the Foundation, her grandchildren and her great nieces and nephews. It's a gift and a lesson and I am honoring her by celebrating one of our own young ones: Priyam Bhagarva who turns 24 today and who is one of the bright lights in MY life.
Priyam joined the Foundation over a year ago and I am still in awe of her energy and devotion. She has a wealth of knowledge and understanding about marketing and fund-raising, yet she remains endlessly patient with my caution and nervousness. There is literally nothing she can't do where computers and design are concerned - all I have to do is send her the problem and she comes up with a solution. I am trying to imitate her. It's an attitude. She assumes that the world is her oyster, and that the answers, like pearls, lie within. Who am I to contradict her?
It is a joy to work with a person like Priyam. She reminds me every day of why I am here, of what is possible and what remains to be accomplished.
The other day I found a photo of Priyam as a child at Latika Vihar. In those days, she was one of our bright stars, one of the many, one whom I watched, knowing she was destined for a good life, with purpose and accomplishment. But never, back then, did I dream she would be one of my young colleagues, a member of our staff and a profound influence in the Foundation . . .
And so today, I join her friends and family in celebrating her birthday and her length of days, in giving thanks for such a vibrant and dedicated young woman and asking for her health and long life, that all the many things she wants to and can accomplish will come to pass, and that what she has to offer will be celebrated and renowned. How lucky we are to know her!