A Letter to My Idol

This is a short story which is in the form of a letter written to my idol
and renowned Indian-American astronaut, Dr Kalpana Chawla.

Dear Idol,

I know you are already an idol for many young girls from India and abroad. Your story, your struggle and your resolve has inspired numerous young girls to follow you and become the next ‘Kalpana’ someday.

Dear idol, dear Dr Kalpana Chawla; I’m not one of those girls.

Truly, your story is a lesson, an inspiration for every human being which believes that there’s more to life than just living. But for me, your story is my biggest treasure; and apparently, my only ray of hope.

I, in no way aspire to be the next you. I don’t deserve that. You, Dr Kalpana Chawla, was ‘once in a lifetime’ kind of woman. No one can be like you, because you were unique in your own identity.

Some people may consider my views as unusual and eccentric, but this is absolutely true. No one can be the complete you because you were here in your unique identity; and no one can take that identity from you.

You know what? We have a lot in common! You loved the stars; for me, stars are my best friends. You were a poet at heart; and I too write my heart out. You loved the nature and loved to explore new things, same goes with me. But our similarities do not make us equal. I am highly fortunate to be a lot like you, because it assures me that sometime in the future, I will also achieve whatever I have dreamed for myself, just like you did.

Dear idol, I know that life is difficult and only those who decide to face it really get something out of it. For you, life was an adventure, and you accepted every challenge your life gave you with full passion and determination and came out victorious... making a mark for yourself. You might be an inspiration for many, but for me you are my teacher; a spiritual guide. Because whenever I look up at the sky in search of answers; the first face that I see, is yours.

Sometimes, I really wish you were alive. You have shaped my future from the very beginning of my life. My childhood revolved around your stories. At the tiny age of six, you inspired this little girl to become an astronaut and sojourn the space, just like you. It was probably the first time I was influenced by someone. I always wanted to meet you and tell you what special place you have in my life. But I guess; you already know that. Dear idol, dear Dr Kalpana Chawla; you are a star now—a star that I shall always look up to find my way, my aim in life.

And this is the reason why I can never be like you; nor do I wish to be that way. I am Ayushi Mehrotra; and I want to be the first ‘me’. India gave its daughter to space; I want to be the next daughter of India that goes up there; in space, and that is only possible when I have my own identity.

I agree to the fact that my thoughts are quite revolutionary. Yours were too. You gave new definitions to women, you redefined ‘woman’ in every concept. You had made up your mind that you will not end up like every small-town Indian girl; you had decided that you will reach the stars someday. I’m so glad you did. Because, it was only then girls like me realized how important it is to have passions and goals in life. You made me realize the importance of asking questions.

And so, dear idol; I wish to tell you someday that your teachings have not gone wasted. Your legacy shall never die. I am ready to devote my life to my passions; just like what you did. Still, I can’t be compared to you. Because, if I am a star; then you are a galaxy of infinite inspirations. I can just follow you; look at you with awe and pride and hope to be someone worthy in the future.

Dear idol, I hope when we meet someday in that heavenly heaven, I would love to tell you what you mean to me, I want you to know what prominence you have in my life. I want to tell you how much you have inspired me.

But before that, I want to prove myself to this world, as well as to my own soul. I believe that our soul is a part of God and it’s that God we ought to please. If I am able to fulfill all those dreams I’ve seen and please this God inside me, I’ll consider my birth as a human, as a girl, truly satisfying and constructive. You, dear idol, are that infinite source of hope that lights the fire of dreams inside me. I am glad that I was born in a time when the ‘once in a lifetime’ kind of woman like you was achieving her goals and setting new ideals for my generation and the future ones. I am glad that I could feel and experience your emotions. I am glad that I could get to know you; I am glad that I was born in your time.

I hope to see you in those heavens of heaven and I’m sure that when we meet, both of us will be equally amazed; just as a teacher feels when he sees his student excel. I am sure we will both be equally happy on seeing each other.

Always your student, always your admirer,
Thanks for being the ‘once in a lifetime’ kind of woman.

Ayushi Mehrotra
April 1, 2015


You can read about Kalpana Chawla on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalpana_Chawla.

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