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Today’s Week-kneed youth giving up before testing realities of life is common place. Suicides abound. Between bed of roses and that of thorns, modern-day generation reared with kid gloves is accustomed to the former than the latter. Lacking crucial equanimity, guile, ability to adjust and grit to take life head-on, they ‘quit’ without a fight.

Hanan, a Chemistry student from Kerala paints a contrasting picture, drawing public adulation, and applause. Hailing from a financially wanting family, she supports her mother and brother, and pursues her studies concomitantly by selling fish. She has a tryst to keep- to become a doctor. Getting up at 3am to brush up her portions, she cycles to the fish market at four. She transports the fish and her bicycle into Cochin City in an auto rickshaw. Leaving them for safe-keeping in a house nearby, she leaves for college. After college, she returns to Cochin, and sells fish till 9 pm. She then goes back home to hit bed.

Since her parents’ separation when in Class VII, life had been a struggle for the youth determined to take it by its ears. After  she quit selling fish once, ‘after going through an unpleasant experience with a male colleague, old enough to be her father’, she undertook many jobs viz; giving tuition, making jewelry for sale, dubbing, and acting in plays, to support her family in dire financial straits. Later, she returned to more profitable fish trade. Talented at penning poems, she caught the attention of the late Malayalam actor and entertainer Kalabhavan Mony, who had her share stage with him. She was subsequently offered roles in movies. Her struggles caught the media’s attention. The world applauded the self-made daring teenager. True to the times, she was victimized by a predaceous and insensitive social media, which described her grit as ‘gimmicks to promote a film’, and a ‘fake publicity stunt’. The ensuing commotion at her fish ‘shop’ had the police asking her to leave. The dejected and teary-eyed Hanan appealed to her critics to leave her alone.

Gritty Hanan’s story bears striking similarity to creation of a pearl within an oyster. A grain of sand slips in between the shells of an oyster, through a wound. To protect itself from irritation caused by the grain of sand, the oyster covers it with multiple layers of nacre, until the iridescent gem is ultimately formed- a painful process, according to scientists. It takes a wound on the oyster’s shell, and a painful process for a pearl to form. Hanan covered her life’s challenges with layers of determination, perseverance and daring to produce a pearl out of her life. Her well-wishers hope she succeeds in creating and wearing a more beautiful pearl – a medical degree, to be emulated by her weak-kneed contemporaries, who quit before lesser trials, conveying her message, loud and clear – ‘no wound, no pearl’!