The story of a 43 year old , gutsy , fearless grandmother from Kampong Sonsogon Magandai whose life would change in an extraordinary way on Nov. 8 2017. Being selectively handpicked by Mr. Bunker Roy , founder of Barefoot College, in Tilonia India and having graduated at the top of her class to become Malaysia’s first ‘solar mama’.
There was an air of excitement , frenzy of scuttle amongst Swepa members as the news of Tarihing was heard. The enlightened, ‘Chosen One’, Tarihing had to be transported from her village to Kota Kinabalu before appearing at the esteemed Istana to receive a recognition beyond anyone’s wildest dream.
Hours Cinderella – Tarihing arrived for her grooming , make over and rehearsal before her big day on Wednesday, November 8 2017.
On Sunday, November 6 2017 , SWEPA members Maria Rowan and Dr. Shelly Bhardwaj were privileged to accompany Tarihing for her fitting of the Baju Kurong and black shoes.
Clad in an aquamarine baju kurong with a tasteful flowery embroidery done over the ends of her sleeves and her lower border of her kurong depicting the traditional Malay attire, our Maharani was elegantly ready. Her hair was neatly set into a French braid which was quite becoming of her pretty demure face. With eyes that sparkled from the glow of her rosy cheeks and a sweet smile peeked from her red lipstick lips as she coyly looked at herself in the mirror before adorning her shiny closed toe black shoes. She as well as us could see and feel this beautiful transformation of an illiterate grandmother now beaming with glee as she imagined what it would be like on Nov 8 Th as she walks up to receive her medal. But there was much to be done before that day and her rehearsal was scheduled for November 7 2017 at 9 AM.
Among other recipients, dignitaries , Tarihing listened intently to the Istana officials on the do’s and don’ts as per ruling. She remained calm and focused throughout with no complaints. It’s as if she knew this was meant to be. She alone traveled to India first time leaving her village to a culture so different from hers, to meet people from around the world who came together in Barefoot college to learn and go back to improve their own communities and livelihoods so that their future generations would not see dismal poverty but have a chance to transform and become better.
This inner burning within Tarihing is what has evilved this grandmother to a lady who single-handedly has lit over 100 households and her candle shines even brighter today. This lucky day is the day that will go down in the history of Swepa. She sat patiently in her chair inside the Istana pinned with her lucky number 179 , she sat with her hands folded in front of her waiting quietly before she became the center of attraction when she would walk in the middle of the aisle in front of everyone’s eyes to receive her award.
The Cosmic Universe and divine interventions are constantly surrounding our ‘Chosen One‘ with the number 8, which represents infinity – a complete unending abundance without any lack.
On Wednesday, November 8 2017 at 11 am , Tarihing ‘s turn had come. She was composed and calm she took her first bow upon getting up from her seat, looking directly ahead and then walking with elegance and grace towards the TYT to receive her prestigious Bintang Setia Kinabalu award. As she approached the podium, she stopped 2 feet in front of the TYT and stood still with both your hands to her size as she lowered her head in a subtle bow with eyes looking down with humility as the TYT gently pinned the medal onto her left side.
At this moment, I let out a shallow sigh in relief knowing that this beautiful grandmother had been transformed and realizing that this day is going to add value to her meaningful life in helping others.
She then took three steps backwards without making a single mistake and still with her eyes lowered she gracefully curtsied like a proper English lady and tuned to her left to glide with ease and elegance back to her seat. Needless to say Maria and I were more nervous for her but she did so well that this was another ‘graduation ‘ from her class with honors.
Our hearts were pounding with joy , our pulses were racing rapidly and as her personal doctor and groomer we realized that this little lady was a dignified Wonder Woman who would continue to make headlines and heads turn. This was the day that we would never forget in our lives. For Tarihing Masinim broke all barriers, ploughed ahead fearlessly With determination and has achieved beyond her reach. She was the apple of everyone’s eyes and the center of attention at the Istana where her new friends took photographs with her to remember her as an Icon of Women Empowerment.
Her celebrations continued when later that evening I had invited her along with other Swepa members to Mother India Restaurant for a traditional Indian meal to remember her barefoot college days. As Guest of Honor, her name was printed boldly on a banner which hung above the dark cedar wood double door which was closed and awaiting her to cut the ribbon. As I presented the Golden scissors from my basket to Tarihing and said, ‘ YB Tarihing mo potong ini Ribbon , baru kits semua masuk dalam VIP room untuk makan’.
Her innocent face lit up with eyes beaming of pride and she blushed and giggled like a little girl. She thoroughly enjoyed her Indian meal recollecting her pleasant memories when she was it barefoot college, we all shared these precious minutes with laughter and joy in our hearts and Tarihing related her experience of the whole day feeling very elated. Later in the evening I initiated a video call to Kuala Lumpur and by the grace of our divine intervention, Bunker Roy happened to be conducting a meeting with Datuk Adeline , Datuk Aminah , Datin Jaenette and Wynnie , whom all got a chance to congratulate Tarihing personally.
As Tarihing and Bunker exchanged ‘Namaste’ with their hands clasped together in front of their hearts, and ask their eyes meant their souls too connected with a powerful angelic pull and tears welled up in her eyes as well as mine. For Bunker was Tarihing ‘s angel who picked her and Swepa made her believe in herself. We ended and will beautiful evening with the cake cutting. As Tarihing lit the edible lantern placed on the round red velvet cake baked by one of our Swepa members , Elaina , we all had a joyful moment to honor and praise for gratitude and for her will to keep learning and helping others.
I salute and bow my head in deep respect to this wonder woman who was born to change lives and to sustain a better tomorrow for others.
‘Let her Light Shine on’
‘Let us in Swepa – Barefoot Solar Project work hand in hand together to make Barefoot College on the Island of Borneo a reality.
By: Dr. Shelly Bhardwaj
Blog Co-ordinator -BSP –