I got on a boat with no more than a few rupees in my pocket and immense hope from the future in my heart. Apart from the few belongings in my small suitcase, I carried with me the weight of the expectations my family had from me... This is almost a templated narrative we hear every time we speak with an old-time expat from the subcontinent who has a rags-to-riches journey to share. And every time we hear it we are amazed, humbled and inspired by the struggles, and the never-say-die spirit of these men and women.

For most us who have made this wonderful country our karmabhoomi – the soil that nurtures our aspirations and gives us the wherewithal to realise them all – this journey has mostly been about acquisitions. Acquisitions of dreams, milestones and successes big and small. But didn’t we all come here with that singular purpose, you might ask. And I will not deny that, that is a truth.

Not for people like Hussain Nalwala. For this septuagenarian businessman, this is a small part of his truth. Hussain has called UAE home for about 35 years and in all these years, while he has worked hard to realise all the reasons he came to the UAE in the first place, he has done all he can to help the less fortunate.

With his continuous generosity and philanthropic deeds that have made a difference to the lives of thousands of disadvantaged people here in the UAE and in India, Hussain shows us how a little bit of compassion and empathy goes a long way in creating a sense of community that transcends the temporariness of selfish purpose.

As we celebrate Diwali next week, hoping and praying for a future free of darkness and pessimism, let us also thank Mr Hussain for showing us the light.

Reach me at mshekar@gulfnews.com.

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