This I Know For Sure
--Ashish Mehta
2 minute read
May 28, 2009


November 8, 2001, was just another normal day. In fact, I was a little happier than usual since I had picked up my wife at the San Francisco airport and we had just arrived at a restaurant. It was just as our food arrived, my cell phone rang. The sobbing voice at the other end told me that my mother had just passed away in India. At first this seemed unreal, since I had just spoken to my mother a couple of days ago and she was perfectly fine. She had died due to a sudden heart failure.

The news sank in gradually and the pain of losing my mother was unbearable. She was an epitome of love and compassion for me. But the initial pain had masked a deeper sorrow. I had made a firm resolution to myself that I would provide for her, give her the loving care and attention that she would need in her old age even though it would be only a small fraction of what was showered upon me. Life seemed unfair all of a sudden. I didn't get a chance to pay back.

It was in that moment when I felt humbled and helpless that I had a realization- what can one do when one cannot pay back ? The answer to me was clear- one has a choice to pay it forward. I realized, what I could not do for my mother I could do for someone else's mother or father.

In that spirit I signed up to volunteer at the Pathways hospice as a care giver, providing companionship to terminally ill patients. In each patient I saw someone's mom or dad and I had the opportunity to serve them as my own parents. Many times, no words were exchanged; I would just hold my patients hand or gently stroke their foreheads. It was just as I would have served my mother. Ironically, it was in the giving that I had received freedom from my grief.

This event had a significant impact in that it allowed me to practice alchemy in my own life- transforming a painful experience into an empowering one. After this incident, I trust that challenging moments like these hold an opportunity for inner transformation. This I know for sure.


I am not much of a blogger but today while reminiscing the completion of my MBA, Nipun encouraged me share more about what I am working on right now and how I arrived here. The above experience was put down as an essay that I had written for the school application.  In the next blog I hope to go more into how this led to some other experiences and sparked some thoughts/ideas in the social entrepreneurship space, so please stay tuned.


Posted by Ashish Mehta on May 28, 2009

16 Past Reflections