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From zero to hero: A father’s journey of redemption

While serving his time in prison, Anil David had one goal: to do something in life that would make his daughters proud

Photo: J.Judisun Photography

Eight years is a long time to be behind bars.

And it’s much more than that when being away means missing out on the emotional needs and milestones of your children’s formative years.

Smartly dressed in a blue long-sleeved shirt with black pants and exuding a father figure, there is nothing at all to suggest Anil David’s tainted past.

When Anil, a father of two girls, was sentenced to prison in 2002, his daughters, Anishah and Sushma were just 10 and 2 years old respectively.

“I felt that I’ve failed as a person and even worse, I’ve failed as a father. I felt [my children] are not proud of me,” said Anil, 49.

And the prospect of a social stigma attached to an incarcerated father, who had to serve time for a criminal act, filled him with immense shame.

Overwhelmed by a mix of emotions from having his family torn apart by his own wrongdoing, Anil found himself in dire straits.

It was during the darkest days of life behind bars that he started reading spiritual books and that led him to search for his true calling and a place in his daughters’ lives.

“I want to make meaning and purpose of my life and I wanted to do something that my children will be proud of.”

When Anil finally came to terms with his dire situation, he decided to embrace his failure, and eventually found peace and a purpose working in the prison’s call centre where he managed to rise up to become a manager.

Fuelled by his desire to “make his daughters proud” and a vision “to help marginalised people”, Anil set himself a personal goal that would give him a second chance at making fatherhood right.

Among the many challenges facing Anil as he reflected on his mistake was the impact of the lack of a father’s presence on his children’s emotional and psychological well being.

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