Toastmasters Special Occasion Advanced Manual – An ode to Buwa by Preeti Adhikary

Advance Manual: Special Occasion Speeches

Assignment #2 : Speaking in Praise

Objectives:

  • Prepare a speech praising or honouring someone, either living or dead.
  • Address five areas concerning the individual and his/her accomplishments.
  • Include anecdotes illustrating points within the speech.

Time:

5 – 7 Minutes

Introduction

The project title of Preeti’s speech is ‘Speaking in Praise’. Tonight, she will talk about her father in law who passed away in Jan 2013. The speech title is ‘An ode to Buwa’.

Buwa is a Nepali word and it means father. Here, Buwa means father in law.

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What do you give someone who has everything?

What do you say about someone who is everything?

In life, we hear about superheroes like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. These men led extraordinary lives and impacted millions of people.

Club President and Fellow Toastmasters!

I am not here tonight to talk about a superhero. Rather, I would like to share some stories about an ordinary, everyday hero. My father in law, Bhola Adhikary might not have a monument in his name, but he has made a monumental impact in the lives that he touched.

Buwa was intelligent and very well-read. He was up-to-date on the stock markets and world affairs. He had an opinion about everything. He loved old hindi songs and enjoyed humming along to them. He had a crush on Asha Parekh, a hindi movie actress and apparently, even sent her a love letter. While there are many wonderful qualities about Buwa, I would like to elaborate on a few of my favorites. I have lumped 5 attributes into three for the sake of time: Positivity and Strong Will, Humanity and Generosity and Simplicity.

a) Positivity and Strong Will

Buwa was a chemical engineer for the Nepal Army and was responsible for the ammunition factory in Swayambhu. Exposure to mercury and other chemicals caused his kidneys to fail. In 1990, he got a transplant, my mother in law gave him one of her kidneys. He lived 23 years after that, surviving heart surgery and cancer as well. He didn’t spend those years waiting for death; he defeated death every single day. He was known as the ‘doctor patient’ in the medical community in Nepal and abroad.

His medical file was like a booklet and he knew everything by heart; his medical history, the medicines and the chemical compositions. Diabetes made him pick a needle into his body after every meal and a 5 hour dialysis procedure every alternate day left him deflated. In all the years I knew him, he never said ‘Why did this happen to me?’ He accepted every ailment, every disease as a challenge and faced it headlong. I would ask him if the medical procedures made him exhausted and how he got the strength to go on. He replied – Life..and family is worth every prick, every procedure, every pain. We sometimes forget how blessed we are for being healthy and complain more than we should.

b) Humanity and Generosity

Buwa was a typical army man; tough and strict. He demanded discipline from everyone around him. Growing up, my husband used to be scared of his dad. This tough as nails man turned into jelly when he became a grandfather. The birth of our daughter Alexia transformed him. He would play silly games with her. While he was separating from her, he would shed silent tears. Before that, the family used to shake hands and bid each other farewell. Buwa reminded me of a coconut, tough on the outside and soft & tender on the inside. It reminds not to judge a book by its cover and not generalize people.

Buwa believed in education and would help anyone he could. He paid the school fees of the children of many people who worked for him. ‘Education is the best investment you can make’ he used to say. With his help, our driver has managed to send his son to college in the United States. He was involved in hydroprojects and one of his primary concerns was the benefit of the communities there. He reminds me that we don’t need to end world hunger or poverty. The world will be a better place if all of us make our share of contribution.

c) Simplicity

Buwa had illustrious careers; first as an army man and then as Managing Director of Gorkha Brewery. He is said to be one of the first people in Nepal to apply his leadership skills from the army to a corporate role. He spent many years living abroad in Germany and the US. In spite of all his accomplishments, he remained approachable and simple. He was equally in his element doing pooja (worship) at home or chairing the board of an organization. He lived a low-key life and enjoyed the simple life.

One of his big wishes was to use the public transportation in Singapore. He wanted to take a train, not a taxi, from our apartment to his hospital. Fearing that he might get hurt because of the crowd, my husband had strictly prohibited him from doing so. But one day, stubborn Buwa got his wish; he took the train and was thrilled. Another thing he loved was German beer and sausages. He had a favorite restaurant in Singapore that he went to during each trip to Singapore. On his one year death anniversary, we visited the restaurant and had his fav dishes. I am sure he was cheering us on.

My father in law or Buwa was the sun in our family’s solar system. Everything revolved around him. With his death, the house and the lives have become empty. My mother in law and the domestic helpers feel they have nothing to do and nobody to take care of. My husband struggles to cope with his emotions at times. My husband’s grandmother lost her will to live and is in an ICU these days.

While the sun of our lives did set, I am honored and grateful for the warmth and light.

Back to you Toastmaster of the day!

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