This is an extraordinary story of fighting spirit and transformation of a drug addict and criminal who is now a huge inspiration to thousands of youth in Punjab. He started smoking at the age of seven and as days went by, he tried every addiction he could lay his hands on. But today the youth of Punjab look up to him. What changed? What made him the man that he is today?
Mintu Gurusaria (30) is a man with bulging muscles and well-shaped biceps that almost tear through his t-shirt. He has a stitch marks above his right eye which will give you hint of a mishap. This man has always been famous in the streets of Punjab, but for entirely varied reasons at different times. His grandfather was a drug smuggler and peddler who did rounds between Pakistan and Punjab. His father was a kabbadi player and a drug addict himself.
The atmosphere in his home was so drenched in addictions that it was no surprise that he started smoking at the mere age of seven years. As he grew up, the nature of addictions advanced and soon he was trapped. “There was nothing that I did not try. Because I grew up in such an environment, drugs were not something bad. They were a way of life. We had so much drugs in our home that one day my school tiffin had opium instead of lunch,” says Mintu.
By the time he finished his school, he was a hardcore addict who often used to crash on the streets in inebriated state. Although an active kabbadi player who won many tournaments, drugs had pushed Mintu into the world of crime. “Wherever I went in Punjab, people bowed down to me in fear. My life was gone to dogs and I never thought I could ever be reformed,” Mintu says.
Then came a turning point in life when he left for city for his higher education. “The city life struck me with all its glory. It was nothing like I had seen before because it made me want to live a healthy happy life, it gave me ambitions and desires. But not before I could repent. I met with a fatal accident in 2009 and almost lost my leg,” says Mintu.
The fear of death and losing his limb transformed Mintu completely and he gradually, step by step let go of one addiction at a time. Soon, he was out of it and wanted to choose a career. He started inclining towards reading and writing. He spent hours writing and rewriting about his emotions. One day, he got an opportunity to work for a local newspaper. To deposit the security amount, his mother sold the last piece of her jewelry and gave him that money.
However, as ill luck would have it, the editor had done a background check and refused to employ a criminal. This shattered Mintu and made him realise that the past will keep haunting him until he buries it under something good. “My grandfather, father, uncle, younger brother and many cousins had been engulfed by drugs and I could see the fear of losing me in my mother’s eyes. It was the last straw,” he says.
“I soon bought a laptop and learnt to file stories on it. I became ecstatic when my stories were carried in newspapers and inspired to work better.” But he wanted to do more than this. He started reaching out to students vulnerable to addictions and campaigned all over the state promoting de-addiction and awareness.
Now, apart from being a journalist, Mintu also counsels families and asks them to show more consideration and understanding towards drug victims, who are ostracised by larger society. He calls upon social mobilisation at the grass-roots level as well as actively involving women in this effort.
“The days have turned. People still bow in front of me wherever I go but now it is just out of love and respect for my will power and transformation. I am thankful to Waheguru,” he smiles.
If you like this story, share it and spread inspiration. Tell us your views by writing in the comment box below. We read each one of them.