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I would like to tell you a story of a kingdom long long ago called Mithila, where King Janak lived. He was a just and loving king. He loved and nurtured knowledge and people who appreciated it. 

One day he found a girl in a box under a field, he adopted her, made her a princess. He raised her to be independent, intelligent and happy. He took her under his wing, taught her honesty, self-respect and nurtured in her his wisdom. He conducted a “Swayamwar” to let her find herself the prefect partner for her life and gave her the right tools to live a happy life.

But my story starts when I first came to the UK in July of 2003 from Mumbai, India. My name is Manisha Somaiya and I am the youngest of 6 siblings from a Gujarati family. I had been wanting to work and settle down in London for a while, I had been looks for jobs which would help me get a work visa as well as a community to belong too. By December, after 5 months of pounding the pavement and searching unsuccessfully for a job, Bhanu aunty’s friend Sarojben wanted to introduce me to someone she thought would have some answers for me. I met Sobhag uncle 2 weeks before my visa was about to expire. In the first meeting he offered me a job on the spot and promised to apply for work permit. Within a week he had already finished and submitted the visa paperwork, on 16th Jan I received my visa! 

From the day we met he treated me like a daughter, in fact he adopted me into his family. He became my guide, my mentor and my support structure. 
He was a father figure in my life. A lot of Sobhag uncle’s traits and habits reminded me of my own father which just made me love him more. He has given me Unconditional Love and support since the first day, just like my father had done for me. This is something that has shaped my life. 

Sobhag uncle gave a lot of support in pursuing my dreams and following my heart. He was my spiritual guide and mental mentor. He encouraged me to apply for different jobs and pursuing music. He knew I loved singing and so in the beginning encouraged me to perform and gave me a platform to do so in various family functions. He also helped me with my driving test, I was disheartened about not being able to pass it. But boosted my confident and self-respect, encouraged me to become independent by passing the driving test.
When he found out that I wanted to settle down he helped me find a life partner, Sobhag uncle played the role of my father even on my wedding day and conducted the “kanyadaan” ceremony. It was one of the happiest days of my life and I am grateful that he was a huge part of it. 

He’s always been there for all of the big milestones of my life. Anju aunty and Sobhag uncle arranged the “Godbharai” ceremony for Jiya’s birth. Even when we began thinking of buying our forever home, Sobhag uncle was ready with financial advice and monetary help. He would be there with a helping hand even before I thought of asking him. Without fail the first box of mangoes in my house during the summer would be from him. I feel extremely lucky to have had this much love from him in my life. 
He became a part of my family’s life in India too. He visits India regularly, attending all of my brothers and sisters family functions. He’s always there during happy time and becomes a huge support during the hard times. 

Since the first day I met him, he adopted me as a daughter, made me a part of his family and community. He gave me somewhere to belong. Whatever I wanted or needed to accomplish he helped me bring to fruition. He helped me execute a lot of life projects.

I also helped me out with a lot of dream projects that he wanted to bring to life. I was played a big part in bringing the “Gandhi Bapu Exhibition” to life. I also helped with the “Meru town, African community” project and the “Family Tree Function”. I learned a lot of things from him when he involved me in his dream projects like networking, managing large gatherings but specially his attention to detail.

When I think back to our story, I compare him to that wise and loving King who adopted a girl he found in a box on a field. A father who taught her daughter to be intelligent, independent and happy. When I think back to our story, I think about a daughter who loved her father very much.

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