Pushpa N M, who lives in Bengaluru, usually chose walking over using transportation. But one afternoon in 2007, she decided to change her routine and take a bus instead.

During the bus ride, she met a visually impaired person and they began to talk. While chatting, he made a request that would change her life forever.

“The man was a student and asked me if I could be a scribe for his exam. I was overwhelmed by the hardships he had been facing and politely agreed to his request,” she recalls.

Growing up in a financially strained family, Pushpa was focused on their basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter, and didn’t consider building a career. She often wondered about her place and purpose in life.

“One thing I was sure about was that I wanted to do something for others. The hardships of my life had made me kind and generous towards those who suffer,” she says.

So, when Pushpa met the visually impaired person with a unique request, she found the purpose of her life.

Since then, she has written over 1,086 exams — which include civil service and school exams, as well as undergraduate, graduate and PhD ones — over 16 years for disabled persons.

She now also has a job at a research and development company in the city, but she says her employers lend their full support to the good cause.

“I cannot help anyone financially, but in this way, by writing their exams, I feel like I have contributed a small amount to making someone’s life better. That is my biggest motivation,” she says.

For people who would like to become scribes like Pushpa, she shares a few tips: 1. “Be patient,” she says. “The pace at which the candidate speaks might be too slow or fast; they might ask you to repeat the questions over and over again. These things are bound to make you agitated and tired.”

2. “Develop good listening skills,” she adds. “If you have a tendency to get distracted, you have to increase your attention. In most cases, the candidate is nervous and if you keep asking him to repeat the answer, he might get even more nervous.”

3. “Be responsible,” she suggests. “The entire career of the person you are scribing for depends on you. While this might be a lot of pressure to take, you have to be attentive while attempting the paper.”

4. “Develop concentration and sensitivity,” she says. “Since I have zero knowledge of the subject I am writing about, I have to pay attention to each and every word and write exactly what they are saying. Also, respect them and see them as equals.”