It was one rainy September afternoon, in the plush green campus of Mumbai University, I’m waiting in a queue to complete my final admission formalities to start my MA English program.
Had it not been for the 15 long years that I stepped into a University, I would have failed to understand the ill ease with which I stood there, among the youngsters, so bold and confident, who knew it all, who were so well versed with what needed to be done.
Nevertheless, my patience always has a role to play in circumstances such as these. It’s never easy to go back to places you have left behind. Ever wondered how the places that were once a comfort zone could feel so alienated at another point in life? But, I remain determined. When I was asked what made me decide to go this direction again after so many years, honestly I was clueless, or rather plain not interested in giving an answer to each and every person who has a perspective of their own; who may have ears to listen but an understanding of their own that perhaps did not always coincide with mine.
In an attempt to appear nonchalant, I continued to remain busy with my mobile, that being my unfailing companion in the midst of this noisy solitude that surrounds me when a firm tap on my shoulder makes me turn around to face this elderly lady. They say people are meant to cross paths for a reason. So at that time when my discomfort was at its peak, Prerna Aunty, in her crisp cotton sari, luminous eyes behind her fancy spectacles and a motherly air around her comes to my rescue. I am a little surprised to know that she, like me was there for her admission in the English program. Usually wary of strangers, I find myself quite drawn to her and as we get chatty about this and that, she has already given me her life story. Well, irrespective of the fact that I am uncomfortable around strangers, strangers surely are comfortable around me; I guess I am after all a good listener.
Inspired by her and her setbacks in life, which she so easily shares with me, my doubts about myself which now seem so small faded away. She led me to believe that it’s never too late to start afresh no matter what. If you have the zeal and the zest in you, everything else is nothing but a hurdle to deter you from having what you aim for. After exchanging numbers and a humble cup of coffee at the university canteen, we part ways with the hope to see each other again, only to share the easy camaraderie which perhaps we all need from time to time, in any form we can have, and sometimes even with a stranger; and when serendipities like this we simply go with the flow.
I am 5 years old. In the sprawling house of my grandparents, I run wild and free, always in a bubble of laughter and squealing delight. Yes, I am their pampered one but a little scolding every now and then does not escape me. I love them, perhaps a tad more than my own parents.
I am 14 years old, shy and naive. Eager to please and bad at saying no. Wary of friends and peers at school, except my chosen few. I live in my own bubble. They say I talk too less, but what is it that they want me to say all the time? They say I laugh too less; well, I say nonsensical laughter is not my forte. They say a lot. They have an opinion about everything. And I, live to please them.
I am 26 years old. Married for four years and a mother of one daughter. Happy? Yes, I should say so, as I lack nothing. But a growing sense of uncertainty, of time, going by in the whiff of an eye blink does bother me at times. Questions that seek a purpose always seem to be fluttering in my mind perhaps in the mind of every woman at some point in life of reaching a level of saturation of pleasing everyone around just to maintain a sense of peace, being a certain way so as to not raise people’s eyebrows and opinions. And then a thought, who are these people anyway? Do these people even matter? These people that are given so much importance, how much and does their scrutinising eye help me to grow as a person? I have finally got my answer.
I am 35 years old now. Never really roughened it out in life by God’s grace, just a few minor bangs and falls, every experience counts isn’t it? So yes, here, toughened up over the years, weighing the scales whenever possible, whenever required, doing what I want finally. Free of mind’s shackles. Yeah, I say it is only the mind playing its games, either stopping you from what you want or making you go for it.
I have gone for it, sitting here in the lecture room of the Mumbai University Campus, with some pitfalls and plateaus along the way, I have found what I have been seeking. With me is the lady whom I met on that first day, with shining, smiling eyes waving out to me, to welcome me onboard a journey we are both about to take.
About the writer: Devyani Chauhan is a Mumbai-based freelance writer and a part-time Spanish teacher. Being a wife of a Merchant Navy Officer, she has had the opportunity to travel the world with her husband. Now a mother of two, she works from home and pursues her hobbies of painting reading and writing. You can connect with Devyani at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now a mother of two, she works from home and pursues her hobbies of painting reading and writing. You can connect with Devyani at email@example.com.
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