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On The Threshold

When we are on the verge of completing college, there is a tide in the affairs of our lives- What’s next? This question has been making its entry into most of my conversations with friends, with the counted days left for us to graduate.

 Today was my first day of attendance for the new semester and therefore, it lead to the usual greetings among classmates. There was however, a particular question that most of them asked me and my answer gave a mixture of reactions.

(Since a lot of my friends, actually most people in my class had started taking MBA (Masters of Business Administration) tuitions, I had gotten peer pressured into it unknowingly. I had not realised it for long. I finally did when the teacher constantly pointed out my lackadaisical attitude towards the classes. It had taken a lot of soul searching to finally conclude to myself in all honesty that I was unsure of “what’s next?” The acknowledgement made me feel like I had been hit by a bus. Harder it would be to explain to my family were my following thoughts. However, having understood very well that continuing on this path was a fruitless endeavour, I decided to not continue classes any more.)

The question was ‘’ Have you left the tutorial?’’

My reply was ‘’Yes”.

Reactions – “Really?’’ (With raised eyebrows), “How cool!” e.t.c.

I do not know if it should be really that shocking or whether it is cool or not. This is what I know- It is completely okay to have doubts and not know what to do immediately after having graduated. It is better to have threaded on path of desire and failed than have failed on a path of what just felt like the next step. Besides, there is nothing as such as failure because it just gives you a new direction, even though you are bound to feel so when you are in that dark hole. It is not about what you want to be, it is about who you want to be. It is not about what you want to do, it is about why you want to do it. It is about finding what makes you alive and then pursuing it. 

We are all going to get that degree but let us not treat it like just another piece of paper or addition to our resume. Let us count our blessings because we are the few lucky ones who have made it to higher education in a country which is crippled with illiteracy and poverty.

Another thing that captured my mind is something which has been in the news now- the reduction of women in the work force. Since my department in college is all girls, I feel like I need to say this. I hear a lot of you saying – “I do not have the time to take a break and think what I want to do”, “I will just have to settle with the scores in my competitive exams because I do not have the time to take them again”. Let us just retrospect a little. The journey so far has not been an easy one. There has been the pressure of competition, parent’s expectations, high school drama, first heartbreaks and so on. But we have survived all this. Then what makes you say you do not have the time now? There is going to be more pressure and obstacles from everywhere but you need to fight back. Fight back for what is rightly yours- your life and having the right to do what you want with it and taking your time to do it.

A lot of you might be telling yourselves right now that the above words sound very nice but I am shying away from the fact that we belong to a patriarchal society filled with social stigma where woman are suppose to act and do things in a certain way and have no say in matters of their own self, let alone other things. But I am not shying away from the fact. I am asking you to face it and fight against it. Because if you do not, it will continue for generations. Take your stand today to crush and break free from these shackles of such injustice which dwells in our society.  

 

We have just entered our twenties and we are not suppose to have it all figured out or expect it to go just the way we have planned it. But what we can do is be true to ourselves and prove them wrong just the way we did when we poured out in large numbers to vote, protested against the criminalisation of LGBT rights and raised our voices to condemn ridiculous comments like “Boys will be boys, they make mistakes”.

 

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No Freedom Without Love

Today I guess even my perpetually punctual accounts teacher took a view minutes to just observe the arrival of our saviour from the incessant heat. While I gazed out at the city being refreshed with a heavy shower, my senses soon got engaged with a familiar aroma. Good heavens! It was just what I thought it was- homemade “nimki”. While I gorged on them, my senses seemed to be reverting back to the days when a little girl use to make them for me.

That would precisely be a decade back, when this little girl from the interiors of Assam landed in Kolkata only to satisfy her hunger. She found refuge at our residence and I was her only priority which she fulfilled beyond my parent’s expectations.

She was hardly sixteen and I had just turned three. As time passed, we grew closer and we became friends, rather best of friends. I would anxiously wait for her to pick me up from the Montessori so that we could feed the rabbits in the park, play on the swings to our heats content and then return home only to dance to bollywood songs before I retried to bed for a good afternoon sleep- a must in Bengali families and I can tell you that it is the best nap of the day. My parents were blatantly ignorant of these activities of ours, not because we were trying to hide it from them but because they were busy with work and were too tired when they returned home. I do not hold it against them.

Eventually I had started going to school and she had loads of spare time till I returned. She creatively used this time to learn how to cook, imitating recipes of my mother’s, my mother would cook during weekends, and with her own innovative concoctions, she had churned out great dishes which we relished.

When I had graduated from learning letters to spelling words and knowing their meanings, I vividly remember coming back home and telling her that her name- Purnima meant full moon and that it  suited her well considering she had a perfectly round face. Being inspired by me, she had once secretly confessed her desire to able to read and write. Unable to keep anything inside that little stomach of mine, I just spat it out on the dinner table. I could see the nervousness in her eyes when I said it and she was going to burst into tears, just when by parents said they would get her enrolled in the primary school of our locality for afternoon classes. Her eyes twinkled with joy accompanied by the inevitable brawl of sheer happiness.

But like they say, our happy days are numbered and so were hers. When she was on the verge on completing her primary education, my parents received a call from her parents asking us to send her back for she was going to get married. My parents had conveyed the message to her and she acknowledged it with a mere nod. My stomach had dropped when I heard. I recall not having slept the night and quietly sobbing.

Even though I was around ten then I had sensed she was upset. Just a couple of days before she could leave, I wanted to test the waters for myself. So I remember telling her that she must be excited to have her own home and to be able cook for her family. Her riposte was something like this- I may have the freedom now to choose the dishes I want to cook but I doubt I shall be lucky again to receive the kind of love and respect your parents gave me.