Tuesday, November 15, 2022

My First Ever Solo Trip!

I finally went on my first-ever solo trip. How did this girl who has been timid most of her life, do this? Well if I have to sum it up in one word - regret - I didn't want to die with a regret. A regret doing nothing to make my dream come true. 

So what was my dream? How did I do this trip? Read on...

Since the time I was 15 years old (which is 21 years ago) I've wanted to meet Ruskin Bond. We had a story The Cherry Tree from one of his books. This was the first Ruskin Bond story I read and since that day in 2001, I thought I'll meet him someday.

Never did I ever think I'd have to wait for more than 20 years!

I belong to a middle-class family. And for most of my growing-up years, vacations to any place other than my native (Kerala) were impossible. And so my dream of making it to Mussoorie to meet Ruskin Bond was going to be a distant dream. I grew up and eventually got a job, but I still didn't make this trip mostly because as girls, you are not encouraged to follow your dreams, let alone fulfil them. I think a part of me buried and tucked this dream away for a long, long time.

But something happened in 2020.

In September 2020, when we were still figuring out Covid, I felt very guilty about not doing anything about my childhood dream. With so much uncertainty around life in the times of Covid, I wasn't sure if Ruskin and I would make it alive. He was over 85 anyway. I already have a long line of regrets in my life. But this one felt the heaviest that day in September. I felt like I gave up on that 15-year-old Jincy. And that hurt a lot. A lot.

To overcome that sadness, regret and guilt, I donated an amount equivalent to what I would have spent on travelling to Dehradun to a cause I saw online. I felt better, but the regret was still alive. A dear friend, Sujitha who learnt of my childhood dream promised me that we would go see Ruskin as soon as it was okay to travel. Both of us diligently checked and reminded each other of this promise from time to time. But even after two years of this commitment, we were unable to make a plan because of other obligations. That is when in October this year I decided that I will do this alone. After all, this was the 15-year-old Jincy's dream. I told Sujitha and another friend about my decision to travel alone. Once I had their consent, I booked tickets to Dehradun on 9th October, exactly a month before my birthday, without thinking twice.

I had recently switched jobs, and getting a week's leave was going to be difficult. I was honest with my manager about when and why I needed leaves. She was gracious enough to approve my leave and wish me luck for my journey. With the help of another friend, Kashish, I was able to find a guesthouse that was reasonably priced. All that was left to happen was the travel. I suffer from travel anxiety, especially if the travel is via flight. And no, it is not the fear of death that causes me anxiety, but mundane things like - is this item allowed in the cabin or should it go to check-in baggage and vice versa. Will I miss my flight? Etc etc. In order to cope with this anxiety, I pack as soon as possible.

Finally, on the morning of 4th November, I was on the way to the airport for my flight. I also made a good friend on the train journey to the airport. To whose house I've self-invited myself for a plate of urunu vadas. 

After multiple rescheduling, my flight finally took off, hours later than originally planned. I was irritated, but I tried my best to be happy as I didn't want my solo trip to start on a bad note. As the flight was about to land at Dehradun, I was delighted to see the beautiful winter line. That was perhaps a small glimpse of how beautiful this trip would be.

At the airport, the owner of the guesthouse was waiting for me. Though it added to my trip expenses, I am grateful that he took leave from work and was waiting for me at the airport. The hills get darker earlier than other places, so without him, getting to the guesthouse would have been a challenge. Especially via roads that went through the jungle that housed wild animals like leopards, bears, elephants etc.

I reached the guesthouse close to 11 at night. The weather was very different from what I was used to in Bombay. I took out the muffler and gloves to keep me warm. Little did I know that getting sleep that night would be tough.

Tired as I was, I thought I would sleep like a child in that cold, but for reasons I dont know, I couldn't sleep that night. Kept waking up now and then. Not sure if it was the cold, or something else. I also realised that time moved very slowly in the mountains. Every time I woke up to check the time, I realised it was just five minutes ago or so since I last checked.

When I reached at night, I couldn't see the place I was staying at clearly in the dark, but I did see beautiful silhouettes of tall, dark trees. I couldn't wait to see the place in the morning. I woke up after sunrise, at around 7am. As I opened my eyes to the world around me, I was amazed by the beauty of the place.

It was a Saturday. The morning of 5th November was my first chance of making my dream come true. Before the pandemic, Ruskin Bond used to frequent a bookstore in Mussoorie, Cambridge Book Depot. I called them up to ask if I can meet him. They confirmed what I already knew - that he stopped meeting people at the depot - Sunil, the owner added that he was invited to an event at The Savoy, a hotel in Library Bazaar. And maybe if I had luck, I might see him. But, did I have luck?

Mr Gusain, the guesthouse owner knew why I was here on a solo trip to the hills. He wanted to help me make my dream come true and offered to take me to Mussoorie. I was grateful and we left the guest house, making our way through the hills and the forest to Mussoorie. Our first stop was at The Savoy. I spoke to the hotel staff asking them if Mr Bond was there. They said no. It didn't look like he would make it to the hotel.

Heartbroken, but hopeful we decided to go to his home in Landour. We reached the stop from where we had a mountain to climb, quite literally. Panting, I reached the road that lead to his home. I was awestruck. I was finally there a place I'd dreamt of for 21 years. I was so overwhelmed with emotions. The 15-year-old Jincy finally made it. I hope she felt proud of how far along she had come.

I didn't go to his home right away. But just stood there. Finally, after I reached this doorstep, I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing -

Ruskin Bond - read the nameplate. This was real and finally happening. I sat on the red staircase that led to his home and wrote him a letter. Now I had to find a way to give it to Ruskin. But how? They had a Do Not Disturb sign outside their home and rarely did they open their door to strangers like me, no matter how far they had travelled. Even if the journey took 21 years.

It was so filmy. There was some gap between the floor and his door. I used that gap to sneak in a letter and the book, Changemakers, the wildflowers I had plucked on the way and butterfly pea seeds, the white and the blue variety. The chocolates I brought for him were too big to pass through, so I kept them in a loft on the adjoining wall. There was a Diwali lamp kept there. I moved the lamp (Diya) a bit and hid the chocolates there.

After that, I just kept sitting on the staircase that leads to his home for quite a while. I think they realised someone was there, so they switched on the passage light but no one came out. Finally just as I was to leave, a small girl came who was going to his home. When she rang the bell, they opened the door. I told the lady who opened the door that the book on the floor, the flowers, the seeds and the letter are for Ruskin. I took the chocolates from that loft and handed them to her saying it is for Ruskin. She took it and closed the door.

Before she closed the door,  said that Ruskin was in Dehradun for a doctor's visit. Wanting to have memorabilia of my visit to his home, I stole the price tag from the artificial garlands that were at the door of Ruskin Bond's home. And I said to myself, I may not have met Ruskin Bond. But he certainly has. :)

That was my first visit to his place. I went again after a day. During my stay and travel around Mussoorie, I made friends with the policemen and told them my story. They bought me drinks (tea) They promised to take me to his home and even offered to put me up in a hotel near his home. I said no politely, as much as I wanted to meet Mr Bond, I also wanted to respect his wishes. I didn't want to misuse the power of a policeman's uniform to help me make my dream come true.

So yeah, I was in Uttarakhand trying to make my dream come true. And in that journey, I saw the Himalayas, I saw the beauty in simplicity, and the warmth of people even in the cold. I saw a different me. From someone who was so petrified of leaving home, to someone who has travelled and trekked to places all on her own. She made it, one step at a time, through the forest, the valleys and the rivulets. Plucking wildflowers, smelling the leaves and playing with strays.

The mighty mountains and the forests taught me to be humble, and kind, and to never underestimate myself and the power of my dreams. It also made me anxiously surrender to the higher power, the one above when rains and hailstorms hit my jeep. It taught me to trust in people and conversations and not Google maps or power banks. I made this journey with minimal use of technology, I connected with people with smiles and stories. Stories I told, stories they knew, came alive with every conversation I drew.

My phone ran out of charge more often than not, but that didn't worry me much, for I had so many shops I could walk in, and talk to them while my phone charged. I also asked them the meaning of their names or why every person had a similar last name. I posted a letter to someone special from the post office at Landour, I now hope in anticipation wondering how long would it take for the snail mail to make. I asked random strangers and schoolchildren I saw on my walks to take my pics. They graciously agreed. Some even offered me lifts when they saw me walking alone, especially as I was walking through the forests. I said no. Though at one time I was really tempted to ask for a lift from a handsome guy who was on his bike. Lol! 

And that was a little glimpse of my week's trip to Uttarakhand. My attempt at keeping the 15-year-old Jincy's dream alive. I can now die in peace, happy that even though the world gave up on her dream, I didn't give up on this one.

Happy Children's Day, everyone. Never let the child in you die. Never! Do not let your dream die either. If you won't believe in them, who will?

This journey wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it.

Also, like I always say, if I can, anyone can!

Finally on my way back, made another friend at Dehradun airport. We connected pretty well and even travelled home together to Vashi. I think I will have a few interesting journeys with this new friend I made.

Also, anyone reading this, especially women if you need some motivation for your solo trip or just anything in life, pls dont hesitate to reach out. I'll do my best to help.

I went on this trip looking for something, but I found something else.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Like Mother, Like Daughter?

A young executive was nervously biting her nails. She had been sitting there since the last one hour. Her eyes fixed on the door hoping it would open and it would end her misery. That is when her mind raced past to her college days.

It was the year 2000. A reluctant engineer in the second year of college. It was her university exam and Nina was hoping to pass the exams hook or by crook! She was good at studies, just that she didn't really feel engineering was her cup of tea! She cursed the day she set foot into engineering. Ah! Tracing her thoughts back to the exam hall, her mind drifted back to that fateful day.

It was a Friday, and it was the IVth semester's Computer Organization & Architecture paper that she had that day. She had prepared enough to pass the examination, but she felt a little uncomfortable. She had been deliberating since quite some days. She found reasons to reason and justify her actions. The most common was - everyone does it. Why not me? Saying this to herself, she walked into the exam hall. In front of her, sat Sam - her inspiration. He cast a spell on her in ways he didn't know. She idolized him for reasons she kept to herself. She stalked his every move like a hawk. That is when the invigilator walked in and distributed the answer papers and a little while later, the question paper. Half an hour into the exam, Sam worked his magic. He pulled notes out of nowhere and started copying. Nina watched him. She was truly amazed by his art. And how he was never caught. Today was her day. She had decided. And a little while later, she pulled out her notes too. She was on top of the world. Proud at her feat, she just couldn't stop grinning. She had done what Sam had been doing all this while. And she wasn't caught. Yet.

Meanwhile, the invigilator smelled rat and out of nowhere, pulled up Sam and asked him to leave. Nina was shocked! Her idol, her role model was caught! Was caught copying! She was numb. Her instincts told her that she could be the next victim. Nah! She said to herself. I'm a girl! The sir would never suspect me! Sadly enough for Nina, the sir did suspect her. He asked her if she had any notes. She said none and made the most innocent face he had ever seen! The trick worked! He let her off. He thought to himself, how can an angel like her cheat? Nina was good at dramatics and that day she used all her skills to prove it! She heaved a sigh of relief! She was glad that the professor didn't catch her copying! She saved her dignity. She thought to herself. Well, not quite! Her classmates weren't so sure of her innocence though! They whispered, she was caught during the COA exam, wasn't she? Nina was embarrassed. Thoroughly. But with the shame, she learnt a lesson. She resolved to herself that she would never ever again cheat at exams. She would slog, burn the midnight oil, toil do whatever it takes. But copying - no never!

She kept her promise and two years later, she passed her degree with flying colours and soon enough was working with one of the topmost MNC's as a young executive. She was proud of where she was.

Today, however she was distraught. Nina, a young executive was nervously biting her nails. She was at the school where her daughter was studying. Her daughter Nancy was caught copying in the exam. That is what Nancy's teacher told Nina. Nina was sad. Like mother, like daughter? No! She said to herself. She was determined that she wouldn't let Nancy do the same mistake she did.

Her long wait ended when the principal's room opened and Nancy, a sobbing ten year old walked out. Nina took her little girl in arms and asked her, What happened sweetheart? Why are you crying? Nancy said, Mumma the teacher told the Principal that I was copying in the exam. I wasn't. Nina smiled. She knew she had to deal this with care. She said to her girl, I know you didn't. What happened? Can you tell me? Nancy wiped her tears and told her mom, Mumma, the guy who sits next to me Ronald; he asked me a question. I helped him. That's all. But the teacher thought I was copying from him. I promise I wasn't. I was just helping him. Just like you've told me to help others. Nina laughed. Nancy was confused. That is when Nina said to her, dear, what you did today was a cute thing. But, helping your neighbor pass the exam is wrong. It is cheating. Don't do that again. He should be studying for himself. You shouldn't be prompting answers to him. Give him the helps he needs for studies. But at exams - no! Alright?

Nancy understood what her mom meant to tell her. She smiled and said to her alright mommy! I won't do that again! Can I have an icecream?

The mother daughter smiled and walked to a store and gorged on icecream. While slurping the ice off the ice cream, Nina went back to her college days and she promised to herself that Nancy wouldn't make the mistakes she made and she wouldn't let any Sam or Ronald lead her little girl astray.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When Sarah Said 'I Don't!'

Sarah and Michael were best friends since a long time now. Sarah was Michael's life. She was his first love. His last. She was all he needed. She was all he ever wanted. She was his true love. She knew that. But - what is life without the ifs and the buts no?

She loved him. He loved her more. Even more. She knew that. But...

But he couldn't marry her. No, not right now. He had a lot of things to be taken care of. She knew that. But...

But how long could she wait? She was getting older. She had questions to answer. People to face. Mocks to be endured. But...

But she waited. For almost five years. But...

But now she was getting impatient. She was tired. And that is when...

That is when there came another proposal. Aaron. Aaron was a guy from her line of work. 32, tall, handsome, educated, Christian, well settled. To sum it up in two words - this guy - Aaron was a "perfect match". Her parents wanted her to say yes to Aaron. She too wanted to, because she was tired of waiting for her best friend Michael. She decides to say yes to this guy. Aaron. The perfect match. But...

But, she was gripped in a dilemma. A constant anxiety. She couldn't concentrate at work. She was always on the edge. She found her solace in the washroom of her office, where she hid and cried till the anxiety subdued. She kept looking at the photograph of this perfect guy Aaron. He was handsome, no doubt. She was going to meet Aaron and say yes. She had made up her mind. But...

But one day at work, she kept sobbing. Her colleagues didn't know why. She did. The anxiety was killing her. She didn't know what to do. On one hand was this perfect match Aaron, on the other was her best friend Michael who was chained to his responsibilities. Her mind said - pick the perfect match. Pick Aaron. But what did her heart say? Her heart said nothing. It only bled. She had to make up her mind. Soon.

Sarah spoke to Michael. She asked him what to do. Michael told her to marry Aaron and live a good life and to forget him and not to worry about him. His heart bled as he said this. The love of his life was going to be someone else's and he could do nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing.

One day in April, she came home in tears. Her mother was home. Her mother was equally anxious like her daughter. Her mother wanted to see her only daughter settled. Soon. She wanted Sarah to settle down with the perfect guy Aaron. But nobody knew what Sarah wanted. She decided that since time was running out of hand, the decision had to be made soonest. She made up her mind. She picked Aaron. Sarah was going to tell her mom about her decision. But...

But she didn't know what happened to her. She hugged her mom and told her, mom no matter what, and no matter how long  I will have to wait for Michael, I am doing to marry him. I don't want Aaron! What Michael has for me is true and everlasting love. He will never be able to live without me. And I don't want to live without him. So please call up Aaron's parents and tell them that this can't happen. I am sorry. Sarah sobbed inconsolably. But...

But now out of no where, there was a peace in her heart. All the storms that were raging in her heart calmed. She was happy. She had joy. She had peace. Finally. After all this time. After the hurricane, she had found her rainbow. She called up Michael and told her of her decision. He was happy. Indeed.

That day Sarah realized her true love for Michael. That day she finally made up her mind. That day was her platinum day of love. That day the verses, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." made perfect sense to her. Her love was pure. Her love was rarest of the rare. Just like platinum.

This is a true story. This is the story of my best friend. And the good news is - they will be getting engaged soon. The ifs and buts are still there, but love conquered them all. Love won over everything else. All because Michael's love for Sarah was true. Since the beginning. And now they will enter a new chapter. Very soon. Sarah is very excited. The calm person that Michael is, he doesn't show it. But Sarah knows that he can't wait too. As for Aaron, Sarah hopes he finds his everlasting love like she did. And soon!

As for me, I wish all the three of them all the very best! God bless! :)

When people asked Sarah how she could be so sure about Michael when there was no reason why Aaron wasn't a perfect match, she said that the peace and joy that she felt in heart that day in April made her realize that the was doing the right thing. That sometimes a seemingly perfect match may not be always perfect. That true love wins. That true love is eternal. That true love is pure. That true love is rare, Just like platinum!

This post is also a part of Indiblogger's Platinum day of Love

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Games People Play

Life was getting tough for him. It wasn't the same. He was having a hard time at work. He wasn't the number one salesman that he once was. The sales had gone down. The expectations were high like always. The profits low. There were rumors of people being laid off. He always thought he was safe. But now, he wasn't sure.

He had been working with the company for the last three years. His efforts had taken the company places. He had grown with the company. The company had grown with him. And today when he need the company, the very same company was thinking of firing him. He didn't know what to do. He was devastated.

EMIs, home loans, sister's marriage, his marriage - so many responsibilities he had on his shoulders. So many people depended on him. He was upset. His mind kept playing the what next? what if? game.

She was sitting across his cubicle and watching him. He was biting his nails. She knew something was wrong. He bit his nails only when his really upset about something he can't take his mind off. She slowly walked up to him. As he sees her coming to him, he stops biting his nails and tries to fake a smile. His heart skipped a beat, he loved her secretly; but never had the guts to confess his love for her.

She pulls out a chair and sits next to him and places her hand on his shoulder. What's wrong?, she asks? Nothing, he said. Okay listen, whatever it is, I hate to see you like this. I know this is a tough time, but I remember I am with you through this. You don't have to go through this alone. I want you to be fine, she said. I want you to be mine is all he heard. He smiled. He felt all his burdens lighten. She was there with him and for him. What else did he need? She smiled. Oh how lovely she looks when she smiles, he thought to himself. Oh how lovely he looks when he smiles, she thought to herself!

After the hurricane came a rainbow, he was able to tide over the bad situation at work. He wasn't fired. In fact he made a real good progress. After all he had the love of his life with him. Was there anything that could hold him back. Yesterday was their first wedding anniversary. She asked him he remembered that day? He said of course I do! How can I forget the day that changed my life! She burst out into peals of laughter. What? he asked. She continued giggling. When she regained her composure, she asked him do you remember what was the last thing I said you that day? "Of course yes I do, you told me that you want to be mine!" "No!!, she said. I said that I want you to be fine, though my heart ached to tell you I want you to be mine. But I wasn't sure about your feelings; so I decided I would replace mine with fine!" "So you were playing games with me eh?, he asked irritated. No, I didn't want you to make fun of my feelings. I know I took a risk. But it was worth it, wasn't it?, she asked. Hell yeah, it was worth it!, he replied and smiled.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gmail? No! Hotmail? Neh! Yahoomail? Yahoo! Coolio!!

This episode dates long, long back it time. The era where not having an email account was as bad as not knowing what 'twerking' is today! And if you don't know what twerking means, please don't Google! No please don't! I don't want you to end up gawking like the Will Smiths' did at the MTV VMA 2013!

Anyway! I think I should cut the but and jiggle straight to the point! So this was at a time when my best friend moved to the States and I had no way to get in touch with her except via emails. A technically challenged unfortunate techie like me, didn't know what emails and emailing meant! I used to send love letters to a friend in the UK via the snail mail telling her how I missed her (in ink, and not in blood, in case there are some weirdos reading this) So creating an email account was a sort of coming of age milestone for me. I walked into the cyber cafe for the first time ever with an experienced, you know - the been there done that friend!

So once we were in the cyber cafe, the first thing she asked me was - which email service provider do you wish to create an account with? The "?" look on my face explained her clearly how well versed I was with technology! To save me the shame, she went on list the names starting with Hotmail. I was like, "What? Hotmail? You mean Hot MALE? Eeeyou! That sounds so horny! Imagine! Jincy's got a hotmail! It was way too bold me for! No!" I said. She then asked, Gmail? I was like (?) Eh? What mail? Geemail? Is that the modern way to refer to the third gender? The frown on my face signaled my friend that Gmail wasn't gonna work with me. She then mouthed 'Yahoo....' And before she could complete it, my heart and mind and body and soul went "YAHOOOO!?!? YAHOOOO!!" a la Raj Kapoor in that song! Phew! And finally, I managed to pick the one!

Then came the task of creating a username. The late bloomer that I was, something as simple jincy@yahoo.com was definitely not in store for me! Thousands of other Jincys had already beaten me in the username race! writetojincy, mailjincy, talktojincy etc seemed like as bad as the cheesy pickup lines like I'm new in town. Could you give me directions to your apartment? Usernames like cool_dudette, class_topper, university_ranker, beauty_queen (not that I am any of these) etc were too, too overly narcissist for a modest humble bumblebee like me! Pondering hours over a decent username, I finally managed to settle on jincy_cu@yahoo.co.in It wasn't as creative as I wanted it to be, but it sounded short, sweet, decent and whatever else I felt a username should sound like! My friend heaved a huge sigh of relief! Little did she know that her troubles were far from over! Poor thing!

Now chose a Password! She said. I didn't have to say anything. The lost gaze on my face said it all. Did I tell you I suck at technology? Well, now you know! She went on to explain what a password meant and what it was supposed to do and what it should be like and blah blah! I smiled ear-to-ear! I understood every word of what she was trying to convey to me! A devout religious that I think I am, I would be a sinner if I didn't thank Almighty for showering His abundant graces on me for I finally will be getting an email ID! I thought I should acknowledge Him in the best possible way that I can! What better way than dedicate a password to Him Almighty, na? I decided that my password would be my favorite Bible verse. Sounds intelligently holy! Right? Yeah! But try typing Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Try typing that in a password field where all you can see is dots and try re-entering it again to confirm the password! I suck! I know! Kidding you not, but that was the password I chose for myself! Thankfully I couldn't re-confirm the password 'coz I didn't have a clue as to what key I punched in and so by some grace, that password obviously didn't work! From Rom 8:28, I moved to another favorite - Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Did that work? NO! Finally I had to settle for something more short and sweet and easy to remember and most importantly easy to re-type and boom! It worked! I had an email ID! Finally!

I felt I had scaled the Mount Everest of Technology by owning an Email ID! Though I started with Yahoomail, I finally learnt to shed my inhibitions and slowly moved to Hotmail and then the Gmail, but Yahoomail still remains closest to my heart. I don't know why though!

So that is how I got my first email ID created! Was getting yours as bizarre as mine? I don't think so! :)

This post is not a part of any contest or any promotional or any other blah blah! This post is here 'coz I love write more than any other thing! And trust me, every bit of this story is true! This is what happens to you when you happen to have OCD!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I'm Done!

It was a Friday morning and Neha was late to work by an hour. In the last five years, she never was. Today, she came late on purpose. As soon as she sat down at her desk, she could hear her manager screaming her lungs out.

Why are you late? There is so much to be done. If you don't complete it, you will have to stay back. I don't care. Her boss started her daily early morning drama. She had had enough of her. It happened every single day. Her insane boss would scream and screech and shout at the top her voice, disturbing everyone else's peace and sanity. It disturbed Neha a lot, but today she chose to ignore it. Neha had some other thoughts in her mind.

Unable to concentrate on work, she kept fidgeting with her mobile. She had many reasons to not work today, her abusive manager being just one of them. She had an important decision to make. She had enough of her boss's traumatic tantrums. Enough already!

And that is when her phone beeped. After the call, she ran to her boss's desk and threw her resignation papers at her Cruella De Vil boss and said to her in the same tone, I'm done with you! Go hire someone else! You are the reason I don't feel like working! You are the reason I hate this place! You are the reason I and the others on the floor can't rest in peace! I've had enough of you! Bye!

Her boss was speechless. She thought Neha was kidding. But it was too late. Neha had made up her mind.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers 
by BlogAdda. 

This post is also a dedication to people like me who have had horrible bosses in the past and who finally managed to break free.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

She Was 17

She was only 17 when she left her home and her parents to look out herself and her family. She was in an unknown place. An unknown land. Unknown people. Unknown tongue. All that she she knew was herself. She was here with a purpose. She was here to earn. She was here to provide for her family back in her hometown. And she was only 17.

It was a Monday, when she set out for work. It was a long, usual day. Nothing unusual. Until, it was time to get back home. She was still new to the place and wasn't very comfortable with the place and the surroundings. And as fate would have it, she lost her way. She didn't know where she was going. And she didn't know whom to ask. Not knowing the language made it even more harder for her. And she was only 17.

And that is when out of nowhere, he came. He saw her and could make out that she was lost. He asked her where she wanted to go. She managed to mouth broken sentences in the strange language and told him where she wanted to go. He helped her find her way and made her feel safe. He could have chosen to ignore her. To be a mute spectator. To leave her at someone else's mercy. To leave her to her destiny. Even worse, he could have hurt her and taken advantage of her weakness. She was only 17. Instead, he made her feel comfortable. Understood her plight, helped her and took her home. He didn't have to. But he did.

This happened some 30years back. Had it not been for that unknown stranger, no one knows where she would have been today. She doesn't know her savior's name. He doesn't know her's. But he saved someone that day. She was young, afraid, alone, vulnerable and scared in a strange land amidst strange people. She knew no one. No one knew her. But that someone from somewhere came and saved her out of nowhere. And she was 17. Then.

Today she turns 46. She still thinks about that kind stranger who saved her life. She thanks him and breathes a silent prayer upwards. She is my aunt.

When I called her up today to wish her, I asked her if she remembers that fateful day when she was lost. She paused and said, yes, I do. How can I forget that day? And if it wasn't for that man, I dunno where I'd be. I may never have ever gotten to see this day. Or live to see you. Tears welled up in my eyes as my soul silently blessed that man. He saved my favorite aunt.

This post is a part of #Soldierforwomen in association with BlogAdda.com

This post is also a dedication to that nameless stranger who saved my dearest aunt. Thanks soldier! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pay It Forward

Neha, a young executive was nervously biting her nails. She had been sitting outside the adoption center for almost an hour now. And she was running out of patience. She had rehearsed the answers for all the questions the panelists may throw at her. Neha, you're next. The volunteer called out her name and ushered her in.

They scanned her body language to discern if she fit the bill. She was getting uncomfortable with the piercing looks, but she faked a smile. She was here with a purpose and she decided she wouldn't leave without getting it done. It was her only hope.

Soon flew in a string of questions disturbing her trail of thoughts. You are 35 and unmarried. You used to be an alcoholic. You live alone. Why do you wish to adopt? Are you sure you will be able to devote your time to the child? What if you regret it tomorrow?

Neha was prepared to answer all these questions. However, she never realised they would get to know about her alcoholic past. She smiled and calmly answered all their questions one by one. Yes, I am 35 and unmarried. Yes, I used to be an alcoholic. Yes, I live alone. Yes, I wish to adopt. Yes, I am sure I will be able to devote ample time to my child. And no, I won't regret it ever.

As if the panelists would fall for such a simple answer. They smirked at her. And that is when Neha rose from her seat walked towards the panelists and said, You want to know why I am 35 and unmarried? Why I used to drink? Why I live alone? Why I wish to adopt? Why I will make sure I will devote ample time to my child? Why I wont regret this decision? She didn't wait for the board to reply. She went ahead and narrated her story.

My mom married a man who was an alcoholic. I have seen the way he treated her. He treated her like crap. And I have seen her bear it all in silence. Inspite of the hardships she went through, she managed to bring me up single handedly and gave me the best upbringing I could ever imagine. She educated me, taught me values and respect. Everything that I could ever dream of. All that I am is because of her. My respect for her grew day by day and at the same rate, grew my hatred for my father. One day, I saw my father beating up my mom as she was sleeping. I was only 12 then. I wanted to run away with my mother somewhere. But I couldn't. That day I resolved that I would never marry and would take care of my mother for the rest of my life. That I would study hard and get a good job and give her the good life she never had. She turned to the panelists, looked them in the eye and said, and that is WHY I am 35 and still unmarried. She went on, Yes, I used to drink. I thought if I started drinking, my dad would stop. He didn't. It made no difference to him. Actually, I never meant anything to him. I thought I would be able to change him. But I wasn't able to. All I managed to do was add to my mother's woes. And so I gave up drinking. Just like I gave up on my father. Just like I gave up on men. She paused and drank a sip of water as she wiped a tear from her left eye. She continued, Yes, I live alone. Why? Well, because my mother passed away last year. And I have no one else left. And hey - did I tell you about my dad? Well, he passed away five years back. So right now, I am an orphan in this big, big world. That is why I live alone. The panelists were now intently looking at this young 35 year old young woman. Picturing how tough life has been with her. At that very moment, Neha broke the silence and said, I wish to adopt because I have seen what my mother has done for me. I was never able to pay her back. I think I will be able to pay her back by making someone else's life beautiful. Just like she made mine. This is the only way I can pay her back. I can pay it forward. And I know I will do a good job at it. I wish to share my life with someone, and I wish that someone is a little girl with whom I can relive my lost childhood once again. And I know I would never regret it. That's all I have to say.

Neha sat back on the chair and looked at the panelists. They smiled and were happy to see someone who wanted to make someone else's life beautiful. They gestured to the volunteer in the room, who got a little three year old girl from the next room. Her name is Nisa, would you like to take her home? Asked one of the panelist. Neha was delighted to see Nisa. Nisa was happy too. Neha nodded her head and said yes. She couldn't contain her joy. She promptly completed all the formalities. And a week later, she walked back from the orphanage with Nisa in her arms to make her one bedroom house, a home.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers 
by BlogAdda.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Innocence Lost

She hated going to college. Everyone teased her. Everyone. Everyone called her names. Everyone. Everyone thought she was weird. Everyone. Even the professors. 

Home was no different. Her parents hated her. They counted her as a curse. They didn't wanna put up with her anymore.

As for her, she hated herself and her life pretty much as everyone else did. She found solace in the cigarettes she smoked and the silent sobs that she wept. She knew she was weird. She knew she was different. But she wasn't to blame, was she? She hoped that her parents would understand her; but no, they didn't. They blamed her for no fault of hers. Absolutely no fault of hers.

As she recalled that fateful day when she was a five year old little girl. She was normal. Then. She isn't now. That fateful day changed everything. Everything.

It was the holiday season and her family was spending the vacations at a relative's place. It was almost twilight. The festive season was in the air. She was completely lost in the gaiety of the festive season. Giggling and laughing and running around like a normal five year old girl. And that is when it happened. Her uncle called out to her. He was her favorite uncle. One - he was damn good looking. Yeah! Even at five, she looked out for good looking men from her innocent eyes. Two - he made her laugh! That was all she ever wanted. Ever! But the uncle wanted more. Much more. He called out to her and told her that he had something for her. She ran to his room. He called her close to him and held out a toy wrapped up in paper. It was a doll. She loved dolls. She thanked him and started playing with in like most five year old girls. And that is when she sensed something. Something was definitely wrong. She knew it. But she was too scared to move or to speak. She was numb. As if someone had cast a spell on her. She couldn't feel her voice. It was as if her throat had dried up. She wanted to scream but her voice ditched her. It was as if she was stoned. She couldn't move. She just couldn't. And then she heard a voice. It was the uncle. He gave her a hug and said to her, I hope you liked what uncle did! Just don't tell anyone, alright? And he smiled. She was still numb. She didn't know what to do. With whatever courage and strength she had in her, she ran to her parent's room. She hugged her mom tight and went off to sleep. She didn't breathe a word of what had happened. Just don't tell anyone, alright? Those words still echoed in her head. She closed her eyes tight and went off to sleep hoping it was all a dream and that she would be a new person the next morning.

The next morning came. And her wish was granted. She was a new person. Indeed. She felt it. She sensed it. She knew it. She lived it. Her outlook towards life changed. Her life changed. She changed. It seemed like she had lost her childhood. It seemed like she matured overnight. Like she had lost something. Like she had scarred herself. Lost her childhood. Lost her smile. Lost her laughter. Lost her innocence. Lost herself. Lost her life. Lost a reason to be alive. She wished she could change all that happened. She wished she could return back to where she was. She wished she could return to innocence.

Since that day, she hated toys. She hated boys. She hated dolls. She hated life. She hated men. And she hated her uncle. He had done a horrible thing to her. Horrible. Something she just couldn't forget. She blamed herself for everything. She blamed herself for her fate. She blamed herself for being gay. She hated herself. She hated life.

If she only knew that she wasn't to be blamed. If only. Only if.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers 
by BlogAdda.

If you ever been abused as a child or as an adult, please don't blame yourself. It isn't YOUR fault! 

And parents - never leave your kids alone with uncles or aunties. NEVER EVER!!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I Do

He was the sixth guy. She had had enough. She didn't wanna do it anymore. She was tired. Tired of guys coming home every weekend. Tired of the routine questions. Tired of serving them tea. Tired of them checking her out as if she was some piece of furniture they dropped in to buy. She was tired of everything. She was looking for a way for all of it to end. If she could.

She was lost in her thoughts and that is when Leanne heard her mom across the hall. When she ever gonna find someone? I am tired of having her here. Why can't she settle for someone? What is she looking for anyway? He is educated, has a decent job, looks alright. What else does she want? At our time, we didn't even have the option to choose. We were packed off to the first guy our parents thought was good enough. Good enough! Leanne had heard that enough! She was tired of it. She was tired of the drama at home. What exactly is good enough? Why does she have to settle down for good enough when she could get the best? Was she good enough for someone? She had her doubts and anxieties and insecurities. A million of them. Add to it, the daily drama at home. She was tired of everything. She was looking for a way for all of it to end. If she could.

This weekend would be it. All the drama would end. She decided she had enough and wanted to put an end to everything for once and for all. Her folks would be happy, especially her mom, Leanne thought. But what about her happiness? Oh that can wait! She said to herself. She was lying. She knew it. But she had no other way. She had to do it. And now. For the greater good. For everyone else's joy and happiness. She decided to give up her own.

And finally she did what the others wanted her to do. They made her believe she did the right thing. At last! But in her heart, she knew what a mess she made. Yet, she smiled through the pain. She smiled for everyone else's sake. Though she didn't feel good inside.

She had finally settled for the seventh guy that her parents arranged for her. And today was the D day. As her father walked her down the aisle, Leanne tried to convince herself that it wasn't a mistake. It wasn't a mistake that she was getting married to a complete stranger. It wasn't a mistake to leave aside her dreams and desires and finally settle down. This was what her parents wanted, didn't they? Then how can it be a mistake? It definitely isn't! She knew she was lying.

And then the priest asked her, 'Do you, Leanne take Michael, to be your lawfully wedded husband?' She replied, 'Yes. I do.' Her heart was blackmailed to say a feeble Yes, but her mind was forever saying a stubborn No.

She was scared. And she hoped that it wasn't a mistake.

You can't just sit there and put everyone's life ahead of yours and think that counts as love. But Leanne just did.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers 
by BlogAdda.

You have just one life. Don't settle down for something lesser just because it would make someone happy.

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