Working to make my dreams happen, just as everybody else, I am someone who is constantly thinking and itching to put my thoughts on paper. As a person, I am always full of energy, almost hyper, always planning to do something. However, a lot has happened in the past one month and it’s been over a month since I wrote anything…..anywhere. Nor have I planned anything.
For sometime now things have seemed to work according to the ‘plan’…..but without any warning things can come crashing down, (has happened before, no reason it won’t happen again !). But then I have come to accept that Life is such. There is no ‘plan’ and if you make the mistake of believing that there is one- well it never works out no matter what you choose to believe . I suppose when we are busy making plans… Life just goes -‘ are you kidding me ?’.
My life is a tale of many such planned and unplanned moves. Many disappointments and many lovely realizations have enriched my life through these years. I want to look back and see how it all started. I feel for many of you reading this, it may bring back some memories.
To understand and to truly appreciate my position today let’s begin from the beginning. I have a very loving yet dominating family and as a confused, rebellious, ever curious teenager, (sometimes too curious for my own good), I remember suffocating under the pressure to abide by the rules and discipline laid down by my family. I wanted freedom (or what I assumed it to be). I was a mad, wild child…. naive, vulnerable and easily influenced (so my family thought). In my eyes, I was none of that. I was a dreamer, explorer; seeking adventure and thrill. I liked to experiment- pushing my limits and in the process testing the patience of all others around me.Perhaps living in India I experienced life which is bit of both- beautiful and ugly at the same time. My parents liked to travel and we often preferred going on vacations during our school holidays. Soon I began realizing that I was growing more and more interested in visiting different countries and was looking forward to such new experiences. I felt like a sponge, absorbing in all the new information that every different country had to offer. I felt free…like a traveller in search of a new adventure. Well, I am a romantic at heart and I like the drama.
I no longer liked my life in Bhubaneswar. It was too limiting and restricting for a person like me and I had been steadily growing restless and frustrated. There was no scope for any intellectual stimulation nor was the place offering me anything new and exciting to enhance my personality or knowledge. It felt like being trapped in a room full of smoke. It kept getting darker and darker with no escape. I was screaming from inside and couldn’t wait to get out. And with each passing year I kept planning, with a growing urgency to leave Bhubaneswar for good. By then I had realized that my only way out was to go away for my post graduation and for that I had to study hard. I knew my family would not agree to send me abroad unless the offer was from a good institution. So, for that I needed good grades. Therefore, for the 1st time in 16 years I was working hard to get good grades. It helped that I absolutely loved my subject (Psychology) so it was never a boring affair. After graduating from college I decided to pursue my higher education in United Kingdom. With little to no guidance from anyone at home, I managed to get everything sorted in time to make it to what I saw as my ticket to FREEDOM !!!
Soon the day came when I had to leave Bhubaneswar. Because of the 50 kg + luggage that I had, I had to take a train to Delhi, and from there I had my flight to London. My friends had come to the station to say their good bye’s and love you’s. While we all were standing on the platform, talking (about what I could never remember) it suddenly struck me…..that I was actually going far away from home. Well, ‘far’….wasn’t really the issue…but ‘away’ was somehow bothering me. It felt like I was going away….physically and emotionally as well.
Going away from the only few people I had known all my life. My mom, dad, my brother, Spiky (my beloved dog) and my four best friends. My only friends ! My world. (#1st realization *choke) . They had brought some farewell gifts and cards for me. They hugged me and held me for longer than usual. It felt strange. At that point I was wondering would they really miss me ? Had I been a good friend to them ? Will they think of me at times and wish that I was here instead ? Something did not feel right ! (#2nd realization *choke)
And my family…would they miss me? When they sat together for their meals would they wish my chair wasn’t empty ? Did I really want them to miss me and feel sad ? Will it hurt if they didn’t ? (#3rd realization *choke)
You see, for all these years I had been planning for this day to come. The day when I would leave them behind and move ahead in life. To have a new life, different to the one I had known..the one I had been living for 20 years (and had hated). A life that had given me many good memories, a caring family and my partners in crime – my friends. Up until that moment, I had only focused on what I did not have and how miserable my life had been till then. By the time I realized that I had plenty to be thankful for…..the train was already pulling away from the station, in the opposite direction from home and all I could see was my friends waving back at me. They were happy for me. I don’t think they noticed the tears in my eyes. Their faces slowly becoming a blur. My face felt warm. I was crying. It was meant to be the day of my freedom, my happiest day.
But my heart felt heavy. This seemed like a bad plan. A day ago, I couldn’t wait for this moment. Now as the scenery kept changing….my mind and heart too kept changing. I did not want to leave home, but that’s something I was never going to say again, not even to myself. I chided myself for being weak and emotional. I thought I would never miss Bhubaneswar…It wasn’t possible, that I would ever want to return back.
Its been eight years since that day. Currently, I live with my husband in Germany. After failing to find love (another one of my plan’s that did not work out !) I had finally agreed for an arranged marriage and I cannot thank my family enough for finding the perfect man for me. I am in love with this man, like a teenager in love !!! It was a proper Odiya wedding with full bhoji-bhata and then full on rona-dhona. My whole life has changed since. I am a whole new person now. These days I try not to plan my life. Not to control the outcome. To just go with the flow and welcome each day as it comes.
Imagine this, I try to go back to India, Bhubaneswar, at-least twice a year. Since, this was not a part of the original ‘plan’, I pretend and act like it’s a hassle and a very tiring, long journey but know that it’s a lie. I wait the entire year to go back to home. To see my father waiting for me at the airport, searching for the face of his dearest daughter at the arrival gates. To see his big, warm smile and out stretched arms welcoming me. Embracing me like he would never let me go. Embarrassing me to death, in the process of-course. But to him I remain his little girl, returning from school, and he will always be my baba, who stood outside the school gates, waiting for me to come running to him as soon as the final bell rang. Every time I see him waiting for me at the airport it brings back all these happy childhood memories. The truth is that since the day I left, I have missed Bhubaneswar terribly…..I have even wanted to turn back many times.
Now I realize that there is a price to be paid for being ambitious. Now I know how my family must have felt when I left them to pursue my dreams. The strange feeling that I could not put a finger on, at the station eight years ago……. that something was wrong…..was in-fact my heart’s warning that eventually the excitement would wean off and life would feel lonely without family and friends. You see, it was a shitty plan to begin with and today it makes no sense at all ! May be exactly why I saved all the farewell gifts and cards even though it felt silly at one point. But over the years these objects have given me immense happiness, company and warmth during those cold, lonely english winter nights. They were reminders that I have people back home who love me and that I wasn’t alone.
So, this is where I stand toady. Happy, healthy and truly blessed for all the things that I had the good fortune to experience. Today I see the good in life, the abundance of privilege and blessings that life has bestowed upon me. The two most important realizations have been that- happiness is a choice and your life is what you make of it. When we start to appreciate what we already have, life begins to smile back at us. I appreciate and respect all that I have been given and most of all I love my family, friends and Bhubaneswar- You gave me my family, my 1st home, my husband, my friends and all these lovely memories. Thank you. Thank you.
Soumya Mania Ranjan
(Soumya is a qualified psychotherapist who feels that holistic counselling is the call of the hour. Based in Germany, she’s a proud Odia who wishes to give back to the society through her profession. She also heads our counselling section, Chillamma, you can read her articles here)