Everything passes. It has to. That's the beauty and tragedy of it.
It was Saturday – the penultimate day of her summer vacations. Tomorrow she would be on the train, bound for the boarding school where she would remain for the next six months until it was time to visit home again for the Dussehra break. That seemed like eons away and would be for a meagre fortnight at best.
She sighed sadly and dropped the red sketch pen on her drawing pad. It rolled down the edge of the table and continued its unhindered journey until it reached the most inaccessible corner under the bed. But she didn’t feel like retrieving it. What was the use? It wouldn’t change her situation, would it? She wished she could arrest every passing moment in its tracks so that tomorrow wouldn’t come. She had been ecstatic at the beginning of her vacations, her two months of bliss stretched on before her without a horizon in sight. But time always tends to fly when you are having the time of your life, doesn’t it?
There isn’t much a mere eight year old do when it had been decided by her family that she was better off studying in some far off school.
She understood their angst alright; the reasoning behind their decision. She was the oldest of the three children, with the most potential and there were no good schools that could foster her talent. Her father had sat her down and explained to her how he envisioned for her, a bright future. She didn’t mind that at all. She knew her parents loved her, her siblings adored her, even when she was being nasty to them, expecting priority during the time she was home. All because she would be with them for a very brief period of time during the holidays every year. Her mother made all her favorite dishes, her father bought her story books, her granny retold all of her favorite bed-time stories, her sister gave up ownership of her toys during the time and her brother, well he was too little to understand much, but his smile brightened her day.
But in a child’s mind, it was close to banishment all the same.
That night, lying beside her mom, she was afraid to close her eyes, lest she fall asleep and miss out on the remaining hours of the day. But again, sleep too doesn’t listen to a heavy-hearted eight year old, does it? Her eyelids reluctantly drooped of their own accord, heavy with sleep…
She woke up with a start, her heart pounding erratically. Strange, her dream felt so real! She could remember every detail of her childhood. She had forgotten that feeling – of heavy-hearted longing and home-sickness, mixed with a sense of hopelessness.
She turned to see the peaceful profile of her sleeping husband, his long dark eyelashes melting into the surrounding shadows. It was still dark. She fished out her mobile from the side table and peered at the clock – 3:30 AM.
Gathering her blanket around her still trembling body, she tried to fall asleep again but without any luck. Her mind wandered.
She wasn’t eight years old anymore. A lot had changed over time. She had been married five years to the guy of her dreams – her childhood sweetheart after about ten years of courtship – and her life was idyllic mostly. Oh yeah, her life had its share of undulations from time to time, but nothing that threatened to shake the very grounds beneath her feet. She was still close to her folks, even with her in-laws. So why was she disturbed by a childhood memory resurfacing as a dream now?
Then she realized what it was. It had to be connected with their recent decision and the resulting activities to live up to it. That’s it…
But knowing the cause didn’t put her mind to rest.
They had decided she would pursue her dream of higher studies in her chosen field. In another country. Apart from one another – for a year at the very least. It would be a big change for the both of them, a good hard shake-up of the snow-globe of their life…It had been years since they had stayed apart in the real sense. Sure his job warranted much touring and living in hotels away from home. But it was still okay since he always came home for the weekend, was never away for more than fifteen days a month and never for more than a few days a week. That was a good arrangement too. They had each other and they had their own space too. It was great!
But nothing ever always remains the same forever, does it? No one really appreciates what they have while they have it. Take it away and it gains star status in a jiffy. In their case, they had decided it was time to take the leap into the next phase of their life. No more trudging on from one day to the next, stuck in a mediocre job with mediocre pay. They had youth on their side and no hard liabilities that couldn’t be shaken off, so why not take a well-calculated risk and invest in their higher education? First she would get done with her masters in Liberal Arts in a premier college, and get her dream job. Then he would follow to pursue an MBA degree, an apt prelude to a high flying job. He pointed to her it was now or never. Totally doable, he had said brimming with his characteristic optimism, if well thought through and taken one step at a time. And she had fallen in with his plan, skeptically at first but later with a vengeful enthusiasm, a little bit hurt that he could envision a life apart from one another, no matter for how brief a period of time.
Truth be told, she was apprehensive and excited in equal parts since she didn’t want to settle for less. Never had. Whenever she would feel complacence settling in, she had to rough things up. She was a strange mixture of contentment and ambition.
But more than anything, she wanted this for herself. She was tired of people saying with a tinge of pity “We thought you would amount to much more, you were such a brilliant student as a child. What happened…?”And then there were those stick-in-the-mud sorts who were like “Oh well, I think you should think about going the family way. Women have a shelf life, you know. All this nonsense about liberated women wanting careers and prioritizing jobs over babies, it’s a bunch of nonsense. In the end, a woman’s place is in her hearth, caring for her family and having kids, don’t you think?” Well she didn’t, thank you very much. And she was equally sick of being reminded of her not having lived up to her full “potential” – whatever that was…
So this was it. It was time to be the master of her life, do her thing the way she wanted to, and pursue her purpose in life irrespective of the challenges. Her chance to give the mental middle finger to the naysayers, take life by the heels and go full throttle. The adventure was on and she was in. So she had strived, studied for the qualifying exam, got all her requisite documents in place, applied to the college of her dreams and waited patiently to hear from them. It all seemed no less than a dream.
And finally, yesterday, she had heard from the college. She had been accepted! It was great news and she was happy. Glad that she still was the goods and had the spunk. Five years of domestic life had not managed to knock out the “potential” from her.
Her husband was ecstatic, to say the least and all set on the planning phase.
She looked at him fondly, sleeping peacefully by her side. No one would know what a tornado he brought into her life. He was her strength, her fire-power, the wind under her wings and she was thankful to the stars for bringing them together. True there would be challenges in life and lots of changes. She would miss him painfully and he would too, but the fruits of perseverance and faith would be all that more sweet. When you have like-minded people propelling you, it’s not so bad.
Not everyone was as lucky, she mused as she snuggled closer to him. He gathered her into his arms sleepily and she felt sleep tug at her eye-lids, his warmth engulfing her.
Tomorrow was another day. There was nothing to fear. They would face it together, like always. As long as he was by her side, everything would be fine. Just fine…