I have had an over-protected childhood. One where I never had to face the hardships of life despite being born in an ordinary middle-class family. I wish to clarify that it by no means implied that I was a ‘spoilt child’ because I did face the struggles every Indian child faces in having things their way.
As a child I loved having everything come to me without having to go out in the hot sun or having to face the harsh world. Living in a comfort zone had become my way of life when came the turning point that changed everything. Me and my perspective of life included. It was the day of the interview following the results the All India Entrance Exams. I hail from a small city in a distant corner of our country. Securing a good rank in an all India level exam had been a moment of great pride for me and my family, but soon the joy evaporated in thin air when realization of having to move out of my home for further studies dawned on me.
To fulfill my dream of becoming ‘someone’ in life I had worked very hard all through school, but when the time came to choose the college I wanted to pursue my studies in, my throat went dry and my mind went blank. It was the day when the golden opportunity to pick one of the premier institutions in the country was knocking on my door but I was scared to step out of my nest and make the most of it. For someone who had never lived outside home longer than a couple of days, shifting to a hostel was outright scary and unacceptable.
While everyone in my family failed to grasp the gravity of my perplexed state, my father succeeded in reading my mind. While we waited for the interview to begin, he took me along to the canteen for a cup of tea. It was in the canteen that he calmly talked me through the understanding of why it was time for me to fly out of the nest. That morning, initially I resisted my father talking me through the idea of studying far away from home. It was when he told me something he’d never said before.
He talked me through the dark patches of his life and career when never having lived an independent life gifted him hardships. Starting from lack of confidence to a much-needed wisdom that came by treading on the rough pastures and falling in the potholes that no book could ever teach us, we talked about every aspect of life as best friends. He opened up his heart to tell me, how no success can be achieved in the comfort zone. How he wished he had chosen to take up the career he longed for instead of the one he had just because he was too afraid to study in a foreign land.
It was his trust in me, my abilities, my dream to be someone in life that gave me the needed push. Charged with renewed wisdom, fresh perspective and the loving assurance that my father knew exactly where I was in the book of life, I made the life-changing decision. In the interview that followed, I confidently chose to study at a premier institute over a thousand miles away from my home. From that moment on, there was no looking back. The wings of aspiration I had opened that day, took me far and wide. While I learnt to respect my freedom and integrity, I learnt to be self-reliant and not fear a journey for education, work or for realizing my dreams.
Many years down the line, when my life called for me to give up my successful career, change course of life yet again, the lessons of that fateful morning proved to be my guiding light, yet again.
The seeds of independence that were sown that day, have kept me fighting all odds in life, sustaining in remotest corners of the world, managing to earn a living and progress at every point in life. I can proudly say, my father gifted me this beautiful life and also taught me how to make it purposeful in my own stride.
“Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom and being one’s own person is the ultimate reward.” ~ Patricia Sampson