The past week has been one of retrospection. To look back on my youth and dig into the deep recesses of my memory. To piece together different visuals, different thoughts and reconstruct why I am where I am, doing what I am doing. Some of my earliest memories of wanting to be more than a frog in the well go back to 4th grade or even earlier. At a time when I was not aware of how many states India had or what lay north of Coimbatore or for that matter Chennai, I lived my life through the eyes of the characters in the books I read.
Images of young boys and girls sitting around the shade of a tree sipping lemonade and eating treacle tempted me. I did not know what lemonade or treacle was. Or for that matter what scones or pies were. All I understood from the context was that they were delicious. The images of a bunch of little kids roaming around the neighborhood solving mysteries was imprinted in my fertile mind. I viewed our postman with suspicion or for that matter the trimly dressed salesman who knocked on our door on Sunday afternoons trying to sell innocuous looking gadgets. Over time the images morphed into other things but one thing remained constant. There was a life outside where I lived that was far more exciting.
Books like St Claire’s created a ache to live in hostels. In dorm rooms where the fireplace was always cheerfully lit. Where girls giggled over midnight tea parties and bonded over secret rites of womanhood. So by the time I was in 12th grade I was ready to leave home. All I wanted to do was live in a hostel. It did not matter what course I signed up for. That was not to be but I did move away from home and over the course of three years learnt far more valuable lessons than those contained in text books. Of relationships and heartaches.
Another subtle but constant reminder of the life beyond was in the form of my uncle who left India to do his Masters and later doctoral degree. On each of his visits I glimpsed snatches from an alternative life. Of a different standard of life. Those were probably the only times in my life when I had seen an airport or an airplane at close quarters. Much as it was exotic, it remained very distant. I remember sitting on my terrace at home, looking at airplanes flying far far above and thinking “Someday I will fly…”
Today looking back, I really do believe I will fly. Someday. The shores are distant. The hopes different. Yet, the belief is stronger than ever. I do believe I will fly.