Of Nights Like These

She sits alongside the pavement, hugging her knees, waiting for the night to fall asleep.

Above her, vastness stretches far and wide. The cars have stopped. The traffic lights keep blinking. The streetlights flicker to a random rhythm. And the wind blows to a silent crescendo.

She looks up at the million infinite stars above her, light years away from where she is. She looks up and sees them twinkling from up there, looking down at her and perhaps smiling. She realizes that the existence is so vast and she is so tiny.

Placing the glass bottle on the stony pavement, she stands up and manages to find her way back home.

That night, when she falls asleep, she remembers to wake up as a newer being. Her life is so tiny when compared with the eternal universe that she resides in.

Looking up at the stars, she smiles and sleeps.

They look back at her and fall asleep.

Of Dad’s Advice To His Little Girl

“I know how you feel,” he said, clasping his daughter’s hand tightly.

“Scared and confused doesn’t even sum it up, Dad!” she murmured, withdrawing her hand and sighing.

“I know,” her dad says again. “I know you’re thinking that you are taking a big leap into the uncertainty. I know it feels like standing on one footstep and realizing that the staircase in front of you is actually a dead end. It’s not always going to be easy and you know that. It’s going to be a struggle from here on. But remember, everyone has to struggle in some way or the other. Each one of us goes through the same course in life in different little ways. I know you are afraid. I know you want to step back and live under the brighter sunshine. But no, my little girl, you’ve to go. You’ve to fly to discover what exists beyond the sun. And for that, you have to leave the ground. You’ve to leave this known haven behind.”

The speakers spluttered. The lady stated that it was the final boarding call.

“Dad, what if I fail?”

“You’ll never learn to fly, sweetheart, if you never fall. We’ll be there. We’ll have your back. In your darkest times, I promise you we’ll be there. When things go wrong, remember to struggle and live until the end of the day. What will matter twenty years from now is not where you reached but how you made the best of every opportunity you had with you. The next morning will be a new one. You’ve to keep faith and you’ll be fine.”

Her feet trudged along lazily. Her footsteps were heavy.

“How do you know I’ll be fine?” she cried.

Clasping her hand again and hugging her close to his heart, her father kissed her goodbye.

“You’ll be fine. You’ll be just fine,” he said.

Of Edited Pictures and More

She is holding a tattered notebook, close to her heart. A few pages stick out of the spiral bound black book. The letters are fading. Each time it rains, each drop, washes away some more of the pages scribbled with blue ink. She glances down at it from time to time.

He is holding a broken guitar. A small guitar with a string taut and the others hanging loose. He runs his hand over the metal body and then sighs. Biting his lip, he leans over and plucks a chord. The sound makes him twist his face in disgust. He keeps quiet, holds the guitar down and waits for his bus.

She is holding an old camera and a few photos. As she looks down at the rainbow-coloured images that she had once clicked, it takes her back to the happy times. But a moment later, when the rain comes pouring down in a torrential downpour, she forces herself to look away from the pictures. Now they mean nothing to her but blurred Polaroids.

He is holding a broken record player and his favourite pair of dance shoes. He looks at them and feels everything and nothing simultaneously. He feels desperate, almost to go back to the very world he had created with them. But then, he looks away and tells another tale.

I stand there, faking the same smile that I had been long holding on to. But the corners of my lips are starting to hurt. The smile is giving away and I can feel the tears pricking. The bus will be here any moment, I say myself and fake the same smile.

When the wheels screech in front of us, we stand up and take a deep breath. Each one of us walks ahead and boards the bus, leaving behind the things we had brought along. I drop my smile; she forgets her notebook; he leaves his guitar; she abandons her camera; and he walks away without his dancing shoes.

Our pictures are no longer real. The camera will lie from here on. We are nothing but blurred Polaroids and films without our dreams. We are nothing but the images found in the recycle bin. The colours may be brighter, the hues may be sharper, but all we are inside are edited pictures, drowned in black and white.

The bus takes off and we leave a part of us behind.

Of Late Night Talks (II)

“I’m scared.”

“Why?”

“It’s like everything, every hope is slipping right past me. I see people far ahead of me. The race has started and I’ve only barely begun walking. The goal seems so far away.”

“I can relate.”

“What’s your story?”

“Me?” he pauses a while. “Lost, I guess. Everyone around me feels that I’ve no direction in life. That I’d end up useless, probably spending nights sleeping on railway platforms and being jobless. See, I’m alcoholic. I lose my temper most of the time. All I feel like doing to sitting in some cold, empty place..and just being there. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to talk. For once, I want to disappear.”

She tilts the glass and fiddles with the cocktail onions on the edge of her glass.

“It is weird, but I feel the same way too. Sometimes, I feel as if the world is moving too fast. People aren’t bothered to spare a glance at what’s happening around them. All of  them have their eyes set on the goal and they are madly running towards it. But what after that? What happens after they reach their goal? Their life isn’t complete, is it? They start looking forward to other milestones. It’s like amidst the entire career, money, education, we are forgetting about life! Why, if life is about going to a prestigious university, having shitload of money and driving to parties and meeting business targets and getting back home, tired and lifeless, I better not live it at all. Because, that is not life for me! It isn’t about the highs always, is it?”

He shakes his head quietly.

Turning around, he rests his elbows against the metal railings and leans against it.

“It’s about the lows too,” he says. “It’s not always about the noise. The silence carries as much meaning, in fact more. It’s not about how much you earn and how much you work and how much settled you are, sometimes the very essence of life lies in going through the lows and then standing up, ready to face the world all over again. I want a story like that. I don’t want to tread down the known road. I want to get lost. I want to get drunk. I want to be clueless. And I want to fall down, cry and learn. And then, when it dawns, I want to be stronger. I don’t want to be the same person I was the other night. I want to be the person who is happy. And I want to bask under that feeling. I want to really feel the moment. Be right in it. And remember it when I breathe my last.”

She smiles.

“Isn’t it crazy that we all can talk so much about life and give advice on how to live, yet when it comes to applying the very same thing, we back away and go back to being the same people? We embrace the concept of “unpredictability” in theoretical approach. But when it comes to being clueless and not being able to know where we land up and how, we run away scared. I want to breathe.”

He nods slowly.

For a minute, neither of them speak.

They think of the dawn that is a few hours away. But it isn’t their dawn. The sunshine may wipe away their tears, but inside, they will be still sad.

“May be we are supposed to live our life this way?” she speaks again. “Scared. Confused. Driven by dreams. And then, mocked and told that reality is bitter. May be life’s supposed to be this way only? But then, why can’t I be as secure and as happy as other people when I’m doing the exactly same thing as them?”

He shrugs.

“May be life is not supposed to be this way?” he responds. “May be our formula is wrong. May be because people are scared, they don’t take another road and like a herd, we all walk down the same way?”

“I had this strange idea as a kid. I was always thinking that our life is just this crazy dream and we are aliens on another planet and we’ll wake up one day and realize that all this was a dream and then everything will be all right again,” she takes a sip of her drink. “I want to forget everything for a moment and start afresh.”

“I had that stupid idea too. And yes,” he tilts his glass against his parched lips and gulps down the burning liquid, “I want to forget everything too.”

When the morning arrived, he found himself walking down the muddy road, back to his house, three blocks away. And she found herself calling a taxi to take her to the airport.

But they weren’t scared and confused anymore. Although the road in front of them wasn’t exactly a straight road, they knew that if they kept running, if they kept chasing their dream, one day, it will be theirs. One day, the life they had dreamt of, they will be living it.

They faced the morning with brighter hopes.

Of The First Post Challenge

So few days ago, I was nominated for the first post challenge by ANNEMARIE & LIFE. A big thank you for the nomination.

The rules:

  • link your first post
  • name the type of the post
  • explain why this was your first post (reason for writing)
  • nominate fellow bloggers to participate in the challenge

So here is my first blog post ever:

THE SCARIEST BLOG POST OF THEM ALL

I had no clue what to write in the first blog post.. Being fairly new to the blogging world and having read lots of articles on the techniques of blogging, I was rather nervous. But then, I decided to just go with it. To pour my heart out on the paper. Though I accept, back at that time, I hadn’t found my niche, I believe I have found one now.

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”- Meister Eckhart

Have you ever felt the urge to start a new venture but there’s always something that holds you back? Have you taken a step forward in excitement, only to retreat and sit back? We’ve all gone through this at some point of time in our lives. Putting it more precisely, most of us go through this experience every time we decide to start something new.

It’ll please some of you to know that I spent two hours trying to figure out the title of my first-ever blog post! And while I was atop my terrace, looking down at the terribly high drop and then looking back up, wondering what should be the title after all, I realized something. I realized that I was scared (no, not about the entire height factor) – of starting a new blog and taking the first few baby steps.

A myriad of questions ran through my mind as I quietly scrolled through the themes. Having read numerous articles about why most bloggers fail and how disastrous some blog posts are, I was afraid because there’s always a possibility for joining the same train. What if my first blog post isn’t that impressive? What if it doesn’t connect with my readers? What if I start receiving hate messages? Even worse, what ifsomeone adds my blog to the worst-ever-blogs list? And sitting on the edge of a terrace was not helping at all. Of course, I wasn’t planning on jumping down from there (and I wouldn’t ever think of it, because I want to look pretty while I’m dying and falling from that height is obviously going to leave me with nothing but grotesque bruises and broken bones. And, I’m guessing that wouldn’t be pretty!). Some part of me convincingly said that I was out of ideas probably because of gravity which was pulling every creative thought away from my brain and sending them to settle at my feet. The other part kept on laughing like a maniac. In short, half of my insides were fighting with the other half. I thought a change of place might help.

So, picking up my laptop, I trudged downstairs to my room.

That, as I had already predicted, didn’t help. Instead of focusing on the birth of my blog baby (I’m trying to be over dramatic), I started drooling over the Chace Crawford posters on my wall and playing my brother’s recently downloaded games. I had this strange thought of writing about video games in my first blog post! And hopefully, I didn’t yield to the urge. Then, I had an even stranger thought of writing about who are my best actors and why.

At this rate, I realized, I was never going to be able to start a blog.

They say that beginnings are probably the best things – beginning a new business venture, starting a new job, starting college, starting a new book – we’ve always been fascinated by the idea of beginnings. It is the end that brings us pain. Nobody wants a beautiful thing to end. That is probably why we all go, “Oh no!” when our favourite romantic movie starts rolling out the credits. The concept of an ending has always scared us. We believe that beginnings are easier. However, they are not.

I’ve no idea about the whole concept of an ending, but speaking from experience, I can say that the beginning steps are probably harder. When it took me two hours to only figure out the title for a blog post, I realized that it is not always easy to start a thing. Be it a businessman or a teacher or a kid in primary grade, they all dread the beginning steps. The businessman spends sleepless nights, thinking about his newest venture. The teacher is nervous on the first day of school and meeting her new students. The kid in primary grade fakes a stomach ache because he is afraid of facing the new kids in school. We all have several apprehensions before starting something new. And, the only nagging question in our minds is – Will this be successful? Will the idea be successful? Will I be able to do this thing right?

One of the major reasons such thoughts strike our minds is because right from the start, we’ve been told that starting anything new is arisk. And we’ve grown up with the same idea. We are afraid to go in the less-trodden way for that is a risk. Students are afraid to choose a vocational stream because that is a risk, so they tend to stick to the traditional courses. Parents are afraid to send their kids out alone because that is a risk, so they keep them inside their homes until they feel that he/she has grown up enough. New writers are afraid to send their works to a publisher because they feel that it is a risk-their works might get rejected. So they keep their works to themselves, only sharing it with their family and a few friends.

It is like you’ve been gifted a pair of wings by God and you are standing at the edge of a cliff. A part of you is excited to try the wings and the other part keeps holding you back, reminding you a numerous times that you can’t fly. It fills your head with a plethora of confusions. You’re suddenly afraid that the wings may not be real – a thought that hadn’t crossed your mind until then. You are suddenly terrified at the idea of jumping down the cliff and spreading the wings that have been gifted to you. What if you fall?

So, you turn back and walk down the safer road, back home.

The only thought that doesn’t cross your mind is: What if you fly?

The beginning to a beginning is to take a risk. Until, you’ve taken a risk, you’ll never know what is next. Let us think of risks as a series of steps. Let us, for once, forget that risk is used in a negative term. And let us embrace the new possibilities that arrive in our mind, once we’ve settled on that thought.

And that is exactly how I managed to write my first blog post-the supposedly scariest post of them all. Though the FIRST blog post sounds terrifying, I’m proud I’ve managed to put up something decent. Now that I think of it, I was also standing at the edge of the cliff, with a pair of wings. At first, I was afraid to take a step forward. So, I took two steps back. But that was only because I wanted to take flight. So, here I’m, flying towards the sun, thinking about the world that exists out there.

And I’m not afraid anymore.

I nominate the following bloggers to take part in the challenge. I’d love to read their first views on blogging.

Of Mothers and Daughters

I have always wanted to tell you a lot many things Mom. Though these things have always been in my mind, somewhere between busy days and petty arguments, I’ve forgotten to tell you about them.

Mom, I still believe that make-up is more important than the rest of the world and that you should not glare at me while I apply my mascara because I’m young, Mom, and I need to look beautiful. And no matter how many times you tell me I look beautiful without make-up, I’m still not going to believe that. My boyfriend doesn’t even tell that to me, nor do my friends. I don’t know how to believe you!

Mom, I need new clothes every month or two. My friends have their wardrobes lined with the latest designer jeans and I’m quite embarrassed about the pair of faded blue jeans that I have. And no matter how many times you tell me that nobody pays that much attention to what I wear or not, I’m still not going to believe that. My boyfriend doesn’t even tell that to me, nor do my friends. I don’t know how to believe you!

Mom, junk food is healthy too. And it’s hygienic! It’s not like there are flies everywhere. It would be wonderful Mom if we could have pizza thrice a week. Eating pizza is kind of cool! And no matter how many times you tell me that the green salad will do me more good, I’m still not going to believe that. My boyfriend doesn’t even tell that to me, nor do my friends. I don’t know how to believe you!

Mom, please don’t peek into my room again and again while I’m on the phone. I know you’ve work to do, but is it wrong to demand a little bit of privacy Mom? My friends are my life Mom and it’s important to talk to them at least once a day! And no matter how many times you tell me to sit with my books because talking over the phone for so much time is bad, I’m still not going to believe that. My boyfriend doesn’t even tell that to me, nor do my friends. I don’t know how to believe you!

Mom, I’ve grown up! Stop calling me, “Darling”, “Baby”, “Child” and “Sweetheart” in the parking lot, Mom. I can always hear my friends giggling behind my back. I’m no longer a child, Mom. And no matter how many times you tell me otherwise, I’m still not going to believe that. My boyfriend doesn’t even tell that to me, nor do my friends. I don’t know how to believe you!

That Friday night, she sits next to her window, with her heart broken and trust shattered. The city lights are dazzling and three blocks down, people are dancing to loud music. She has been invited too, but she chooses not to go.

Her legs swing back and forth and she squeezes her palms. She’s waiting for the phone to ring and someone to tell her from the other end that it’s going to be all right. She’s waiting for someone to call, concerned and bothered about her. She’s waiting for someone to call and ask her if they should drive down there.

But there are no calls. The little story in her head is a twisted illusion. The reality is bitter and she fights not to break down into tears.

The door opens with a rather noisy creak and her mother steps inside the cold room.

“Here,” she walks closer with two boxes of pizzas and ice cream.

They sit there awhile, silently, swinging their legs back and forth to the rhythm of their synchronous breaths.

“I’m sorry, Mom,” she breaks down, clinging to her mother. “I’m sorry!”

They hold each other between the muffled sobs. When she’s done crying and finally gets up, her mother pushes the box of pizza towards her and smiles.

“Let’s talk,” she says.

Over the night, she tells her mother of all the things that had happened back in college. After the pizza boxes are empty and the ice cream has been licked clean, she hugs her mother and falls asleep with a smile.

She doesn’t feel sad about having a fight with her friends or breaking up with her boyfriend. There’s a brighter thing she sees – the bond she shares with her mother and their friendship. In her darkest times, does she realize the truest friend she has – her mother.

This time, the letter she writes is different.

I have always wanted to tell you a lot many things Mom. Though these things have always been in my mind, somewhere between busy days and petty arguments, I’ve forgotten to tell you about them.

Mom, make-up doesn’t make a girl look beautiful. For a girl will always be the most beautiful girl in her mother’s eyes.

Mom, who cares about clothes and shopping. They are not as important as family. Nothing will ever be.

Mom, I’d eat anything happily as long a you’ve cooked it. Though junk food is a very good choice after break ups!

Mom, I feel alive every time you call me “Darling”, “Baby”, “Child” and “Sweetheart” in the parking lot. It took me a while to realize that no matter how much one grows up, he or she will still be a child in their parents’ eyes.

Mom, you are the one who has always got my back. And though we may not indulge in a lot of gossips and have night-outs and go for shopping, please know that you will always be my best friend no matter what.

Years later, she folds the sheet of paper neatly and cries without her mother. Sitting next to the window, swinging her legs back and forth, she wishes for her mom to come around. The night is eternally silent. Though it is not the type of closure she had dreamt about, she knows that it’ll have to do.

Of Hopeless Tales of Hope

It had been raining for days. Days and nights.

The eternal mist had settled in front of the windows, draping a cloak of darkness for the people who wished to see the light.

To the tune of ferocious winds, the lifeless trees would sway all night.

To some unheard crescendo of a low moan, the rain would come battering down on the roofs like bullets.

The river would swell each night. More and more. Wiping away everything on its path – every bridge and every house.

Radios would chatter on evenings, coupled with feverish prayers of people.

The nights were scary. The days were as dark.

Each night, under the little light from the candle, as she’d prepare her bed, she’d hope for a miracle.

Each night, before falling asleep, she’d look out at the misted window panes and believe, deep in her heart, that the next day would be different. That it would be bright. That the rain would stop. That a miracle would happen at the dead of the night.

The next day, even though the day would be darker and the rain even worse and no miracle would have occurred, before falling asleep, she’d look out at the misted window panes and believe that the following day would be different.

No matter what, at the end of the day, she held onto the tiniest bit of hope.

No matter what, at the end of the day, she believed.

No matter what, deep in her heart, despite the thousand voices in her head that told her otherwise, she believed.

Of Twisted Tales Of Pain

She wanted to live a happy life.

But each night, after the enchanting chaos of the city had dwindled and the orbs of light blurred in her vision, she found herself walking down the narrow bridge. At times, she’d stop abruptly and lean over the wooden rails to see her reflection in the dark waters. The planks under her feet would creak slowly under her weight as she’d gaze deep into the fading reflection of herself. Her eyes lacked mirth. Her lips were always twisted, painting a frown.

At other times, she’d walk and walk until she’d reach the willow tree at the end of the bridge. Leaning against it, she’d quietly slip into the gravel road and watch the world walk past her.

As the night would slowly merge into darker shades, the tears that she’d been holding would give way and into the silence of the night, she’d scream out all her sorrow. She loved the way the night hid her pain. Never did Darkness let anyone know about the one poor girl who cried into its embrace. Alone.

When the colours would slowly start to melt and dawn would arrive, she’d pick herself up, wipe away her tears with the back of her hand and pretend as if everything with her was just all right. With that brave face of hers, she’d face every dawn, no matter how much she was breaking on the inside.

One Friday night though, when the neon lights at every club were bright and high and oven timers pierced the thick air, and she walked down the bridge, she wasn’t alone. For Darkness followed her step.

When she stopped to look at her reflection, Darkness looked down too.

“You are here, every night, without fail,” it said.

“This is the only place that never fails to make me feel lighter,” she answered.

“And you are the only person here,” it said again.

“It probably seems like I’m the most disappointed person around, doesn’t it? A broken family. Unsatisfying life. A stressful job. And when I get back home, there’s nobody to hear me out. So, I come here, thinking that someone will understand. No one does. They sleep silently, tucked inside their blankets and wake up to loud alarms in the dawn. And they face the day. As for me, each morning, I wish to go back to bed and sleep away forever.”

“It wrenches my heart, dear, to hear you say like that. How I wish I could tell you otherwise. How I wish I could tell you of the stories that hide in the light. You see people, walking straight, heads held high, their shoulders straight, and it is as if they’re afraid of nothing. I’ll tell you a different story – they are afraid. Deep inside, each one of them is a mess. When they talk, they are still thinking of a hundred different things in their brain. When they laze back in their beds, they think of the world. They have broken hearts. They are lonely people. And they hide their true faces under the bright light of the dawn, pretending that nothing’s wrong.”

“It is okay,” it continued,”to be a little sad, to a little frustrated and to be a little broken. Each one of them is. Some of them keep telling themselves that there’ll be brighter days, holding on to the minuscule glimmer of hope in their hearts; while some of them come here on fateful nights and end their stories. What you need to do, is face the dawn. It holds surprises for each one. But if you are busy grieving about the night, you’ll never relish what the dawn has in store for you.”

“It won’t make my life any better, will it?” she said.

“You’ve to hold on to hope and live yet another day to find out.”

That morning, when she walked amongst the crowd of people, she didn’t feel lost. Deep inside her heart, sorrow lingered, but just like the rest of them, she knew she had to keep going on. The very hope that she held was that, the next day was going to be even better.

Of A Bright Little Dark Story

“I want to be a failure in life,” she spoke slowly.

Against the backdrop of enticing beauty of majestic fountains and dense forests, her words never echoed. Yet, she spoke them again. Clearly. Slowly. Waiting for someone at the other end of the cliff to hear her and say the same.

But nobody did.

Of course, nobody would. Everyone wanted to be successful at life. Who would even want to be a failure!

“I want to be a failure in life,” she said again.

The vast emptiness that stretched above her was soon merging into a gorgeous shade of dark. The sun had gone down. The breeze slowly danced to some unheard rhythm. And Venus glimmered across the horizon.

She was supposed to be scared. She was supposed to stand up, get away from the steep cliff and return back home. She had been afraid of heights. She had been afraid of the dark. She had always wanted to be in the light. Strangely, that evening, the cold and the dark didn’t bother her. The steepness of the jagged rocks on which she sat, didn’t worry her. She knew that it was better there. The illusion of merry and peace that she had built right in front of her eyes was far better than the reality that awaited her on the other side of the world.

“I want to be a failure in life,” she spoke for the umpteenth time that evening  and yet again, there wasn’t an echo.

How she wished somebody would hold her hand and tell her that she wasn’t alone. She couldn’t take the competition. She couldn’t keep up with the expectations of people around her. They all wanted her to be a winner. They all wanted her to be at the top, never having a fall. And she was slowly making them lose their faith in her. Each time she was trying to get up, she was falling.

She was scared. Right around her, she watched people fight their way to the end. She watched people with dreams glimmering in their eyes, not giving up until they reached their goal. She watched people fall and then pick themselves up. And it scared her to know that her determination was not enough. That she was never going to get anywhere in life.

She could never be a winner, she felt. Instead of keeping people in dark hopes, she believed that it would be better if she became a failure in life. Nobody would place their deepest faith in her. Nobody would be bothered. And she could just walk. Peacefully. Without having to feel sad.

“I want to be a failure in life!” she spoke again, loudly. Again, there wasn’t a single voice that followed back. “Doesn’t anyone want to be a failure? Why does everybody want to be a winner? What’s so great about winning, anyway? The struggle continues, despite the wins and the losses.”

“The struggle continues, despite the wins and the losses,” someone uttered back finally.

She stood up and took a step back. She understood. The “winning” and “losing” were transient. They were like the waves that arrived at the shore and then retreated. The struggle to get somewhere – that was only constant. The struggle to reach the final destination – that was constant. There were going to be ups and downs. Sometimes, there’d be a high tide or two. On other days, sunshine. The storm didn’t always last.

That night, when she got back home and fell asleep, she dreamt of the sunshine that was about to arrive. Deep in her heart, she knew and she believed.

Of Dreams Small and Big

Having grown up in a middle class family in urban India, surrounded by doctors and engineers and teachers, it is no surprise when I tell people that I want to be a doctor.

Being fairly good at studies, with a distinct passion for pursuing the Biology stream, that is the very idea I’ve grown up with and if I bother to look away from it, I’d choose to be a diplomat any day.

In an one interesting conversation on a Friday evening, a family friend asked me why didn’t I choose my parents profession-banking. To which, the answer was very simple. Both of them being government employees have a tremendous amount of responsibility on their shoulders. I’ve watched them work from 9 to 6, theirs eyes glued to computer screens, meeting people, signing documents and calling their head office every now and then. Though the benefits offered in a government job are aplenty, one thing that disappoints me is that they don’t have flexible hours and they don’t have many holidays too.

For most part of our lives, my brother and I have spent weekends watching the reruns of old movies on HBO, munching on junk food and waiting for Mom and Dad to return home. Though I’ve never “hated” their job, I don’t share that much of a liking for it. For I’d prefer a job with flexible working hours in which I can laze back awhile at home and pen down a good story or two. Plus, in the competitive country that I live in, engineering and medical studies are the most preferred career options and I’d be lying if I say that doesn’t have a slight influence on my decision.

In between light jokes and munching on snacks, I asked him what he wanted to become. He was then in his twelfth grade, pursuing the Science stream.

“I want to be a banker,” he replied, rather silently.

For a second, I found myself lost. I couldn’t figure out what to say. Even before he had answered, I had mentally told myself that he’s going for engineering, preferably involving the IT sector because that is what most students wanted to do after completing their twelfth grade.

“Banker? Really?” I found myself smiling. His reply ignited something in me. His reply was new. His reply was honest. It wasn’t like he was being dragged away by the wave. He stood far away from the shore, grounded and with a firm dream.

“Engineering, what about it?” I asked.

“I don’t want to become an engineer. I know I can’t.

“Oh c’mon, you can. It’s easy.”

“No. I know I’m not that good a student. I don’t want to be a bad engineer.”

His words stayed with me for long.

His simplicity overwhelmed me. The simplicity of the dream he carried. And I suddenly felt inferior.

I saw it everyday, in every home, in every class, students succumbing to the expectations of their parents and the society. One of my friends wanted to become a fashion designer, but she didn’t have enough courage to tell her parents about it. Though she did somehow, her parents still asked her to pursue engineering and then think about fashion designing. They told her that her job won’t pay as much as engineering. In a similar case, another friend of mine who wanted to become a journalist, found herself pursuing the medical stream because her family didn’t support her choice of a career.

It makes me sad to say but it has become the latest trend among students – pursuing engineering or medical studies. Anything less, then the society feels that you are not a good student. I’ve seen people become victims of depression because they couldn’t clear the competitive exams. Of those who clear them, not many have that much passion to pursue the stream.

Little dreams get lost among the complexity of it all.

They tell you to dream big. They tell you to dream about being a software giant or the head of an MNC. They never tell you to dream of being a good person. They never tell you to dream of being a good mother or father. They never tell you to dream your dream. Be it big, be it small, somewhere down the lane, many of our dreams get lost.

It pleased me to see him holding on to that dream when the people around him were dreaming even bigger.

The little, hungry child at the end of the road dreams of having a little cake in his birthday, while the teenager in his room, surrounded by gadgets dreams of having the newest phone launched in the market. To each one of them, it is a big dream. It is a dream that glimmers in their eyes and they wish to reach out and grasp it. To the teenager, the birthday cake may look like a small dream, but for the poor, little kid, it is like the biggest dream.

The beauty lies, not in the size of our dreams, but in the simplicity of it, in its uniqueness. The beauty is in sitting back and watching a little kid talk about how he dreams of flying someday. The beauty is in watching people dream – of how their dreams know no boundaries; of how they dream of owning a chain of hotels while some dream of only having a roof over their head. Dreams big and small.

“Hold on to that dream. Don’t ever let that go,” I told him. “Even if you see your friends talk about aiming for even better professions, don’t let that persuade you into believing that your dream is small and it doesn’t matter. Their dreams may be bigger. But yours is beautiful. Have courage to hold on to that dream.”

Since that day, each time I meet a person, I ask them about their dream. It inspires me. It amazes me to hear then talk about their dreams. And once upon a while, I hear a dream like that of his and I find myself feel happy about it.