Wednesday, December 23, 2020

What's meant to be will always find its way. Always(?)

Like a spray of fresh paint, some looks always linger on the mind. Like the look on his face when they hugged and kissed their goodbyes at the airport that night. It’s a recurring memory every day.


She looked back at him time and again as she passed the security gate. With both hands in his front pocket of his jeans, he kept smiling at her until she lost sight of him.


Her throat felt lumpy, as if her heart was almost plopping out.  Teary eyes, her vision blinded. “Quick! I need to get to the washroom before the boarding,” she thought. In that blinded rush to the washroom, she mistakenly found herself in the men’s washroom. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled and ran to the women’s washroom.


It was a 11:45 PM flight out of Boston to Istanbul-Delhi-Paro. She found her seat next to the Emergency Exit on the left and a flight attendant was sitting opposite to her in preparation for the flight’s takeoff.

The light inside the aircraft was dimmed, she felt so grateful. The dim light shielded her sad and swollen eyes.


The cellphone chimed, “Have a safe flight, honey bear! I will miss you so much,” it read.  


Seven minutes into the takeoff and she was rubbing her eyes constantly. She tried to stop the tears from falling, but it simply wouldn’t stop. The girl sitting next to her had a blanket covered from head to toe and she was sleeping soundly, so were rest of the passengers. she felt grateful, again.


The flight attendant passed her a quizzical look couple of times. “I’m okay, don’t worry,” she gestured to her. She was left in peace.


"I will be right back before you even know it,” that was the deal she made with him. The deal that was made two weeks before that night’s flight, she has no idea what possessed her to do that.


When they last kissed their goodbyes who would have imagined a pandemic looming over in the next six months? Who’d have thought international borders would shut down and travels would be banned?


As the year comes to an end and as vaccines are out, a lot of things still remains uncertain. Uncertain when it will end, if there’s an end to it, ever?


Oftentimes, she wonders if she will ever be able to see her love again? Will they ever get together to buy a house, raise a baby girl, have their own kitchen garden, go kayaking down by the water in the summer evening to watch the sunset, and eat s’mores by the fire in the fall?


Will they ever be able to eat seafood and tacos and drink margaritas on her first night back?

Will they..?

Friday, December 4, 2020

“The Person You Become” - A Reflection

Summer in New York City (NYC) can be ghastly, with temperatures shooting up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat and the humidity can bear down on you, especially during midday. That June weekday afternoon was not any different. It was one hot day that I had long come to embrace. 

I had so much time on hands. With no specific agenda in mind, I stuffed my backpack with a water bottle, a couple of protein bars to combat hunger pangs, and my current read. I was reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, a perfect travel guide to NYC if you want to know more of the epochal days of music, art, and culture of the City in the late sixties and seventies. Central Park is mentioned a lot in the book, so as a concurrent book hangover cure, I made my visit to the park.

Taking the E train from Queens, I got off at 63 Street Station and walked for about nine minutes to the park. I occupied a less crowded spot and lay down on the grass. One of the best things about NYC is the subway; you can hop on one and it takes you to places conveniently, though it can become a nightmare during the weekends when services are delayed due to weekly maintenance. 

I knew nobody in the park, which was the best thing, it made me nobody too. The anonymity was strangely liberating! Often times, I’ve had jarring thoughts: What if I change my name and live as a new person where no one knows me? When this thought evaded me again, I quickly fished out my earplugs and looked up the NPR TED Radio Hour podcast. Local radio stations and local libraries are two things that I never fail to explore wherever I am in any city in the world. These resources help you know more about and get acquainted with the city you are in. Especially as an international student, these tools have been very useful. NPR TED Radio Hour has been my favorite podcast for the past year. On lazy afternoons I enjoy listening to their hour of fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, and the way their programs make you think like the one that day.

That day, The Person You Become caught my attention and immediately I lay down on the grass on my back and closed my eyes for detailed attention. Guest speakers included aerobatic pilot and public speaker Janine Shepherd, writers Roxane Gay and Taiye Selasi, activists Jackson Bird, and fashion executive Kaustav Dey. They shared their personal experiences and ideas about the people we become over the course of our lives. Listening to it made me reflect on my own life, about myself, and the person I’ve become in the past year. 

Coming to Heller for graduate school and studying international development is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It gives me a deep perspective to understand all the major forces of change: social injustice, government policies, and market approaches, and how communities are impacted by our everyday decisions. All the senses are opened up like a volcano erupting. Every issue, no matter how big or small is important and it’s like you’ve been hit hard with reality and there is an urgent desire in you to work towards a solution or propose an alternative. All this is urgently important because the moment you waste thinking of it is another moment the community and the world is suffering. 

Those days I spent a lot of time thinking until the very act of thinking became an unbearable pain. It has me brimming with full of ideas and just the act of putting down on paper is overwhelming. A sense of purpose in life opens up and my identity as a successful driver of change is constantly challenged. You start to see the community and the world from different lens, from the lens of a development practitioner. The community at Heller, from the faculty to the diverse students and the staffs are extremely supportive and the environment perfectly conducive for learning. They are helpful not only to give birth to your ideas and knowledge but supportive in nurturing it.

I don’t have a vision of my future at the moment, but I know one thing--the future holds good things in store for me. Or maybe it’s too much psychoanalysis from a graduate student on an endless summer break who has nothing important to do, or maybe it was too much literature and drunken philosophy and Ms. Smith’s reading.

P.S - This was written in summer 2018, a contribution to the Student Newsletter during graduate school. 


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