I recently got acquainted with this girl for my project work. She is sweet, polite and some-what oblivious to many new things (like technology, etc). At the same time, she is very street smart. A thing about her that caught my attention the most was that she prays before every meal that she has. We’ve been having lunch together everyday, and before she digs in, she takes a minute to close her eyes and pray to her god – Jesus. Today, I asked her what she says in her prayer. She said she thanks Jesus for the food, asks him to take care of her family and friends, asks him to help the poor, and thanks him for everything in general.
I felt very uneasy at that moment not knowing how to react and just smiled. I would generally think like this – thank my dad for his job for that provides money to my family (and thus becomes the source of my lunch money), humans take care of other humans (so I should take care of my parents and vice versa) and accept the reality of the world (poverty, hunger, draught, inflation, etc). But then, I got thinking – she is smart and well educated to be aware of the world. Why would she feel the need to escape? How could she actually believe that Jesus had only 23 chromosomes (she really told me this!) especially having studied biology in such depth? The answer is – religion is not as feeble as we think it is. Sometimes, people have the need to rely on something -or someone- to convince themselves that hope and faith can be powerful. They are not delusional. They are aware and wide awake. If praying gives them strength, so be it. If religion lessens their burdens, so be it.
I have never been a very religious person (except when I think praying to ‘god’ is the last resort to make something really happen). I don’t get the idea of having to pray to some supernatural being for the food we consume or the clothes we wear. I guess I’m just grateful for my folks for having the luxuries that I have. I am not against any religious people or their beliefs, I just don’t agree with them. We did have such prayers in school in the mornings and before lunch breaks. Everybody just lets go of such things once they move on in life. But I have a sense of respect and appreciation for those who stick on to it. It takes a lot to be regularly dedicated to something, let alone your religion. Even if it’s something that’s as simple as praying.
The tradition of praying in the mornings and before meals exists in many families even today. I think it teaches people to respect things and other beings. It teaches them to have compassion and appreciate the things they have in life. I have reality checks about these things too, but never through religion. I may never follow it, but seeing someone else humbly follow it doesn’t disturb me. Everyone has different ways to cope with the world.
Last month, I had the sudden urge to draw and paint something…
I never knew growing plants was such a hard thing to do. At first, we had to get the right sized pots, appropriate soil along with organic manure, and seeds (everything that we bought from the fantabulous nursery at Lalbagh). We’re presently taking care of 36 pots(!) and need to monitor the growth of these seedlings everyday. I didn’t know that I could be a good plant person either. I mean, like a ‘one-on-one’ plant person, y’know? Every time my mom asked me to water the plants and trees at home, I ignored. But now, I volunteer to do it even before I’m asked to help. Anyway, this has been really cool and a lot of fun so far. Moreover, I get to take pictures of them too, so wohoo.
Another thing about this work is that the person whom I’m working with is really different from me and the kind of people usually in my friends circle. This has given me an opportunity to explore the dynamics of a different kind of relationship. This is something that I need to experience and learn from.
I attended the first day of last semester of college today. After many days of sleeping past 9am, I was inspired to wake up early and have the same zeal in me that I had while attending the first day of the first semester. I sat alone for a while, deserted in a huge chaotic classroom, and pretended to be busy on my phone. In reality, I was thinking about the way things turned out in the past four years. It is true what people say about college. They are the best and also the worst years of our lives in many ways. Four years ago, I was quite clear about my goals and the direction I was moving in. Today, I feel like I’ve been left to wander off in the middle of an enormous desert.
When I think about all that I’ve achieved and all that I haven’t, I don’t majorly regret any phase that I’ve been through or any decision that I’ve taken. Sometimes I feel that I should’ve done some things differently, but I don’t regret them either because I was fully aware of everything at the moment.
Anyway, in the last couple of months here, I hope to make the most of the time that I’ve got. For the first time, I feel like Time is on my side. Even if for a short period.
When I turned 20 last year, someone commented on twitter saying that I could now use the phrase “during my time..” in conversations. Being officially on the ‘other side’ for more than a year, I don’t quite remember my teenage years as well as I thought I would. Surprisingly, for me, the times filled with sadness and depression are more clear in my mind than the happy times.
I cannot label my teenage self. I guess I was a little bit of everything. I was very average, normal and somehow just ‘fit-in’. If I had a chance to go back in time and fix things – like broken friendships – I probably would. But sadly, I can’t. I’ve gotten past the stage to even feel miserable about these things now. One major advice I would have given my teenage self was to be confident of who I was. As a young girl, I wasn’t very outstanding and confident. I admired other girls who were “out there” – grabbing opportunities and achieving things. I was always the second option at most of these things. A replacement for another artist at representing my school at a painting competition. I was a good artist – but not the best. I never got selected for any major event – I desperately wanted to be a part of the MUN and debate team. Sadly the teacher thought I wasn’t worthy of this. School was sometimes very demeaning for me. Anyway, all this changed in college and I can’t be more happy about it. The thing is, in college, we get to take decisions for ourselves, teachers don’t.
10 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Teenage Self -
1. Be confident about who you are. You are no less or greater than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to present yourself to others. Be proud of your accomplishments, however small or insignificant they seem to be. They are going to boost your confidence for bigger things in life later on. There is absolutely no use in comparing yourself to your peers.
2. Don’t be afraid to fall in love. Accept love as any other human feeling and be okay with it. Love isn’t a magical fantasied experience as how Disney shows it to be. It is beautiful and great, yes, but don’t exaggerate the boundaries of the feeling.
3. Talk to your parents more often. Get to know them. Be open and honest with them. The bond that you form now will determine the one that you have in the future. Make it easier at this age, so that it doesn’t have to be awkward and odd later in life.
4. Build your stamina, exercise regularly, take care of your body. Make it a practice. We tend to realize the importance of being healthy only later in life. It’s not really about having a good physique. It’s about being healthy and active. Learn what’s good for your body and how you react to different situations.
5. Hang on to close friends. True friendship is hard to find and it takes efforts from both sides. Have friends who like you for who you are. That being said, know that it is okay to drift apart… What matters is that you both acknowledge your friendship even after many years. They are truly your friends.
6. You can be anyone you want to be. It may seem like you have very limited options in front of you for your future. But really, there are going to be many many more options ahead of you. Choose wisely.
7. Talk to more people, all kinds of people. Make connections. Build bonds. Every person has something to offer that you can learn from. This is going to open your mind to many new possibilities. Know their stories, it will help you in creating your own. You will learn more from other people than from books and lectures. Have your own opinions in conversations. Have plenty conversations.
8. Do the things that you love more often. Interests may change frequently, but stick to one thing and excel at it. It may take you a lifetime, and that’s okay.
9. Be Proactive. I cannot stress upon this more. Take decisions – even if they fail – and make things happen by yourself. Learning to be independent and responsible is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
10. Don’t worry, just be happy! Things may seem confusing and bitter now. It won’t get any better later (sometimes it may), so learn to cherish what you have and just enjoy the days! :)