4th December: 10:00 PM
Today, a very dear friend of mine called me up from overseas to wish me on my birthday. Yes, I was born on Navy Day J And, this is a very close friend from my college days, wherein we lived as a family for 4 beautiful years, completing our degrees in our respective fields of engineering. As we talked and talked, we reminisced the beautiful moments from our hostel life, as incidents one after the other flashed in front of our eyes, bringing a wide smile to our faces. We were eight and, were popularly known as the Octopus group. Needless to say, we were notoriously famous and, have driven everyone around us crazy. You need to read my Hostel Diaries (1, 2 and 3) to know our crazy side. Yes, those were the times! Many a time, when friends sigh, “Oh! I wish to relive those days!”, I too echoed the sentiment. That phase gave us a care free life. We did not have to earn. We did not have responsibilities towards anyone but ourselves. We enjoyed at our will, with expenses covered by our parents. Yes, we were still baby birds who were yet to fly out in the big wide world, to seek our destinies. That was year 2006.
And now, we are here in 2015 and, fast approaching 2016. All of us have come a long way indeed. Some of us have kids. Some of us are doing excellent careerwise. As for me, I have dabbled in careers. Quit IT long back and, in the process have fallen in love with teaching and writing. And almost a decade has passed. But then, I wonder, “Would I really enjoy those crazy years, if I were given a chance to enjoy them again?” I am not very sure now. So little has changed. And yet, so much has changed. And talking of today, I am happy in my current space. And, it was after talking to my friend I realized that I have quite changed and to say so, dynamically. For instance, my mannerisms have changed, thanks to fauj. Being formal and polite becomes a habit and in the process, becomes you over a period of time. So, when we ended the call, I mentioned – “Hey Thanks a lot dearie for calling up. It really felt good to hear your voice after a long time” And, there was silence. My friend quipped, “whatever is wrong with you? Why are you being so formal?” Of course, I did not find my statement formal but it did sound that way to her. But then I also realized that, had the version of ‘me’ from a decade back heard me saying these lines in the present, it sure would have kicked me in the butt, hurled choicest expletives and sent me flying through the window. Yes, somewhere along the line, the informal ways of life, the frankness that sprang from ‘whatever the world thinks, I care two hoots!’, speaking whatever came to mind et all, have disappeared. Even my parents remark in a subtle way these days, “You are less impulsive and far less aggressive than before.” One of my school friends who always enjoyed engaging me in never ending arguments said, “Oh God! Is that you? Why don’t you argue like before? Whatever is wrong with you?”
Have I changed? Yes. Have I changed for good? Definitely, yes. Maybe the years have hardened me in a good way. An year that I spent as a lonely newly wed bride while hubby was serving in a difficult terrain where family accommodation was impossible (yes that was apparently one of the milestones I crossed with gumption), the uncertainties that circled like hawks in the initial and final trimesters of my pregnancy, the countless mind bubbles that fluttered into my headspace, the debilitating autoimmune disease that almost killed me (of course, God has been kind and, is always!) and the many tiny rumble strips I bumped on the way, chiseled my personality in ways I can never imagine. Yes, these days I feel that I might be a better person than before. So, I would like to believe as, I think before I speak. I think before I judge. And, I think before I decide.
So, will my ‘new’ Avatar surprise or offend friends from school and college, who adored me in the past for what I was then? I am not so sure. But then, life goes on. Right? And, the change has definitely earned me incredible love and respect from the many people I have met until now.
Change, after all is the only certainty of life. Isn’t it?