All this time and nowhere to go gave me the opportunity to relive some old school memories. I was going through my treasured stuff from school when I saw the slam books from then. Along with all the nostalgia came a lot of surprise, embarrassment and self realization. You see, the first page of every slam book was filled by me and my own answers made me cringe. Boy, was I a silly girl back then? You betcha!
Throughout my school-life I had wanted to be extraordinary. Who doesn’t? Wouldn’t we be all lying if we said that we didn’t desire to have that glory?
The road to nostalgia was filled with chagrin at every turn and it reminded me of all the things I had wanted to change about myself back then, beginning with my name. Yes, that bad.
I mean, what kind of a name is Irfana (it means wisdom, meh!) anyway? The fact that Irfan Pathan gained fame during my adolescent years wasn’t helpful either. People who mispronounced my name went as far as calling me Irfan Pathan.
I wasn’t happy with my nose either. It felt too big for my face. Could I be anymore Asian? The two slightly crooked teeth in my mouth bothered me too and how nice would it be if I could get rid of all that baby fat? My feet seemed too big to me and I was invariably desperately in need of a wardrobe makeover.
And then there was all that stupid acne! Young chocolate lovers would know what I mean.
Besides these physical changes, I wanted the freedom an Indian teenager never gets- to see the world and rule it. I wanted answers for my philosophical self. I lacked confidence and knowledge but there was no worrying about it because I lived in my own bubble of ignorance.
I had dreams but no plans. And to top it all, I was hopeless romantic !
Years passed, ups and downs and bumps later, I made mistakes and gained experiences. A lot in me changed. Not at once of course, but I know I’m not the same girl I was in school.
With time, confidence filled my mind and optimism filled my heart. I learnt to be content with things I have while striving towards the things I want.
While I pursued my passion, I found my calling in teaching. When I started working as a teacher, I became a student of life. I fell in and out of love and realised that it’s fine. I learnt how to nurse a broken heart. I hated the world and fell in love with it all over again. I found peace at libraries and orphanages. I found solace in poetry, stories, prayer and friends. Different things worked for me at different times.
And one day, I just woke up with the wisdom that happiness resides in the little things in life.
I love people who just don’t talk about their big achievements but more about how much they love life, how they see beauty in others, how they appreciate every little thing and how they have the hunger and enthusiasm to serve this world.
Striving for an extraordinary life is foolishness. Putting all your efforts for that one entitlement is foolishness because it makes your happiness conditional. Don’t you wonder if you are anything more than mere titles?
Rather what’s extraordinary is to discover the joy and marvel of an ordinary life.
Waking up to the sun bursting through the clouds, seeing an old friend after a long time, a child’s innocent laugh, a blooming flower, biting into freshly plucked fruits, an old tattered book, a text from someone you love, a cup of coffee on a rainy day, random gifts, finding money in your old jacket, the glint in the eyes of your lover when they look at you, a kiss on the forehead, smell of freshly baked bread, being barefoot on grass or beach sand between your toes, the first hug from your child(well, that’s huge!), stories told by grandparents, silence… All these and much more!
Little things are far truer, far more genuine and difficult to falsify.
I’m not condoning a lack of ambition here. A life without goals becomes boring but try focusing on the ordinary things that feel special too. My pursuit of happiness has lead me to become a teacher, a designer, a wife and a mother. It made me read, write, teach, paint, love and nurture.
Not everything has changed though. I still laugh out loud like an idiot without a hint of feminity, I refuse to diet, I still experiment with my hair, I still do wear my heart on my sleeve and embarrass myself quite often.
I was a git, I still am a git. But a better one now.
So from wanting to change my name, my nose and my family, the only thing I changed was my attitude and it has been one of my finest decisions in life.