It was my Mom’s decision to send me to a School in Puttaparthi. She, being an ardent devotee of Bhagwan Sri Satya Sai Baba, always dreamt of sending me there. Whenever we visited Puttaparthi, she used to look at those children longingly. She was awed by the discipline and the atmosphere in which the children grew. It was absolute divinity and their faces glowed in that divinity. She wanted to see that glow in me.
I wasn’t as devoted as she was. But I wasn’t against going to that school. The only problem was that I would have to stay away from home. I knew that we weren’t financially well off and that Mom was struggling to make ends meet. My schooling was very costly and if I went to Puttaparthi, since the education was free, it would lift off a huge weight from her hands. And so, I agreed to go.
I needed some last minute things and my parents went to buy them. They came back, we spoke for a while and in the veranda of our school, my new school, we parted. I still remember turning and just walking away. I didn’t turn back, not once. It would hurt her more than me. I walked up those stairs until they couldn’t see me anymore. I don’t know if she expected me to turn around. I never asked. I knew that she would cry. But it was a while before I knew that she cried all the way back home.
I remember how scared and sad I was. Each hour seemed like years to me. I remember thinking;
A day is not over. How am I going to live here for 2 years?
After a week, I remember saying;
It has been only a week. I have many more weeks like this to spend here.
Somehow, 2 years passed. All my friends had decided to join the sister institution for their degree. I wasn’t sure of what to do. This time, my Mom did not say anything. They said it was my call. I could go back home, do degree elsewhere or I could continue there. And I made my decision.
That was the bold step I took. I decided to continue my studies there. It was the best 3 years of my life. It wasn’t a co-ed, it wasn’t a college with occasional strikes, fights or ragging. It wasn’t a college were we bunked classes and went for movies. It was different. Many wouldn’t understand, but you can enjoy a college without any of those cliched elements.
This place truly changed me. I was basically a fun loving and jovial person. But I had suppressed that part out of fear of being teased. It wasn’t necessary anymore. Here, I was accepted as I was. I changed from that shy, timid and scared little girl to a strong opinionated person. I wouldn’t say that it was extremes of a change, but it was quite visible.
We were purely driven by the Love for God. Our days were packed with studies, prayers and activities that we did not have time for any worries or fears. We were allotted to rooms on random basis. When I went to my room on the first day, there were 2 Telugites, 2 Nepalis, 2 Keralites (including me) and 1 from Jamshedpur. Every room had a mixture of 1st, 2nd and 3rd years. We were cared for like little kids. There was so much of warmth and love, and soon our room was known to be the noisiest, funniest and happiest.🙂
There was no reason for fights or ego. Region and language did not matter. Time just flew by and within a year I had made some good friends. By the time I was in my final year, I had so many responsibilities, in-charge-ships, too much to study, too many things to organize, I had begun to voice my thoughts. I had become more open, frank and was willing to face situations with my head held high. The best part was, my friends were agreeing with the tiny rebellions that I was involved in.
I realized that I was barely accepted in my school when I was a child. It might be because of the complexion or the weirdness. I tried a lot to fit in and finally gave up. It was different here. I was myself and they liked me that way. They thought that I was humorous and fun to hang out with. They taught me that I did not have to ‘try’ to fit in and that I could voice my opinion.
At the end of my college life, I finally had some friendship memories that I cherished. With the newly found confidence I stepped into the ‘real world’ and sure enough my outlook had changed. After this experience, the graph has only gone upward. I discovered more about myself. Most importantly, I realized that being accepted isn’t important. What was important was being yourself.
Now, when I look back, I realize that it was the first bold step I took. The one that changed me from the person I thought I was to the person I am today.🙂
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