Jasleen Kaur

May 13, 2018

She told me yesterday, “I don’t think I could do this anymore, I am scared to begin a new life with no people around me, no friends. You will leave in 2 months and my heart sinks to think I might be all alone and become an alcoholic”.

I had a flashback – in 2 minutes I recapped my life in Bhopal – its been more than two years. I have led life – adapted and learnt and become a different person all together. But I survived – actually did better than that. I worked so hard initially that I did not have time to think that there was something called loneliness that could affect me at all. With time however, when I became efficient at my work, I had time. Time to fall sick, time to explore new things, time to decide what to do with myself – be sad that there are only two people around I see in the office every day or do something to make myself a better person. I chose the second. I joined Zumba classes, met new women (it was an only female thing and there were women and girls of all ages). It was a different experience to see so many generations in one place. I met two women who really had a very great impact on my life – one woman who was always so happy. She was a diabetic but her life seemed to be a fairy tale when she said how much her husband loved her. I had never ever seen a frown or a hint of sadness on her face. Until one day when I went to her house and realized that she was a victim of domestic violence and was pressured to have a baby which her womb was not ready for (she was diabetic and she survived on insulin). She was not allowed to adopt. The husband was having an affair with some other women and the couple had not slept together since a very long time now. She taught me something- you get your life only once – how much ever trouble you are in – smile through it, live each day as if it was your last- she was one woman who really did it. The other woman is a child specialist. And I cannot even begin to talk about how much of a support she has been to me in Bhopal. She literally gave me a roof over my head, medications and unconditional love that has made me feel extremely special and blessed.

I started working out of bake and shake at 10 number market which became my favorite spot. I love it there. I can concentrate best when there are so many people around me but none of them know me – neither do I. When I need to take a break, all I need is to look around and see people living their lives. Sometimes I used to get jealous when I saw a couple hold hands or a family celebrate birthdays – (I have not celebrated my birthday with my parents since years now and I have always craved for it or have an actual relationship where I am loved deeply). But then I counted my blessings and wished them best. I kept saying to myself all this while, “Success is not easy, it is a struggle and who said struggle would not mean an emotional drain?” In two years of my life in Bhopal I realized what a panic attack felt like. It was so bad, that I could actually feel my heart constrict and sink and pain - I would go to the washroom and puke and cry and then become my own therapist – smile and tell myself to be patient. My parents always saw the rosy picture – they thought I was the happiest person in the world, but I think when we grow old we learn to hide our feelings from our loved ones because they care and we would not want to see them hurt.

But if it was me smiling when at the same time struggling to live by- I realised there would be so many. Again, with growing up and facing problems in life, we start empathizing. I talk to people around me and with a lot of love and affection, hoping that probably that could just make someone’s day. It does for me! Just a call from a friend, a good greeting by my ola driver makes me happy! I now greet people all the time-it surprises them but surely brings a smile on their face. I was talking to my gym trainer the other day and asked him what he does when he is not at the gym. He told me that he is preparing to participate in the Mr. India contest. After 5 minutes of talking he opened up about not knowing English really well. I offered to teach him. We only speak in English now. And he is an amazing student. He revises everything while we stretch and sometimes during the day, randomly whatsapps me confirming something we had learnt that morning. He looks forward to see me every morning- I bring smile on his face. Do you know how just a small act of giving something that is just a language for me, does to both of us? It brings him hope and joy. It brings me happiness to see someone happy because of me. My trainer is so adorable as a student that I feel like going to the gym every morning not to exercise, but to teach him!

That’s what we do right – we touch lives of people in a way that brings them joy and ultimately brings us joy – that’s what I have learnt despite the everyday struggles. To keep going and not being self-centered. 1 minute spent on developing your relationships might take away MIT from you, but would give you a friend when you most need and UT Austin. (at least that’s what happened with me). But I worked really hard, touched a lot of lives in the way that gave both the parties (I am an economics student, bear with the jargon) happiness, living in the moment, letting each pass by like a cool breeze that added to my personality, my nature, my patience.

Bhopal is a peaceful place and I have started to love it in a way that words cannot express. This place has taught things in life that no university, no home, no other place could. It has taught me to balance. Balance professional and personal. Balance emotions and practicality. Balance reality and fantasies. Balance health and work. It has taught me to enjoy my own company. It has taught me the art of homemaking. It has taught me that there will heartbreaks, phases of low self-esteem and yes, the worst of all panic attacks (God, I hate them so much), I have to get up as I always have and always will. It has taught me no matter what, you keep going, no matter however constant the lake might be, it has ripples every microsecond - just like the moments in our lives that keep changing however constant a phase in our life might look. It has made me a better version of me and even though I sometimes miss the innocence that I came here with- it has prepared me to accept realities in life and lead a fulfilling life.