“Your selection also depends on how others performed!” was the last sentence the interviewing committee told me before I thanked them and left the room. Having faced ample amounts of rejections in competitive exams due to my lack of sincerity, I had expected not to get a call back from this place. And why would I? I had not done any project or internship before. My grade point was a little less than 8. My interview lasted for 15 minutes at the most and all I did was made them laugh. Sure, the prestigious Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology is looking for stand-up comics! But I carried something others did not. I carried the honesty to my soul to accept the outcome and pick myself up in case I fell. I carried this rare trait with which I can captivate everyone in the room with my speech (I’ll give the secret away in another blog!). I also carried the belief that this is where I belong! My one aim from the past one year was to get into get this place. I’m no Arjuna but keeping my eyes fixed at one target helped me to not care about plans that lie beyond the English alphabet A.
Few moments later, I had received my offer letter and I had received the digits that were going to define me for the next two years-my enrollment number! These two years were going to be my years. How? Because I was moving away from home and would be experiencing life, as real as it gets! This was the independence I had been craving for ages! Please do not confuse this with retaliation from home. It was not. It was this weird race in life we are all unknowingly a part of and somehow everyone my age was more of an adult than I am. It was officially ‘The Time of Shruti’.
The city of Bengaluru and I were always competing to see who could bring more electricity to the surroundings. I, with my chirpy and jubilant nature, energized the individuals around me and convinced them that ‘momo’ is literally a dish from the Heaven. Bengaluru, with its utterly delicious clouds, always generated an ecstatic aura! Yes, the clouds looked delicious, and you need to be an eye-witness before we debate about this! And while I was enjoying in my own little world, the globe was hit by the worst pandemic ever! Every single human was now confined to their homes, even the homeless! This was nothing the currently alive generations had seen. All doors shut! Not a soul on the street! Home felt less of a home now. Every person is struggling, irrespective of the privileges.
Acing the interview was all a result of my personality that I had developed throughout the years with constant adventures and human interactions. From being a chatter box who had unlimited knowledge, thanks to the BournVita and Derek O’Brien, I became this sincere and grave individual who spoke only when needed. I lost my competitive spirit. I lost the optimism that I had carried right from the start. I lost the will to listen to music or watch a movie. I stopped writing. I stopped making jokes. Why? I don’t know! Cut me some slack, please, I’m just a girl in her early twenties, existing in the middle of the pandemic, trying to figure life out. While surviving through the entire phase of living as fugitives while surviving from an invisible enemy, I watched my parents get affected by the disease. There is no word ever, in any language, invented to express the amount of helplessness and heart break one feels when they watch their parents crumble right in front of their eyes! The constant fear of losing them already lives in our sub-conscious mind but it starts tearing every inch of your skin the day such an event occurs.
The already tough days started to get tougher. In a household where the children were never made to work without their will, I and my brother had taken responsibilities that we didn’t know we had to sign up for. Maybe this is the independence we all seek. We don’t wish to leave our families or friend. We only wish to have a little control over our life as we grow. But to receive that independence this way was not my intention, ever! This wasn’t even the worst part. Patients can be cured by medicines and proper care. How do you cure the society from the cheats who believed it was appropriate to make money off such sufferings? How do you cure the mentality that refuses to take precautions for the greater benefit of others? How do you improve the deficit of testing centers, medicines, injections, oxygen cylinders, hospital beds and staffs? How do you cure the people who are blaming you for not taking a step sooner even though you are doing your best to keep the patients alive? How do you cure your own mind from the anxiety that builds up from receiving 127 calls and 428 messages per day enquiring about the patients at your home? How do you tell someone in your immediate family that they have lost their father, mother, children, or any other relation? How do you tell an old couple that their daughter is now a widow? How do you comfort the people around you who are not even able to attend the funeral of the ones they lost? HOW? I don’t know!
Thoughts like this start pouring through the mind like the incessant rains during monsoon. The seven days of excessive rain that only leads to clogging and dullness. The rains are followed by sunshine. I don’t know if you have noticed but this sun shines brighter than normal because everything is clearer now. My parents got better. Did patients around us get better? Most of them did! I and my brother watched the clouds fade away, making way for sunshine. Clouds with silver lining don’t make sense to me anymore. Clear skies are my latest fantasy. But clear skies are plain, dull blue. Who likes blue? I do! But I also like purple and green and red and yellow and pink and orange and every other color that exists in the watercolor set sold by Camlin. I guess they just take all seven colors of the rainbow, create different combinations, and sell them. I, the art enthusiast who cannot fathom enough, buy these colors as if they were shades from my own personality.
Being a science student, I like to call the rainbow as a color spectrum ever since that chapter about light and prism in high school. You know what’s cool about the spectrum? The wavelengths and the frequencies! These are mere numbers but countless! If you imagine the rainbow to be composed of distinct colors, you only see limitedness. If you change the perspective, you see two wavelengths of the spectra that could differ by a factor of 1 and still give different shades of the same color. This is exactly how life is!
Two random days from life, if viewed distinctly, are just two ordinary days with ample number of odds that you can circle them out. However, if you see them as a collection, you see how the same events could be lived differently on two different days! And each day is an opportunity to bring your optimism to life. Optimism is that streak of cloud that makes the shades of sunset turn prettier even though what lies ahead is a night of darkness. Optimism is also the light of thousand stars falling upon the sand dunes of Jaisalmer as you recognize the various constellations your parents showed you in the encyclopedia, they brought for you from the Book Fair at Pragati Maidan while you were in school that daydreaming about all the pieces of literature you will get to read! Optimism is what we all will carry after the third wave of this pandemic is over!
Most of my days from two years at IBAB slipped away at my home whilst in the grip of pandemic. Do I wish anything should have happened differently? Oh no! How else would you be reading this one hell of a blog and forgetting that something called as a ‘phone’ existed unless you are reading on one!
“Each one of you will do wonders!” was the last thing I heard on my orientation day, as I continued to walk through the rest of the campus imagining where all I can listen to songs and practice my future stand-up performances. Let’s be our wonderful selves until I send you invites for my first stand-up!