I could not sleep that night. The picture of that moment was not getting off my mind. I was partially numb. Feeling terribly cold, I tucked the blanket around me tightly. My eyes were wide open and there were no traces of sleep in them. Since I had slept for hardly three hours the previous night, I was tired. I kept staring at the walls constantly. My back was aching and I could hear voices in the back of my mind. I had never felt so restless in my entire life.
“Do you want to go?”
“When did you apply for this?”
“Why didn’t you tell us anything about it?”
“How can you think of leaving everything so easily and going?”
“Is it worth it?”
“It must be a fake email.”
“What is the use of studying Literature?”
“What about your safety and security?”
I could visualize my parents asking these questions from me the following day. Their faces looked confused and full of emotions. They neither looked happy nor sad. I could see myself frowning and trying to answer to one of their questions when I was bombarded with the other question. I could see myself stamping my feet on the ground. I was never a rebel child but I wanted to be at that time.
I shook my head tightly to get those visualizations off my mind. “To answer the questions, I need to sleep and wake up tomorrow,” I said to myself and turned on the other side and tried to sleep. I hugged my teddy bear to wipe off my tears with it.
I could never understand why I always start shedding tears whenever I am tensed. Is it some defect of my mind or am I confused with emotions? I could never figure out whether I am an emotional person or not. My emotions go in wrong direction so maybe I do not understand emotions.
I got up and turned on my laptop again. This was the third time I was doing it that night. I opened my email and checked the mail again. My eyes were stuck on the mail.
You are selected for our 100% Foreign Scholarship Programme for the academic session 2017-19. Looking forward to hear from you and see you in our Literature department soon.
The mail seemed a genuine one. I tried checking through my computer skills and everything seemed fine. The mail was sent from the official email ID of the university. It was like a dream for me. This was the reason of my excitement. This was the reason behind the emotional turmoil going in my mind. This was the reason I could not sleep that night. It was obvious. Anyone could get a couple of sleepless nights when he gets such a mail and is so close to his dream.
The problem was still the same. I turned off my laptop and walked upto my cupboard. I took out my passport, stared at it for a while. I carried the passport and went back to the bed. When I was comfortably settled in my blanket, I started flipping the pages of my passport. The 36 pages were blank. There might be a visa stamp soon on it. There may be not for a few years. I could not reach to any conclusion. That December night was the coldest for me as it was making me numb.
I soon came up to a conclusion. Since there were no traces of sleep in my eyes, trying to sleep was useless. It was only leading to overthinking. I decided to utilise that time and check all the formalities. Doing something productive was better than simply sitting and overthinking without reaching any conclusions. I again turned on my laptop. This time for taking help from one of my best friends named Google.
While applying for the scholarship, I did not check the details so deeply. I had filled in with the slightest hope of winning. Though I took the scholarship test with full dedication but I was sure that I will not win. Only two winners were to be selected from India and I never thought myself to be so good at it.
Maybe this was destiny’s plan.
Maybe my love for Literature was so pure that it made me win.
I prepared a checklist of details that I had to check for reaching Oxford. Accommodation facilities, reimbursement of expenses, extent of coverage of scholarship, visa applications, flight tickets and lots more… For the first time, shopping was the last item in my list as my priorities were different this time. There were a lot of things to do and I had just three days to respond to the official mail. I was not worried for anything except the thought of facing my parents the next day. More than planning to go there, I had to prepare for the first stage which was clearing the interview that my parents were about to take the next day. I was sure that they will not digest the news so easily but my heart repeatedly told me that I could succeed in convincing them.
I was a science student. Being good at studies, both my parents wanted me to be a doctor. They did not force me to take science. I did not want to let them down so I took science without any questions. Also I did not have enough courage to talk to them about my dream. My mind had accepted their dream of seeing me as a doctor. But my heart was restless. I could not find peace in what I was doing. I wanted to pursue literature and build a career in it. I was madly in love with books and science did not fascinate me much. A day after my prelims exams, I had applied for the scholarship because I was too tired of the exams. I thought I need something that I love and the test will be a change for me and rejuvenate me for the Final Class XII Boards. I had to report to the university in July. My results will be out by July but exams are on head.
“Just three months left for the board exams!”
“What about the medical coaching that you had been pursuing?”
“What about your medical studies?”
“What reputed job will you get through Literature?”
“How can I send my only daughter so far just for graduation?”
I was again buried under the thoughts and questions.
Practically it is hard to convince Indian middle class parents. But it is not their fault too. They want to see their kids leading a better life than them; probably the best life that they have imagined. They want a job security for the kids. Choosing an off-beat career option is like a big risk for them. They would prefer investing in mutual funds rather than happily investing their money in a career which has no surety. It is not about money, it is just about being safe and planning. These discussions are the heaviest ones in a typical Indian household. It all depends on how convincingly you assure your parents to let you fly towards your dreams. Afterall they just want to see you smiling.
I kept striking off points in my checklist. I had been searching on Google for almost one and a half hours now.
- Reimbursement of expenses
- Scholarship Coverage
This last item brought an instant smile on my face. I started feeling confident regarding convincing my parents the next day. My thoughts suddenly shifted to shopping. I started imagining what all I need to buy to go there. But these thoughts were short lived. I was back to my dilemma soon. My passport was kept beside my laptop. My eyes kept switching between the laptop and the passport. I started crying again. My confidence shrunk to the minimum again. The dream of literature seemed as far as the moon and I was no astronaut to go to the moon. I started checking the photographs of the university. My face was lit up again. I wiped my tears to see the images clearly and absorb them in my mind. This was an attempt to make myself motivated again. But this also went in vain. I started weeping loudly again. I tightly shut my mouth to avoid making any sounds while crying. I shut down my laptop and went back to my bed again.
This was a moment that I had never imagined even in my wildest fantasies. Going out of India and that too in Oxford University, I cannot even call it as a dream. I was too confused to react. It was 3:30 am and sleep was nowhere in my eyes. My cold body started turning warm but I was still partially numb. Warm to hot my body turned. I started sweating in tension. I threw away the blanket and walked up to my table. I picked up the passport and went to the bed again. I was staring at it.
I want to stop the time at the moment when I received the mail from the university. I want to start the time again when I finally decide how to face and convince my parents to allow me to go to Oxford. The time is running out and I need to talk to my parents soon. I can only do this when I am fully confident. I cannot make any decision now. I need time for that.