I am a daughter of farmers by lineage. From a remote village where people used to hide behind the trees, bushes, houses when they saw strangers approach. ‘3 days walk from a town’ as my mother said when I was in my teens. ‘It is important for you to know your ancestry’. ‘You work hard, we will provide as much as we can’ said my father signing in the loan documents. ‘You didn’t have a choice, you had to be something better’, said my sister. ‘She is studying’, I remember my little brother saying when he came around the room to play rolling his eyes out. ‘Don’t worry. It’s all fine’, my older brother assured me over the phone as he was loading the trucks struggling with his ill-fitting shoes that he hated, trying to meet our monthly bills.
Education gives so many things. To a lot of us, a ticket out to different ways of life as well, as I have quoted before. Thousands of young people from my country immigrate today to other countries, mainly the US and the UK chasing the golden geese, hunting for the golden egg.
Here I am too. In a world completely different to what my father & mother told me in their tales. Where the skyscrapers look as though they are almost touching the sky throwing long shadows on the cities underneath with blinding bright lights all around. And hey, no one has even tried to steal the bulbs! Where trains come and leave on the clock, day and night and what a surprise! Noone has taken an opportunity to grope my bum. Where, people are just rising from their beds while others are going to sleep. The computers are blinking continuously, phones are ringing from clients overseas and the atm machines are waiting every corner ready to be cashed out.
Don’t know if there is a phrase similar to saying ‘Living an American dream’, otherwise I would have quoted ‘living a British dream’. Here, there is never a limit to the word ‘enough’ when you see how much more you can have, knowing there are people out there in the world who have nothing.
‘This is a land of plentiful opportunities,’ my uncle says all the time. There is no denying that truth having seen the other end. Naturally the expectations from them of their children are high. When you yourselves have achieved extraordinarily from the hills of Nepal to London in the UK. You set no bars for them.
Friday afternoon bank holiday. I am looking through my text messages scrolling one by one; an intimate moment of one of my girls with her partner, lost and navigating in some part of the forest of another, pictures of a little one following a complicated pregnancy of a new mom and seems like that one is still struggling to even get off from bed even crippling with depression. As I follow the texts trail of all my close friends, my history search bar continues to record ‘do and don’ts of a new relationship’.
Nobody prepares you for this stuff though.
Even if you have adult carers at home. Of Course it is a safety net to be rescued by your superheroes – your parents, your godparents; but sometimes in life you need mentors. And for many reasons, that role may not be something they can fulfil.
Being an adult is hard. It is hard to live a life. To be responsible, keep track of ten different bills, hold a job, 8.30 to 5 pm and 12.30 hours odd shifts and relationships. Constant hustling. Of course, if being Peter Pan was a choice, I would have taken that. They would have taken that too. Never to grow old, no fucks given. But it isn’t. So they take the responsibility. And might still be doing hit and trial methods with you in your thirties, trying to navigate parenthood, simultaneously their own adulthood slowly gearing towards ageing life…
Got to wake up, wash up and dress up. What do you think, I should say to a 20 year old homeless patient threatening to go back and binge on alcohol if he cannot have an arrangement of constant roof on his head for free? An arrangement of a free flat? Grow up and work? The entitlement some people believe they have is unbelievable . Grow up. ‘Life is not easy. It is not. Don’t try to make it that way. Life’s not fair. Never was. It isn’t now. And it won’t ever be. Donot fall into the trap. The entitlement trap. Of feeling like you are a victim’, as Matthew McConaughey says. Noone is coming. I don’t know when he is going to realize that.
I respect go-getters. Who have found their self worth. Pushed through it all and made something out of whatever they were born with, thrown with, handed with or helped with. They struggled. They made mistakes. But they learnt from it. And most importantly, they never gave up.
A fine wine. A fine wine for a fine evening served by a fine gentleman of a different nationality as well in one of the richest cities of the world. Surrounded by humongous buildings with small cubicles. Inside small boxes staring at the tv, exercising, reading and just going on about their lives; feels like I’m living ‘The Truman show’ now. A few tables down further are middle aged women, possibly 10 years older than us, well dressed, matched with their branded bags, jewelleries and watches. Well behaved, softly spoken, a few smiles, hardly changing their expressions. And suddenly my excitement for evening has left.
My ultimate plan was to be financially independent somehow, so I work as a doctor not because I am depending on my cheque to pay rent but I wish to. Without being grilled to overwork, exhausting myself but overworking myself because I want to and I have that freedom to choose.
‘All these efforts poured in building my career and here I am contemplating about living a subpar life?’, I thought to myself. ‘If you left the training now and worked agency shifts, you could easily make a comfortable living now. You could easily book tickets to Hawaii and take your fam there next year!’.
I have learnt a vital truth about myself this year. ‘I am a person who lives in stories’. I can go a few days on fine wines but I cannot go more than a week without embracing that zest of life I actively seek for. I am now starting to rethink my pursuit of success. What is success for me? It is scary to think, life and dreams can be limited inside cubicles and eventually our spirits are just going to be sucked out dry by glitters, TVs, magazines and materials.
I was staring at him that other day. Trying to pinpoint the exact reasons why I had a strong attraction for a man I had only just met. Of course he is charming. My friends think, ‘we are doctors, we feel we have to save everyone’. Red flag. Red flag. Red flag. Every next road. ‘Be careful’, they have advised. ‘Watch the netflix show, watch the youtube videos’.
He is that canvas you know, that I probably was searching for, for a long time. His face has a story, his hands have stories, he is a person of story. And my inclination to hunt for each chapter is probably driving me. Grey, white, purple, yellow, black. One loops to another and another. It’s like the nib of the pen will flow out with ink smudging the papers if you don’t write it fast enough. Some people are like that. They carry that in their soul. Like my parents do.
I often forget how capable a person like that, who perhaps has been through a lot in life and hurt often in the past, is of hurting themselves and others. Not intentionally but reflexively. As they anticipate it based on their previous experiences and thereafter after a certain threshold, their reaction to every stimulus is a multiplication. In a place where a simple ‘no’ may have sufficed, there is a then loud apostrophe behind sentences or an outburst of aggression. Not everyone is capable of accepting a person like that whole heartedly. We live in an impatient world. Especially not the ones, who may have had similar experiences with their anticipation of the unknown. As they dread the eventuality that they are certain is an outcome. The outcome? For sure, it will be colossal and as beautiful as it is to watch, it will be as heart-breaking to see them break each other into nothing. But, the human soul is a beautiful thing you see. Can be as blank as white, never known fear and grief, you want to protect them. Can be an abstract representation of every colours whatever there is, you may never know what they have seen and been through or are thinking, you still want to protect them. I try to be a positive person. Maybe these are not red flags but an opportunity to work on things together. Nothing in life comes wrapped in a bouquet does it? But again, if it did would I have wanted it? One of the important lessons my life, my parent’s life has taught me is, go for it. Whatever you like. If it doesn’t work, at least you have given your best, hold your head high then and walk away. No regrets.
‘I want to give my kids everything so that they don’t go through what I had to’.
‘Me too’. I said. Of Course our context of the statement is entirely different, like our reasonings to agree with each other.
Life is random. Unpredictable. Would be great if you could focus on this issue at hand, solve it and carry to next. But there are tens of puzzles coming from every direction. Like the randomness of these thoughts I am writing. Reflection on my evening, on my relationship, on my choices… Would my dad have ever guessed when he was sitting in a middle of nowhere, making fire under a stone, trying to heat a piece of roti to keep his hunger at bay that his daughter will be drinking champagne watching down from the rooftop into people’s cubicles and wandering about life as well?
A hard day today can be tomorrow’s sweet memory, something to laugh about or a milestone to compare the next rows of worse days. Life is in people. Life is in memories. Life is chase, pursuit, hustle, maybe in late night thoughts and decisions. Life is on the go. Life for me, seems to be in the stories.
Tell your stories to your children, will you? Trust me, there is always a lesson to take away. Even on a chance there is none, there will still be a memory- of struggling to sit still listening to you while you babble boringly for an hour. It’s a time you have chosen to give to them.
My mother once told me, she woke up with python slithering around her body in middle of night. The way she described it, it was very vivid. She has always been an extremely talented story teller. So is my father, but only when mom shares her platform which she can be quite reluctant to. Because, they never seem to agree on some recalls of their memories; like the description of size of the fish my mom’s uncle caught. 😅