Exams are bad. But the aftermath is worse. Oh, the anxiety, the terror, the nervous glances at the university website with eagle eyes scanning for the result. That was the condition I was in for a week after my last exam on December 24th, 2016. And, as if this was not enough, my mum was working hard to keep the fact that I’ve got just one year left to decide what I wanted to do with my life fresh in my memory. Yeah, I get it already. Give me a break. And who hired you guys as my life advisors anyway? But, you cannot just blurt that to your parents and relatives who ‘mean well and want the best for you’. So, watchful nights started to close in and by the end of the year, I was officially freaking out.
”One year and I will have to face the same dilemma as Robert Frost did in ‘The Road not taken’! ”
”Too many responsibilities. How am I gonna handle them all? ”
But the worst of my unsolved meditations was…
”Who the hell is going to hire me anyway?”
You see, once such questions take hold of you, forget tranquillity and care-free watching Netflix and enjoying the music. You just fall down in this deeeeep pit of depression, hoping someone will throw down a rope and rescue you. Such was my mental state about which I talked to no one. I did not let anyone know what I was feeling. Talking to others, even your parents, about your anxieties just elevates the whole crap and it takes on a new level of useless suggestions which are no good except if you want to feel worse than ever. So, I resorted to staying awake at nights and gushing forth streams of tears. I know, you might think that I am crazy or just a loser but believe me, when you have got to feign confidence and courage and an I-don’t-care attitude for the sake of your family (mum, to be more specific), then this is the only option you are left with which to vent out all the emotions buried deep inside. And, considering that my mum needs constant assurance that I have got it all covered or else she suffers a major emotional breakdown, I knew I could not risk letting her know what actually went inside my stupidly overprotective brain. I thought there was no way out of this. I mean, this is life, isn’t it? You figure out one thing, the next rises from the ashes like a phoenix sans all the good feelings. But January 4th compelled me to believe differently. To change my outlook on what life is. What it actually means. And, most importantly, how to get past all these little troubles which are bound to disturb yesterday’s established order.
There was nothing special about the morning. I woke up pretty late. 9:30, to be exact. And around me were gathered my cousins who were visiting us, having their, well, post-morning tea! That is how it goes down whenever my aunt and uncle are visiting. But this time, he decided to make a little trip with us to the ISKCON temple. And I swear I wasn’t up for that kind of an excursion. Yup! It is an excursion for me. I find visiting such places boring, monotonous and well, a bit presumptuous. No offence to the religious ones out there but I am just not up for sitting and praying to someone I am not quite a fan of. But, the majority of our party were in raptures to visit the place and one single, feeble vote doesn’t hold that much of a weight, does it?
And just like that, I found myself sitting in the back seat of my car, head covered with my rose-pink jacket and legs up the seat, fully intending to sleep through the whole trip and back. It was dull, the ride. Partly because the bumpy road would neither let me sleep nor read ‘The Hobbit’. You can guess that my frustration level was on peak. And my father isn’t quite a fan of Lana del Rey…..so…. there went any hope of enjoyment right out of the window.
After an hour -or was it four – later, our car finally came to a halt in this busy street, filled with hopefuls. You could see belief surging out of their eyes like a laser beam. And being a wintry evening, the sky was pitch dark by 6:30, the time we arrived. Lights filling the busy street with even more colours as if it was possible!
”Come on, hurry up or else we’ll miss it. Leave your shoes in the car and hop out.” My uncle said in a hurried excitement which annoyed the wits out of me. Why wouldn’t they let me stay in the car while they went and blew their ears off in all the noise? But I didn’t dare deny them now, knowing fully well that they were all hell bent on torturing me. Kissing my shoes a teary goodbye (yeah, I like being over-dramatic!!), I made my way behind four enthusiastic adults, two annoyingly obedient cousins and my slow, and good-with-everything type brother.
Maybe it was due to the new year, but the count was amazing. So many people….so crowded was the entry that I kept getting hit by this one’s or the other’s elbows. It nearly broke my nose. Well, somehow, I got past the happy ‘Hare Krishna’ chants and got into the heart of the temple. And it took my breath away. Magnificent, in every sense of the word. I wish I could post some photos but the beauty of the place was such that I forgot everything else. Sure, it was not entirely serene. I mean, there were people and lots of them, stood in front of the three different, little house-like rooms, gazing at the beautiful marbled Lord Krishna structures. The hall was filled with the sweet aroma of roses, dahlia and many, many flowers. The place, oh god! There was something magical about it that all of my worries sort of diminished. The irritation crumbling to dust. Furrowed eyes straightened as my lips quirked up into this crazy smile which has not yet left me.I went there out of necessity but I left the place unwillingly.
The hall was alive with ‘Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare…..Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare Hare…’ And in the midst were seated the soulful and joyful devotees who singing their hearts out. With all kinds of instruments in their little party, the rhythm they had set into motion was such that I could not keep my head from swaying left to right and my feet from tapping on the clear, cool granite floor. Oh, the aura of that place. Oh, the joy one feels when they look at the people, praying in whatever form it fits their devotion. Someone dancing and jumping around. The other one gracefully doing the Kathak (Indian classical dance form) in front of the idols. These two by the stairs laughing their hearts out while singing on top of their voices. Joking and messing around with the one with the mic. I am telling you, there was not one who would have wished to leave the place if it was up to them. I can not believe so much happiness and positivity can be packed in such a little place. But, after having experienced what I did on the fourth day of 2017, I am not going to doubt that. Ever. It was not so much the God residing in the place than it was the faith of the people visiting which sent ripples of excitement and joy down everyone’s spine.
The troubles regarding my future, the dilemma, the confusion and the sadness about whatever just left me during that one hour I was in ISKCON and I dare say, it hasn’t touched me since.
”Hope deferred makes the heart sick” and the place taught me the fine art of hoping and believing in what you see and feel fit for yourself. And most importantly, the value of enjoying each and every moment and not caring who else is watching!!