It was a humid monsoon afternoon. It rained non stop the entire week and stopped raining just yesterday night. The sky was still humid and full of dark clouds. There was a feeling that something momentous is happening.
Nothing dramatic happened. But on such a heavy monsoon day, more than a decade ago, I left home to the country I now call home. It was the first of many more firsts to come.
I had never travelled alone, never taken a flight, and never left the country. On 19th August, I fulfilled all of them together. I was so excited and yet so nervous. I never left home, except for the one month of mandatory training as a part of my engineering curriculum.
I have never travelled outside my city alone. During training, I needed to come back home on a weekend and I travelled with my classmate till Howrah station.
I never lived alone. And at the age of twenty-two, I was travelling to a whole new continent, to start living alone. I did not even own a mobile phone that I could use to call my parents if I wanted to.
The first flight
The flight was quite exciting. I sat with another Indian family in the middle isle and the uncle and aunty took such a good care of me. Our end destination was also the same airport. So I just followed them from transit to transit till the airport ended. Aunty also called my father a couple of times to assure them that everything was okay.
All beginnings of mine have a bout of difficulty and twist in them. True to that, when my luggage arrived, both of my suitcases were broken, and my clothes were spilling out of it. Thanks to uncle, we could get a replacement suitcase from the airline. But they had to leave soon, and I was left alone in the airport.
I unpacked my suitcase and repacked them in the new one. However, I was tired after thirteen hours of flying and over a day of travelling, and I forgot that I had some small items, packed inside the small pocket of the suitcase. It contained a small makeup and a lipstick, a present from my mother. When I realised that I did not have them with me, I was already in my destination.
The first few days alone
The first night, I stayed with a fellow student. She is one of the best human beings I have had the good fortune to meet. We lost touch over time but those first few difficult days were made much easier through her help and guidance. I missed my parents terribly and I did not even have the means to talk to them. It would take me a couple of days to get some internet and talk to them on Skype.
(a) Managing day to day
I was super incompetent in living. Looking back now, I wonder how I managed those initial days. I had some cash, but I did not know how to budget, what to buy, what to cook. I knew only how to make chai and omelette. The first time I made rice, it came out undercooked. The next time, it came out overcooked, floating in water. I missed my family terribly. I missed talking to my sister and sharing everything with her. I was discovering new things, new abilities and I could not cuddle with her every evening and tell her what is going on.
(b) Keeping it together
I was slowly beginning the classes and the homework. I had come here to study and I was overwhelmed with everything I had to learn and do. There was no father to budget the monthly expenses, I was in charge of it. There was no mother and grandmother to prepare the food, I had to do it. With all of that, I also had to study and finish assignments and do occasional socialising with fellow students and friends.
The journey was not an easy one. I have faltered, missed my home, cooked terrible food, had bad grades mixed with good, but through it, I have become a better version of myself. The best decision of my life was to study in that university away from home. It made me the person I am today.
This journey led me to have so many other beautiful journeys. I have gained friends here, family here, my husband who I met a few years back. I have rediscovered my passion for dance and learnt how to swim. I have also rediscovered that love for writing. I have been writing seriously for the last one and half year now and I cannot wait to see what the journey holds for me.
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