silhouette photography of woman in front of wheat plants

Photo by Ryan Holloway

The first memory is that of Post-it notes.
I can clearly see them in my head,
lying in the organizer on my desk.
I need them to make a list of immediate things to do —
administrative details that I normally avoid:
documents, signatures, people —
and to add a little note reminding myself to be brave.

The desk in question is half the world away.
So, the second memory is that of processing distances,
in metrics not of kilometers or miles,
but of time and money and forms and embassies.

I keep my memories hugged tightly to my chest,
hesitant to let new seeds fall into this new earth
and become saplings whose roots may one day tug at my heart.
I cannot let that happen, I decide.
There is only so much space in my heart,
to call a place home.

For weeks, I refuse to furnish the bare walls,
adding only what is absolutely essential.
Three months in and I am distressed to find
that the room has taken on a personality nevertheless,
reflecting the little clutter of my hopes, some of my quietness.
I let it continue though — even aid it a little,
adding a touch of greenery,
a touch of motivation,
plain sheets tacked onto plainer walls.

What I have walked into is tangible,
something significant,
an important chapter that will need to be in the book of life.
Because this, no matter how confusing I find it to accept,
is happening.
Milestones are duly being passed,
my own speed perhaps not matching.

I am being pulled in different directions,
engulfed by a nostalgia,
not for the past,
but for a future I would not live.
I wonder if I will ever unpack without mentally tracking what will need to be packed again.
I wonder if it is possible to be whole again,
to consolidate the bits of myself that have scattered in different places,
that are scattering still,
like confetti of celebrations,
or perhaps, like ashes of what I gave up.

One Last Time

On 20 November 2014, I attended the last ever lecture of my college life. Over the next few days, consciously and sometimes subconsciously, I was aware of the “last” time I would be doing certain things, saying certain things, meeting certain people. The last lecture, the last pen-and-paper exam, the last day at college, the last stroll around the campus, the last visit to every corner of the campus, the last tea in the cafeteria… the last day of living in the hostel, the last memories with friends.

There are of course new things to look forward to. A new job, a new life. But the truth is that I was terrified; terrified of leaving that comfortable place that I had grown to call home. I was afraid of not being a student anymore, not belonging to that wonderful university anymore. I was afraid of growing up, and going out . I was afraid of finding out that life turns out to be very different from what I imagined it to be. I was scared of looking back one day and smile ruefully at my Plans, with a capital P. I still am.

I know all of this is as clichéd as possible. I’m sure every single student goes through the exact same thing. Every college churns out tons of nervous/excited/naïve new adults every year, by the batches. I’m sure every one of these people find their way about. And yet, I don’t know it. For myself. I’m afraid of stumbling through unknown mazes.

It comforts me that there is technically one more semester to go, even if I am doing an internship off campus. Although I won’t be living in the hostel, it is a relief that I can visit sometimes. It is true that I love the idea of new beginnings. But for now, I cannot help but focus on the strings that yet tie me to the university. I cannot help but cherish the small moments of my student life, one last time.