“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” – Sylvia Plath.
I envy at people who have their lives all sorted out. These are the ones who know what they want from life and proceed according to a plan and never ever deviate from it. I still don’t know what I want to become. What I am now is actually a result of a series of circumstances. I kind of floated along the currents of certain events and reached where I am today.
Of one thing I was certain. I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to experience the varied lifestyles of different cultures and people. The only thing I was not sure was how I was going to achieve it. This was the late 90s. I did not even know where to look, there was no internet, no Google. The vague idea of becoming an air hostess crossed my mind which was met with horrified looks and sarcasm from my family. I cringe at how naive and without exposure I was during that time. I was a small town middle class girl with absolutely zero knowledge about the outside world. I was living in a world where the only “decent” career options were that of a doctor or an engineer. If you couldn’t become one, you became a Lecturer or teacher. I am talking about girls here. Boys could escape to Bombay as Mumbai was known then, or to “Gulf”.
Since I had royally bungled my chance at becoming a doctor and had successfully managed to reduce my percentage of marks by a whopping 20% from 10th to 12th grade, my parents had washed their hands off me. I was an ordinary under graduate student in our local college, studying a subject which bored me to death. I had the chance to take up English Literature, but being the snob that I was at that time, I thought it too degrading to take up Literature. This, in spite of having a voracious appetite for reading and being the school topper in English. My main concern in those days was about winning back the respect and approval of my family and relatives who (I assumed) were laughing at me for the mishap that was my pre-degree as plus two was known in those days. As I said earlier, how stupid and naive!
After scraping through my degree exams with a measly first class, again the big question ‘What next?’ I wanted to go to Coimbatore and do MCA at PSG College, but sending me to study at another place previously had not yielded great results, so my parents were reluctant. I can’t blame them. They had such high hopes when they sent me off to the prestigious college and the best coaching centre in Kerala at that time which churned out Doctors and Engineers and I had managed to screw it up royally. In other words, they didn’t trust me. If I had pressed on, they would have somehow sent me to Coimbatore, even though it was beyond their means, but what if I fail again?
I just let myself go then, joined for a PG Diploma in Software Engineering in a computer institute. To my surprise, I realized coding interested me. I was one of the top students in my class and they asked me to teach there immediately after my course. That small computer institute in Palakkad actually opened the doors to the wide upcoming world of Software Engineering in front of me.
Here I am now, after two decades, in the beautiful Emerald Isle, working for a renowned technology company and people ask me, how did you manage to do this? Well, I don’t know. And is this my final destination? or Vocation? I don’t know that either. All I know is that I kept my dreams alive. I started believing in myself again because of one special person who awakened in me the spark of self respect and taught me that life is an elixir to be savoured. My life is an ode to him.