The other day I was reading The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul
One chapter described the blue mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif, Shrine of Hazrat Ali. Thousands of believers and tourists flock to the shrine, but the doves are the original residents, apparently living there since the 12th century. Legend has it that the doves are pure white because of the sanctity of the mosque itself; if a dove with a speck of color flies in and stays, it too will turn white as snow.
Written words create visuals in the mind eye. I did not need to google image the shrine, I had an image imprinted in my heart, which leapt up with excitement at the thought of visiting this magical place. Until my head politely pointed out to my heart, that it could not even begin to list the complications of visiting Afghanistan on an Indian passport.
So my smart head suggested Turkey instead. And then for the next few days I researched about Turkey, spoke to people who had been there and read about the places to visit, where to stay, what to eat (supremely important) etc. I spoke to people who had been there especially about safety of solo female travelers. I was politely reminded that the danger was from ISIS and they were rather gender neutral with their destruction. No wonder I was getting cheap tickets! After reading travel warnings on both the US and Australia embassy websites, I had to pack away my dream of seeing the Blue Mosque for awhile at least.
What has this got to do with the topic of this post you wonder? Everything!
When I think of my young naive self of 16, I wonder what would she think of me now? I believe she would have expected me to live in a big house, work in a fancy job with a corner office, still in love with a handsome and caring husband, two children (one of whom would've been a girl) and all the usual bells and whistles of a modern successful life.
And here I am. A middle-aged single mother to a teenage son. I don't have many work related accolades to boast of and no specific accomplishments adorning either my living room or my Facebook wall.
So what would she think of me now?
She would be amazed is what I think she would be.
Amazed that I can read about a place one day in a book, and in the next hour already plan my holiday there. Amazed that I have don't have to ask anyone before doing that. Amazed that I don't have to pay heed to any advice (except US and Australia embassy ones). Amazed that I have the power to make my dreams come true.
She would be insanely jealous of the independence, rather envious of my self-reliance and totally in awe of my courage.
From a girl who needed permission to go out after 9 pm, who was socially awkward among peers and seniors alike and who worried incessantly about being alone, here I am today.
From the girl who almost failed PE, to one who runs 10Ks effortlessly.
From the girl who was shy to even audition for a minuscule part in the school play, to one who lectures at universities.
From the girl who was apprehensive to travel alone by Bombay local train, to one who has journeyed half-way around the world by herself.
From the one wore geeky glasses, had her nose in her book and whose favorite place was the library, to....OK not everything is different :)
Growing older is hard and being an adult can suck big time. It's when you realize that every decision you make is yours to face, there are no parents to blame or teachers to fault. It's when you adjust to the truth that you are on your own. No matter who you have around you and how supportive your friends and family may be, ultimately its your responsibility. We each are on our own journey.
But when you question your path or are anxious about your future, stop, breath and look back. Wave to your younger self who is looking on expectantly at you from afar and see what she has got to say. And you will see her with her thumb up, smiling and edging you to continue down the path. Because she knows you have achieved far more than what she could ever imagine.
"Just look forward and keep walking" is what she is saying.
And the older you probably wants to tell her this: