If you listen to the experience of a person who has just escaped death by drowning, this is what they will tell you –
“At first you throw your hands and feet in all the directions frantically, only to realize that it’s not helping, slowly you notice the deluging fatigue covering everything. You try harder until its clear that you neither have the strength to try anymore nor enough air to breathe. Then your mind stops working, slowly the otherwise uncanny idea of letting go seems sane. You see your entire life flashing in front of your eyes and you are slowly drifting into a peaceful sleep… Until… someone stretches a hand and pulls you out. Whack your back, pump your chest and you cough and cough until you completely spit out, the water from your lungs and the crazy idea, that dying is okay, from your brain.”
Waaa thhh u y o a…t a v h…e…d…o…n…e…re…vr…e…d…o…w…s…u…………….
This is exactly what I heard the first time she said it. After shifting my senses a little bit, my brain processed the message “What have you ever done for us?” I felt my brain go numb … her lips moved in slow motion, like when a cassette tape gets stuck and ALL GOES SLOW. Everything around me was tardily fading away. I was drowning and made peace with it. Thankfully, I am alive to tell the tale. My world came crashing down that day. I was done. Nothing had meaning anymore. However, “the universe” as many would like to call it, doesn’t work on human logic. For me it’s not universe but its maker who sustains, destroys and writes our stories. So he had other plans that day. That night after few people talked sense into me, I thought, as per the popular notion, I should continue to be selfish and just do something for myself. I couldn’t sleep at all. At roughly around 2 a.m. I switched on my laptop and searched for internships and fellowships, and it came up.
I applied to India Fellow that night, took me around 2 hours to fill the application. Time fled and a couple of mails, interviews, essays and interactions later, I was an India Fellow!
When I packed my bags and left for Udaipur on 13th July 2015, I had no idea what I was walking into. Some 10 fellows were on that train and it took me hardly 2 hours to realize that I am beginning to discover a whole new chapter of life. Never before in my 27 years of existence, have I felt so rightly placed in the scheme of things. Though the other 27 fellows and I are looking in the eyes of real struggles across this journey, there is a faith that there are people who understand you. No matter how different are the worlds you come from, you have each other.
This is what India Fellow did for me; provided me a family away from family; made me a part of a bigger picture; helped me know I am little more than useless. Something brought me to a place where it was okay for me to talk about my issues openly to someone I hardly knew. This is what the fellowship has been teaching me, ‘It’s okay to be vulnerable’, ‘crying is cool’, ‘falling is fun’, ‘getting up is important’ and most of all ‘it is okay to steal 1 year, from a life full of commitments and make a commitment to yourself.’ No matter what is that you are drowning in, no matter how deep you are in, you might be in the wrong job, or are probably getting bored of life overall. Maybe you are too young to understand what you want at all or you think you can change the world. You owe yourself a chance, to experience a world of possibilities that will change you forever.
It’s changing me; I don’t know what I will have at the end of one year. But surely, I would have one hell of a story to tell. And that my friends are the perks and jerks of being an India Fellow.