‘You are scared of driving here? Surprising. You didn’t seem to be a person who would be scared.’ A senior classmate commented when I told her how I was totally scared of driving here.
This comment seriously surprised me. How could someone perceive me as fearless when I don’t have any confidence in myself? I have to be the meekest, most unsure and subdued person around.
First there was the no-friends-no-independence-no-money thing. Then, can’t-sew-to-save-my-life thing. Then, this-traffic-scares-the-sh*t-out-of-me thing. And then, my-weight-refuses-to-reduce thing. A companion who practically belongs to US didn’t help much. A combination of all this made me feel worse about myself every single day.
It was like having to start life all over again. It was like leaving the safe, comfortable cocoon of your home for a foreign territory and struggling to get your feet firmly planted there.
I wouldn’t dress up well because I thought others had better clothes than me. My enthusiasm at college slowed down because I felt I could not learn this new field; there were so many others already so far ahead. I stopped attempting to drive because changing lanes on the freeway was so damn intimidating. I was tired of compelling myself to stop being ‘new’ and become ‘one of them’ quickly.
The cold weather depressed me further. I have always been a summer girl. I like the heat, the sun. I spent so many months huddling up, shivering, and fighting the cold. There were no friends to pull me out of isolation, to break my silence and bring out those deepest, suppressed feelings.
Sunshine came eventually. It made me smile and everyone else cringe. ‘Ouch. It is so damn hot outside’ – my classmates would complain every day.
But I was happy. And a bit hopeful.
With summer, came Adi, one of my favourite people, to spend a week with me. She brought more sunshine to my life. She brought with her familiarity, a sense of belongingness and love. An air of security.
I was myself again. I was confident again. I would radiantly walk into my class and smile. My soul friend in class noticed the change.
I even attempted driving again.
Adi and I roamed around using public transport (something I have badly wanted to do here). We ate out, we shopped. It was like those days when I wandered around on my own or with friends carelessly, not bothering about time, worries or money. It reminded me of those days when I was surrounded by friends, by people.
And when she left, she took away sunshine with her. Things became cold and lifeless again. I was left yet again with solitude and struggle.
If she hadn’t come, I would never have tasted that freedom, that happiness again. And I would have happily lived with what I was used to – solitude.
Maybe summer will arrive again. And arise a little flame within me with a tiny spark.