On a few treasured occasions when I have a free hour to spare, I tend to drift back into memories ..... Memories of times I have had ...... of friends who once used to be my daily hang out group ...... of times when I knew no care..... of times when I was free ... free to do whatever I liked - whenever I liked .... free to dream endlessly .......and I think those were my best days.
In junior college, I had absolutely no responsibility. Well not technically, but rather - I took nothing seriously. Academics weren't difficult enough to make us study before the examination night. I had a fun college group - four guys two girls. We used to get up each day with the thought of "How best to enjoy our time together? What shall we do today??? " .... I had money alloted to me for emergencies (trains cease to work? that kind of thing) and I used to use it conscious free for such serious activities as playing pool, watching movies, eating road-side delicacies and so on. Birthdays of friends, a friendship day in college, an inter-cultural festival ... or simply dining out ..... these were sacred holy occasions for my adolescent mind.
Right now - I have to worry about 17 issues and phone bills in the most relaxed time I can imagine. And so I would tend to think those were my best days. ....
Then came Engineering - which transformed me into a serious student. For the first time, I worked hard towards what I wanted. And then amidst countless assignments, never ending semester pressure and bone crushing train travel, I had discovered the rhythm of living Mumbai. My class became a part of me. We used to live and sleep on the campus.... we made it our home. Our successes were glorified because we enjoyed them together, our losses were softened because we suffered them together. Even today, I can recollect clearly - that evening when we bid farewell to our four year home and nest ...... in each one of us there was the same thought ..... "Where would lives take us now?" .... "Whats in store??" .... I couldn't wait to find out.. And then I think it was the single most time when I matured as a student and befriended my ambition - yet there was the luxury of home to rest in - care of my class which was my family. And I think the Engineering Days were the best days of my life....
And then I realize that the best days are never over ... that at each stage life has to offer some thing new - some thing fresh..
Yes, it is true that a graduate student's life in the US is nothing but work. After juggling nine credits of mandatory course work and 20 hrs of weekly job, cooking and laundry and grocery shopping and paying bills while cleaning the apartment seems an accomplishment. Then there is the chaotic social life - a result of placing young, homesick, overworked, single men and women within hormone-influencing radius of one another. And then there is a unique madness that one gets to observe as these people try to - - love, make love and live their lives all at the same time.
But truly speaking, I love it. I love having to manage my own finances, struggling to fit everything into the single pay check I get every month, to do justice to the (maybe misplaced) faith and confidence of friends and teachers - that I am a capable mind.
In my 14 months as a graduate student, I have grown to see --- sunny skies and soft green lawns. I have worked ........... each summer day in the anticipation of the evening ...... when I would go for a run on my campus ... and come up the slopes to see vast, green fields bathed in the setting sun .... to lay exhausted, breathing on mother earth ..... to watch my body's imprint on the grass ... and then to turn and see an endless sky spread out, changing colors ... with the early star peeping out ... to recover my heart beat and sit up to look at tall, majestic mountains in the distance ... and I thank my destiny .... and I think .. the best days may not be done yet! That there are hidden treasures and unforgettable joys .... yet to come. That growing up ... its .... its earned!