Soon after I wrote the SSLC exam and while waiting for the results, I saw an ad in the Malayala Manorama newspaper.. It was by a priest from an Orthodox Church in Thiruvalla who was organizing a trip to North India and he advertised asking if anyone else would like to join his tour group. It costed about 200Rs, which I had.
I remember waiting for my mother to come from work, so I could get her permission and join the tour group. They were planning to visit Taj Mahal.. and by then I had already read every single book about Taj Mahal.. and I couldn’t believe I was finally going to see the place I had read so much about. If you are my age, then you probably read the Amarchithra katha series..there was an issue about Tajmahal and the Shajahan and Mumtaz love story ..that was published around the same time..
You know that feeling..excitement..trepidations.. fear all mixed together and create a million butterflies fluttering in your belly?
My mother took one look at the ad and told me, ” you can’t go” Apparently she has heard from others about a human sacrifice group.. they take young girls and take them to far off places and do human sacrifice..(I have often wondered how creative my mother really was to have come up with such a brilliant response)
Sadly, all the butterflies in my bellies died rather quickly…. and it took a very long time before I saw Taj Mahal..
But that was not the point..The point was, I was never allowed to do anything.. My mother always had reasons and excuses why I shouldn’t do something. The way she raised me has always made me second guess everything I do in my life and am genuinely scared of every little thing. In a few days, I will be travelling to US and renting a car. I am terrified..of all the things that can go wrong.. driving on the wrong side of the road tops my list..getting lost is a close second.. And every single time, I have to give myself a prep talk.. you have done this so many times before, remember the first time you travelled alone?
That would be the first time, I took a bus from the medical college hostel, went to the train station in a rural remote area, stayed there until late in the evening (alone and hungry), got in to the ladies compartment and travelled all the way to Kottayam.. I didn’t speak a word of Kannada and very little English and I was this tiny village urchin wearing this cloak of courage over me and doing a simple thing like catching a night train home.. that trip was my baptism of fire.. I draw strength from it even now.. If I could do it then and survive, I can do whatever I face now and survive..
It was for the same reason, I let Yaya travel around Europe on her own. She needs to know her own strength.. that every time she faces a tough time, she can look in to herself and tell herself.. I travelled alone in Europe at the age of 18.. I can do this..