July 26, 2011
The year was 1982. I had just graduated from High School and my eye was single to just one University, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. There were five IIT campuses at the time with a common entrance exam to get into those. When my name was selected out of all those who took the IIT exam, I was beyond thrilled. I still vividly remember my rank among those who took the exam: 1,363rd. With age, I may not remember very many things from the past, but I vividly remember that day. 1,363rd was my freedom number. It marked my taking control of my life and being ready to leave home. I do not know where my confidence came from to feel like I could survive alone in the world outside, but I felt ready. When I think back, my enthusiasm was a combination of me running from home and me wanting to experience a new world outside, both happening at the same time. I had no fear; I had no idea what I should be afraid of. My parents did not give me a big lecture; it was left to me to choose my path in life.
Raka graduated from High School . She is all set to go to NYU. She does not have a number ranking as I did, but if she had one it would surely be better than mine. As I see her celebrating with friends and living up every moment of her last days in High School, I can also see the overflowing excitement in her. It is the same excitement I felt in 1982.
I am, of course, scared. The world today is a tougher place than the world I jumped into. All I had to do to be safe in college was to stay away from the group in A-Top. The A-Top was a corner wing of our building where eight to ten students lived who were allegedly into drugs. Once I learned how to stay away from them, my life was full of friends, sports, debates, plays, and yes, academics.
I do not know the exact complexities of the life of a high school student or college freshman now, but I know that it is way more complex and tough than it was for me to just avoid the A-Top. It feels like life allowed me a bigger field to play in, with huge margins of error. For Raka, the playing field is much smaller with the margins of error significantly more narrow.
Of course as I write this, I am torn between trusting and worrying. Raka has earned my trust with her actions time and time again, but I cannot help but worry about her.
So Raka... relax, breathe, and enjoy the moment. As I keep telling you, the best is yet to come. Love you baby!