By Tanushka Vaid
A short story by Tanushka Vaid that emphasises the wisdom of taking the path less trodden
She sipped her hot cup of coffee, as she sat on her window sill and watched the rain pour down outside her window. She could smell the musty scent of the earth and feel the tiny droplets of rain carried to her by the wind. The rain fell in constant stream, cleansing the trees of all the dust they had accumulated this summer, and she could imagine how their newly polished surfaces would gleam in the morning sun. She looked back on the past year, and realised now how her tears had acted as rain; cleansing her of all the dust of negativity and blocks that she had gathered in her lifetime. Just a year ago she had sat in the exact same spot, but at that time the storms inside her had matched the ones raging outside, and like the world, she too had been holding her breath praying for the rays of sun to tear through her night.
Unemployed, single and confused about every aspect of her life, Ahana remembered wondering where she had gone so wrong. To her mind, she had gone the exact same way as her peers, but she had just never been happy. After school she had rigorously started preparing for her entrance exams and spent the next five years diligently poring over textbooks till she was a certified Chartered Accountant. It hadn’t stopped there; everyone told her that once she cleared the exams her life would be a cakewalk, but it hadn’t been. From slogging in school, then college, she found herself doing the same in the work place, late nights, working on weekends and so much pressure that she spent nights trying to catch up. But nothing helped. Her one respite, the one thing that could always lift her moods, was also taken away from her.
For as long as she could remember, cooking had always been her greatest strength and joy. From experimenting with different cuisines as a teen, to finally narrowing her passion down to baking, Ahana had spent almost the same time in the kitchen as she had in her bedroom. And if the words of her relatives, friends and colleagues could be trusted, she not only had the passion, but also unimaginable talent. But now, her workload and office hours made it impossible for her to cook, and over a gradual period of three years, she realised that the less she cooked, the less she lived.
So at 26 years of age, she did something people only read in books and admire; she quit her job and decided to follow her passion. But those books failed to mention what a struggle it would be; having minimal savings, no concrete plan, no connections in the food industry, having nothing but a fire in the heart and a will to succeed Ahana set out to conquer the world.
She shuddered now as she remembered how close the fire had been from getting completely extinguished. The continuous jibes from her friends and relatives asking for her job plan and talking about the big, bad, dangerous world almost had her running back to her old job. People her age had jobs they supposedly loved, were getting married and sprouting babies, and she had been foolish enough to quit her job in her ‘pursuit of happiness’. It was exactly a year ago that she had sat here crying bitterly wondering what was wrong with her, why she couldn’t just grit her teeth and go through life like her peers did, why she had let herself believe that she could break out of the age-old moulds and succeed.
It had only been her faith and the words of a stranger, which had made her try again. She had been sitting on a park bench, after another gruelling lecture by her parents about ‘growing up’ and ‘behaving like a mature adult’ and she had been ready to shut her heart and admit this was a mistake. Near her, she saw a father throwing his two-year-old son in the air and catching him. The boy was squealing in delight. Forgetting about herself, she looked over at the boy, now standing on her bench, trying for the first time to jump on his own, “Daddy, are you sure I can jump? Everyone says I shouldn’t,” he hesitantly asked. “Well, they don’t know you like I do. Jump freely and I will catch you,” he replied. “Well, what if you can’t?” the boy protested. The father seemed to notice Ahana then, and smiled at her as he replied, “Just trust. I am right here.”
Ahana remembered sitting for a long time there, eyes filled with tears and gratitude as she looked back on the incident as a signal from life, asking her to trust and make the leap. Shutting out all the negativity and barriers people put in her way, she started small, by baking food from home for parties and other events. In time, she had saved up enough to open up a small, cozy shop where she went on to build a steady client base, a good reputation, and devote her life to doing what she loved most. The rain had almost slowed down, and the first rays of the sun peeked out from behind the clouds and Ahana raised her face up to the sky and smiled. Her cheeks were dry, her tears had done their job, and she knew now how she gleamed in the first rays of the morning sun.
About the author : Tanushka Vaid is a 17-year old writer who is now doing her second year of junior college at HR College, Mumbai.
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