Saturday, July 24, 2010
Just over a week ago, I passed another milestone in my life. And that got me thinking about my childhood dreams. The kind that we all as children once had. The kind that changed from week to week or day to day, depending on how imaginative or fickle you were.
The first ambition that I remember having was to be a lawyer. Most kids want to astronauts or filmstars or cricketers. I wanted to be a lawyer. Primarily because my maternal grandfather was one. And my mother did begin her law studies, though she never completed them. I was considered to be studious and I had absolutely no trouble envisioning myself as the defender of the poor, an evangelist who would fight for justice, a lawful vigilante.
Then the vision of lawyer transformed into that of an IAS officer. Because my dad wanted me to be one (he gave up on it only a couple of years ago). So, I wanted to be one. I even started reading Competition Success Reviews in all earnestness. Till I realized that IAS officers have to report to politicians. They can be transferred as and when they win or lose favour with those in power. So, there went my second ambition. I was in Class II at that point in time.
For a short while I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to find the cure for cancer. AIDS had not been heard of at that time. That is why I did not dream of finding its cure. I was inspired by Madame Curie and very often, could see myself being the youngest Nobel prize winner and the first Indian woman.
I had much older cousins who were studying to be doctors. I used to idolize them and would pester them with questions about medical studies. I was told that studying medicine involved lab work, a very significant part of which was dissection and study of all sorts of dead animals and insects, including cockroaches. That put a hitch in my stride. You see, I am mortally afraid of cockroaches. Plus, the very idea of cutting open dead animals (I later learned that they are chloroformed and are not really dead) was enough to make bile rise in my throat.
I put on a brave front and acted unfazed and determined. But it did not last. I gave up on finding cure for physical maladies. I decided to be a psychiatrist. Surely that did not involve scalpels and near dead living organisms. Alas, I was soon disillusioned and I finally gave up.
Since then I have had several more ambitions – some unrealistic, some more likely. Between then and now, I have changed my ambition and choice of profession so many times that my parents were really frustrated. But they stood by me. That counts.
Today, my dreams are no longer as grandiose as finding the cure for cancer. Or being a Robinhood in black robes.
But I still have them. My dreams. Sometimes, they involve a small, cozy bookshop that I own and run in some picturesque town. Sometimes, they take me to a book signing where people queue up to get their books signed by me. There are occasions where I see myself spending the rest of my life in idyllic bliss, far from the madding crowd, in a small cottage with a white picket fence, next to a blue, blue, lake. And sometimes, I see myself as the dynamic business executive, the young achiever, who is considered to be the future of some big company.
I do not know whether they would ever come true. Maybe all of them would. Maybe none of them would. But I am glad I still have them. That means I am alive and living.