I spent my childhood in a single room where we, a family of six, used to sleep together. I had a tough time paying my school fees. As far as I can remember, my entire school life, till college, was spent with limited means but I never let that dampen my approach towards life.
I always dreamt big and wanted to be an Air Force Pilot. At 14, I used to collect a lot of aeroplane souvenirs, magazines and photos. And then, I was learning how to fly a plane during my NCC training in 1973. It was surreal. I hadn't felt more liberated before this.
However, circumstances led me to a different path and I had to leave this dream aside. I lost my father when I was 18-year-old and with that, the world had come crashing down on me and my family. We lost him because of a premorbidity and a lack of funds to cure that premorbidity.
After his death, I knew that I had to don the responsibility of a father-like figure as I was the eldest of the four siblings.
With my father's demise, we started staying with our uncle who supported us well. However, my family faced difficulties in providing for bare necessities — even a carton of milk. I could not afford new books, so I used to settle for second-hand books. Despite difficulties, unwavering support from my uncle, aunt and other relatives, kept the candle burning, and also kept us going.
Eventually, after completing my studies I had started earning and providing for my family.
I loved clicking photographs during my college days and one of my wishes on my bucket list was to travel across the country and capture its beautiful people with my camera, which I had purchased from my savings. I was scolded for wasting my savings on a piece of electronic equipment but that did not deter my passion for life.
I wanted to travel the entire world but life had different plans for me. I knew that I could not chase what I dreamt of as I had to earn money for a living.
Soon after, I got married and moved to Mumbai for work. After working for 42 years, I retired in 2018 and have been happily spending time with my family since then — we crack jokes, go out and recall our past memories together, and I'm loving it!
Now, I am a 'Life Coach' and also conduct meditation sessions to help people. During my second innings, I guess, I have finally realised my true calling and I am living it.
One thing I have learnt in all these years of my life is that life isn't a bed of roses and that it doesn't always work as per our plan, one has to take each day as it comes. And what better than a pandemic to make all of us realise this?
The story is a chapter from The Social Paathshala's A Senager's Diary