When I called him up, he could make out from my voice that something was terribly wrong. The first thing he asked me was whether I had a breakup. Obviously not! I had learnt that part of lessons of life already and I wasn’t going to call anyone if, God forbid, I had to go through one, again. Then I said “you know I have dropped a year. That’s the problem.” And the first thing he said was “So what?” That did the trick. For the first time I was able to look at the whole thing with that ‘so what’ sorta feeling. It was different. It shrank the seemingly insurmountable Herculean task to the measure of a molehill. It felt good. I asked him about the details of what and how he studied when he was preparing for JEE. And all that he said after that is videotaped into my memory. I remember every word that he spoke after that. Sometimes it takes somebody else to make you see the obvious. After talking to him (45 minutes 33 seconds) I was like “ Oh my God! I already knew it. Had I really been this stupid not to see this?” He had advised me to leave Narayana and do self study and honestly speaking, deep down that’s exactly what I wanted too. This was the only point where I had failed to recognize my instincts- why I hated everything about Narayana. This was it. I had the realization. By then, it was November end. That day I was so happy, I just knew it that now everything is going to be great.I am going to make it because now my life is in my own hands. I went and bought Morrison n Boyd that day itself. I went to see Om Shanti Om and the dialogue “jab kisi cheez ko dil se chaho to poori kayanat usse tumhe milwane mein jut jati hai.” I felt it was made for me. I studied like crazy people for the following week and then went to give my phase 3 paper. I got 1st rank in Maths, 2nd in Physics and 3rd in Chemistry. Suddenly beating all those seemingly invincible guys of my class seemed like a cakewalk. This was a direct indication from God that I was on the right track. Now getting first rank in the institute felt nothing to me, I had to evolve and look beyond. I still had to overcome my fear of all
Throughout December and January, I overdid what I thought I would. I completed the course once by mid January and I was in awe! My AITS rank in January was miraculously 856. It was amazing. It isn’t a great rank but to me it meant a lot of progress. But I was still scared of giving papers. Everything can’t go great all the time. I was still AITS phobic. It happened once that I ran away from the institute when I went to give the paper. This chickening out made me extremely exasperated with myself that eventually it turned out it was the last time I was afraid of tests. I vowed I will not fear giving tests, even if I screw them all. Then I started arranging for tests even beyond Narayana and I went to VMC and paid them 1500 bucks just to get papers from them. They would courier me the whole test series and I used to give those tests at home, timing myself. I simply had to build up a good examination temperament because that was one thing I seriously lacked. My state of mind was very funny while giving paper. I could solve questions while practicing but while giving the paper I used to have a mental blackout. So throughout February my main focus was giving a lot of papers. My initial score was a meager 30 to 40%. But I knew it that I have to keep doing this at least to overcome my last fear. And I did. By the mid of March, giving papers was no big deal for me. I felt confident, I felt focused and above all I felt evolved. Now getting up at and sleeping at was a regular routine. I had completely stopped visiting the net, or using my cell phone or watching TV or even communicating with people but it dint seem a big deal anymore. Even while I took breaks I wasn’t even tempted to open the TV or computer. All I did was go on the terrace and talk endlessly with myself. Within 3 weeks it was all going to be over and I was getting nostalgic. Just then I got a message from my sir that said my AIR this time was 127. I had tears in my eyes! Was my devotion, madness really giving results? It gave me that much needed last minute boost to my confidence. I was going to take on the JEE paper with ‘the strategy of a general and the daring of a skydiver’ the way I always planned and hoped to. I was really going to miss this phase of my life. I was going to miss talking to the birds and the plants, spending hours together with myself. I was now a new person. I was at peace with myself. Because I did what I wanted, the way I wanted and discovered many things about myself. Now I know that life is always a ‘do-it-yourself’ thing. I am not that kind of a person who will ever be content listening to others and following them blindly. I will take my decisions myself even if they prove to be disastrous. It was exactly the same reason why I could never remain in a place like Narayana. They used to tell me just to do the package and I would be through. It was funny. I was simply sick of depending upon them. No matter how many people tell me otherwise, I am always going to believe in the story of Eklavya- he who had no Guru to teach him, learnt things on his own all alone and became a much better ‘dhanurdhar’ than Arjun who had a Guru. I believe in that. I now do not care about what rank I get, all I know is that I have the capability to make my own life. I will get what I want from my life either with or without the IIT B.Tech degree. I have acquired the ability to rise from the ashes and make a life out of nothing. I am confident as ever to take on all the challenges that life throws at me and this time there is no such thing as fear to stop me.
By the way, picture abhi baaki hai mere dost……. ;-)