Four Seasons

Four Seasons

A ‘season’ can sometimes refer to a time in life instead of the weather. But does that mean everyone experiences it differently?

Arya ran to class, not just through the shaded walk but also in the sun and up the stairs. Not because her professor was firm about his students keeping the right time, but because she wanted to. Her new red top stood out and her ID tag was shiny. Her perfect hair fell over her shoulders with ease. She carried a full bag to all her classes and didn’t mind climbing six floors with it. Of course, she still had to look at her schedule on her phone after each lecture, it had just been a week. And since it had been just a week, she ended up being in some wrong classes too. But that didn’t bother her; no one was looking or judging and she loved hearing from other teachers.

It was either silly games with her new classmates during the breaks or strolling around trying to get the college map imprinted onto her mind. And the sun or the time didn’t matter. The boys did. The food and her room did but only a little. There was the occasional guilt of not ending up at a better college stemming from comparison with old school friends but she didn’t want that on her mind that day.

After a midday call with her parents on her yet-to-be-ported sim, she decided to spend the afternoon in the library and so began her seemingly long walk to the library, across the campus. She went through the shelves as though she knew all the subjects being taught in the college. She noticed an empty spot and pulled out some heavy books she thought were interesting and walked towards the seat. On her way, she bumped into a weary-looking girl. She gave Arya a judgemental look for carrying the books. A scanning glance, bottom to top, and she walked away.

 

“These freshers are such dorks”, Asmi thought to herself as she walked away from a girl carrying, what she could only label as tomes, in one of the aisles of the library. She had been there the past hour juggling adroitly between a group project and some work for her club. However, her willingness to spend a perfectly good hour during midday in the still library stemmed from her frustration due to her boisterous roommates. And now, her frizzy pony bobbed as she walked briskly towards her first class of the day. It had been three weeks but she was always late to class. Fearing her professor might ask her to turn back and leave, she started running.

She walked in and skirted along the twisted aisle right to the last bench where she expected her bunch to be, but it was empty. She wondered where they were as she sat down. Her eyes weren’t on the board, they were on her phone. She scrolled through group chats and memes while also wondering how she needed to get her laundry done soon. After a while, the professor started the roll call and Asmi’s eyes went up only to realize that she had spent the past forty minutes in the wrong class.

Disappointed, she left the class and walked a few steps before bumping into her friends. They judged her, but more importantly, they understood her. “You should cut yourself some slack and slow down. The semester just started. Isn’t that the same shirt you wore yesterday? Maybe I should hook you up with someone. That’ll make you dress better”, said one of them. And suddenly, her troubles faded. They all went out for their routine milkshakes after the remaining classes and it always helped Asmi to unwind with friends and food. But the day was far from over, she had yet to finish up on her assignment and make the daily pilgrimage at night to her club meeting. She attended them religiously. The peaceful walk back to her hostel, alone in the dark, was the best part of her day. That night, however, she walked beside her trusted senior and friend.

 

Aastha was contemplating if the club and her position there was worth her time anymore as she gave her junior some advice on college life. She had just started dating a boy and between a relationship and academics, she felt the need for more personal time. Returning to her room, she sank into her bed knowing tomorrow would be another chance at being productive. No texting, no calling, just some much-needed rest. She woke up early the next day and walked to class in her worn out denims, with one notebook and her hair tied in a bun. The classes rolled by, after all, it had been two years now and she knew what it took to get by five of them continuously – don’t look at the watch frequently and now there was someone with her who made it easy. She was secretly proud of the fact that she had not yet sat through a wrong class this year.

She didn’t exactly have free time, for hobby or even friends. It all went into her meetings with teachers to chalk out plans of execution for her research project and of course, improving her grades and skills. She had applied for and was awaiting a research grant. While most others still hung out often, the uncertainty of the impending future hung heavily on Aastha’s shoulders. It seemed to affect her more than it affected her friends. She couldn’t remember the last time she had lunch or dinner with them but sitting on her laptop and working for hours peculiarly filled the void. The good part was that it had made her humble and understanding. She didn’t mind now if her friends couldn’t make time for her; she had learned to live by herself and do things that truly mattered.

After giving it a lot of thought through the day, she typed a long and hard goodbye message to the club members, choosing the project over them. The people had grown to be a part of her through three long semesters but somehow, she felt happier that evening. More time for herself. She called her mentor to thank her for her guiding light.

 

Aradhya was in the middle of ironing her formals late in the evening when she got a call. It was a lost yet determined soul she had given some insight and knowledge to, a year back. “My investment paid off!” she figured as Aastha thanked her and wished her luck for her interview the next day. “I’ll buy you a milkshake if I land the job”, she promised Aastha. She was ready is all she had heard from her friends, her roommate, and her parents but for the first time in a long while, she had trouble sleeping that night. It was understandable.

She got up early the next day before the alarm went off. While getting ready, her phone rang. She knew it was her parents, calling to wish her luck perhaps. Her roommate always eaves-dropped on her call but this time around, there was nothing to hear as Aradhya was dead silent. “Her parents shouldn’t let her know that the university rejected her application right before the interview. She was preparing herself to lie to the panel about not pursuing higher studies to get an offer, but now, the very question will shake her up. How the tables have turned! Poor girl!” she thought.

Aradhya had a stern expression on her face after the call. Afraid to ask her more about it and throw off her focus from the interview, her roommate just wished her luck. She got ready silently and walked out with her files. There was nothing more to lose now and she had a certain poise in her walk. You’ve got to believe me when I say that she was the most confident person among the lot that got interviewed that day.

A year later, Aastha and Asmi walked into the milkshake joint. As Astha reminisced how she and Aradhya had celebrated there, she wondered if the milkshake would symbolize a tradition. Little did she know that Asmi was going to walk back with Arya that night.

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Growing Up

It is a journey of change, of a person’s transition from a child into an adult. However, despite having such definition, this term ‘Growing Up’, still seems rather ambiguous to me. It indeed begins when we are born. But when does it reach conclusion? What is the culmination of this arduous process? Where exactly on our timeline do we know that we are grown up? Many of you would quote to me the legal definition phrased by the world’s governments, ‘any person of 18 years of age or over is to be considered an adult’. But is that what you sincerely believe? Is just a passing of time enough to define the maturity of beings as complicated as humans? Does spending 18 years on this earth by default make you up to par on all fronts be it physical, emotional or spiritual?

Once upon a time, there lived a child. Let us call him James. He was a kindred and carefree spirit born under the sign of the Twins. By nature, he was inquisitive, insatiably curious about the happenings around him. The boy was a quick study, eager to learn, eager to please. His parents found great joy and pride in the growth of their little boy as he developed a happy personality, finding friends even in the unlikeliest of places. He had an effect on others that made them follow him and he in turn reveled in their companionship. However, as all human beings are, James too was not a simple person. He had multiple levels to his self; one that he showed to the public at large, another that was reserved for his close friends, another for his intimate family and yet a last one, entirely for himself. James excelled at all that was expected of him as he grew through his early years of childhood, be it academic or social or personal. This made society perceive him as an exceptionally mature individual, a child who was very wise for his age. However, as all things do, James perfect childhood too ran into
some turbulence as the boy descended into adolescence.

An important point to be noted here is that as varied were the levels to James’s personality, so was the development of each of them. We all know about the outermost public level. The innermost however, the one reserved solely for himself, was not so caught up with James’s ‘growth’. On the rare occasions that he found himself alone, he would interact with this facet of his personality. This person who came out only in times of solitude knew the actual truth of James’s being, the boy was only doing what was expected of him and there was truly nothing he did that was of his own will. He had only encountered one true love, a deep-seated passion for reading. Adolescence saw him through the awakening of new perspectives and new emotions. The previously happy and extroverted child grew into a quiet teenager, speaking when necessary, acting when needed. True, he still had his friends from childhood, he even made some new ones. He also still possessed that quality to inspire fellowship in those around him, even though his inner self knew it was only by treading the expectations of his society. As he approached the cusp of ‘adulthood’, his outer-self grew more independent while his inner self became more attached to his past, clinging tightly to the vestiges of his
childhood, the adulation of his parents, the company of his friends. Adolescence also saw him through the rigors of love and infatuation, the unbridled joy of finding a partner as well as the terrible anguish of a lost love. The day he turned 18 was a day of joyous celebration for the boy was now a man, an adult so to say. But James’s inner self knew the truth, ‘adulthood’ was just a word and he was still, just a child.

James knew that despite the broad spectra of emotions that had beseeched him in puberty, all his experiences as a teenager, he had yet to mature. He did not know yet, what it meant to be an adult, what it meant to be considered mature. He fell in love once more, but something was different this time. The feelings in him, the reactions of his body and mind seemed somewhat dulled around the edges, lacking the sharpness of his adolescent experience. The emotions were indeed strongly felt and the relationship was on a happy path but this too was not meant to be. Seeing his love smile for another man, laughing in the other man’s arms once again brought him pain. But this was not the anguish he had known before. It was a pain mingled with a happiness of seeing his love feeling happy and content, even if it was with another man. At that point in his life James knew, he had indeed grown a little, that he had taken a step closer to ‘adulthood’.

Going away to college had started James on the path to independence and self-reliance.
The musings of his inner self had started to surface, to manifest them as his desires and
actions that he could truly call his own. The man that he was growing into was even more quiet than his teenage self. James was exploring his inner self for the first time uninhibited, and as all things do, this too came at a price, the price being the loss of his ‘companions’, the loss of his parents’ adulations. Not to say his parents didn’t love him anymore, for a parent always loves their offspring. But James knew that their relationship had changed and he was no longer their lovely little boy. And once more, James knew, he had grown a little more.

As the months passed by in college, he involved himself in his studies and pursuits of his own choosing. The demands on his time started reaching a crescendo, every waking moment being given to further his progress. Sleep became a luxury, food only a necessity to survive and true love and friendship a coveted dream just beyond his reach. A few months passed in this manner and his body and mind began to feel the consequences. The stress of living started catching up to him at times and would always leave him worse for the wear. Life for James had devolved into a never-ending rush, an existence of constant trials and challenges. The sweet memories of childhood had begun growing dull and the sharpness of adolescence too had lost its edge. Always having lived close to his parents as a child, always having the company of friends, he had never truly felt alone. And yet at this point in his life, it had been more than a year since he last saw his parents, since he last had their arms wrapped around him, over a year since he had last talked to his best friend. At this stage, James finally had an epiphany. He had finally realized that he had reached the culmination something; a journey that had begun long ago had finally ended. And James finally knew, that he had become an adult. He now understood what it meant to be mature. He now finally knew, the true essence of growing up.

By Tanmay Aggarwal