Feb 4th, 2028
“A creative professional? What are you, nuts?” Pa says.
Okay, they don’t know I’m here.
“What he wants to become is HIS choice, Madhav,” Ma interjects. “What is wrong with you, Rani?” Pa says, frustrated. “Look at us! Do you want to live like this forever?”
Oh god. When will their argument end?
Ma continues. “We both know that he’s the happiest behind that camera of his. Do you want him to give up on that?”
Ma knows me so well.
“He’s young but he knows about everything we’ve been through, Rani. Do you want him to face the moneylenders like we did, with no money and some stupid underpaying profession?”
I feel chills down my spine. No… Anything but that… The floorboard beneath me creaked. Oh no.
Footsteps. The doors open up slowly. “Hey kiddo…” Ma’s words trail away. Can’t let her change my mind. “Sell the camera.” I blurt out. Yes, this is what I want. I see her disappointment but continue anyway. “I’ll study hard, get a good job and make sure that we never have to go through that again. Sell it.”
3 years later – May 17, 2031
“Yes… I got in… YES!” I exclaim, looking at the acceptance letter. The next step is to study well and get a well-paying job as a software engineer. Computer Science – A timeless degree – from a fantastic university in the US, known for its placements. Worth all the money it will cost us. Yes yes yes! Ma and Pa must be so hap- “
They haven’t uttered a single word. I turn back to look at them.
Ma takes a deep breath. “We have to talk. We think it’s better if you don’t go.”
I feel my heart break into a thousand pieces.
14 years later, present-day – April 27, 2045
“It’s the big day”, I tell myself as I get out of the incredibly comfortable hotel bed. Within an hour, I finished dressing up. I wait for the room service to bring me my breakfast as I take one last glance at my speech. Out of the 1000 plus universities in the US, this had to be the first college to invite me as the Chief Guest. The irony. “Looks like someone’s not worried anymore,” says Ma, smiling, as she walks into the living room. “Yeah, going over the speech a thousand times definitely helped.” I looked at her and we both let out a laugh. Today’s going to be fun.
May 17, 2031
So many questions. When did Pa change his mind? How could he forget everything that happened? Do they think I’d be unhappy working a 9-5 job? After all the work that I put in, they want me to stay here instead of going to my dream college? Why? No other explanation comes to mind. “Is it about the money?” I blurt out. My plan has no caveats. Then why are they not supporting me?
“Yes, we didn’t think that education in the US was worth the money in the first place. But it’s not about that. We think-”
“So, you think I don’t have what it takes to become the 1%?” I cut her off. The 1 per cent. The people with true freedom, the ones that live without any financial shackles. I was always envious of them.
Ma takes in a deep breath. “This is the problem, Parik. You are nothing like the so-called 1 per cent that you revere so much.”
Can someone just wake me up from this nightmare already?
April 27, 2045
“Now, we invite the Chief Guest, Mr.Parikshit Goswami to speak a few words of wisdom to our students”, announces the speaker. I fix my suit and walk up the podium. Young students look up to me with anticipation. I take a deep breath and begin. “Words of wisdom? I hope I don’t look that old to y’all.” Everyone let out a laugh. I smile and continue “Graduating batch of 2045, firstly, I’d like to congratulate you. This moment marks a new beginning in your lives. Every single one of you must have worked hard to get through your college. And I hope you continue appreciating hard work, because that is what will take you far, in an ever-changing world. It’s funny that I’m addressing this batch of students. I would’ve graduated from this exact stage, 10 years ago, had I not changed my decision to study at this University.”
May 17, 2031
“You are so much better than that.” Ma looks me in the eye. Huh?
“Look, if you really want to go study in the US, I won’t object. But understand this. Your Pa and I miss the smile on your face when you held that old video camera. We have seen you silently struggle with those subjects that you despise so much. And we cannot take it anymore. Do what you love. And you can be successful AND happy. Think about it. Education is cheaper here and after the new education policy, you’ll have enough time to pursue what you love parallelly. The final decision is yours. But know this. You are so much more than what you think you are.”
April 27, 2045
I take a look at Ma. She’s smiling in the front row. I continue. “Everyone claimed that it was the dumbest thing that I ever did. But I took the leap, stayed back, and rediscovered content creation. I found some like-minded people and we together shot some catchy videos. With time, it translated into creating catchy ad campaigns, and now, we run the biggest Digital marketing agency in Asia. Why am I telling you this? I want everyone to know that, if you have a dream that you’d love to pursue, don’t worry about opinions of the world. Be you. Because you and your potential are so much better than that.”