Dare To Dream And Have The Courage To Follow It!!
Once upon a time, there was a guy named Ajay, medium height, brown complexion, about 24 years of age. He hailed from one of the small towns in India. The pursuit of excellence, growth and development led him to pursuing higher education at a university in United States.
Ajay, an introvert by nature, had been trying to settle down in his life at this new place in this new country like many other students who came along with him to this University to pursue their dreams. But for Ajay, it wasn’t just about getting a degree or getting quality education or not even about pursuing his dreams of bright glorious future. For him, most importantly it was a means to change his life, to come out of regular image that people had of him, live a life that he wanted without worrying about other’s opinion or judgement about him. It was a chance to come out of introvertive nature and see the world. A chance to go out and experience things, experience life, experience people and experiment with all of them. And most significantly it was chance for him to make new friends or rather say chance to make friends.
Ajay was shy and reserved since his childhood and had maintained that state despite not wanting to. But his shy and reserved nature was sometimes perceived as rudeness by people around him. When he was a kid, like any other kids, he would be happy enough with his routine – going to school, playing with his toys or indulging in some games with neighbourhood kids, outdoor as well as indoors, doing homework, watching TV, some family time and then go to bed. But soon people his age began to grow up, make their own gangs and hangout and play within that gang. Ajay however was oblivious to all this and just went on with his same routine without knowing what was transpiring into the world that people of his age delved into. Pretty soon he was left alone in his world and was playing video games at home with his brother when others were itching and rushing to games parlour to compete for a game on Playstation, he would explore the cartoons and nat geo and discovery channels while others were exploring things like WWE and female anatomy, he would find reasons to go class and learn new things while others were inventing reasons to bunk their classes, when others were learning the basics of adulthood he was busy exploring books and literature. Sincere was the word that defined him.
And nobody really likes an introvert, sincere, shy guy except for your elders whom you save the trouble by not being naughty. Of course he didn’t realise it that time that he was getting alone because he was happy within his small world. He was alone but not lonely.
But things change. And they change sometimes drastically. He soon saw and heard stories of people hanging out at places, having fun, going on trips, spending hours at cafes, planning and executing night outs. And he saw that happening often. He would be lost on conversations because he wasn’t a part of all historics the gang performed yesterday and knew not how to jump in. He found himself isolated. He saw others and compared them to himself and found them happy. There was a sudden pang to become like them. To be a part of a big gang of friends, have a best friend, have a girlfriend, bunk classes, go on trips, have a night out. But he couldn’t. He was a sincere, shy, introvert guy. He didn’t try enough for change to happen neither did others approach him.
So when, it was decided that he would undertake this journey for higher education to this completely new place he was at first scared. He knew nobody, not a single soul, on that foreign land. He was already scared of being alone. It took him sometime to realize that this is the opportunity that he had been waiting for. He knew nobody, not a single soul, on that foreign land. So nobody had any preconceptions about him. Nobody had any image about him in their mind. This realization made excitement replace fear that he had. And he landed into the new world with this excitement determined to write a new image about him in people. Determined to make friends. Determined to learn from mistakes that he would make. Determined to rise everytime he would fall in his journey. Determined to live and experience the life he wanted.
Despite the best of efforts, he wasn’t able to get the results he expected. But there were some silver linings which he cherished. One such experience was during one of his college event called fall carnival. Carnival was a fun event where there were some fun games, some rides, free food and some process as well, all for free. He had been convincing his friends and people he knew to accompany him for the event but nobody had given him a confirmation. But he was decided to have fun even it meant doing things alone.
It was a very pleasant weather that day and the event was located on the lake side. He was excited just by the sight of it from a distance. It was all crowded by college students and their families. And happiness. Everybody was so happy, having fun, having a great time. He instantly felt pangs of happiness. He started off with one of the simpler games. Just then he received a text from one of his friend, Aalok, saying he wanted to come along for the carnival. He asked his friend to reach the venue and both soon got engrossed in the games and the food. They were having a fabulous time together, which probably helped developed a strong bond between them in the long run.
To make it even better, Ajay got a call from another friend, Anita, confirming to attend the carnival. Ajay had met Anita a few times earlier and knew that the fun quotient for the day was gonna double with her coming now. Pretty soon, Anita arrived at the venue and confessed to Ajay that she was wrong about the event and it was already looking such a nice and exciting way to spend the evening. All Ajay could think at that moment was ‘Wow, she looks pretty’, but somehow managed to gain his composure and introduced Anita and Aalok to each other. The three then got deeply immersed in the games having great fun. They shouted, cheered for each other, competed against each other, won some goodies, clicked selfies and much more. And before they knew, it was already dark and the night had dawned. Ajay couldn’t be happier. He was doing what he wanted to. He was living and experiencing life. He tamed his fears and doubts and tried every game on offer. This was the moment he longed for. And he lived every moment of it. He didn’t let anything hold him back today. He didn’t want the evening to end but knew it was gonna end soon. The carnival was about to end and it would bring the curtains down to one best evenings of his life.
But it seemed as though the Gods somehow got sympathetic for him today and gave a fresh lease of life to his memorable evening. Anita had planned to go for drinks with one of her friends’ and asked Ajay and Aalok if they would want to join them. Ajay was a teetotaler. He never drank alcohol all his life. And when he told that to somebody when asked for drinks, he would get a look of disbelief from them. They couldn’t understand how somebody as old as 24 years could never have even tried it once. Aalok and Anita though already knew that Ajay didn’t drink was spared the look this time. Despite that, Ajay wanted to go. But just to hang around. He had never seen people drink in front of him. He had never been in such a situation. He had never experienced it and until not long ago, he didn’t even want to. But he was now a changed man. He wanted to experience it. See what a bar looks like. How people behave while and after drink. Besides he didn’t want his fabulous evening to end. And probably he wanted to decode the mystery that Anita was. Though it were just initial days of them reaching the new country, Ajay and Anita had already met a few times. They weren’t thickest of friends. But good enough of friends. There was a certain thing, some strange, mysterious aura around Anita which Ajay felt everytime he was around her, which attracted him to her. He wanted to know her more, understand her. Solve the mystery called Anita in her mind. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t manage to hang around her often. He was hesitant to make plans to hang out together or ask her for it. Maybe because he shy, or maybe because he had rarely asked a female friend for such a thing, but he just couldn’t.
So when Anita asked if they wanted to join her, Ajay knew this was his chance. He could know her more, spend time with her. To see what bar looks like. To be around people when they drink. See how they behave when they consumed alcohol. He instantly wanted to go without any hesitation. Aalok has been looking for company to have drinks since the time he landed in this city. But to his dismay, he couldn’t. So Ajay pitched up to Aalok that if he wanted to have drinks they could join her. Aalok couldn’t be more delighted and instantly agreed.
They then proceeded towards the bar. Anita’s friend, Alex, joined them on the way and Anita introduced him to Ajay and Ajay. Alex too, like the other three, was an international student here. He hailed from Austria. The four then went to the bar. The three then ordered drinks of their choice while Ajay ordered some soda. Aalok made another unsuccessful attempt at convincing Ajay to atleast try the drink. Anita and Alex too joined him. But Ajay couldn’t be coaxed into drinking no matter how hard they tried. The four then got to talking about variety of stuff and had great fun. Ajay got to see the bar. He could see lil changes in other three’s behavior while they had more rounds of drinks. He got to see a new side of Anita. He was getting to know her better. He also got to know his friend Aalok better. Courtesy of Alex, he even got a chance to learn quite a lot of things about Austria and its culture. Then there were also some surprising revelations by Anita. Ajay was shocked by those revelations but had learnt to absorb such information and now understood the diversity of people and their choices.
Ajay was quite mesmerized by Anita at that moment. He couldn’t help but look at her. Anita suddenly rose from her place. Ajay was scared. Did she see him looking at her? Was she angry? What was she gonna do? Ajay was scared. Anita walked from her position to the other side of the table. where Ajay and Aalok were sitting right in front of them, stopped near Aalok, announced she’s feeling cold and hugged Aalok. Ajay took a deep breath and relaxed. He wasn’t caught staring at her. Anita then walked to Alex and hugged him. Ajay’s heart was racing fast now. Probably he was scared. He thought she would come and hug him too. He had never hugged any female except ofcourse his mom. But Anita then walked back to her place. Ajay instead of being relaxed at this point, felt something strange in him. Anger? jealousy? confusion? he didn’t know. Anita was his friend as well. Why did she not hug him? what was wrong with him? why only the other two? The question was troubling Ajay. He went back to the position where he most uncomfortable. Being alone. Despite being with his friends, he felt alone. Outcasted. Just like earlier times. He felt all his efforts go waste. He felt he just cannot do it. Making friends probably wasn’t his cup of tea.
Soon it was late at night and they decided return back home. They started walking back to the university campus where they could catch the bus for home. It was a cold night. The streets on the way were pretty dark. Cars were running on the streets at high speed. Ajay was concerned about the other three. Could they walk safely to the university, after all the drinks? They weren’t badly drunk, but Ajay wasn’t sure. He just didn’t know how much of drink was too much. Anita then again announced she was feeling cold and hugged Aalok. And they pretty much walked the street hugging each other. Ajay was back to his unpleasant thoughts and uncertain feelings. Was she teasing him or was he really so bad at making friends? Anita and Aalok just today, still they seemed to bond well. Why cant he bond well with her? He couldn’t understand. He had tried his best since landing in this city. But his best seemed insufficient to him now.
Alex lived near the university campus so he walked the other three to the bus stop and bid goodbye to them. The three then boarded the bus to bid adieu to the fabulous evening that it was.
Ajay was happy. He just had one of the best evenings of his life. He challenged himself and played and enjoyed all the games at the carnival. Had a great time with Aalok and Anita. Cheered, laughed, shouted with pleasure with them. And had an unexpected visit to the bar, a chance to know Anita more. It was for him an affair to remember.