…it was the first day of 2009; the ninth year in the new millennium! and boi was pensive…
she went to the temple with a friend to pray to god. like she prayed every year: for courage so she could continue to walk the path of her dreams. for strength so she can create her own destiny and not settle for the expected. for grace so her faith in her dreams would always be greater than her fears of falling.
back home boi had a lot of pressure. to get married! everyone was talking about it. her parents brought her wonderful profiles of eligible matches. some were doctors. or doctorates. some lived overseas with good jobs and fat salaries. great guys! it was all so easy for boi. all she had to do was pick one of them and just say yes! but this boi couldn’t do! she thought back about the boy she had loved in africa. if his profile was presented to her, or her parents, they’d never have selected him. boi knew it. he wasn’t a doctorate nor did he have a fat salary. but boi had loved him so much, in her own way; although boi hadn’t understood what caused her to love that way. that’s why boi knew she had to leave home. again. to buy time. boi wasn’t ready yet. why do i have to marry? to settle down and have children? boi didn’t understand why marriage was so important. if and when i meet the man with whom i can enjoy spiritual, mental, emotional and physical connection, then i can marry him coz i wanna share my life with him and not coz i wanna settle down. isn’t that how it should be? boi wondered…
…the boy outside the temple interrupted her thoughts. before entering the temple, she had to take off her shoes. as boi handed over her shoes to this boy, he gave her a number so she could retrieve her shoes after the visit. and the number was 36.
3+6 = 9! it’s a nine! it’s a sign! boi’s heart skipped a beat. it was as if god wanted her to believe in her dreams. she went into the temple and sat next to her friend to listen to a devotional song being played in praise of the divine.
but where?? where might boi go this time? boi didn’t know. in her mind there was latin america. why? random? no! boi thought about her extreme challenges in africa. because of those challenges boi could know herself in experience, of what greatness she was capable of! haha. life in the first world countries was easy. perhaps latin america would present her with more culture, challenge and newness. and so boi began to search on the student exchange database again. there were english teaching internships. wow, i love english, boi thought. i can teach it!!
there were several options to choose from. there was brazil, venezuela, costa rica, colombia… boi didn’t know which to select. it was impossible to say which country would give her the most diverse experience. so boi let life decide… somehow the name venezuela stood out. it attracted her a lot. but boi applied to other countries as well. finally boi had 3 choices, one in colombia, one in venezuela and one in costa rica. it was easy to eliminate costa rica, coz the offer wasn’t great. but boi was caught in between venezuela and colombia. both looked equally good. after being interviewed, boi eventually picked venezuela. why because boi liked the name. and then boi just declared that it was her destiny to go there! …
… soon boi got all the paperwork done for her visa to venezuela. it wasn’t easy but boi managed it. she really needed time for herself. she had to somehow get away and thwart the impending marriage intentions of her parents for her. they wanted the best for her but they didn’t understand her soul. boi wasn’t sure if she was doing the right thing. with every action, there were a million doubts in her mind. and yet boi felt, this was what she should do.
her sister had found and married a wonderful man. boi was almost jealous of that and yet she could not do the same for herself. this isn’t my path. thot boi. but what was her path? boi had no clue. she just knew she wasn’t ready to tie the knot yet!
“how can you be so calm about all this?” her sister asked one day.
i dunno sis! i just know that right now, i’m not ready.
“you’re 26. if u start looking now, in two years u can get married!”
boi remained silent. she had no tangible answer. this year, i will be 27 and that’s a nine! in her mind boi laughed but concealed her stupid thoughts to herself.
“why don’t you do further studies?” her mum asked.
boi thought, what subject should i study? what i wanna study, don’t exist in any schools. do they have a subject on how to deal with the depression that comes from unfulfilled desires? do they have a doctorate course on relationships or true love or how to listen to one’s heart or develop intuition?
she told them: i want to study life. and that’s what i am doing. i know i’m weird but i don’t like anything else. of course they didn’t understand boi. she sighed in silence, sometimes i feel i do not belong to this world, i feel so alone. but whenever i think of my dreams, i feel the universe is with me. and i have to believe to make them real!
i dunno wat kinda life i want for myself… but i know that it’s a life that sitting here i cannot even imagine. a life beyond my wildest dreams; one that i have to create for myself. but how?? i dunno!
“in school you studied science and in university, computer science! and german and psychology! on your vacations you took up aviation and hospitality mgmt. in africa u did marketing and tourism. and in venezuela u want to teach english! i don’t understand you. why don’t u focus on one?” dad popped.
because i dunno what i want. i like everything! boi smiled at daddy hoping he’d understand. “when it comes to you child, i’m always confused.”
“your bro is a successful IT consultant. and look at your sister. she’s done doctorate, she also had her scholarships and traveled abroad and now she’s married to a wonderful man. why can’t u be like her?” mum said frustrated with this rebel of a daughter.
o! my sister is also tall and i’m short! can u change that? no. then why should i be like her? i know mum u really wanted me to be taller, but i failed you. i tried though. i played basketball, i jumped ropes and hung myself from rods to meet your standards of beauty. still god kept me short. boi mused silently. out loud she said, sis has a different destiny and i have a different one, ma.
“what destiny?? if you do higher studies, you have better chances of catching a good husband.”
boi kept quiet. in the end it was all about a husband!
“with your talents, you could be rich and do so much more in life. you’re wasting your talents”, a close friend said.
what will i do with my talents if my talents cannot feed the yearnings of my heart? boi thought but said nothing.
“what about your future? what are your plans?? dad questioned.
i dunno daddy. i’ve never planned my life. besides life never goes according to plans. so why plan?
“still, you should have some plans, some ideas… now you’re young so you can do this, but one day u’ll grow old, what then?”
in her mind boi said, how can i explain to you daddy, that i do have a plan? the plan is to listen to my heart. and right now my heart says go to vzla! that’s all i know!
finally she said, daddy have you heard the story of the gardener and the builder?
“no, tell me about it…”
in life each person can take one of two attitudes; to build2 or to plant. the builders might take years over their tasks, but one day, they finish what they’re doing. then they find they’re hemmed in by their own walls. life loses its meaning when the building stops.
then there are those who plant. they endure storms and all the many vicissitudes of the seasons, and they rarely rest. but, unlike a building, a garden never stops growing. and while it requires the gardener’s constant attention, it also allows life for the gardener to be a great adventure.
gardeners always recognize one another, because they know that in the history of each plant lies the growth of the whole world.
for they loved boi’s stories. and they loved boi. so they wanted to protect her from being hurt. but nobody can shield anyone from their share of sufferings in life, can they? they were afraid to see boi ending up alone and miserable in life. boi was afraid too. but she had to try otherwise she’d never know.
for boi’s life was all about that – stories! boi lived in her stories, in the fantasy world of magic and fairy tales. you see all this may seem very childish to you, but this was boi’s reality. the only reality she had ever known, the only reality that stirred her imaginations, sparked her spirits and spurred her joy. otherwise reality had no meaning for her. ever since she had heard her first love story, she’d been looking for true love, not knowing how blind that was.
“okay go and live your life…” dad said finally. he even paid for the flight coz tickets were exorbitant and boi had no money. only her dreams. boi just knew the universe would help her. and daddy was part of the universe. boi was grateful and yet felt guilty. am i making a big mistake? she repeatedly asked herself. maybe i shouldn’t go. but then boi read a message in her inbox1. it said,
it’s okay to make mistakes. mistakes are our friends – they help us to grow. actually, it is impossible to make a ‘mistake’ in real terms, since everything that we call a ‘mistake’ actually brings us benefit. so march ahead with all the power and the fierce urgency of Now. and don’t worry about “mistakes.” rather, worry about being afraid not to make any.
it gave her all the courage she needed to go forward and make the mistakes in her life…!
~ extracted from the book ‘magicNine‘ by baisakhi saha
- “i believe god wants you to know” …a message from neale donald walsch, author of conversations with god
- the constant gardener story by brazilian author paulo coelho
P.S. this was in between my african (nigeria) and south american (venezuelan) exchange programs, october 2008 to april 2009, when I was home briefly in india.