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“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

 Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with emotions that the simple and unconscious act of breathing becomes impossible? I have experienced that feeling a million times over in the last decade. One would think, only a fool would give up that feeling of pure joy and happiness,.  Sometimes, however, people do such foolish things and a few live to tell the tale. This is my story of achieving my dream and then giving it up for extremely flimsy reasons.

The story begins in the year 2002, when approximately 100 of us were sitting in a huge hall in  my alma mater  the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and filling up the issues we wanted to work on during our one year field work placements. Why I wrote HIV as the issue on my placement form is something I cannot understand even after all these years   I knew nothing about, HIV/ AIDS or that these two terms mean two different things. I was one of the few students who was given the field placement of their choice.

 After one year of field placement and nine years of working in the field, I felt rooted. A sense of belonging enveloped me every time I thought of the varied ways I was connecting with the community.   This field has given me the greatest gifts that one can ever ask for, i.e. friendship and   positive outlook.  There is no denying that there is death and despair around you which breaks your heart in a million little pieces but you also see  the people who work relentlessly to bring a smile on the faces of people who are infected and / or affected by HIV/AIDS. Such drive and such immense passion fill me up with happy tears and a motivation to do my best.  This is the field that has made me who I am today.  

Why then would I give up all this suddenly and decide to enter an alien world?  The answer fills me with shame so acute that it is like a physical blow. In a world, where a person’s worth is measured by the   number of zeros in front of his/ her salary and climbs the proverbial ladder of “success”, I wanted to achieve all the success that the consumerist society promised me. I was foolish enough to think that materialistic things would take me out of the temporary set-back  that I was facing in my chosen field.

I felt like a fish out of water during the six months I was away from this field, a ship which could not find its anchor.  I realized soon enough that working in the field of HIV/AIDS had given me a purpose to move forward in life. A purpose that had become the very core of my existence, something that I willingly, in a moment of insanity, gave  up.  Not to be able to connect to the philosophy of the organization and struggling to make a difference in people’s lives was saddening me beyond imagination.

Even when I was struggling to make sense of my life, I stuck on to my last  job thinking that giving up the second time would be another mistake on my part. But there are times  when courage lies in giving up rather than hanging on. For once in my life, I showed that courage and left without any clue about what is going to happen next. No job and hardly any money, the situation was very new to me but what kept me going apart from the support of family and few friends, was the fact I had listened to my heart. 

 Five weeks after I resigned, I am back to where I belong. Everything moved so fast as if it was destined to happen . I now  want to spend every moment absorbing the details around me and don’t want to miss a single thing as if trying to make up for the lost time.  I am back in the groove having loads of fun at work, talking the terminology that I am most familiar with & bursting out in spontaneously laughter, & surrounded with friends that adore me.

I have found myself again and this time it’s for keeps. 


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