“The only thing that is constant in this world is change.”
I remember coming across this line a few years ago when I was trying to come to terms with my father’s transfer to another city. It somehow stuck to me and chanting this line has become my way of pacifying myself when I begin to feel that everything around is no longer the same. I have always had difficulty when things begin to change. I resist change. It’s like inertia. I try to stay the same way for as long as possible and hope with all my heart that everything comes back to the way it was.
For as far as I can remember the change that has affected me the most has been that of moving cities. My father was in a transferable job and hence once in every few years we would move cities. During the initial transfers I was too small to understand anything but as I grew up I began to realize what it actually meant. I had grown up in a joint family with grandparents and cousins and uncle-aunt around. They were to date the best years of my life. My cousin, who was just 8 days younger to me, was my best friend. We grew up in the same cot, went to school together, had the same friends, played together and celebrated everything together. But it all changed soon enough. I was in 4th standard when we were transferred to Mumbai. People call it the city of dreams. For me it became the city which transformed my life. I was shattered by the move. From a joint family we became a nuclear family. I lost my best friend, my family, my school, my teachers all in one go and suddenly I found myself in this new city where I would feel like the world was crashing in on me and where all I would find everywhere were people and lots and lots of buildings reaching the sky. From a big triple storeyed home we moved into a small flat. Everything was different. The flat was alien, the school seemed unwelcoming and the neighbors seemed cold. I was miserable. I had never made friends before as I had always been with my cousin and we had never really made an effort to make any new friends. I remember going down my building and standing by the green railing of the ground and watching other kids playing there. I never had the courage of asking them to let me play with them. It wasn’t until after a week that one of them asked me to join them and I started making friends. It took time but soon enough I got into the grid of how things worked there. I made friends in school and had many in my colony as well. School in Mumbai was a totally new experience. There were students from so many different states, speaking so many different languages that it was fascinating to observe them. Besides, the school offered so many opportunities at extracurricular activities and I began participating in so many competitions. I had never known I had any talent and school life showed me just how capable how I was. From winning debates and essay writing competitions to compeering functions and participating in dancing events, I did everything. It totally transformed me into a strong, confident girl and a go-getter. I excelled at my studies and extracurricular activities too. Travelling to school alone by hiring an auto daily made me independent. I began to like the neighbors who initially I had found to be cold as I liked the way people didn’t meddle in other people’s lives. I began to fall in love with the city.
But the world works in mysterious ways. Just when I thought I had finally adjusted in the city came the next road block. From Mumbai we had been transferred to Muktsar. Before being transferred I never knew such a city existed on the map of India. Pretty soon I came to know it was a small town in Punjab. I was angry at first which soon turned to shock when I learned more about the town. There weren’t many schools and those that were there were below average. There would be no electricity for 16-20 hours a day during summers and about 8-10 hours during winters. The town was known for rampant drug abuse by school kids. It was like my world had been turned upside down again. It wasn’t just about moving away from a city but it was also about moving into a city which was radically different from city that I was living in. Muktsar was full of people from the business background and people judged one another on the amount of money one possessed. People from the working class were looked down upon. It was a difficult transition. Everyone in school spoke Punjabi which I knew very little of. Plus they considered me an outsider as their thought process was radically different than mine. I remember coming back from school the first day and crying my guts out, all the while telling my parents that I wanted to go back to Mumbai at any cost. It took me a long time but I slowly gelled with them. The experience taught me many things. I learned to live with people who were so different than I was. And not just live but enjoy with them. Yes, things were difficult at times but it was a good experience in all. After about 2 years I came back to my native place due to lack of availability of further education.
The experiences I have had and described are something that a lot of children undergo. Many people around me have faced similar situations and most of them do have problems adjusting. There are many things that we need to remember during the transition phase. First and foremost we need to keep ourselves open. We should be open to accepting new people and new surroundings. The more we resist change the more difficult it gets for us to adjust. Secondly, we should try and be understanding of people. We should remember that everyone grows in different circumstances, different backgrounds and with different values. So it would make things easier if we accept people for who they are rather than drawing comparisons and finding faults. Besides, it is important to stay connected with your family. Change is hard for every person of the family. So it often happens that everyone gets engrossed in their own lives trying to deal with it and forget that staying connected with each other is the best way of getting past it. Your family can offer you the best support in such times. Lastly, keep in touch with your old friends. Making new friends is important and it may take time but keeping in touch with old friends provides support and makes adjusting easier.
All these years when I look back at my life I have realized that though the transfers have been among the most difficult times of my life but they have shaped me like nothing else will. They have taught me things that I could never have learned otherwise. The experiences have been the best in my life. The memories I have of the cities are things that I will always treasure and cherish. They have lead me to believe- Change is constant. Change is good.
The Tale Of Changing Stories
“The only thing that is constant in this world is change.”