I will not forget today. I might have caught a cold, did overtime at work, and nearly dropped my phone while getting off the bus and saved it just when the bus might have road-rolled it. Despite all these technicalities my stomach still jumped when I left my workplace. When the elevator door shut I felt like the lights in the cinema had come on and suddenly something I invested so much in was over. Just like that. It was my last day at my NGO today and I don’t know exactly why I am nervous. Maybe because my routine is going to change, maybe it’s because I am not going to wake up in the morning and wonder what joke would have me rolling with laughter at work that day.
I told myself though that it was only seven weeks, how could it mean anything? But they were seven exciting weeks with the funniest and some of the nicest people I now have the pleasure of knowing. The NGO wasn’t just an organisation, it was a place where people meant something. Avasar, the NGO I worked at was a bubbling place of simplicity and innovation. For the first time, my work wasn’t for the name it would bring me, or for the good of my resume. I felt like I was a part of something more, something much larger than me. When I learnt more about Avasar as the days went by, the students who make Avasar, especially the 11 and 12-year olds whose happiness overshadows their lack of opportunities and told me their ambitions which felt like I was suddenly given a beautiful crystal and I was scared that I might break it.
My mentors, the founder, teachers, everyone allowed us into the inner circle of Avasar. They knew we were going to be there for seven weeks, but definitely made us feel like we were part of a family. I enjoyed the work given to me and most of all working with my teammates or rather Fellow designates. They became three friends that I’ll probably always be indebted to in some way. From sharing in my depression to making me feel comfortable, luckily for me, they were just as crazy as I was. One (Mahendra) of them loves clicking selfies, and looks for every opportunity to be in front of the camera, one (Sahil) loves to sing and mimic others and is perhaps the funniest of all of us. My close partner (Ankita), who is small but far from timid and laughs harder than all three of us put together dealt with my stress, my impulsive behaviour, and neurotic symptoms. These seven weeks literally felt like one very long party. And the hangover will take years to recover from (ahem!).
Life may be complicated but the people you surround yourself with make all the difference in how you’re going to handle life. Deadlines were a breeze with them and our photos are there to prove it. I felt like I was my age around them, not philosophical, brooding and shut off. I started to embrace my weird side, a side I controlled so much because I was scared of losing friends. No matter how bad my day was going, at work things always got better. This fellowship for me was one of my highlights in this gap year.
Avasar, was an opportunity for me. It helped me, academically, professionally and personally. Academically because it shifted my perspective in terms of class and the inherited cycle of poverty, the burden of capitalism which capitalists fund to make better. Professionally because the fellowship was built on the idea of driving social change through media and mediums. Personally, because my depression lost against my laughter, a sound that felt like a stranger when I laughed on the first day and now is a reflex reaction when I am around these three.
But I am sure my association with Avasar won’t end here and I would be extremely disappointed in myself if it does. My life which I was willing to give up a few months ago has begun to regain purpose. It’s scary for me to admit it. It’s only when you face your privilege that you realise that if you die, you literally threw away the privilege that you inherited and didn’t earn. When I see those girls learning, working hard to get somewhere I felt ashamed that I thought my life wasn’t worth it. My parents worked very hard, they are self-made individuals who gave me a life that perhaps I don’t deserve. But, all of their hard work, all these girls’ hard work for a better future would go to waste if I threw away my life. My life is the better future, my parents built, if I give up it would just mean they were unsuccessful.
I learnt a lot during this time and I am never going to forget it. It’s the last day but it’s an indication of things to come. Thank you Avasar.