The year was 2000. The new generation had stars in its eyes and most of the educated ones wanted to live The Great American Dream. Those with talent, willingness to work and a fair amount of luck made the cut and set sail towards the New World while the rest continued to plough through the same mundane life. But in a small village near Mangalore, one girl dared to dream big.
Income was meagre, expenses were high, debts were mounting and 5 hungry mouths added to Krishnappa’s woes. His eldest daughter Kaveri was a bright young girl who had just completed her PUC from a nearby private college. It was only after much persuasion and contribution from local charitable trusts that he agreed. But today, He was beginning to regret having sown the seeds of a plant that demanded lot more than he could supply. Kaveri had secured distinction in her exams and her rank in the Common Entrance Test indicated the possibility of a medical seat in Bangalore. Encouraged by her teachers, Kaveri decided that she would pursue medicine come what may. Of course, it raised consternation in the family; her mother’s health was deteriorating and her younger brothers also required education. Why couldn’t she just get married and lessen the burden?
Kaveri was firm in her stand; several nights she sat down with her mother and gave her hopes of a better future. She explained how she could earn substantially more in a matter of time if they supported her in her venture. She reminded her of her grandmother who had died because there was no doctor in the village who could treat her. In the time that ensued before they shifted her to the General hospital, her condition had taken a turn for the worse and she passed away in a few days. She promised her mother that what she was doing was for the family, she would come back to the village, she would provide for her brothers’ education and so on. With these promises, she slowly managed to win over her mother.
Her father, on the other hand was a tough nut to crack. He did not oppose the fact that she wanted to study further; it was just that he did not favour her becoming a doctor.
“Why don’t you study B.Sc or B.Com like your friends Gayathri and Veena and become a school teacher? You can live with us and still get your degree. Why do you have to travel so far? Who will fund your education?
Further, he believed that this was where she belonged, in the middle of the serenity and purity of Mother Nature. He feared that the modernization of city life would irrevocably change his daughter.
She assured him that the teachers in her college would help her apply for a loan and scholarships from charitable trusts. Yet, whatever she said, he remained melancholic about her decision. Looking back, he regretted having nourished the seeds sown by her teachers. He had always urged her to do better in every test, exam or competition. Today, what had it led to? He resigned himself to the Fate that his bird had grown wings and was raring to fly into a bigger world. Now, he could only watch the beauty and grace of the bird he had nurtured from a distance.
Bangalore was on the brink of a major revolution. Tree-lined avenues and quaint gardens had given way to swanky sky liners, six-lane roads and software techparks. Blessed with pristine and pleasant climate, Bangalore still retained some of its old world charm reminiscent of the colonial era.
Yet, Sagar was like a fish out of water in the cosmopolitan city. Born in the States, he had lived in California for 8 years and then relocated with his family to Bangalore so that they could be around his grandparents. He had tried, struggled and failed at adapting to life in Bangalore. Recluse and reticent, he neither encouraged not actively went in search of any company. Having spent his childhood in a far more developed place, he was initially alarmed by the sight of cows and cars polluting the streets. He had hoped that with time, he would acclimatize to the evolving city yet that was not meant to be. With each passing day, he was filled with a sense of dread and despair. Then mechanical lifestyle did not suit him; he wanted purity of mind and space. Here, he felt compelled to be a part of a rat race he had no interest in running. He seemed to be chasing endlessly with no goal in sight. Often, he questioned himself; why was he doing all this?
Having secured themselves financially from their overseas stint, his parents provided good facilities for him to excel academically. He was enrolled into an intensive coaching program for his +2 to help him get into the best institutions, yet he lacked the spark of enthusiasm that drives one towards success.
The results were announced. He had secured 90% and his performance in the Entrance Test made him eligible for a medical seat in Bangalore. While his parents were elated, it only drove Sagar into greater depths of despair. Fear compelled him to quell his insecurities and he resigned himself to the fate of a caged bird.
While he continued to dwell on the misery of his success, his parents hoped that one day, their son would vocalise his opinion and listen to his heart. They had always encouraged him to follow what he was passionate about, yet through the years, Sagar drifted along neither with enthusiasm nor against resistance. As parents, they were wise enough to give him the freedom of doing what he was passionate about, but their son failed to see the freedom he was bestowed with. Perhaps with time, he would realize that sometimes the cages around us are built by ourselves.
They say that it is in college that we discover who we truly are. Whether it is true or not is debatable but what cannot be questioned is the fact that it is in college that we get a glimpse of the world.
With hopes, dreams and determination, Kaveri stepped into MS Ramaiah Medical College in the August of 2000. Bangalore was a massive shift from the quaint village she had grown up in. Her college was in the middle of a bustling neighbourhood so traffic and pollution took a toll on her health in the initial days. She lived in a rundown girl’s hostel that reeked of dust and housed more mice than girls. Yet, none of this bothered her. It was the people who took her by surprise, with their indifference to everything that did not concern them. Nobody seemed to care about your existence, your health, your welfare and least of all, your happiness!
Unlike in her village, here nobody seemed to have the time to stop and chat for a while or help her find her bearings in a new city. Being a keen observer, she slowly understood that she needed to adapt in order to survive. If indifference would help her succeed, then so be it! She buried herself completely in her studies, restricted herself to a few acquaintances and did not socialize beyond what was expected of her. Days passed into weeks that slowly turned into months, Kaveri was a changed person: She was confident, self-assured and yes, she was indifferent to everything that did not concern her goal.
The same circumstances can bring out the differences in our personalities. On the same day at the same place, another student walked gates of MS Ramaiah. Sagar was taken aback by the diversity in the student population. There was a sprinkling of students from all over the country; Kannadigas formed the majority closely followed by Keralites, North Indians and students from the North East. In all his earlier experiences, he had never seen such cultural and economic variation coexist. Out of the blue, he was triggered by the urge to know more and he began to emerge from the cocoon he had built around himself. As days passed, he socialized more, he began to appreciate how fortunate he was and he developed an interest towards his academics. The bird had found its wings and began its journey into the limitless sky.
Three years had passed since Kaveri had stepped into the hallowed portals of Medicine. While academics remained her sole focus, friends remained far and few. Family had taken a backseat and her visits to her hometown had become perfunctory and awkward. Her mother’s health was uncertain and her father’s salary remained constant against the rising cost of expenses but somewhere in the middle of her zest and zeal for success, she had become apathetic towards her family as well.
“Why doesn’t Kaveri call anymore? She even has a cellphone now. Are we no one to her?” her mother lamented.
To this, her father smiled to himself. He was not surprised by the turn of events.
“Do you know why I insisted on naming her Kaveri? She created more havoc than both the boys ever did. She is the Restless, unstoppable one and she will not stop for anyone or anything. There are no rocks, boulders or hills that hinder the progress of the river Cauvery. It is only when she meets the mighty Ocean that she will halt her pace, pause and reflect on life. I can only hope that such a day will arrive soon.” The wise father replied.