I still remember myself at 8 years of age, sitting down on my red carpet, wide-eyed and filled with awe. I remember the incessant whirling of the ceiling fan and I remember the greyness of the afternoon. Most of all, I remember the man who was sitting in front of me dressed in white-both shirt and pants. A stark contrast to his gleaming dark skin and betel-juice stained lips. He was falling asleep after the hearty lunch. Still, I hung on every word. See, he was the astrologer.
All it would take is one firm clutch at my palm, a few 'hmmmms' and 'ahhhhs' and my destiny would be revealed. I was afraid , strangely, at that age, that he was going to reveal horrible things. That I would be the least wealthy amongst my siblings. That I would achieve the worst grades. That my 'career' would consist of me trudging along at work as the office clerk and would have to pack bread and butter sandwiches for lunch to work every day. That I would bear more kids than I could handle. That when they grew up and were more interested in their own families. That I would die of cancer. Alone. I was sure of it. I could see it in his eyes. I clutched my stomach trying desperately to silence the knotting inside.
Demented kid, I know.
But it didn't happen. He didn't prophesise my worst fears. Instead, he said I would be the most sensitive child. He said I would be the one who cared. He said I would hate school but would thrive later on in university. He said I would make enough money to keep myself happy. He said I was going to be all right. And finally, he said I was going to become a politician. A politician. In my mind, politics was exclusive to the royal family. No really. Come on, I was eight. That's when I decided to believe.
I was determined to become the best politician ever. So, I started reading. I read everything I could get my hands on. Enid Blyton. Little house on the prairie. Jane Eyre. The hunting habits of African desert animals.The complete works of Beatrix Potter. Archie comics.The autobiography of the Dalai Lama. The dictionary. I wanted to know everything. I was about to change lives, after all. I also watched the nightly news. Religiously. 8 o'clock and there I was again, cross legged on my red carpet hanging on to every word of the newscaster. My first living idol was Benazir Bhuto. I would dress like her. Complete with the shades and 4 inch high heels. I was on my way. I started doing better in school. I stopped hiding behind my mother's knees whenever I met new people. I entered a story-telling competition at school. I came in third. And when a kid in school told me that my success was merely because the teachers loved my prodigious older sibling, I shoved her so hard ,she fell back first into a drain. She sprained her arm. I got into so much trouble. But I was proud of myself. Because for the first time, I DID NOT believe her. I knew I told ONE HELL OF A STORY at that competition.
You would think that incident changed my life. It did not. Not in 19 years. You see, in that 19 years lots of things happened. Naturally.Good and bad. I made friends, I lost friends. I did well in exams, I failed exams. I went on fad diets. I loved. I made a fool of myself in many instances. I gave to charity. On the whole, life happened. For some bizarre reason, I took in all the bad and it all piled up. All Yin, no Yang. I became a pessimist yet convinced myself and others that I was in essence a realist. I rubbished my achievements. I took my lessons as personal failings. Negativity buried me.
And then I hit my bottom. I might get into that some other day, or I might not. We will see. Anyway, the bottom was not a very nice place. Lots of carbs but no validation whatsoever. So, I decided to do things differently. My personal systemic change. Complete overhaul.
Mentally, I started saying nice things to myself. I told myself that I was an achiever. I told myself I was kind. I told myself I was destined for blessings. And today, for the first time in 5 years, I lost a couple of pounds. I did not crave food in the middle of the night on some nights (yay!!). When I didn't exercise 2 days last week, I was okay. I actually laughed.
And in the process, I learnt that it is not important what (mis)/fortunes await you. It does not matter that you carry that extra weight. It is just fat after all. A chemical make up. It does not matter if you fail an exam. It does not matter if you accidentally wore the same dress to the same event 2 years in a row. And if there were photographers. What does matter, is YOU. The way you treat yourself. Your mantra every morning when you stare/gaze at your reflection at the mirror. I want to be that kid won that story-telling competition. I want to be that kid who believed. I want to be ME.