Family Beyond Family
Following the age-old birthday tradition, the 18-year-old me added two more wishes to her bucket list as I officially stepped into adulthood.
“Want a trip to the mountains!”
“Want a family beyond my family!”
Mountains are always a must added wish in every bucket list. But a ‘family’ was something I desperately wanted for as long as I can remember. A broken brown home always made that 18-year-old adult (read: teenager) question if normal families only existed in fairy tales. 12 years of education could never explain the realities of family. All it could teach was how families were made within the four walls of our house. But what if we break through those walls? What if we create our own boundaries? Can we find a family beyond our family?
My questions were answered when I travelled 25 kilometres for an interview on a Thursday morning. It was the first interview of my life, and probably a life-changing one for the record. My love for social work led me to join a Social Internship where I would get to serve the society the way I wanted. I joined the internship with an aim of only giving back to society. I never knew how much it would give me back in return for the small contributions I was about to make.
I started working as an intern in the Social Internship in 2018 and that is when I found my mentor. I never knew I needed a mentor in life. Who does? I was an 18-year-old kid unaware of what adulthood was like (technically I am still unaware). I only knew him as the coordinator to whom I was answerable for my work. He, on the other hand, saw something and decided to mentor me beyond the tiny margins of this internship.
My first lesson began when he taught me about the importance of professionalism. He showed me the way work should be seen and not how I used to function years ago. Till date, whenever someone compliments me for the standards of work I follow, I owe every such praise to him. He made me realize the calibre I had in me. And that was not it! It was him who showed me how imperfections exist at every nook and corner, and how easy it was to embrace them. That is how I found my teacher in no time.
He must have been a genie or something who could see right through me every time I was bothered. He took all my cribbing over every petty issue like his sip of coffee — effortlessly and gracefully. I don’t have a count of how many times I have cried over the most trivial things. But crying doesn’t solve our problems, do they? Acceptance does. If it weren’t for him, I would have never understood the meaning of acceptance and hope. I am still learning my way through adulthood and its tricks. But having a mentor like him just made that very rough road smooth enough for me to learn. I still make my mistakes, but one thing which he never did was give up on me. I wasn’t sure I was capable of being redeemed after every mess I created. He made sure to keep that hope alive no matter what. That was how I found my ray of hope amidst this cloudy sky.
Having no elder siblings always itched me in ways I could not express to anyone. I was someone my family could look up to, but I did not have one person as such till I met him. He became the idol I could look up to every time I was in a catch 22 situation. From spending all day and night to prepare my final year dissertation to help me choose my career options, I discovered how he had a magic wand for every circumstance. Making wrong choices has always been my forte until he helped me make the best decisions which ended up being the turning points in my life. I had a poorly constructed concept of what friendship meant. He introduced me to his dictionary of friendship and soon became the strongest pillar of support for me. That is how I found my friend at the most unexpected sphere.
The wait to find a mentor, a friend and most importantly a family, all in one person, was worth it. Our stories go back to how I have always been the Enthu Cutlet who was nurtured by him to what I am today. I have shared equal amounts of both laughter sessions as well as thrashing fiascos with him. And then I have shared genuine conversations about everything I can think of. Today, four years down the line, all I know is the idea of working my way through the real world without him makes me believe that my life would have sucked like a rotten apple otherwise. That is how I found my family beyond my family.