Rehana wondered why she was always the odd one out. The right-brain in a family of left-brainers. The poet amidst the accountants and engineers. The 'dreamy' one in a Commerce classroom at school. Then in college, the foreigner in a class of locals. The exotic out-of-towner among middle-class extended relatives. After marriage, the 'glamorous' pasta-favouring bhabi in a simple choley bhature-savouring family. At kitty parties, the bored intellectual. At work, the wide-eyed ingenue. Amongst jaded colleagues, the enthusiastic let's-go-getter. Between friends, the freedom seeker. Around school moms, the clumsy, date-forgetting clutz. At professional events, the one in control.
Rehana wondered why she was always the 'different one', in every environment, from the time she was born.
Then, one day, she was asked to 'change' herself, to conform to the stereotype, in order to grow in her career. At the same time, she came across a crossroads in her personal life. Choice one, go with social acceptance. Two, go with the heart.
That day, she realised why she was always the different one. It was a kind of training ground, preparing her for the most important role of her life: To be the 'odd' one out in a work environment full of fake smiles and hollow hearts. To be the 'real thing' in a world of clones. She would not become a stereotype, because she couldn't, she decided. She was used to being different, and perhaps that's what her industry needed. If her management wanted to go with her, good for them. If not, good for her.
And in her personal life, she again decided, true to habit, to be 'different'. She chose neither social acceptance nor the whimsical heart. Instead, she chose independence over dependence, self-love over sacrifice, the present moment instead of a ghost of a future. She chose her soul.
She told me of her decisions today, and asked me if I approved. I said, if she still needed my approval, she obviously wasn't getting the point. She nodded and laughed, and left without further questions. I smiled as she walked away. This book is only half done. And here's when it gets really interesting.