“Just give me five more minutes Ammu” I screamed from the kitchen at 10.30 am in the morning, juggling between cutting vegetables and throwing spices in the curry. Yes, I was cooking lunch at 10 in the morning, while biting into a piece of bread now and then as a substitute for my missed breakfast. It was only day-2 of my mom being bed-bound after her accident and me being the chef- student- CR- teacher- sister- daughter all at once. My finals was around the corner and so were my students’ IELTS examination making my nights even more sleepless than they already were.

Fast forward to me hopping onto a bus at 11 with no seat or place to stand whatsoever and then realizing that I forgot about the viva because of all the hustle and constant stressing over my mom’s dislocated knee. On top of everything, I was wearing a crinkled skirt and skinny jeans which in a Bangladeshi context is worth giving an inappropriate attention to, especially in a public bus. And the middle aged uncle in the back seat made sure I felt enough uncomfortable with his perverted scanning. I  kind of felt like screaming at this point but my watch kept reminding me that this journey was my only chance of going through the contents for the viva on one hand and my very existence kept reminding me why this viva was so  important on the other. (Background story: three things I can absolutely die for are my family and their well-being, my love for literature and my love for art. And somehow they are all interlinked:I need good grades for better future in literature; this gives me scholarship which helps my family; good grades means good jobs meaning more money; more money  leads to a comfortable life for my parents and endless art supplies to give my own exhibition someday) Hence, I hanged my backpack from the front covering my chest, kind of like a suit of armour if you will (against the intentional brushing and pushing in a crowded bus), pulled out my notes and held it in front of me with my left hand and used my right one to hold on to a seat to balance my standing self. Looking back I still think that was rather desperate and brave of me.

Other than having a complete break down in front of my teacher during the viva because “How are you Tasneem?” was the only piece of affection I got in a while, checking mock copies till 8.30 at work, passing out without changing after coming home at 9.45, waking up in terror realizing my whole family was starving because I dozed off, burning my finger while making dinner and finally going off to bed knowing I’d have to repeat the whole routine again tomorrow.

I still can’t gather how fast the series of incidents happened back then in 2019—from my grandmother passing away to my mother’s accident to my promotion as an IELTS instructor to being a complete physical and emotional wreck; all within the span of the month of December, the very month I turned twenty three. Maybe that was the first taste of adulthood. Maybe that was a warm-up for upcoming disastrous year that 2020 has become. But if I’m being honest I’d say there’s a lot to be grateful for: my mom’s doing great, I scored the highest again but only better this time, I’ve read a total of 34 books in the last eight months in quarantine, I’ve been painting and sketching almost everyday now, I’m mentally and physically in a way better place and the list goes on. I’ve found so many little things to be grateful for. Now that I think of it, even that very traumatizing day had its silver lining, I’ve got a taste of mom’s day to day life, I’ve scored 3.95 which made me aware of my own capability and willingness and more. So maybe there’s still a possibility that things might get better. I’ve survived the worst with my mom in bed.So maybe I’ll survive this too.

So what’s the point of this story? Well, I just wanted to deliver the message that all good grades, great hobby, a nice job did not happen in a single day. I had my tantrums and my “cry for help” every once in a while. I’ll graduate in a few months and I want you to be the next “Tasneemapu” for your juniors and freshers. And if you’re reading this then know that somehow a random piece of my mind made its way to the magazine with the sole intention of inspiring everyone. I hope that it gives you the courage to keep pushing yourself to the edge. I just want you to know that I am not where I am right now overnight; it took me stressful amount of effort, love and support from parents and teachers and loads of self belief because your dreams are just one “laborious” minute away!!!!

(Note: I wanted to say these words on my graduation ceremony/ rag day but I find “goodbyes” overwhelming and I tend to bawl like a child and that’s not a sight I want you to remember me by, so I hope this piece serves its purpose in a form of “bidding goodbye” as well)