"i could always sense a boundary around me and i did my best not to step over the line." - Haruki Murakami

this statement echoed in my head. our meeting was brief, it lasted the distance of just five railway stations, but i could tell the impact would last a lifetime. i met her in a crowded 7 am ladies special. she was frantically looking for a seat, i offered her mine. she muttered a thank you as she settled down. before she could breathe a sigh of relief i asked her, what's your life story kaku, a colloquial word for aunt...

it is at this point that people start considering me crazy, so even if she was taken aback by my question, she didn't show any of it on her well-aged face. she asked me to let her hold my heavy bag. i smiled and reassured her not to worry since i would be getting off in a couple of stops.

she informed me that she was running away from her family. it was my turn to hide my emotions. she told me she'd lived a life for others, first for her parents, then for her husband and finally for her children. she said she will go to VT station and catch the first train out of the city and start a new life. she told me how everyone had pampered her throughout her life but she could always sense a boundary around her and she did her best not to step over the line. she wanted to live for herself. she had no idea what she wanted to achieve, she was aware that it would be difficult. she was also aware that she might have to return if things fail. she told me it was now or never, that life is happening in present and living in the past is a crime and living in the future is mere fantasy.  she held my hand before i could excuse myself to get off at the next platform. she looked into my eyes and said - live your dreams beti (daughter), live them today. i couldn't reply, i was pushed away by a wave of incoming passengers, and that was the last i saw of her.  i often think about her. what happened to her? did she find what she was looking for? did she return home? was it a start to another life or the end of one?  we keep turning the pages of life, one chapter after another. when do we know it's time to let go and begin a new one? do we ever know the end is nearing? isn't it an endless story for us? we are characters in our own story. viewing life as a spectator would be like watching a familiar film, we'd be able to warn ourselves about any upcoming storms. what fun would that be though? a life filled with warnings, important parts highlighted, confusing parts decrypted, sad endings tear stained? we'd never be able to think for ourselves if we had the map of the journey we were yet to undertake. 

kaku taught me a lot in such little time. she made me question a lot more. i might never have the answers to many of them but they made things clearer to see. she made me prioritise myself. if someone who lived for others for most of her life decides it is too big a sacrifice and is courageous enough to make amends, why can't i do anything about my life? make amends? taking risks in life sounds scary.

we almost always choose the calmer path without realising that it wasn't leading us to the destination we wanted to reach. things look similar but not the same, it's not what you dreamt about every night. sometimes taking the path where it thunders every night, where every step can blow off a land mine, where things are uncertain, taking such a path may lead you to beautiful rainbows, to the paradise you dreamt about every night. sometimes you cross paths with strangers who shape your life, kaku was one of the most important thing that ever happened to me.  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thoughts penned down for Photo Bombaying's pictures by:

Bhumika Israni, a medical student, loves to write letters to strangers around the world. She loves to travel and sleep. If not found buried deep in her books, you'd find her writing postcards and letters or sorting stamps. 

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