I’ve heard elders say, ‘Money brings happiness and a make-believe sense of pride to everyone who possesses it’. I am not going to lie, like all others, my dream is to make a lot of money for myself too. I have dreamt of owning luxury cars, expensive gadgets, and living an opulent lifestyle. The life of the ‘rich’ and ‘busy’ men has always fascinated me. I have dreamt of myself in black tuxedos with a white pocket square, hair gelled backward sitting in a luxurious car – Yeah, you are right, a lifestyle inspired by James Bond. I would make an average height-ed James Bond, I suppose!
My return to India as an NRI
The first challenge encountered by any NRI returning to India is as peculiar as it gets. Dealing with an entirely new currency system of the Indian Rupee was a nightmare! I used to convert everything to the more familiar Omani currency called Riyal to make any purchasing decisions. This, at times, would make me neglect the actual value of the purchase. I can’t remember the number of times I got chastised for splurging money without due diligence. At an influence-able age, the lack of confidence infused within me had crippled my dealings with cash to such an extent that till date my hands tremble when I deal with money.
During one of the worst phases of my life back in Grade 11, I looked slender and ill all the time. I had lost all the hopes, dreams, and confidence in myself and declared myself a failure in all aspects. The only teacher to support me was my class teacher, she still had hopes that I could do much better in academics. Sadly, my confidence was at a level zero. Eventually, I became inactive in the discussions in class and started spending time in solitude. I had good friends, all of them were academically performing well, which naturally gave put me under extreme self-inflicted pressure. It was just a month since I witnessed my first public failure- a failed computer science paper. I was at the lowest point of my life, I thought I could never overcome that pain of being a failure. My class teacher must have sensed all this. She took great care of me during times of struggle.
On a tiresome afternoon of mid-October, we were waiting for the last bell to ring so that we could call it a day. Our class teacher raised a class list up in the air and said, “This is for the Board exam registration, everyone should bring 200 rupees tomorrow.” She looked around the class, searching for someone to volunteer for collecting the registration fee. “Anirudh will collect!” She exclaimed. I panicked when she gave me the responsibility all of a sudden.
The next day, I walked into the class earlier than usual. The class was almost empty. I thought of standing next to the front door and then collect the money as my friends entered class. Half an hour later, half of the list had been ticked. A few minutes later, my friends insisted that I should count the money before giving it to the teacher. The entire aspect of collecting money, and being responsible made me feel happy and it was refreshing indeed, but just for it to become even worse. I realized that 600 rupees was missing from the bundle. I freaked out of my soul, I could feel myself dripping in large ounces of sweat. My friends counted and recounted it. One of my friends stepped forward and cross-checked everyone who paid, we still couldn’t trace the lost notes. ‘I’ll pay from my wallet.’ I said I felt terrible already. Before I could do anything, Our class teacher entered and got to know about the incident that took place, it marked my irresponsibility and I hung my head in shame. I’ve never felt that terrible before.
I was taken to the staff room, a friend accompanied me there. I was penalized for being irresponsible and teachers began feeling skeptical about me. They had the feeling that I would have taken the money on purpose. I was repeatedly asked to check my wallet, which I did. My wallet looked full, with the pocket money I received from my grandparents a few days ago. Questions were raised on the money in my wallet too. I had them in my wallet just because I couldn’t keep it in the dorm room safely.
My class teacher managed to keep me away from this, not penalizing me for the incident. Few of my classmates looked at me with suspicion, I lowered my head in shame. It was a mystery…where did the money go? My heart pounded faster than ever. It has been double-underlined that I’m an irresponsible person now, my heart couldn’t accept the fact. My class teacher paid 600 rupees herself and closed the speculations.
Three and a half years have passed (as of March 2021)….I still find it hard to take responsibility when it comes to sensitive things related to money. I sweat my heart out to separate notes from a bundle of them. I’ve had consequent nightmares of the incident. While typing this out, I realize, I still haven’t come out of the trauma. The suspicious looks of all the teachers in the staff room except my class teacher…. Ah I remember it crystal clear. The money must’ve been stolen, or it must have been dropped somewhere, or it must have been my lack of management…I guess we’ll never know. Although, some teachers who saw the CCTV footage of that day, considered concealing the truth from me for good. I realized one thing: It was just another test of life, to make me a better man. The pain was miserable, the events following that were miserable – Misery well-handled amounts to impeccable success, only if you handle it well. Today, apart from heavy imposter syndrome symptoms, I still doubt everything that I do. I could have handled it another way instead of taking the stab right into my heart. But, as I always say, everything looks easy in retrospection.
Nowadays, I take responsibility to prove to myself that I’m better than what I think I am. I’m willing to prove myself wrong and leap higher in terms of self-confidence. I am better than what I think I am, and so are you. So, If you fear something, face more of it, until your fear flies away. Some people fear water, maintain safety precautions, and go to the depth of the oceans while others are too afraid of failure. My advice! Defeat the failure and stand invincible because you are better than what you think you are, aren’t you?💓
By Anirudh R.P.
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