On 18th December we left for Zainabad, around 90 KM away from our University. I had downloaded some best romantic songs of contemporary popular musicians and transferred them to my mobile. I thought I will listen to music during my entire journey, as it turned out, I shoved both the bags inside the store part of bus and later on tried hard to remove headphones and mobile but couldn’t triumph in my struggle. I couldn’t do that, the travelers were anxious to get in the bus and reach to destination. Fortunately, I slept for the whole journey. It was an ecstatic feeling. We all were distancing ourselves from the world of assignments, deadlines, noise and much more. The place named Desert Coursers where we were supposed to stay was inside a thick, bushy forest. One thing that was still catching on our tail was lots of dust. In fact it was more severe here.
Finally, after few hours we reached Zainabad.
It was a completely different world for me. The bus, somewhat similar to a matchbox stopped at the gate. I was the first person who got down from it as in the middle of journey, I had shifted myself near the driver. Some men with carts on which I have seen vegetables sold in Jehangir Chowk of Kashmir, appeared to take our bags and things in them. It was a relief. For 5 days we would now work on ourselves. Self-reflection became the buzzword. It was incredibly joyous and stupefying, I mean, never in our lives do we work on ourselves or so to say on our spiritual and intellectual beings and here were in the middle of nowhere ready to dissect our inner beings.
Self actualization is a crucial aspect if one aspires to live a good, moral life. You can never be good to others if you fail to treat yourself properly, in a humane manner. Just to include a small observation here, which is that we all human beings easily find faults, incompetencies, lacunas in other people, it is so easy job to do. When it comes to our own self then a wave of ignorance clouds our critical part of brain. We stop thinking, and worse when somebody else points out those gaps to us, we will turn our guards up, answer in a defensive tone.
In the night in Zainabad, we were introduced to four facilitators, one of which we had met earlier during the orientation week. Her name was Indira Parikh, founder of Flame University and senior educationist. The other seemingly in his sixties was Sushnata Bannerjee, an IIT graduate. The other two were Cindhu and Manju. It was quite a scene; we all were organized in a circle in the middle of hotel’s space.
On 19th December, we had our first session of self-reflection. Before we moved into those small tents we had a good breakfast. After months now, I finally saw an omelet and immediately conveyed it to my plate. Not only that I transferred three boiled eggs into it, whether people will gawk or gaze it didn’t bother me. I was the happiest person standing there on the soil of Zainabad.
For first day all of us remained mostly shut, hardly expressed any personal experience in the group addressed by Sushnata. The inhibition in sharing the personal struggles of life in the group was duly supported by a feeling that people will know about our vulnerabilities which then will be used against us in the posterity. Everybody would whisper after the first break of first day that it is too dangerous to share the details here. Apparently, the facilitator said during the previous night that this self-reflection lab is all about you. The more you share your experience the more you get was the mantra chanted everywhere.
This made the situation more taxing. Facilitator onerously tried to dig things, un-earthen the deeply rusted layers of memories from us. Eventually, some colleagues in the group opened up. It was a completely different cosmos. People cried, wept, shed tears as if some stream came to existence. We brought brand new toilet papers for colleagues to wipe their eyes. I used many of them. The realization that this is the time to vent our emotions who are lingering there in the dark dungeons of memory came to us.
We all thought not now then when.
For whole journey the tears, emotions, catharsis, sympathy, empathy, love, hate, and derision, all of these events painted the canvas of self-growth lab. For me the greatest revelation centred on ‘assumption reaction chain’. By that I mean, for most of my life I have been assuming whole lot of things about people. I was very cynical about humans, believed that they are only behind their interests and held a hell lot of grudge against them. I also learned the skill of having a dialogue. Earlier if somebody will show some micro aggression or will try to belittle me, I would not say anything at that moment. But I would internalize the whole event, over-think about it and most of the times will stop talking to that person. Now, the belief that this world is not a perfect place to live in and people are going to hurt you unintentionally or intentionally no matter what you do about it, what you can do is to show extreme patience level and then talk to a person and understand the genesis behind his action of harming me.
And sometimes, we assume outrageously stupid things about the people whom we don’t like. Your assumption about the person will be utterly decimated once you talk to him/her. I did the same; in that group I didn’t have a good relationship with one colleague. The day before we had to leave, I talked about that person. Facilitator gave us chance to come in the middle and talk about the complaints and grievances. We talked; and magically everything was solved in few minutes.
Sometimes, you just need to talk, just approach the person and listen to his complaints. Assumptions are very dangerous and represent a door of the much deeper dark negative world.
Interestingly enough, there was a discussion about the different roles a human being takes when living through his cycle of life. We have different identities in the world. Sometimes, we are children of our parents, outside our homes we become someone’s friend, a big brother and various other identities define us. There is one certain anomaly we talked about in that tent in Zainabad and that is we sometimes don’t come out of these roles. At times, we constrain ourselves to a limited world, for instance we may not come out of the role of son. We stop thinking about ourselves, our own development and continuously try to appease our parents by fulfilling every single responsibility they give us. What instead a person should do is to religiously abide by a certain role in a certain period of time and then there should be a smooth transition to other.
And then life goes on.