Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sliding Doors

It was my last day at work, the place that was akin to my second home. Tears welled up in my eyes as I started gathering my belongings in a small cardboard box. So many memories bundled into one but none that I could cherish any longer.

From being an article trainee to becoming a full time Chartered Accountant; it was at this very office that my career shaped up. This is where I attained success and accolades for my upbeat performance. But my hard-work and hard-earned success suddenly didn’t matter as I looked around the room, staring at the faces of my fellow colleagues. Some were sad while the majority of them were averting their gazes while some silently talked amongst themselves.

“I feel so sorry for Aliyah, poor girl what was her mistake but then again we can’t let her roam freely around us too can we? What if, even we fall victim to it?”

Life seems smooth on the surface at one moment but one never knows the undercurrents below and when they finally surface out, you are left in a whirlpool of emotions with no place to go. Just an accident and a blood transfusion cost me everything. My career was over, my dreams shattered. And people who were my life, friends and family too grew distant.

Sighing softly I wondered would it have been any different, had I not been an HIV+? There were a million thoughts racing in my mind to which I had no answers; is the society really fair like it preaches to be and does it let everyone live in peace? To me it didn’t look impartial anymore and I felt as if I was living in an illusion all these years.

For days I kept myself locked in the confines of my home, roamed streets like a lost soul. Was I guilty and are people really ignorant? But it wasn’t my mistake then why was I being blamed? A million questions plagued me and I was drowning in pools of depression. I tried to see past everything but the tears came down stronger and the reality of my situation came crashing down on me like a nightmare. 

The days passed slowly, maybe even months had gone by and eventually I lost count of them. Thoughts of what-if ran in my mind like an infinite loop and I couldn’t find a way out. Once I even wished to end my life but I didn’t have the courage when I thought of my parents whom I still loved. With nothing much to do I cast the shadow of doubt and decided to venture out of my home for long walks. It was during one such walk that I stumbled across an NGO that counseled people like me. At first I was hesitant to approach them as fear cobbled me down but after a mental talk that I could not ruin myself more I enrolled, where I was given both proper medicinal guidance and counseling. And it was there that I first met Yasin; he too like me was HIV+ and was a counselor there. Meeting Yasin was the best thing to happen to me, he was the first person I befriended and talked freely in months and surprisingly he was both caring and a pillar of strength.

Time passed by but the struggles and hardships didn’t end. I worked in the NGO at morning managing the accounts and taught underprivileged children at another NGO in evening, glad that at least not everyone shunned people like me to make ends meet in this hostile society. For the next two years I survived in terrible economic hardships without the help from friends and family saving as much money as possible. I was not aloof to my medical condition and knew only money could help in time of need.

A year later Yasin suggested that I not let go of my dreams and start a small Chartered Accountancy firm. Though the idea seemed too far-fetched at that time it was not impossible. Then again setting up the company was not an easy job; there were several pitfalls. Right from renting a room, to the bank sanctioning the loan, hiring employees and getting clients. But recruiting employees was the hardest task not only was I a woman but an HIV+ woman and so, many shunned me. The West was comparatively more accepting but it felt like the society I was raised in didn’t want to see things from a different perspective. And it was at times like these when all I wanted to do was give up. But with Yasin’s support and help from NGO’s I started believing in myself and my dream again. Slowly but steadily the times changed, the society, my family accepted us and we finally made a place for ourselves.

Today Ten years later I can’t believe I’m standing on the podium of the college I graduated from receiving the “Inspirational Entrepreneur Award.”  To say I’m not proud of my achievements and my husband Yasin’s faith in me would be an understatement. When the world was against me and I had lost all hopes, he was the one who harbored faith in me and encouraged my dream. I would like to thank the medical science for their advancement and their efforts in igniting the minds of people. Also a heart-felt Thank You to Yasin for supporting me always and my two year old daughter who has brightened my life.

Last but not the least I would end my talk by saying, “Don’t be disappointed or afraid that you are different but work towards your goal with utmost dedication and your dreams will come true.”

I wish to get my story published in Chicken Soup for the Indian Entrepreneurs Soul in association with BlogAdda.com

P.S: Proof read by Eon. Thank You so much !