I have been rather (unusually) excited about Summer 2016 for multiple reasons. Apart from the fact that I’d be interning at my NGO of preference, I was also psyched about being home for a whole of 2 months. You see, where I study, we don’t really get a lot free days, so to speak. Actually, who am I kidding? We barely even get holidays. So being home for almost 2 months, regardless of the fact that I’d be working for 6 weeks out of the 8 weeks of summertime, really got my hopes high. So much that I set for myself a Summer Reading Challenge 2016. But to explain to you why this summer meant so much, I’ll have to give you a brief history.
Of course, there’s always something to look forward to every summer. But the previous few summers have been transitionary phases more than anything else:
I spent the Summer of 2015 writing entrance exams, giving interviews, and on the whole worrying about a future I didn’t even have back then. In retrospect it all seems silly: the amount of significance (don’t forget the money) we give to getting into institutions that might influence merely 3-4 years of our life is ridiculously large. It’s not unimportant but it’s also not a question of life and death. I also spent this summer taking a lot of self portraits because I had dyed my hair red (which eventually dulled to blonde and so on and so forth). Then there was the whole complicated issue of this relationship I was in back then. It wasn’t a very (emotionally) stable summer, to say the least.
Summer of 2014 is one I have very little memory of. I remember the excessive heat that really put me off as that was my first summer in Mumbai and the humidity really got to me. It was also the year I would find elderly uncle and aunts from all parts of the country stopping me in the middle of the street only to remind me of the upcoming “board” exams (which, by the way, is of top notch importance in India). Subconsciously or not, the pressure does seep into your system at some point. Even if you plan on avoiding it you can’t simply because the environment around you is full of it. I had extra Accountancy classes all summer and even though I enjoyed them, I have these macabre visuals in my memory where I am keep making journal entries and balance sheets all day long. That’s pretty much it though. That summer all I wanted was to get 12th grade over with; not so much the case now though.
Summer of 2013 was one of the most progressively devastating summers I can remember having. I was 15 and my parents had decided to shove at me the news of us moving to a new city. We’d lived in Pune, India for more than 10 years. Moving would mean losing out on the locality where we lived, the school friends I’d become attached to, the ex-boyfriend I was with at that time etcetera etcetera. I was tragically sentimental about it and half of me was sure I’d die if it happened. So I ended up spending that summer doing two things: dreading the day when I’d have to pack and leave and trying to seize every minute of every day by spending it with the people I thought I’d miss the most. To be honest, it was mostly the former.
It’s not like I did not enjoy these summers. I did. I am a very positive person and that’s how I get through things. In fact, I never realise what I’m going through till I’m done with that particular phase of my life; then I look back and the reality leaves me in awe of how unaware a person I am.
So, getting back to the point, this summer seemed pretty normal and I decided to set myself a reading challenge. Not in terms of quantity but in terms of the kinds of books I wanted to read:
- A play
The idea was to read up at least one of each. But two days into my internship adulting hit me hard. I realised I couldn’t aggressively read like I used to in school. I began to sulk and spent the next few days feeling like the universe was conspiring against me. This reality I did not like or appreciate. I wanted to be under-18 again JUST so I could finish my reading challenge. I know it might seem a little funny but that’s what happened. For a few hours I almost decided to abandon reading altogether for the summer.
But then fate or luck or whatever decided to intervene.
By then I had already gotten a printout of the Greek play ‘Medea’. Now I wasn’t going to read anything at this point but I can only stay away from the drug of reading for so long. I thought to myself, rather superficially, “Well, since I’ve taken the efforts of printing it, I might as well read it and get it over with.”
One thing led to another and within a few hours (stretched over two days) I had finished Medea and was back on track and all that lost energy had now returned.
I am now reading a non-fiction book. I have accepted the fact that I cannot obsessively read anymore but that’s no reason for me to abandon my challenge. I might even extend the Challenge to the Monsoons, if and when, they arrive (you know, because of the water shortage here) but I shall stick to it nevertheless.