As I sat working out the derivation of Fermat’s Principle, this scene flashed into my mind:

A quiet, tree-lined street, houses lining up one side and parked cars the other. I’m standing around with three-four friends waiting for my dad to come pick me up. M and P had bikes, and I was tempted to ride one around the neighborhood while we hung around waiting. Somewhere along the way, there was a clink and a clank and something shiny rolled on the street; I got down to see if M’s bike was okay. It seemed fine, but I was extremely scared and worried that I had broken his bike…

Seems quite random a memory to pop into my head while studying physics all of seven years later. I was taken aback at first. The seven years made me feel old and it got me thinking into how much has changed over those years. Had I any idea then, that come 2016, I would be here, that I would be the person I am today? Probably not, but there are some things I knew and that did happen just the way, if not better, I had expected them to. Looking back is kind of fun. Like a puzzle, I can connect so many dots I had never, in my wildest dreams, imagined even remotely connected.

I’m studying astrophysics. Back in 2009, I wasn’t so sure about this, mainly because I did not want to let go of everything else. Incidentally, it was M, who had realized that before me. We were talking about what we wanted to do after graduating high school. His focus was crystal clear. Mine wasn’t. He’d said to me, “You’ll probably end up studying astrophysics” I had laughed.
I laughed again today when I remembered this. This time my laughter was directed at myself.

I’m not supposed to wear a school uniform anymore. Do I miss wearing this every day?

Class Photo, this would be Grade 9

Perhaps a little.

More than the dress itself, the innumerable memories it brings back are what get me misty-eyed:
breakfast idlis(oh, I miss those…);
the struggle to get it to dry during the monsoon;
the endless pranks during the annual gathering rehearsals;
that one day it rained so much, that water came inside from the windows all the way to my desk in class;
how S and I had wagered on the boys’ basketball games;
the view of the hills from the window;
the way I’d not signed up for a Poetry recitation competition and then my teacher talked/forced me into it, and I ended up with a prize and a renewed love for performing on stage…
it’s like falling into an infinite potential well of memories. . .

What would I remember of Florida Tech and the people here in 2023? I suppose that’s the interesting thing about memories. We can never know what will stay with us when years have rolled by. Although, of course, it ends up being the tiny little things. They mean a lot more.

I lived and breathed tennis. Life was incomplete without it. I wanted to be a professional athlete. As it turned out, I don’t play much anymore, I’m not even on the team. Although I still love the sport with all my heart, I can’t find enough time anymore to play. Perhaps, I should just ‘make’ time. That’ll work.

Everyone younger than me was also shorter.

Yours truly, and her siblings around 13 years ago

Now, I have a feeling I’m going to end up being the shortest

Now, we also all have glasses, I hadn’t noticed that before! These two lovelies have grown even taller since this picture was taken (which was more than two years ago)

There was a vague idea in my mind since early on that research is something I would love to do, because I love solving problems. I did not know if I would really ever be doing research.In a few weeks’ time, I will be giving an oral presentation on my research on exoplanets (more on that later).

I could not bear to watch The Lion King because Mufasa dies. At the end of the sixth Harry Potter book, I cried.
Yesterday, I watched Magnolia, Schindler’s List is next on my list. I’m not scared of understanding what the real world is like anymore.

Two years ago, when I left my family, my home and everything I had known my world to be, I didn’t cry. I do not hesitate to express myself anymore. It is okay to cry. It is okay to be vulnerable.

I was so eager to do every single thing I wanted to my first year here that I didn’t pay attention to taking care of myself, or getting enough sleep. Constantly stressed and tired, I felt as if I wasn’t good enough. Spring of that year, my health took a turn for the worst and I had to battle all of it all alone, whilst staying on track with my academics. I still shudder when I remember that, but also count it as among a few of the biggest lessons I have learned. Not even a million dollars would entice me to go back to that academically perfect but emotionally devastating semester.

However, I would jump back into last spring: that semester in which I got the worst GPA and made some of the most beautiful and long-lasting memories in, in a heartbeat. Sleep and health are my top priorities now, and making time for the people I love, doing something that’ll bring a smile to their faces. I was constantly reminded this summer of how short and unpredictable life can be, and I am not taking anything for granted anymore.

There are two places I call home now. Thrice as many people I call family. There are people in both hemispheres who love me to no end and who make me smile through my tears. I’d certainly hoped for such wonderful people in my life but reality proved to be way beyond my imagination.

My closing thought would be: Life is nothing if not constant change. Things change, people change, we change. It’s impossible to know what’s coming, and the best we can do is make the most of the moments we have, not hold back on the love and affection we can shower on those around us, and focus on the positive, as explained here: Choose Your Attitude.

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