By Simran Ramsay
Picture Source: Pinterest
4 AM, Tuesday, 9th March.
“How do I know I’m making the right career decision?”
“Is following your passion worth it even if it’s not sustainable?”
“I’m SO CONFUSED” (she cancelled the last one out). Aisha was currently sitting at her lamp-lit desk. While the world slept, she remained wide-eyed, alert, awake. Contemplating. The caffeine from her iced coffee and the adrenaline coursing through her due to the possibility that her life could be completely different from this moment on had kept her up. Aisha’s fingers were trembling as she made a list of questions that gnawed at her every time she felt like she was living a drab boring life. One that she desperately longed to escape. The air was electric, she could almost hear it call to her to follow her dreams.
To try something new, to not waste another moment in a corner office, staring at the wall clock. As though waiting for it to say, “it’s five now, time to take a long exhausting train ride home. To fall asleep next to strangers who give you pitying looks each time you jolt awake when the train stops. To then trudge home, only to scroll through your social media and watch everyone you know enjoy their lives. All while you constantly feel empty, lost and unsatisfied. Time to then go to bed, to wake up at 6 AM. In time to catch the train and stare at the wall clock all over again.”
She wanted it to change. Today was the day her life would change. Today was the day she would quit. Quit her job, quit her boring life, quit settling for less than she deserved, quit everything that she was not passionate about.
10 PM, Monday, 8th March.
There were three things that really brought her joy: food, her movie nights (where she sat alone and allowed herself to indulge in a tub of ice cream and a good movie), and lastly, a boy. She loved cinema, she loved analysing movies, found herself relating to the characters. It would allow her to escape reality every time she pressed play. To a world where she had no problems, no deadlines. Just a good story. Her love for movies was such that she would curate bucket lists for the movies she wanted to watch and tick them off after she was done. Sometimes she’d even write reviews and highlight her favourite scenes. Even though it was an odd thing to do, it made her feel joy. And in control.
She sat on her bed, wrapped in her duvet, attempting to squeeze in this one movie that she’d been wanting to watch for a long time, but never really got around to. For some reason, when she switched on her Netflix today, she was inclined to watch it, like it was some magnet drawing her to it. So she did. Usually, by 11 PM, her eyelids would grow heavy and the exhaustion of the day would overwhelm her. Then she’d visit a place she only saw in her dreams. But today, she was awake. Today, that movie that highlighted self-discovery, passion, success spoke to her. And when the credits finally rolled, she suddenly wanted to visit that place, but in reality.
To a third person, it may seem nonsensical that Aisha was making decisions based on a nonfictional movie. But she knew that she had been married to the idea of being a chef ever since she was 2 years old. It was when she watched her (now-deceased) mother, cooking for her family while Aisha sat on the platform of the messy kitchen table pretending to mix. Pretending that she could cook. The memory was faint, but it always made her feel warm inside. It was a feeling she never had in the corporate world. Thoughts started forming in her head, her mind a mental soup of conflict. Still, she felt a sense of clarity in the fact that it was time for a change.
1 AM, Tuesday 9th March.
She picked up the phone, her heart beating loudly against her chest. Dialled his number, (she knew it by heart).
“It’s 1 AM, what are you doing up so late?”
“I’ve to tell you something. I couldn’t sleep… I’m quitting tomorrow. I want to be a chef, you know that. I think I’m finally going to do it.” Talking to him made her calmer, more sure. It always did. He loved everything she’d cooked for him and had told her countless times that she’d make a great chef, but she never considered it. Until today, of course.
He told her he loved her before saying good night and said whatever happened, he would support her. He told her it wouldn’t always be easy and that following your passion and your dream can make you weary. To want to give up. But he would be there through all of that. These were things she already knew, but hearing them still made her feel better. He gave her this warm fuzzy feeling that she’d only ever seen in movies. With him, she felt happy, but he could also make her wildly angry. He made her laugh when she cried but also was the reason she cried sometimes. He was her favourite person and she’d always say, “We have a love like the movies.”
6 AM Tuesday, 9th March.
Letter of resignation in hand, her mind made up, she walked out of the house, her heels clicking against the cobbled street. It instilled confidence in her, as well as a sense of purpose. She walked into the office, straight to her employer, a newfound strength in her that came from pursuing her passion.
“Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I’ve learnt a lot, but I want to quit.”
She handed in the letter and left.
She’d made a straight face that whole time but was extremely nervous. As she left the office, she let out a relieved breath that she didn’t realise she had held in. She smiled. She was free.
9 AM Tuesday , 9th March.
She wanted to do two things before she went to his house to tell him.
She was famished. So first, she wanted to go to a restaurant and just eat. She ordered a ton. Aisha really knew how to appreciate food with her sharp palette and big appetite. It was a game she’d play with herself where she’d try to guess the ingredients in the dishes she’d order. When the food came, she’d close her eyes and lose herself in the flavours. The aromas invited her, the textures surprised her, and the warm, rich and deeply-flavoured food satisfied her.
After eating, she pulled out her laptop and searched for culinary institutes. Now she was hungry to learn, to grow in the field that she’d always felt a passion towards. Aisha wasn’t a beginner. Whenever she found time, she’d experiment with food; learn different recipes, follow tutorials, experiment. Once in a while, she’d fail, but more often than not, she’d make exquisite meals. She applied to many culinary institutes, with hopes that knew no bounds. And once she finished and closed her laptop, whispering a small prayer to a god she was never faithful to, she made her way to tell him. The one person she wanted to tell everything to, good or bad.
Aisha finally felt like everything in her life was coming together.
She’d found a love filled with passion, she was following the career that she’d always wanted to and she’d finally have enough time to explore her passion for movies. Just then, everything felt right.
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