My MBA was the first time I stepped out of my home and my city. After a few months of teething troubles, I relished this freedom to recreate and nurture my identity without the shadow of parents, relatives and even friends looming over me. A Gujarati boy from a conservative family and a school/college gang of friends very similar in upbringing to himself, suddenly found that he could be anyone he wanted to on this campus.
The more I tried to distance myself from my past identity, the more these new friends on B-School campus pointed out my gujjuness - the shadow over my identity. The more I got determined to distance myself from it.
This effort meant I made friends from all over the country. The professors opened up my world view and I saw conservatism, right-wing politics, the idea of a family, Hinduism, caste, etc in a completely new light. In the dark auditorium of my B-School, I discovered through cinema, discourse and debate, a bright new world of colourful ideas not stuck to the regimented rules prescribed by my earlier life.
And I blamed my family for my past life. I blamed their upbringing, their life choices and their lack of exposure for me turning out the way I did till then.
I had decided I was going to rise above my upbringing.
There are certain phases in our lives, when we really feel like all our learning is over. It's time that the world takes notice, as I teach it a lesson or two. The final term of your two-year MBA is definitely one of those phases. Having made lots of friends, cracked a PPO and pulled off a good 2 years at my MBA, I was bang in the middle of that heady, arrogant, and foolish phase.
In the midst of such a phase, came the convocation day and I decided that I didn't want to call my parents for it. This was my day. And I would be embarrassed to have their ideas and thoughts being bandied about on a liberal campus like mine. I didn't like how they talked, dressed or thought. And I didn't want this painstakingly built image of mine on campus to get destroyed by one day.
And so I stood on the dais, taking my certificate in my robe and turning around to wave at my friends. And I missed them like hell.
It came back to me how my mother had broken down in tears when my father told me I was going to MICA. It came back to me how my father explained in typical Gujju practicalese, why he thinks I should not take a loan and that he will fund my education because he can afford it. It came back to me how I rushed back by train and flight every time I faced heartbreak, sickness or failure on campus.
I realised my shiny new ideologies, wisdom and successes can go beep themselves. I got here because of them and I didn't have them here to celebrate it with.
Today, my relationship with them has come a long way. After years of night long arguments, they acknowledge my ideologies and find ways to work around them. On the other hand, I realised I wasn't really that different from them. I embraced my gujjuness and so did my friends.
But graduating from MICA still remains one of the most memorable days of my life - for what it taught me and what kind of person it made me.
And I will always regret not having next to me the two people who sacrificed the most to get me the education that was bound to take me away from them.
So pick up that phone, log onto IRCTC and book them a ticket to your convocation. They probably deserve the party more than you do.