Wednesday, 1 May 2013

'She' Changed My Life..

An inspiring story of change triggered  by an unknown, insignificant person under unusual circumstances.

Nipon Hajong, a State Civil Service officer from Meghalaya, an Indian state from the north eastern part of the country, narrates his story of recovery from depression. He was at Asia Plateau, the International training campus of Initiatives of Change, at Panchgani, India along with his other 27 colleagues last week for a 5-day workshop on Effective Services and Governance.

Here is Nipon in his own words:

Nipon Hajong

“Loving regards to all at IofC, Panchgani.

Friends, falling in love is not a choice for all. For a guy like me, it was a destiny. Just like the way you felt for someone for the first time, so sweet, so pure, and so innocent.

 Lost love, and love lost(for life).

But the same sweet and innocent love takes many of us onto a path of no return. I for one got a new life, albeit not without a heavy toll!

I was ditched by the girl I was in love with since my school days.

I was shattered, and attempted to commit suicide in September 2004. I slipped into depression.

Drinking was a ritual indulgence, however, now I would do it, every evening, not for the love of it, or for the sake of enjoyment, rather to escape from the silent pain buried in my heart, and I would pretend to be happy. The depression was killing me from within, each day, every moment of my life. I was just alive, not living.

I pretended to be strong as I would listen to my friends, and anybody else around. I would pretend to be happy, and even sing along with them after drinking. Alcohol became almost a habit. I would drink alone whenever I could not bear the pangs of loneliness, and drink in groups night after night. But the vacuum of loneliness was never being filled. In fact it was growing deeper and wider. Deep inside I was crying, screaming for someone to hear and understand me, but I could never speak out aloud. The tears of my heart would flow silently without releasing a drop from my eyes.

I started growing very lonely even in the midst of my supportive friends. I could never hear what I wanted to, nor could I speak what I wanted to. In that growing loneliness I saw no hope, no meaning of life without her. I was dying a silent but steady death. I could share nothing with anybody. I had lost all the courage.

I drank to get drunk and sleep, to forget .her, to try to find new life and strength to move ahead. It was the darkest period of my life. The only questions echoing in my head were, 'What is my life without her? Why it had to happen with me? What wrongs did I do to her?’ But no answers.

I would go to college where I was teaching, and after every sunset sit down with anybody to drink. I was crying and screaming from inside that someone should understand me, and help me to rise again to be what I used to be earlier, a favorite student to all my teachers, the most loving son to my mother, wonderfully concerned sibling to my brothers and sisters, a dependable uncle, and a reliable guide to my friends.

 While I was battling within, I had deviated from being the disciplined and sincere person that I was. However, I would pray to God, either to take me away, or to find a way out of this hell.

And finally God heard my prayers.

It was in the month of July 2006. The monsoon was incessant. That evening six of us started drinking from 3.30 pm as it was a Sunday. We emptied three large bottles of whisky in no time. I remember we had made two more rounds to the liquor shop, drenched, that night. We needed some more, and the last round we made, again, at 3.30 am. The shop keeper refused to get up from his sleep. We had to return without any more drinks.

Since the rain had stopped, and it would be morning soon ( Sun rises early in NE India), one of my friends suggested that we proceed towards the super market at Tura to eat some puris from the mobile hawkers who set up their stalls for the very early arriving passengers from Guwahati and Shillong night buses. I simply followed them on my bike.

The lights were still dim and my friends were enjoying eating the Puri-Sabzi from a hawker as I saw one frail woman looking for my friend to shift his bike as she had to set up her little shop there. She looked old, with very little hair on her head. Her sari was dirty and faded.

As my friend obliged her, she thanked him profusely, and this remarkable act of her, a rare one I must say in this part of Meghalaya, touched my heart. I was drawn to her with curiosity. She set up her little shop out of a wooden box. As she arranged the cigarettes, Gutkas and paans etc, I watched if people buy from her insignificant shop. Noticing not many people stopping by her, I approached her with sympathy. She looked to be intimidated with my groggy eyes and drunken voice, but I allayed her suspicion by being more polite and sober in my tone. I inquired about her life- where did she live, about her family members, how much she earned etc, etc. 

Her face softened and she replied with a smile, ' son, I am alone. I lost my son a few years ago, and my husband had deserted me long before that. I sleep outside the hotel down there when it rains. Otherwise I sleep any where I find a shelter, including an open garage. I earn Rs 30 to 50 a day from this shop every morning. But when it rains, I cannot open my shop. I work as a cleaner woman in day time. I wash utensils, clean rice in godowns, and sweep the shops of some Mahajans, whatever petty job I find.'

A new beginning.

Friends, suddenly I woke up from my deep depression. It struck me deep inside- Here was a woman who did not have any body to depend on, no body to cry for her, to love her, and yet she lives on, withstanding the harsh, sometimes filthy words and scolding hurled on her by the people, uncertainty of work or earnings, and ever lurking threats of being chased away by police or other authorities! Her struggle has not deterred her from living! She was working with dignity, without resorting to vices, and never thought of committing suicide!

I further thought, I was young; I have the most loving mother in the World, the most concerned brothers and sisters, loving nephews and nieces, admiring teachers, and supportive friends in the world. Why can't I live on?

I immediately rode back home, and got ready for my day's lecture at the college. That day I spoke from my heart. It was altogether different from any other days. I kept pondering, and asking myself that I MUST LIVE. I had lost seven years trying to forget my ex girl friend. A hope was kindled by this woman whom I did not know. I got a new strength, my new life. 

My new vigor fetched me a Lecturer's job in the District Institute of Education and Training in 2007, and later in 2010 I got into the Meghalaya Civil Services. 

Currently I am serving the people of my state with pride and happiness.

I live life to the fullest. I do face challenges and struggles, but only towards my further improvement. I put my head, heart and hands to whatever assignment is given by my superiors.

And here, at IofC, Panchgani, at the beautiful Asia Plateau, I have further decided to make my life even more beautiful. I will never drink alcohol, and always be a support to whoever leans on me.

Thank you friends and May God bless you all for initiating the change in me."

Nipon Hajong
hajongnipon(at) gmail(dot)com

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  1. A great one. My eyes are moist. Read this story at the appropriate time, the blues in life just vanished after reading the article
    and thanks for reporting
    Prabhu, bangalore

  2. Thank you for sharing Mr. Nipon Hajong; May it be an inspiration to all those who think they have nothing to do in this life and they are alone.

    i wish that lady comes to know about the inspiration she has been able to kindle inside you... She will fill you with her warmth definitely...

    India i Care...