Written by Sharmila Dungana, Women LEAD alumna. Sharmila studies at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh.
I stood there still and stared before me with total awe. How could a water body be so vast? I wondered! No, vast was a word far too small, it was even vaster than vast. I yelled to a friend next to me ” Puja!! Can you believe it??” She too had a wide smile on her face. Having been born and raised in a landlocked country, seeing an ocean for the first time was an over the moon experience. I admired the mere beauty of it, I was amazed at how wide it spread to the horizon and how the big ships looked as if they were touching the sky. I loved the feel of a cool breeze blowing across my skin, I observed the beauty of waves running towards my feet, hitting one another and taking up a different course. The water was not blue like I used to see in movies, the beach didn’t have long benches where people lay down, we could not make shapes out of sand like I saw people do in films…but it was the least that mattered.
I realized it is not the blue color that made an ocean beautiful, nor it is the long benches where sexy girls in bikinis lay, neither it is making a sandcastle. Everything that makes an ocean beautiful is letting its vastness and divinity touch your heart. It is loving the feel of every wave that hits you, loving the every grain of sand you step on, loving the cool air that envelops you, loving every single drop of water that constitutes to make up an ocean and, it is being grateful to God for making up something so beautiful and so heavenly.
I yelled out to the horizon, and felt my voice getting lost in a distance. I felt the fine sand under my feet and ran around. I was totally in love with the ocean, never wanting to let go of the moment. At one point though, I felt I was overreacting, what-is-there-to-freak-out-in-seeing-an-ocean? My sister would have said the exact thing if I told her about how I felt, but I couldn’t hide the utter joy and excitement, the happiness and the serenity that I felt with all my heart. I liked the sea more than I liked the land, I decided.
Seeing the ocean was just another new experience I had among all the experiences in coming to a different country. Being away from my family and friends was daunting in many ways. For one thing, I felt alone and uncared for among the new people, whom I was supposedly to call family. I was overwhelmed to see girls from so many different in countries, dialects and cultures. All the time, I had an urge to run to my sister and tell her things. My mom was not there to check whether I had eaten or not, or if I was sleeping well at night, she was not there to fill my ears early morning with echoes of “get up! It’s already morning.” Nor was she there to nag me with “stop watching TV and go study.” I was all by myself now. Getting up early mornings, preparing a study routine, eating on time, changing bed sheets every week…I had to take care of myself through everything. There were mixed feelings of freedom, independence, nervousness, doubt and confusion. But, it was overshadowed by the confidence and anticipation of becoming a part a new environment, learning new things, opening up greater possibilities, growing up and becoming a better person as a whole.