I am a fourth-year law student, an option I was made to pick because it is considered lucrative and would help me secure a conventionally successful life. But my real forte lies in writing. During high school, I was quite popular and then, in college, I just shut down; I felt like a misfit there. Instead of being a quitter I thought I could do something and discover myself through my words. I started working on my first crime fiction while pursuing my law degree, and this was my best-kept secret till I went for the I Have a Dream program. This workshop was an extension of my exchange year. Everyone who has been on an exchange program has learned to dream, but somewhere down the line, a few lose sight of these aspirations. I was also on the verge of losing my dream—being wayward among other things—and that is when the I Have a Dream program happened.
Just before the workshop I had begun to feel quite low and many things were not proceeding in accordance with my hopes. By the time I reached the 30,000 words mark in my writing, I felt myself being knocked down by writer’s block. Also, the world of crime fiction led me to research the underbelly of the society I live in and I started to feel engulfed by certain darker aspects of my own work. The I Have a Dream program inspired and motivated me through this phase of downward spiral. There I met some amazing facilitators and people brought in as mentors by Pravah. The facilitators from Pravah gave me ideas on how I could try to not be pulled down by the characters I had created. I was constantly reminded how I have the power to control those fictitious people instead of being controlled by them. I use these words to remind myself every time I feel overwhelmed.
Listening to people open up about their fears and struggles gave me a sense of the battles everyone faces. I am a shut–down, reclusive kind of person; however, listening to others made me want to share my own story. It felt necessary to not conceal, and to open up and talk about the dreams and fears that were bothering me. By end of the first day we mingled in a way where it was hard to believe we had met that same day. It felt like family. Before this workshop I had not shared my inner self with anyone and here I was opening up to people I had met just three-four days back. Those four days went by in a flash.
My mentor, Dr. Bismi Gopalakrishnan, and I have been in regular contact. She has been a pillar of constant support through this process. When I told her I am not going to opt for a career in law, she empathized with me. She has also been extremely encouraging when I sent her excerpts of my writing and connected me with a few literary agents. While doing this, she has also made attempts to re-ignite my passion for law and keeps me informed about various opportunities in the legal field. The people I have met through this workshop have fueled me. They have motivated me, and my facilitators have always reminded me how much work I have put in so far and hearing that was encouraging. When this book comes out, several of these names will find themselves under the acknowledgements section.
Abrar Khan is a fourth-year BBA LLB student at Saveetha School of Law, Chennai. He participated in the USG-sponsored Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program in 2009-10 year. He was mentored by Dr. Bismi Gopalkrishnan through the USG-sponsored I Have a Dream leadership and mentoring program for International Exchange Alumni.