I left Everything and Moved to the Mountains

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, I was in the last semester of my undergraduate program in India. I was filled with dreams, passion, and surety of how amazing my life out of college was going to be.

I honestly didn’t think it was a big deal when my college sent me home for 21 days in March, 2020. But then the lockdown kept on extending for days, then for weeks, and then months!

I gave my exams from home, graduated at home, got a couple of jobs, started this blog, but the lockdown was still there. As our healthcare system was collapsing bit by bit, so was my mental health. I am still not sure what made things so bad.

Was it staying at home with my family 24*7, was it the uncertainty about my career, was it the fact that I couldn’t join the college of my dreams after working so hard to get into, or my falling self-worth because I wasn’t creating any value? Probably it was all or none of them. Anyway, I will never know because, you know, therapy is hella expensive.(its not, try 7cups). 

Yeah, so finally, when I was done self-loathing and drowning in anxiety, I decided to leave my house and my jobs, this blog, my 69 personalities whom I would have a conference with every night because – insomnia! And go somewhere! Anywhere!

I want to work in the Education field in Nepal in the future, so I thought it would be best to go to a community school in a pretty little village in the mountains. And guess what? That’s what I did! 

Finding the right school was difficult, but I did find one. Thanks to Kanchan Rai, Ghumante. It was in a village called Jalapa in the Khotang district. The school was trying hard to provide the best education to its students, and I figured I could help and learn.

In January, 2021, I convinced my parents, which wasn’t the easiest task in the world, but they were supportive of my decisions as long as they could come with me there and make sure that I would be “safe.”

The ride to the village was scary but heavenly—no roads, crossing rivers with our car, no mobile network, beautiful mountains, and the Koshi river. I was a mix of excited, anxious, happy, in pain because my bum hurt.

It took around 9 hours to reach Jalapa. We met the director of the school, a funny old man. I was a little pissed because the entire conversation was between my father and the director while my mother and I sat quietly. My existence felt unnecessary and unappreciated. My inner feminist was angry. I wondered if my mother felt the same. I didn’t ask.

Anyway, I woke up to see the beautiful view of the mountains lined up perfectly. I was mesmerized. I knew it was the right decision to come here. If something could heal me, it was these mountains.

I would start teaching in 2 days. I was nervous, obviously. I had never taught children or even talked to an awful lot of them. I remember standing in front of the classroom before my first class.

Remember when you are next in line for a bungee jump or a roller coaster, I had that same feeling in my stomach. I took a deep breath and went inside.

Surprisingly, The teaching was great, a bit bumpy sometimes, but great overall. I don’t know how but I was ready to teach. I had read a couple of books on how to be a good teacher and what do our children need. I guess that helped. I will write about how I grew to become a good teacher. For today, let’s talk about my life in the mountains.

It was better than all the movies I had seen and the books I had read. I felt at peace. I felt the voices in my head, you know the 69 personalities, they became quiet.

I was more focused, passionate, and eager to wake up in the morning to see the sunrise. The sunrise! GOD! It was perfect. The sun rose slowly and then all at once. I even found a secret spot to go alone and see the sunrise. I was never an early riser, but the motivation was different. It didn’t require effort.

I also climbed and crossed many other nearby mountains like Rupakot, Majhuwagadhi, Tyamke. I had never challenged my body like that physically. I was surprised by how strong and powerful I was.

My self-worth accelerated through the roof as the village people, the teachers, and especially the students loved me. They had a sense of respect for me that made me feel valued and respected. They looked at me like I could bring a change, and I was bringing change in the school and their lives. I worked hard to find the solutions to their problems, and they were kind enough to let me experiment.

My night-time routine was well- pretty routine. I always did the same thing. I would have dinner at around 7:30-8 PM and sit under the sky.

When I first saw the lights, I was speechless. I couldn’t imagine so many people living in those mountains. In the daylight, the houses seem small and barely visible, but their presence is beautifully exposed during the night. The horizon is always blurry.

One can never say if the distant light is a star or a house. I would just sit under millions of stars, looking at distant mountains, listening to my favorite songs. Sometimes fireflies would come greet me, and sometimes the dogs would come sit next to me.

I felt like I should meditate. The surrounding was perfect, and the noises were calm, but I honestly didn’t feel the need to. I was already at peace.

I was loving being a teacher. I was really good at it. My brain, which always felt like an enemy of mine, was becoming my friend. It had started listening to me, stopping the thoughts that I did not want to entertain. It would take me only a couple of minutes to fall asleep instead of hours.

I would think about stuff like my college, about making an impact, but I knew it would all be okay.  When the time would come to make the right decision, I knew I was ready to make one. The self-doubt and anxiety were still there but I believed in myself now. 

Every now and then, I would feel if this was all real. Was I really hundreds of miles away from home in an unknown village doing what I love to do? Was I finally spiritually aligned and mentally sane?

It felt like a dream because I had believed this only happens to movie characters. As said by Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat Pray Love, I had found my balance. I only had to keep it now.

Next Up

Growing up as feminist in a Patriarchal society

I don’t remember when I heard the word ‘Feminism’ for the first time but I do remember the signs of clear discrimination between men and women since childhood. I hated it then, I hate them now with more intensity.

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