My name translates to ‘waiting’ – a verb to the average Hindi-knowing person, because prateeksha means that. To someone more poetic it may mean something else, like hope or ‘looking forward to something’, but the common person is largely prosaic, not poetic. Waiting can be painful unless made otherwise by meaningful investment in one’s time and abilities.
And yet we are all obliged to wait because such is the nature of life, such is how everything unfolds – in its own time, its unique gestation, its inner rhythm which nobody knows for sure about. At every point in time we are caught in a multitude of waiting-s. One cannot even rate them properly, each is uniquely agonizing in its peculiar way. An embryo grows in waiting, an exam result is awaited, a loved one coming from afar is waited for, any activity which is underway is awaiting completion. But then there was can massive seasons of waiting, when so much goes on in every domain of life and so much is awaited. Currently I am going through that mega-waiting.
Laying the thesis to bed
The PhD thesis was submitted on 6th July 2020, and from what I know, it was sent onward to examiners a week thence. Soon it would be two months and agony of the waiting is quite palpable. The next big thing to unfold was a room for me upstairs, as part of a more ‘ambitious’ plan to have a terrace garden. Both these things had one thing in common- a desire to chase the sun in winter. So that activity also rolled out from the 11th July 2020, and is going to be two months soon! Right now there are nearly ten people working upstairs- masons, labourers, carpenter, welders, and others coming in and out. The house is noisy, dusty in parts and doing anything with hammers blowing on top of your head is not exactly easy- neither writing, nor singing.
The pandemic has had another set of setbacks on various counts. The relief I was hoping to experience, post submission is simply not there. It is just one thing after another. Doing a PhD at 48 is not the easiest thing for anyone, especially when there has been nearly NO support, guidance or supervision from most quarters except for a few people to occasionally talk to. Only towards the end my supervisor appeared on a distant horizon but still quite aloof and watching from afar, not really participating. But yes, one colleague or peer, if I may use that word, appeared whose communication was a source of much support in the last two months, especially after I made my pre-PhD presentation on 13th April.
The presentation –
Just as an aside, the (pre-PhD) presentation went extremely well- something I had not prepared much for, because what can one ‘prepare’ more than what one has done in the PhD- it was quite spontaneous and done at ease. My PhD work is something I am finally proud of, it takes me long to appreciate myself mostly. That day was the first time when I really heard the echoes to my work from the academic community and felt a sense of accomplishment and relief, that I was being heard and understood.
The Vice Chancellor of the university congratulated me and said he had not heard such a good presentation in a very long time, (or did he say it was the best he had ever heard? I forget). I am not one who remembers praise easily! My supervisor also became extremely proud of me thereafter because she knew my work by then and was willing to stick her neck out for it. Our relationship never came out of the freezer though as I could not pick up the spirit to walk back to her and befriend her after the hurt of silence I suffered for most part of my four years of the PhD journey.
The satisfaction I gained
I have many sources of satisfaction from the work I have done- the publications only one among them, then the time I took (a few weeks short of four years) to submit the full thesis, but MOST significantly perhaps developing the ability to understand and critique law. When this year began, I was absolutely terrified of law, legal ideas, legal language and whatnot. And I had to write a full chapter about the mental health law of India from my perspective. This was by-far the most difficult writing I have done until today. It took me nearly eight-nine iterations from March 2020 till June 2020 before my supervisor sent the following comment- ” As far as I am concerned, you have earned the doctorate Prateeksha”. Coming from her it was a big thing, for she is known to be economical with her praise/appreciation.
But in general I have heard from Chandramati (the peer who appeared) and also another person about the good word going around about my work/me (?) at the university. So now I am being ‘owned’ by others, whilst all this while I fumbled and staggered alone in the labyrinth. It seems the heroine would have to go through her labours alone and when the baby is about to be born the whole world will start getting ready for the event! Chalo I suppose this is how everyone’s doctoral research is, except that everyone has different set of challenges to deal with and mine were among the toughest. I have finally dealt with at least some of the challenges and emerged, victory will soon follow ( I imagine).
Gardening is another exercise that has taught me the value of persevering and, of course, waiting! How can one not wait after having done the needful. This year I made many blunders but also reaped many a fruit (read vegetable) from my garden. the most successful ones were the tomatoes earlier and now it is the sponge gourd (tori), brinjals (whose saplings show in one picture above) and amaranth (chaulai). I am excited and nervous about the terrace that is being cleared up for the gardening activity ahead and I think it would require a lot of money as well, but let’s see. Will write a blog post soon to note about the outcomes of all these efforts…as I am now ‘in waiting’ 🙂