Is this life? I had begun to wonder about how people, including me, had equated happier life with a bigger bank balance. And even though I had a lot of money and various luxury cars at my service, there was one thing that was beyond my reach— Happiness. I had stopped caring about doing what I really wanted to, and instead just went with the flow.

Ramp shows, Advertisements, films, documentaries, promotions and public appearances; I did all I could to make myself a star. At times, I nostalgically pondered over my childhood memories when my careless self could wear anything, without being criticised, and when I could roam about almost anywhere without a care in the world. But my delving deeper into these memories every time was interrupted. Ma’am, you have the Lakmé shoot at six! This what what I heard from the manager. I lazily got up and begin to pace about grabbing stuff and getting ready.

There was one time I had ventured out into a local park and within minutes, cameras were flashing around me. I had to be rescued from the rowdy crowd and till the time I reached my apartment, news stories about ‘my walk’ in the park had already surfaced on the social media. That day, I had asked myself, is this what becoming an actress means? To not have the independence of doing anything freely, to never express your true self, and to never give out your holiday plans because some critic thinks that it could hamper your career.

This question had then begun roaming in my mind, more than ever, and somehow made me tear up every time I thought about it. Days had passed by since I was crying. I cried between my shoots, I cried when I went to the loo, I cried almost everywhere, and of course, in places, where there were no media to haunt or people to meet. I don’t know when I had slipped into the labyrinth of depression.

Was this the life I had envisioned for myself and worked so hard for?

For days in a row, I went on doing what the schedule said I had to. Attending birthday bashes to secure endorsements last from companies. Interviews for the upcoming movies, and what not. It was so ridiculous a life! There was no point in living, in living for money and fame alone.

While I was travelling to the shooting spot, my phone pinged! I saw a message from a childhood friend, who had somehow managed to remain in contact. The message made me squeal out of joy! My manager frowned at me, and I knew better than telling her!

The shoot that day was a cakewalk as were the next few days. Whenever I was free, I began to plan, about how, when and where. Whenever I had an hour or two to spare, I sat on my phone planning. And planned to escape the city.

I wanted to go where my grandparents lived. To go where no one lived. To go where no one knew my name. To maybe try and possess the calm that not one soul in Mumbai had. To maybe experience the unconditional and true love.

This was going to be my escape, what’s going to be yours?