It has started. Well not exactly now. It pops up now & then albeit with lesser frequency. Understandably so. The decaying passion & affection with time. Just like everything, everything human, flesh & soul. I guess, in coming days there will be many “You have a memory to back on today”. More than ever. Lots of friend requests were sent, a modern barometer for effective human interactions. May/June/July, this is definitely a time to look out for such notifications. Just for a stroll in memory lane, they were memorable for sure. Those were days when we met, a lot of “we”. Lots of “us” moments happened, photographs, stories to tell, laughter & tear. The full spectra, loads of that.But I had actually gone there with more apprehensions than ever before.
I walked into that room, clutching few documents, wearing formal clothes. Conversations were intense. Public policy, old age problems, bureaucracy and shit, enough to make any one sweat. Let alone for someone like me, with not so much interest in these. Well not post school days. Those days, knowledge mattered, I could show off some trivia, participate in debate on these topics. But competition happened, PCM happened, college happened. Even though I pretended to prepare for civil services, I no longer had heart for topics of debate. Not when solving problems quickly using machines make you earn more. Going back to that auditorium, distinguished guests delivered their lectures & we clapped in awe. I did. After many years, these were lectures where I did not sleep, I made notes, tried to participate, albeit with way lesser élan than my colleagues.
But there were far greater challenges to be faced. You know, listening to someone on screen, someone speaking on a podium isn’t intimidating. They aren’t affected by whether you are interested or not. But when you are listening to someone next to you, it fucking is. A conscious self of yours’ takes over. What do I say? How do I behave? What do I talk about ? No, football not allowed as a topic ,unfortunately & it turned out Friends wasn’t big a deal for many. Same with many other “cool” things I was used to in college. Being political correct was norm, not an exception, at-least in classrooms or “work time”. It was perhaps my (for many others as well) first tryst with maturity or an attempt to be mature & bold. Scarily, I didn’t know anyone in particular but somehow got to know more than I would have expected. But first few days I was wondering, is it the right decision ? What I am doing here ? How am I supposed to get through this ? Was doing a thesis with Mr. Mishra better ? Alongside easily earned ACP money & watching you-tube on unlimited internet bandwidth. I also had a cooler back at college & other logistics, most of which were cheaper. Other so many “cool” things were there, literally & metaphorically. There were so many familiar faces at college or were they familiar? How could I go back, after all that time. All the dull, turgid times spent between classes, experiments & quizzes. The fear, the rage….
The fear of familiar faces. The rage at them. The fear of future or the lack of it. It was 3rd year. It was supposed to be different. After 2nd year, it was the promised land. The studies, interns, everything was supposed to fall in place. It did not. None of it actually. The interest in curriculum declined further and further. Extra curriculum was never an option in college, fortunately or unfortunately who knows. Had watched too many movies, TV series or Porn in past one year. Suddenly some were busy celebrating their internships or exchange programs. And there was me, sitting in my room, idle, gaining loads of weight. For some reason, every thing seemed to go south. I was sick of everything & everyone. I was sick of any loose comment, folks playing carom outside my room, any late night activity. I did not want to be a part of anything. But March/April of 2013 weren’t good personally. When this internship opportunity came, I wanted it so fucking badly. I wanted to get rid of so many faces, temporarily at-least. I did not want to be knocked at my door, didn’t want to be made fun because my one ear was full of shit (literally, grossly). I wanted to yell, shout, scream or perhaps admit this vulnerability. I wanted to tell, I am not who I pretend. I am weak at this moment, may be many of you are. But was afraid of same faces. That would have been an admittance of weakness among the “tough” & “cool” guys. Who does that, no one. No one in our circles. As the semester approached its end, I was looking forward to going out of the familiar surroundings. A break from run of the mill stuff.
The stuff had seemed too repetitive. Eat, slog, sleep .. Tick tock tick tock…
But no more. One fine day I was sitting in that class room. It was like a zoo out there, given other students were from such a different backgrounds. We had been assigned our mentors, room mates. Certain circles had started to form. I was still trying my way in to some of them. One fine day two girls were sitting nearby. Their discussion started from some local event, witched to GoT & briefly touching upon everyone’s favorite, topic of feminism. A barrage of big words came my way, I had to duck. An overwhelming sense of not belonging had started to come again. Now I was pondering did the change happen? Did I escape ? Or just the faces had been swapped? Or was it too soon to jump to conclusion ? Luckily there was not a choice to be made, I had to be there for two months. So a forced choice had to be made. Fortunately, that choice was one of acceptance. And hard it was, hard in terms of being out of your comfort zone. Hard in terms of admitting all of you might have been a mistake, one big fucking mistake.
What followed was different, way too different than anything in my life. In many of our lives. It will be impossible to document all of that. Its too much man. Some of the memories have been stuff of legends, nick names, trips, songs, acts, fights, fun, long pages of someone’s diary. It is hard to describe exactly, perhaps “different” is only thing tangible which comes into my mind even though it does no do full justice to what happened.
And then there was a day, when all of that ended. It was a sad one, but there was a conflict within me that night. Night when everyone left, I was the last one to leave. I was pondering looking at my luggage. What happens now? When I go back. How am I gonna fit in at the place which I hated ? How will I face same people ? Sometimes I would avoid coming out of room, pretend to sleep just to avoid everyone. I had avoided talking to all of them all summer, barring few Facebook messages. Luckily I didn’t have a smart phone those days or a whats-app. And luckily there was not much time to be spent with my laptop as something totally new was happening outside. I had promised myself to not miss that, or to put in a better way, participate in some sort. There was a decision to be made, a problem to be taken care of. As ever, I didn’t had a choice of not going back. I had to go back.
So eventually I did. It was the first day in the new-old hostel. It was supposed to be different. I did not want the final few days of college to have a bad legacy. My train was as usual late, it was midnight when I arrived. I had to sleep in TV room with many others. In morning I got the keys, I went to collect my room stuff from previous hostel. I come back, arrange my room, clean up stuff. Briefly I remembered my first day at IIT-Delhi where we had to get our room cleaned on first day and then it was never cleaned again. All the memories still fresh, all the friends still in touch, all the photographs still in the process of being shared.
I am connecting my laptop to once again feel the bandwidth. Suddenly I hear a knock on the door. I turn towards door, I feel a sudden uneasiness, a sudden rush of blood. I listen another knock soon after first one. I remember the lesson learnt over past few months, greater tolerance & acceptance. I open the door, and I listen the same old question,
“Your ear still not working dude, lets go for lunch ? “.
It does not bother me, not that much,
“Nah, everything, everything seems better than before”.
“How, all of a sudden ?”
“Hmmm, I do not know, just like that, strangely”
“Well, we heard a lot about you guys’ intern, what happened”
“As in ?”
“Its better we let others come, lets drink and share”
“Drink, you ?”
We bolt our doors and fly down to get a bite of…. well mess food.
Wish times weren’t a changing so quickly !!!