#LifeDiaries — Engineering
A kid, about 2 years old, once visited her grandparents who were living in the apartment opposite to mine, back in the summer of 2009. Born in the USA, this was her first ever visit to India apparently. And like one would expect, this kid was a wide and blue-eyed girl with gravity working overtime on her chubby face. And as with all kids her age, one can never really know what could possibly fill her eyes up with tears. But I did and that too, during the first time we ever met — me.
All that was required for this happy little girl to wail, was to see me — a fat, 14 year old, getting out of my apartment. All that her mom probably had to do to make her eat when she didn’t want to, was to say, ‘Pakkathu veetu poochandi anna kita kutitu poiduven’. Quite frankly, I was more terrified of the kid than she was of me. Every time I had to leave my house, I would open the door halfway, check if the opposite door was open. If not, I would just stroll out of my apartment. But if it was open, I would tip toe so that I can check who can see me from there. If she was in there, I would go back in and if not, I would run faster than Flash (or at least try).
One fine day, the summer was over and her mom carried her back to the States. I could step out of my house with no fear again. I knew now that there was one person less who would be bothered by my presence. The sun shined through the dorm again. Life returned to its state of equilibrium.
Close to 8 years later, on 20th March, 2017, I experienced a similar feeling as I submitted my final Unit Test answer sheet. I never have to enter the department with a sense of impending doom (hopefully!). A big part of my mental space has cleared up just like that (again, hopefully it stays that way).
Through the 4 years of college, there were a number of issues that I encountered, and most of them being common among engineering students in general.
Most people get two extreme semester results in their undergraduate life under Anna University — an extremely good/lucky one and a painfully bad/unlucky one that makes you cringe even at the thought of it. The other semesters are usually ‘’lottery’’ semesters — anything goes. And then there is a smaller group of people, whose results are consistently poor despite trying harder each time. A dipping graph, if I may. I fall under the second category with the best luck I have had so far, being my arrear getting cleared. But surely, students with worse luck than mine would be thinking, ‘Oh boo hoo! Look at this guy whining!’, with a stare of disgust as they laugh at their list of unfortunate arrears.
Once Anna University is done mangling our sad carcasses, we are handed over to our college, where the carcasses are dragged around for a variety of reasons —attendance, internals, records, project(s), mentor records, No-Due slips, ID card, ODs (Amazon interns from CSE stare with equal disgust as they laugh at their attendance sheets).
If that’s not enough, we are given personalized problems to deal with. For instance, when you are shouted at for wearing a black shirt in physics lab, when you are denied marks because it was YOUR answer paper, when you are made the class representative because you were late for lab, when a professor tells you that she would lose her job if she signed your record, when you are forced to agree that probability can be negative, when professors are surprised that you cleared a paper, when professors ask you to find the person who did an internship when that person is you and when going to an internship is seen as an equivalent to murder, to name a few.
Till the morning of the Farewell day, I was absolutely happy about college life ending. I had no regrets about being that happy and I felt that I definitely did not have anything to miss about it. Well, why would I? I lost my sleep, my interest in Computer Science, my eagerness in anything extra curricular, my positive outlook towards life and my belief in the goodness of people in general.
As I dressed up and came out of the changing room, I saw everyone clad in grand attire. Each one of them looked so different. People were all smiling and joyous. The entire scene felt strange to me but I couldn’t figure what bugged me. Numerous DSLRs and iPhones which were borrowed for the day, flaunted all over the party area. I wondered if everyone was as relieved as I was about completing college life.
The events were really fun. Our juniors seemed to have taken the task of organizing our farewell very seriously. The arrangements were a lot more amazing than I expected and definitely far more than what I heard about our seniors’ farewell party. As the mock awards were being presented, I was surprised that we knew so much about each other. As the party came to a close and I was saying goodbyes to everyone and taking ‘final selfies’ with them, things slowly started sinking in. I was able to understand what was bugging me. What I wanted to get away from was just a part of my college life called ‘classroom’.
So many experiences through the last 4 years, some sweet and some sour. Sitting in circles on the lawn by the stores and under the trees in the afternoon, bunking classes with friends and walking around college aimlessly with some chat or sandwich in hand, ‘Industrial Visits’ (the most deceiving name I have come across), that mandatory clock tower profile pic when it was inaugurated, playing Literature in class and in bus (despite always ending up in the losing side), kaalan and sugarcane juice with bus mates in the evening, DJ nights in Instincts and lying down flat near the clock tower and gazing at the stars after that, are moments to cherish. We can be proud of ourselves for just one thing. We are the last batch to know that a place called Java Green and a burger joint named Bangs existed in the SSN college campus. We also got to see the shooting of many movies (used to be a weekly affair at one point).
But we did have to struggle through every semester, going through the same process of scraping through with 17 bullet wounds and 25 fractures and falling at the feet of the department in the end, only for them to respond with the standard statement, ‘you haven’t put enough effort into this. Here’s your internals — 5 on 20.’
In the midst of all these confusions, an extremely unfortunate incident stopped everything that revolved in our world on February 2nd, 2017. We lost a person among us. The incidents that unfolded through the next couple of days still feel pretty blurred. Through those two days and ever since, I feel remorse and regret for not knowing him enough. Well, we can only make peace with the fact that he was happy while he was there.
With such a loss in one hand, we have been pained by the condition of a woman among us, another happy and smiling person, who has been struggling in the Intensive Care Unit for a few months now. I am sure that at some point everyday, she is in our thoughts and prayers and at every such moment, we continue to hope for positive news.
Stuck in such emotional turmoil, one begins to understand that life is way beyond college and its own problems. But then, we are sucked back into the same old small well by being granted 2 extra days to cope ourselves with the loss of a friend and study for a Unit Test! I repeat, two long days!
Through all the pressure, sadness and confusion, there was a flickering light of joy shining here and there, keeping us sane, alive and hoping. I have fallen into depressing lows, woken up with a false sense of hope and fallen back in several times again. It is in these times of darkness that I could see who kicked me when I was already down and who gave me a hand despite being down in the dumps on another level. And that’s how I managed to make a few really good, close friends and confidantes in the midst of a drought period of luck and respite. I thank every such friend, both in and away from college, for giving a shoulder of support when your other shoulder was already holding loads of problems and I hope I helped you bear that burden to a decent extent as well.
Despite that small girl terrifying me back then, today I write that episode with a chuckle, thinking about how she would be doing today and what she would have to say about Summer 2009, if she remembers anything at all. As the curtains close on our college life, I hope there are moments for us to chuckle about today and more moments that we could look back on and smile in the future.
I thank everyone for being a part of my life, whether you liked it or not, for you have knowingly or unknowingly helped me learn more and more about life. Hope we meet years later and laugh about our journeys together and talk happily about our different paths since.
Pakkathu veetu poochandi anna kita kutitu poiduven — I’ll take you to the ghastly neighbour dude.
Kaalan — Mushroom/Mushroom masala (Mushroom masala is a dish, Kaalan is an emotion)