Family Away From Home

The campus had become our home, a home away from home. The peace and tranquility would be bestowed to whoever took shelter in the lawns and gardens of the campus. I started to get to know my training mates. It was a mixture of people from various states all over the country which made the classroom a perfect example for national integration. More than any false sense of patriotism, it was the tiny devil that sat in all Men’s mind, which found solace in the pulchritude of women from various states. Everyone in the training had introduced themselves to every other person in the training room. Only few people were really comfortable to start talking on the first day. One of them was a girl Lakshita who sat at the back of my classroom surreptitiously away from the eyes of the trainers. Other girls either just spoke when they were spoken to, but Lakshita did not seem to find a point to stop. The whole room would hear her passing comments from the back benches. Her quirky attitude and talkative nature attracted me towards her instantaneously. After few moments of listening to her non-stop fast paced chattering, time became relative. Though I knew that she was talking fast, all I could see was a slow motion picture of my princess. Einstein was right. An hour with your love looked like a minute and a minute of the boring session looked like an eternity.

“This always happens to me.”, I blushed with dreamy eyes.

The first few sessions of the training were to explain the basic concepts of programming which was slightly boring for me as I knew much of it. And this weird guy, sitting beside me, slept through the class half waking and half falling back to limbo. He never introduced himself when I shook his hands and introduced myself. A plain blank unintended smile and rigorous handshake was his response. He either was not really comfortable at making new friends or was deliberately avoiding my gesture. What really stood was that , he never gave a damn what people thought of him at the end of everything. After few chit-chat with other members of classroom, I came to know that the weird guy’s name was Tarang and he was from UP. Few more quirky characters introduction later, I was confident that any of these guys would cheer me up in a boring lecture. By the end of the first lecture of Generic training, all the members of the classroom knew at least a few of them on a first name basis. And no other first names felt sweeter than Lakshitha’s.

That evening after the end of the session, I struck up a conversation with Lakshita, and within minutes I nicknamed her as Lux. She was okay with that and even started calling me as Sid, which I never really liked , but I didn’t stop her. I came to know that she stays just near my block and so I decided that I should surprise her somehow.

My first shot at a surprise meet was a big failure as Lakshitha seemed to have gone out with her roommate . And I had nothing else to do but to walk around the campus in vain. The night stroll took me through a silent winding path with either side of the path lined by coniferous Ashoka trees. The silence and serene ambience lightened up my senses.

As I walked towards the campus gates where three girls were animatedly talking to the Security guards. The tall girl in the group was arguing for them to be allowed inside the campus, pointing out that they had arrived at the campus gates just on time. The Security guard was defiant and pointing at his own watch told they had come later than 9 pm which was a rule in the campus- Be in the campus by 9:00 pm. He then went onto lambaste the girls in Kannada which no one other than the guard understood. The shortest girl in the trio was almost in tears. Wiping away whatever tears that spilled over her cheeks, she had her head bowed down in silent regret. The girl who wasn’t either arguing or otherwise wasn’t in tears, stood shell shocked and pale in fear.

I had been watching the argument for a while and decided to help them out. I wound my watch to 8:55 pm and walked to the quarrelling parties. The guard who was by then irritated by the argument immediately launched an attack on me, asking me to stay away from it. With whatever little Kannada I knew, I pointed at my watch and said that it was still just 8:55pm. The guard at first did not listen into my argument but when he did, it slowly dawned on him that he had stopped the girls before the time was even in 9 pm. In a split second, the nasty guard now became cordial and returned back their ID cards . He uttered an indistinct sorry under his breath, for which the girls let out sigh of relief. The short girl was cheerful by now and was the first one to introduce herself as we walked away from the gate, “Hey , I am Ragini. And you are?”

“Hey , I am Sidharth.”, I said shaking hands with all three of them.

“Hey I am in Srividya and this is Priya.” Said the tall girl introducing herself and the pointing to the silent girl who stood looking at the trees far behind with utter indignation to my presence. Srividya looked more like a Keralite by stereotypical norms. Her tied back hair which seemed slightly wet and oily, her bronze skin tone and over arching eyebrows, everything fit a typical Keralite. But eventually when I spoke with her, I came to know that she was from Chennai and her mother tongue being Telugu. The awfully quiet girl who had been silent till now, cheerfully introduced more of herself with a rigorous handshake, “That was pure genius what you did back there.”

“Thanks”, said a blushed version of myself.,”That was really brilliant, self Hi-Five bro” I said to myself.

We had been walking for a while now and the residential blocks stood in concentric circles a few metres away from us, atop a hill covered by trees around it.

“Hey Sid. Do you mind us calling you, Sid?” asked Srividya earnestly.

“Hmmm… Well, I do mind people calling me with the shorter version of my original name because there is a history behind my name and the purpose name being Sidharth kind of fails when it is shortened.”

“And What is this history ?” inquired Priya, as genuinely as possible amidst the giggle that had escaped Ragini and Srividya.

“Well. When I was born, my mother wanted to name me as “Gautam Sidharth” after the great Gautam Buddha. Fearing that I would take up hermitage and become a sanyasi, my mom suggested that they should drop the name “Gautam Sidharth “. But my father liked “Sidharth” and decided to drop the “Gautam” but keep Sidharth. That kind of suites my character, I am neither a play boy like the Gautam Sidharth in his early days when he was a prince and playboy nor like the Buddha, a “Sanyasi”. I am a hopeless romantic”.

By the end of my name story, everyone was laughing hard. Even I could not control myself seeing Ragini literally crying while she laughed at my jokes. We exchanged our phone numbers and that was it, we were now friends. Never did I realize that this silly act of heroism or whatever it was called would bring me closer to three beautiful human beings.

Next day I introduced the Ragini, Priya and Srividya to my college mates who immediately liked the girls. We were now being dubbed as the “Chennai Gang” which had its secret meetings at the Fiesta Food court. It was really a matter of days that we all came close to each other and would spend the leisure hours in each other company. Our favorite meeting place being the food court and our favorite spot in the campus being the Bridge , which arched above a man-made pond.