· The story is about a girl who’s excited to enter her dream engineering college. However, she finds that her aspirations clash with her desires and expectations of a trendy life when she encounters the simple unadorned environment of her new college. I had written this in my first year. And all the characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental 😛
The first day of college. She was mad with excitement-the kind of childish fervor she had not felt since say, she was 13. Things had become so mundane. Preparation for the entrances had sucked up most of her time and life in XI and XII. Now finally, the fruits had appeared-sweet, lovely and so very dreamlike. Though not IIT, she’d got into one of the most prestigious colleges of the country. Sweets, treats, parties-all followed. The two years of rigorous hard work had paid off and beautifully so. XI and XII students-engineering aspirants all congratulated her and came to her for advice- the same advice she’d run after, when she had landed fresh in XI. Now arrived the big day- the first day of college. Tales of ragging and romance had already frequented her. She was all for fun. College life is every teen’s dream. She had passed a major part of her teenage with Mills and Boon and the Twilight Series. To fantasize had almost become her right now. Putting chains on the mind while her exams ploughed on wasn’t easy. Even Lord Krishna in Mahabharata says to Arjun that nothing can match the speed of the mind and its nearly impossible to stem the flow of thoughts that would go on and on. But she did try her best and the results satiated her. Now she was free to fantasize. The first day was hardly a few days away. And she hadn’t renewed her wardrobe yet.
“Man, how could I be so forgetful? So immersed in merriment that I’d forget this important day?” Even as she said this, instead of tension, only a wave of pure excitement washed over her. She was gladdened by the fact that she ‘had’ to go shopping. This haste and strain was of a nature a lot different from the one before the exams. So, a list was prepared. Timings settled. She was to go shopping! The universal female pastime!
The wardrobe got stacked with new t-shirts (with funky quotes), low-waist jeans, capris, spagetti tops and dresses and beads and danglers for accessories. She returned home, covered with polybags. It took two trips for her and her mom to get all the stuff up. After all, there was this stylish bag too with metal chains, lending it a trendy look.
“So, what kind of ragging will happen, do you think?” she asked her friend on the phone. That friend’s college would begin two days after her own.
“If its normal, it’ll be a song and dance or some DARE probably!” and they chatted on, discussing about Imtiaz Ali’s outrageous ragging (going full Monty) that landed him up with the police.
The night came and she went out to the balcony. She hung against the balustrade. It was her favorite way of relaxing- staring up at the stars and letting the idleness wash over her completely. It was a new moon…she now had a chance to start again, afresh. She felt herself swell with happiness. It felt unbelievable that the best things in life are available to everyone- the vast black sky was for her as well as for the lizard that sat still on the balcony sill…what would the stars mean to the lizard, she wondered, probably it would never be able to admire their beauty or their count…but it meant something to her…little bits of happiness awaiting her in life…she liked to link things that way…it felt sweet and surreal. But the lizard would probably never experience that…nor would it have the sophistication ever to be in her shoes…think all that she can. Her world was far superior and with a big bubble of happiness inside her, she decided to call it a day. A new phase was awaiting her. It was a triumphant feeling.
The next day looked the same but she was dressing carefully for the special day. She put on kohl too (which she seldom did) and with a hint of gloss on her lips, started out with her dad for college. It was decided her dad would take her on the first day; she would travel by herself, preferably auto, on the following days, once she got the idea of the route.
The campus was large, green and…well…deserted. She waved her dad off and felt her first pang of apprehension. Was she dressed okay? Would she behave smartly? Her questions were tempered by the eerie silence…her mind’s rational wheels had started churning. What if today was not the first day? If the holidays were still on? She quickly glanced at her cell, made some quick calculations but couldn’t find any mistake. The normal procedure better be followed, she thought. So, she went on to the office. A bored woman took her admission slip and typed her details on the computer. She couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast between her ensemble and the lady’s clothes. The receptionist at her school’s desk dressed as if she had to attend a cocktail party after work; she often suffered pangs of envy looking at that woman who also had a certain ‘attitude’ and enjoyed a certain attention.
She went on to check up her first class on the big board, covering a major portion of the wall behind the woman. It was Electrical, room C9, 3rd floor. She leapt up the stairs, looking around tentatively. Soon she grew tired and had to lessen her pace. It made her pay attention to the corridors which were almost empty save for a few students, huddled in corners, whispering, not even looking at her. There was one board per floor, with notices sticking out of them and a dull blue-grey paint filled the walls. This didn’t have that chirpy feeling of a college, but she didn’t want to conclude anything before reaching her own floor, which she finally did. The ninth room on the third floor opened onto a verandah (“atleast that feels good”, she thought). She made her way to the room; the bubble of happiness that had taken home inside her last night, struggled with its existence. She checked the time- it was 8:40am. It had taken her 10 minutes to find her class and the class had begun. No sound except the authoritative tone of her new professor. She debated whether to ask for permission to enter but judging by what she had been told by her pals about college, she didn’t and took a secluded seat by the window. The class continued but she hardly listened. That bubble of joy had succumbed to the disease of dissatisfaction and shattered dreams. She replayed the morning till that point and felt cheated, though that was a kiddish feeling, she decided.
The rest of the day was long and full of disapproving stares from people whose eyes she met. She restrained from asking if there would be some welcoming ceremony for the freshers. She felt like the receptionist from her school whom she used to consider ‘overdressed and hammed’. She made no friend, simply because she didn’t think they would talk. She couldn’t imagine college without clusters of people hanging out and poking fun at each other. Her school had had better scenes. Although she knew about anti-ragging rules, she didn’t expect such tough enforcement in this place.
She stood against the railing of the verandah during recess, looking up at the sky, trying to spot some stars. But the sun was too bright. Nothing else could be seen.
That night when her mom asked her what had she decided to wear the next day, she replied, “ Anything.”