Ticks of the clock, nods of acceptance and a smile ornate on my face.
I had become the star of my workspace in a very short span of time. After switching from a life-sucking job, sans inspiration, appreciation, and motion, I was finally at a place filled with fulfillment, and nurture. I finally was in full spirits to be victorious over the so-called wild world of the Corporate. I had become a self-accomplished workaholic, and I gotta tell you, it was satisfying. To use all my skills garnered over the past 4 years, and put them up to make an actual difference, it was magical.
*Computer shuts down in the background*
I was packing my bag for the day to go back home and treat myself for the wonderful job I had done, as my boss walked up to me. For a moment there, I held my breath, almost accepting an announcement of deadline day project to be handed over. But then, he smiled and patted me on my back and said – “It’s good to have you on the team.”
To those who don’t know that’s equivalent to “I love you” in a more personal setting.
I returned the smile blushing and said – “Always ready to make a difference sir.” It was the perfect ending to a good day if only I knew.
Reversed my car out of the parking spot, turned on the radio and started back home. My house was not in a crowded location, but rather a peaceful part of town and hence, seldom traffic. As I kept on driving, the song College days by Gaurav Rajput started playing on the radio and that was when I switched off the AC, slid down the window and let the wind take over my senses. It was a cool evening as if rejoicing in my emotions. The lyrics were enough to allow me the feat of time travel, still deluding even the great Stephen Hawking. I swayed with the wind from Canteen to the classes, hostel to mess and those late nights of FIFA, when just one game was never an option. It was a different time, a different place and yet here I was, trying to live up to the changed man I had become after 4 years.
If you had said to me, as many did, 4 years ago that I would actually reminisce about anything and everything about my Alma Mater, I’d have said as I did – “You’re barking”. That place was a hole. No regards for human rights, discrimination on every basis, race, background, the region of the country you belonged to, GENDER, sexual preference (what’s that now?), and food with no concept of humanity.
But then, that’s the point, innit? You miss all the harassment you go through during college. The little nuances you miss. Missing breakfast and having the cheap masala Dosa in Canteen, which by the way, had the fastest service in the world. I remember I would go to the canteen, have the dosa and reach my class in time, all within 15 minutes. The dilemma to whether sleep after having breakfast or forgetting about breakfast altogether, after a night out, watching movies. The pangs of anxiety before every exam, running around for notes, or for a friend indeed to teach you everything which you didn’t even know was in the syllabus, and the familiar feeling of relief after not finding a single F grade in your mark sheet (or the Fuck it, even after finding one :P).
College was, what you call a perfect enactment of a roller coaster ride. If you had a quiet life for a week, you would start questioning your existence.
Life was never about settling unless it meant either an F grade or a C grade. That announcement of working hard and going to classes next semester. The running around to get enough attendance, so that there was at least a chance of passing the exam. And not to forget relationships, in every form. College was filled with new, old, renewed and discovered relationships. You made friends for life there, those whom you tag in memes all day on Facebook, or make plans to go Goa every year. These were the people who told you “Bus, Train aur Chokri, han“. They made you realise drama is for losers, money once given was never to be discussed again, and you can count on them to put you through hell on your bday. College was an amalgamation of bittersweet memories, some literally very painful, literally. But it helped you understand relationships, and how people are. Some had lonely 4 years while some made a group they’ll live with for years to come. What mattered, in the end, was, every friendship, lost or lifelong, taught you something about yourself and people, helped you rediscover yourself or invent something about yourself.
The most interesting part however will be our trysts with love.
College stories are never told without a mention of our crushes. Crushes and romance were never far behind, were they? Oh, love, the deluded path of Love. The innumerable crushes, or the one you loved from the bottom of your heart. The sweetheart of many or the one who had a special place for you, even when your best friend would say – “Are you blind?” All of us were high on hormones and ready to attack the next victim. All of us. Some had successful attacks, some had their attacks thwarted either by a long distance he/she had or the disciplinary team (red tag anna) or by the devil himself – the best friend. Romance was always in abundance, if not for you, then for the couples in the corners of the campus, or under the shade of trees. We have all been a victim of the great and mighty, treacherous and deceitful LOVE.
And then came the turning point, the defining moment of our bachelor’s – placements year. What didn’t we do to get the job of our dreams, or any job for that matter. Resumes on red bull, last-minute (read fake) certificates, and FORMALS. We did everything even in 45 degrees Celsius to land a job and secure our future, didn’t we? We registered for every company, even those which had no requirement of the skills we had, or required we especially didn’t have, because well, it’s worth a shot, right? The tension swelling up, to hear your name among those qualified for the final round and then preparing what the hell to say when the Interviewer would ask – “So tell me about yourself”. The most nerve wrecking days were upon us and we were all geared up to face the real world after leaving off of chunks of life.
It hits hard every time I go back to those classes, those bad jokes, and those bitching sessions. The moments of careless attitude and the moments of anxious exasperation, as I know you do too.
And those who are yet to live all of this for the first time, I would suggest just one thing – “Take it easy“. It’s a transition phase, not exactly “the” phase. Go to that concert, ask that girl out, fail in a couple of subjects, but don’t let those years go by easily. Breathe in every second of those 4 years, and make the most out of it.
I had subconsciously even parked my car when my chain of thoughts was finally broken by the headlights gleaming back at me. I realised the real world had finally arrived. I didn’t have a gang of my partners in Crime around me to egg me on or to help me out of a tight spot anymore. It was me and I was alone. And I could no more get by with an excuse of “Sorry, forgot my notebook in my room”.