3(1/2) years ago, fresh from a school I had been in for 12 years I entered a college bang opposite a portion of the Arabian Sea and in the many months that I stayed there, I spent a lot of time thinking. And, for the most part of the last two days- I’ve been thinking a lot about that time. (All for this post.)
And since I am in a creative mood, I’ll express those times using a range of prisms.
1.) The Honest Confession Route:
I entered a college and found myself socially inept to speak anything at all with anyone. I can still remember the time when I would enter class and find the majority of the students so much more comfortable with themselves. Seeing them comfortable, I figured I should not approach them because they didn’t need me as such. There were a few uncomfortable awkward people like me, early on but sooner or later, they too started to find the bench a comfortable place. There were a few, with whom I was able to strike a conversation- but I didn’t say much, and the few things they said left me a little bewildered.
2.) Conversations (Things I’d heard and things I’d said):
There was this interaction I had with a friend in a canteen which I can still remember. (My brother and a cousin laughed over it.)
“Humaare Qaum ke yahaan pe bahut kam log hain.”, he’d said out of the blue obviously considering me to be one of him.
“Bhai, main Hindu hoon”, I said after a few seconds of him saying it.
“Lekin tera naam toh Sameer hai.”, he said trying to sound defensive about his presumption or to establish solidarity even after the misunderstanding. I don’t know.
“Haan, par surname Jha hai. Hindu!”
Similarly, there was this conversation where one guy pointed out to me how this section of the class was ‘cool’. I was so appalled by the crudeness of it, that I didn’t say anything at all. (Besides, I didn’t find them very cool. Piercings and ponytails disgusted me then, and disgust me now. Now though, I can overlook them.)
My roommate once even asked me: “Why do you not hangout at all?”
I couldn’t say much. Social life in school happened on its own. And here with no one I knew from before I didn’t know what to do.
He then added sarcastically: “Not your type, maybe?”
I don’t remember what I said as a reply to that, but it may have been on the lines of – “I’m a very quiet human being and therefore, don’t talk to people.”
3.) Saying it in Fiction:
Sameer shot up from his chair, stoked and expressionless- like a zombie on cocaine- and walked out of the library (poorly ventilated it was) to get some fresh air, flavoured milk and a cigarette. He had just read a collection of interviews given by Ingmar Bergman which made so much sense of living an artistic life that he had been exhausted by its sheer eloquence and felt as if in each paragraph he ‘learnt’ something.
Once outside, Sameer began thinking about the book that he was writing. And through that about the girl he had loved and lost. But, sense of loss was important for an artist- and all that frustration and the agony of regret was now contributing to his learning. So, it was all for the good, he concurred with a sip of the flavored milk.
Thinking about his school, provided so many thoughts during his walks on this Marine Drive. (So overrated it was, but still good.) Often, while reliving some part of his past from memory he’d walk back and forth over the same piece of land. He was aware that a calm random observer would not empathise with the intensity of his thought, yet- what did he care? The innocence of ambition was so sweet, and the air so good- that even without anyone at all to share the happiness with, Sameer felt that the god above was witness to this moment of beauty. Years later, when he would become a better writer he would find a way to express this moment, he told himself.
I was so driven then. Making mastery of an art, my prime goal in life. Surely, now I can see- that my blaming this part of my character for my failures at that time (which is what I did) would be very illogical. And, above all- this is what I need to find again.
In order to recollect these experiences, I considered going to the place again. But, that would have required someone to at least sponsor my travel expenses. So, relying on memory I tried to- to sit on the footpath that I used to sit at; to walk the road that I used to take in order to go from Charni Road station to my hostel; sit in the cramped for space cyber cafe where I wrote some of the earlier posts of this blog at; smell the Bhel Puri that costed 15 bucks and was simply brilliant amongst other things.
Even though it was a bad year in hindsight; I found myself as a very happy human being in these little places.