Life in hostel wasn’t like this before. I think there is not much of a difference between living at home or at the hostel with your roommate, if you compare it with living alone in a single room. The third year students in DCE are allotted single rooms, subject to their back paper free academic status. Since I just about managed that somehow I am living alone now for four days, for the first time in my life. As luck would have it almost al the friends I made here during the last two years have been allotted different hostels and the Delhi ones haven’t checked in so far, I guess I am the only one from among them so far to have checked in. And with my long nurtured lazy habits, the case for looking for other alternatives gets a little stronger than walking down three storeys, walking some more and again going up three storeys to hang out with these guys. It was a bit difficult for the first day, there were no interesting alternatives. So I thought I’d make do with forced alternatives until I start finding them interesting. A chance game basically. I had issued three books on my way back from classes, and I decided to read them over. Usually, infact invariably, I return the library books unread courtesy laziness. These books, combined were a good mix of cognitive and recreational, I forced myself to believe. I started with ‘INDIA : what it can teach us’ by F Max Muller . In two hours, I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it. No, it had nothing to do with my pain at india’s historical miseries. Iwas just too sad at the boring state of my life that I had to find interest in this super boring book which seemed to have been written by this author while watching some bombed documentary film at some crappy theatre where only people with specs with a number greater than six and some matter at their eye-nose interface were permitted to enter. One could find something interesting in watching a repeat telecast of a five year old ‘Krishi Darshan’ episode, but not in this book. I kept it aside and began moaning to myself about the unfortunate catastrophe I thought I was in. Just then a ‘kya haal – bas badiya – chal ok’ friend of minecame to my room and asked which room had I been allotted.
‘The room that you’ve entered’, I answered in an exasperated voice. He laughed loudly as if he caught me mending broken zip of the jeans I was wearing.
As he continued with some thought provoking questions like ‘So classes started..’ ‘H’m staying in hostel?’; ‘H’m new courses?’ I kept nodding my head in agreement when he dropped the most meaningful of his questions, ‘What’s up?’. I quickly began vomiting my grouses out as if waiting for this question to be put up. He looked like he repented asking this question too much. I sensed that and shut up. After a while I asked him if he had ‘Five Point Someone’ or ‘One Night at the call Center’, I’d heard they were interesting and that almost everybody in the hostel had them. He said yes and I borrowed them promptly from his room a floor below mine.
I read both of them in succession – Five Point Someone and then One Night in the Call Center. I think I started at four pm and ended at 3 am, I skipped the dinner I’d had skipped even for moaning to myself – I just cant stand the mess’ Kofte ; don’t go by the name. As I went to sleep I was surprised at reading so many letters in one day and continuously too. I couldn’t ever achieve this sort of concentration even before the exams I was too cautious not to fail. And more importantly, I was cursing myself for not having done a call center stint in the vacations rather than the ngo thing. The novel showed call centers in a dark light, but the utilitarian mind that I have – I preferred to look at the promise it held.
‘Life would have been so much more happening that way’, I wondered.
I don’t know when I dozed off after that.
I got up late the next morning and barely left on time for college. As a matter of fact, I am a pre final year student now and it happens that most of the students I come across on the campus turn out to be my juniors. Not that it means anything to me – a seniority by default. But as a newly admit asked me – Bhai engineering ki classes kahan hain ?’, some faint recollections of two years back flashed before me.
Me ( two years younger ) : Bhaiya, Kshitiz ka room kaun sa hai ?
He (one year my senior) : bhaiya kaun hai ******** , ******* hai tu, Sir bol **** ** ****.
And some insignificant duel followed.
Flashback over. I told him, 'tu jahan aaya hai vahan har jagah engineering ki hi classes hoti hain, koi yahan silaayi bunaai seekhne bhi aaya hai kya ?’
Fresher – mera matlab drawing ki, engineering drawing ki .
Me – Mechanical mein hoti hain.
He – Vo to hoti hi hain, lekin kahan ?
Me- oh mera matlab block mein, mechanical block mein. Floor pe hoti hain.
He – floor pe ???
Me – Haan floor pe, mera matlab third floor pe.
He left quickly after that. I saw him giggle as he turned. That seemed girlie to me. I even tried to visualise him for some time as clean shaven and with long hair, that is, as a girl. It was futile. He’d look horrible. Then I left too, thinking I was more polished than this junior – I called that senior ‘bhaiya’ not ‘bhaai’ ; and more polished than that senior who called me ********. I tapped my head in self admiration. Suddenly there was a dust storm which spoiled away all the polish from my shoes and in minutes there was drizzle which cleaned them again. Anyways, it was nice as long as the college was on. While I was coming back from college, I was again in thoughts over what to do once back.
That friend came again. He wanted to know how I found the novels. He looked so eager to know, I wondered for once if he had some role in writing them. I told him they were good, but he wasn’t satisfied.
‘After all the effort I put into writing them!!’, he seemed to look like.
Then I said they were outstanding, captivating, mesmerizing and stuff, and he appeared so happy he dropped his sandals and lay himself on my cot, certain now to spend the next of the evening here with me. With hardly any common interests between the two of us ‘Do you have a girlfriend’ was the obvious next step from me to keep afloat some conversation. His face beamed with vigour and he described at length how he went about the wooing business, and how she’d never let him pay all the bills, and that her parents are quite broadminded – ‘I meet her at her home, man!’, he chuckled. Initially I thought ‘I’d pass my time well today’. But as his anecdotes grew and grew, from a story to a novel to an epic, I thought moaning was better. And his flurry of achievements had given me more topics to moan over my under-achievements. Slowly I stopped making the odd remarks intended to cut the awkward gaps of silence. When he still stuck on, I had to ask him to leave saying I had to go for a snack outside. I left with him, locking my room, so as to conform to him I was leaving. Then I wandered around for five minutes and came back to my room. I realised that I hated the loneliness, but I also wanted it.
I plugged in the ipod, switching off the lights and played some Jagjit Singh numbers.
‘Aas jo toot gayi fir se bandhaata kyun hai ..’
‘Kabhi yun bhi to ho ..’
I reaffirmed to myself his position as the ultimate escapade after a mush mush self confidence drowning conversation.
There was more to blurt, but seeing that it’s a lot more, and it has already got very longish, I think shutting up is a nice idea.
An idea can change your life.