Hardly into it, have I reckoned the final year as remarkably different from the first three. But then, weren’t they all different in their own ways ? Freshman year was nothing like the 2nd , 3rd , or 4th year. The sophomore experience was so full of energy; unique in its own way. And well, the third year was a period in transition between the two extremities of second and fourth years; perhaps the time students start thinking about the things post-college.
I often tell my friends the time I’ll remember the most would surely be the first year. It is that time when you suddenly meet a host of new people, many of whom are certain to leave a lasting imprint on your life and on the way you see things. Talk about fun, I never had any during my first year. If at all there was, it was the fun on the run. We constantly ran away from seniors who’d always be on the prowl, looking for frail freshers to get their lengthy assignments done. If I know correctly, though I don’t claim I do, then the scene isn’t all that scary now as it used to be in our time. Anti-Ragging banners galore in the campus, which I feel deter most seniors from even trying the most harmless of mischief. What I used to do back then to avoid servility to seniors I neither knew nor respected, is that I used to tell some friend of mine to lock my door from outside and slide the key back from beneath the door, so that I would call someone up when I needed to go out and then slide the key again for him to open the door for me. Most of the times, there would be a group of six-seven of us inside my room; but the room locked from outside so that the seniors who came to my doorsteps with their assignments went back disappointed. I don’t really know how the sentiment is now, among the freshers, but back then a unanimous agreement on seniors being the common enemies provided a setting really conducive to some great bonding among all of us.
The second year was as different from the first as Nisha Kothari from Gracy Singh. In fact, it is invariably the second year guys who have the most pronounced I-am-your-senior syndrome. They like to take the roles of people they hated while in their first year, as soon as there are new people at the receiving end. I can’t say this about the whole college in general, but it is true every bit for how it’s like at the boys’ hostels. It is here that I was a misfit, never able to really value any seniority that comes on account of having been born earlier, irrespective of which side I was on. It defeats all rationale. If I admire you, it may be for your work, your qualities, or even seemingly absurd things as how you walk or how you run through the stairs. But for your age, never. Not unless you’re at least thirty years my senior. Apart from that, it was hands down the most vibrant year. We went to every goddamn fest in the city, dancing through dawns. There were hardly any days on which we slept before 2am. It was the kind of hurry to have fun which you’d expect from someone being packed off to some sand collection project in The Sahara in a week’s time. I don’t know why we were so crazy. It was fun, great fun. Very soon, I got fed up of it.
And when I got fed up of it, I became a little reclusive. Beyond that time I can’t make any generalisations on how college is like, because I had already deviated too much from any generalised conception of college-goers. By a strange coincidence, soon after I happened to read a lot of reclusive-literature, if I may use the term. Some by reclusive authors, some on reclusive protagonists. I can’t say if it was a good thing to have happened or not; at least I don’t regret it; not so far.
Things now are a muddle of all things past, a hazy assortment devoid of any valuable insight, any clear path, or any useful experience. Also, there’s a slight guilt of not having utilized my college years fruitfully. Truth be told, I am only as equipped, have only as much knowledge or skills, as I had when I had just finished Class XII. From this standpoint, it’s been a waste of years. Sometimes I wish I had studied with care, tried to score good marks and all, until the futility of this mistimed regret strikes me. The other day I went to a freshers’ room, just to see how they would react. They looked a little tense at the mere sight of someone unfamiliar in their room, and on coming to know that I am from the fourth year their misgivings multiplied. From their looks, it seemed I was, for them, the sophomore’s vice raised to the power of three. ‘I ragged people who ragged those who are these days ragging you.’, I told them just to experience the look on their faces, which suddenly started looking like pumpkins in a furnace, and I told myself that nothing has changed. When I asked one of them what book they have for Manufacturing Processes, he answered, ‘Yes, err I am err in first err year.’ as though that were his biggest err-or in life. The chap didn’t know what he was speaking. 'We weren’t that bad', I patted myself in my thoughts. Then I told them they could consider me harmless and that I just felt like meeting them casually. One Electronics guy and two Polymers guys were studying Automotive Engineering from a Khali sized book. What on earth do you do with this book, when I, despite my branch and year, don’t know cow about it? This was what I asked, partly startled, partly insecure at my own insufficiency, and partly worried about these overly studious young guys. ‘We are interested in it.’, they answered unequivocally but then started looking at me a little apologetically, until I started feeling apologetic about lacking any concrete interests and went back to my room.