When a junior of mine sent me a message on facebook (a very well-crafted message too) to write an article for the college magazine about the last 4 years i college, I thought, “Ah! Piece of cake!” But, every time I sat down to it, I ended up sounding either like a fresher seeing everything through rose-tinted glasses (bleh!) or like a 60 year old veteran whose glasses are so jaded that nothing could be seen at all anymore (bleh-er!). So, I put aside the writing and thought to clean up my room (at home) a bit. That’s when I realized what a difficult job I have in front of me and that is what this article is going to be about.
No, it is not the state of my room, it is about what I’m going to call “Re-integration”.
For 4, nay, 4 ½ years of our still-formative years, we enter the secure confines of the college. Our world becomes limited to the campus, areas around the campus or just a little bit further. The newspapers are read mostly by members of Debating n Quizzing society and the rest of us (including me) obtain our news from Whatsapp and Fb. Our society is made up of some “n” (where “n”= a small finite number) students and the only concerns we share are the ones over whether the last mass bunk was successful and can I afford to bunk one more class because I want to sleep in this morning.
After 4 ½ years of such sheltering, we re-enter the world we had left behind those many years ago. It is this realization that will hit you the way it hit me yesterday, at some random moment when you enter your room at home and realize it doesn’t have the distinct smell of unwashed socks anymore or when you are walking on the street at 7 pm and you are looking over your shoulder every 2 seconds because you are not in the campus anymore.
If college was a jungle to be navigated, then the outside now feels like an Amazonian marshland where one wrong step can sink you. There are no campus rules, campus security; no friendly face every 10 steps and no “kaha ja raha hai bey?” (where are you going?) around every corner. There is however, a pressure to school your tongue and not use F*** or M******** or B******** in every alternate sentence; there is also an effort to not laugh when someone uses the words “hard” or “blow” or even “milk”. Finally it is also the cue for the biggest laptop clean-up job since the last crash that wiped it all out.
In this world where there is no mess etiquette to think of, you still have to face people who were close to you once, but who now do a double-take at most of your words and wonderingly say, “My…how you have changed…”. A change for the better? I want to ask. But the possibility of them saying no scares me and we stop there.
Many of you might not be understanding my anxiety right now because for the last 4 years neither did I. It is when the fact that you won’t be returning for one more year of college becomes real to you that you will start thinking of what you’ll be doing when you don’t wake up in your hostel bed every morning, what you’ll be eating when you can’t complain that there is more aloo than bhindi in the mess, where you’ll be going when your favorite malls and theaters are out of reach and what you’ll be doing on all those long nights with your now porn-free computer.
This is also the time when all those cases that you read online, of rapes, of murders, of street crimes, become very very real to you and you refuse to go out unless you are in/on a motorized vehicle that can get you past any suspicious-looking character very fast.
This might be paranoia on my part or just an over active imagination, but I can’t help this feeling I’m getting: that I’m leaving home all over again and entering a new world. A new world that is dangerous, that is scary and that I have to acclimatize myself with all over again. I keep telling myself that this is in fact my world, the one I left to go to college and I’m just coming back home. But, lying to myself has never been this difficult. Apparently college made for a better home than I expected. But now, the time has come.