After leaving the scene I went to our college cricket gallery and sat there for a while rewinding everything that happened to me. I was left completely drained physically and emotionally, but even then I had a sense of relief. I knew that life was going to be tough without food and a place to reside, but that was a challenge unlike the misery I experienced with my parents. With no place to go, I just slept in the gallery gazing at the sky.
Did not attend the class next day, and was just roaming around the college.
My wife (back then my girl friend) helped me by giving me money from what she got as her monthly allowance. I am not going to write about my wife or how she shaped my life and made me a better person. In one word, life was beautiful when she was with me. No matter how much I struggled with my finances, the mere fact that I spent time with her made my life complete. One may come across several women in their life, but only one person would be capable of fixing the jigsaw (our life). For me it was her, I prefer not to elaborate more on this.
I met Rajesh, (he was senior to us by two years, but studied along with us because of failing the exams) I told him that I need a place to stay. He took me along with him to the place where he stayed. It was actually a house rented by our alumni, so I was staying with him and was coming to the college. It was mutually beneficial for us, as I taught him all the subjects and he provided me with a place to stay.
Handling the money part was a bit difficult, because 3 meals a day during those days costed Rs 50, so I needed Rs 1,500 per month for food, semester fee of Rs. 7500, and other college expenses (things like, records, projects and so on) . In addition to that the cost of commutation became a huge burden.
A month went by and the internal assessments happened. I basically have a sharp mind but exams and marks were never a priority, however during that phase I wanted to prove a point. I was unable to do so, one cannot study or focus when he is very hungy, lot of days passed by when I slept with an empty stomach. I managed to do well in assessments, and topped at all the subjects. However Rajesh anna whom I taught, flunked in a couple of subjects. I was shocked and after checking his paper, I came to know that the marks did not reflect his performance but the vendetta of our faculty. They always had a prejudice and just wanted to destroy his career. They evaluated papers not objectively but based on the person who took the test. Though most faculty hated me back then, they did not show it in my papers, for they knew that I was good at all the subjects. Rajesh anna was so dejected and that incident prompted him to get back in to smoking and drinking. I was not in a position to help, I did what I could by providing him moral support, as that was the best that I could do. I took him in my group for all the projects and helped him to clear most subjects that year.
I started typing this post 30 days back, but I find it hard to type beyond this point. It is because my beloved Rajesh anna is no more. After I completed my course, I got placed and went my way (I loved all my friends but I never had the habit of staying in touch with them). Rajesh anna did not clear the final exam and was struggling to finish his course, the faculty never let him clear the papers. The dejection coupled with his family issues, took him to the brink and he committed suicide. A person with enormous potential, a highly skilled soccer player, and an exceptional bike racer died in his 20s, thanks to the prejudice of a few. Instead of helping and guiding a troubled youngster, they killed him. The worst part is, I came to know about his death after 2 years. My college life would have been incomplete without a friend like him, despite all his bad habits he was true well wisher. He is someone who helped me when it really mattered, but I was not there for him when he needed it the most. I just wish he gets a better life in his next birth, he gave me nothing but happiness. The days spent with him, and the days spent in that house were beautiful days.
Now coming back to my story. I found it really hard to commute to Velechery every day, so I was exploring options to stay at the college. However after I was asked to pay a fine, none of my college mates were ready to even talk to me. It was at that point Saravan, a classmate of mine started spending time with me. It was like ‘the sidelined students’ coming together, he was often teased by others and everyone avoided me, so naturally we came together. But he was in no position to take me with him in the hostel room, because the Warden of that hostel was our facultly and my presence in that hostel would land both of us in trouble. A couple of days I slept in the college gallery. Then I happened to talk to a friend of mine (C. Shanmugam), who was doing B.Tech in Printing Technology. He insisted that I stayed with him, it was like God personally spoke to him sent him to me. He was just a little more than an acquaintance and I hardly knew him personally prior to that incident. The warden of his block never stayed in that block and they hardly cared who stayed at the hostel. That room became my full time residence for the next year and a half. Finally shelter and travel was taken care of.
The next mission was to take care of food and other expenses. Jayaprasad anna, another senior of mine, but happened to finish his course along with us, referred me to a couple of people, who could offer me part time jobs, to earn some money. I went to those places, but it was too far away, and I would hardly be able to make my ends meet with the salary that they were willing to pay. Finally, I started teaching chemistry and math for 12 grade students. I handled the classes in a boy’s (Yogeshwaran) house, and he picked me up and dropped me (I taught them 3 days a week) and they paid a monthly fee of Rs3,500. It was very eventful, I came to know how rich kids lived and their outlook of the world. I also happened to meet Varalaxmi Sarthkumar (daughter of a famous actor and politician in Tamil Nadu), the first celebrity I came across. So everything fell in place, I had food and a place to stay, the only other thing was studies. I hardly had any issues with studies, and ended up topping most subjects consistently over the next two semesters.
I then started presenting technical papers all around India and started winning prizes. Sometimes those prize money also helped me to make the ends meet. Despite all these, there used to be times when I spent a day or two without eating anything. It was Shanmugam, who completely understood my condition, he would keep track of my meals and when he notices that I skipped a meal he would give me some money even if he was not having any, by collecting all the leftover coins in the room. I am highly indebted to him, there are no words to convey my feeling. He is one of those few people who shaped my life. No matter what I do, I can never repay him.
Slowly things started to change in the college, the faculties who cited me as an example of a screwed up kid, started appreciating me for everything that I did. I never thought that life could become so easy and happy, even when I had only few bucks in my pocket, it was like winning a lottery every day. The mere fact that I was away from my parents made me live in an eternal bliss. However what is life without trouble? God sent one my way. The new semester began and I got to pay the fees for that semester a sum of Rs. 7,500 , there was no way I could arrange that money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
More about my final year, my beloved juniors, my project and my first job in the next chapter.