To me, the biggest miracle is to play with life without allowing life to play with us. If one can go through life untouched, that’s the greatest miracle anyone can achieve. Miracles don’t happen with everyone as every event that is happening around us influences us in a certain way and most of us will change as a person. The events that happened to me during my college days influenced me so much, that by the time I came out of it, I was a different person altogether.
It becomes a bit difficult to pen down everything that happened to me during the college days explicitly, as most of them are still in touch with each other and I might hurt them or their relationship or might even get them in to some trouble. I even thought of giving them some fake names, however I am sticking to their original names.
There are some moments in life which you will never forget and remember even the minute details, like your marriage, or the first time you lifted your baby and so on; setting foot on the college for the first time was one such experience for me. It was a mixed feeling; with lot of adrenaline rush, lot of expectations; expectations about the kind of friends that we will get, the kind girls, the seniors and the ragging. The whole atmosphere of the college made me to feel free for the first time; a sense of having a set of wings.
So I walked in to my class and took a seat which is neither in the first row nor in the last. Students from different departments were put together for the first year as the subjects were common. There was a diminutive guy, who took the adjacent chair named Parthiban Selvam. I introduced myself to him, and like me he was a day scholar and a chemical engineering student. He was my first friend in the college and sadly I don’t even know what he is doing today despite the reach of social networking sites.
The first thing that comes to everyone’s mind, when we think about college is the gangs, so we both thought of forming a gang. We framed a set of rules for being a part of our gang and started hunting for guys during the free time. I need to take two buses to reach my college, and on the third day all I had was Rs.100 and no change. Back in those days the ticket between Saidapet and Anna University was just 1 rupee (or 1.25) So in the second bus I gave the 100 rupee note for the ticket, but he did not have change. Suddenly out of nowhere a guy gave me 1 rupee for the ticket, and he introduced himself as Tolstoy. We had a chat on our way to the college and he seemed to be a nice guy and became a part of the gang.
During my school days I used to evaluate other guys based on their physical strength, I used to ask myself whether I can beat him in a duel. However as I became an adult, in addition to that I started evaluating others’ hair style, looks and their ability to get a girl friend. I used to keep myself as the benchmark and evaluate other guys and rank them. There are only two ranks, those who are better than me and those who are below me. I have already ranked a few guys who were better than me (Like guys named Aflal and Baratwaj). The next day, a guy in the row behind us started a conversation with us . I still remember his hair style, it was so good. The moment I saw that guy I added him to the list of guys who were better than me and also to our gang. I instantly acknowledged his good hair style (I even said that it looked a bit like Shoaib Akthar’s) and came to know that his name is Prem.
Parthiban and I had a difference in opinion when it came to taking in another day scholar named Suresh. I did not know the reason why Parthiban did not want Suresh in the gang, but I wanted him and Parthiban slowly moved away from the gang from then on and Suresh came in. We then had one more addition and that was Murali Krishna. So the gang which I dreamed off was formed; with me, Prem, Tolstoy, Suresh and Murali Krishna.
However Murali left early and Suresh had a bicyle as his home was nearby. Me, Prem and Tolstoy took the bus till Saidapet and spent some time in Saidapet and then we gave company to Prem to railway station as he should take a train. We used to have some food in a co-operative store that used to be very cheap and with a budget of 15 rupees (It was Tolstoy who mostly spent that money), all three of us had our stomachs full. Tolstoy then used to give me company until I catch the bus to my home and then he went to his house which was nearby to the bus stand.
There are few advantages of being a day scholar in a Chennai college, the day scholars are generally more trendy, have more exposure, sociable with good communication skills and humorous so they generally become more popular than the hostelers. However there is one major disadvantage of being a day scholar, the moment the classes are over your college life is over for the day. You can roam around for a couple of hours, but eventually you should get back to your home. The hostelers naturally had the added advantage, as they had continuous access to the library, the computer center, the college grounds, the gym and all other facilities. A day scholar like Prem or me should hang in an overpopulated bus or a train during peak hours to get back home and that used to take an hour and a half for me and more than that for Prem, so we cannot start late from the college. It is not just these facilities that I missed, the thing that I missed the most was the inability to spend time with my friends.
All of a sudden in my life I had these three guys with whom I could spend my time happily. However we were not able to spend as much time. I don’t know if the other guys also felt the same way, but I missed them and could not wait for the next day. So I started travelling with Prem in train after the three of us reached Saidapet, thereby spending another 30 minutes with him. Prem had a train pass, but I did not have one, so one day I traveled with him without buying a ticket(as I did not have any money). He then told me “Don’t think that you are cheating a system, you are actually cheating yourself as you are a part of the system”. From that day till today I have never traveled without a ticket but also tell the people around to do the same. However this again prevented me from traveling with him regularly due to lack of money. That is the first incident which changed me as a person (in a better way) during my college days.
- A lot more to come..