The countdown begins… 5..4..3..2..1. and they screamed …Merry Christmas!!!!! People around the world must be enjoying ,partying and praying in churches. Boozing is also included as part of the celebration! The innocent kids must have been put to bed early with the consolation that Santa would arrive with a coven of gifts on his Sleigh only if they were in deep slumber. No one must see him else he’ll scoot. What a myth!!! My curiosity was also aroused in knowing who this mysterious old elf from North Pole was and I had hoped to enjoy a ride on his magical reindeer Rudolph!! From the books that I had read, I had inferred that children hung stockings by the chimney with a list of wishes they wished to be granted. I had always wondered how do the presents fit into the stockings?
Later I realised that Christmas was celebrated to mark the birth of Jesus Christ and Santa Claus was actually named after a monk , Saint Nicholas who was known for his hearty and generous nature. The ninth reindeer, Rudolph also conveys an important message– that even a liability can be proved to be an asset.
And here I am, wilting away in hostel; bored to death because this damn net wouldn’t work, surrounded by mosquitoes for company and that irritating buzzing noise .. uff .. kills me !!!. How I wish I were in Shillong!! It’s been four years since I last experienced that biting cold, the chilling waters , the winter wears and Christmas! Temperature would drop down to around 2°C or even less during this time. When I close my eyes , I can imagine the whole scenario wavering before me. There would be long queue of people waiting outside bakery shops and an equally competing row of vehicles parked alongside the pavement!! Different flavours of cakes, pastries and tarts would be a treat to the eyes. The Xmas songs would add rhythm to the festive mood . Suddenly, the quite city would seem to awaken. The crowd in Police Bazaar (PB), the market hub of the city, would be maddening. Even the freezing cold would fail to haul up the civilians from hitting the roads. Christmas time is also the peak shopping season of the year which provide the opportunity for retailers to sell their products at exquisitely grand prices.
Normally, I would prefer to arrest myself in my house and slip under the layers of quilt or blanket. Otherwise, I would be heavily clothed and sit by the heater engrossed in some book. As a kid, most of my holidays were spent in drawing cards for my beloved friends and teachers. They were neatly enclosed in envelopes and distributed on Annual Day in school. Gradually, with my studies weighing on me, I started selecting cards and gifts. Sometimes, I felt they were rather more appreciated than the handmade goodies. Every year, I dug out my Archie Comics book on Betty and Veronica’s Christmas special edition and read it. Although it was old and tattered, it bought some kind of charisma in me. Sometimes I would feel nostalgic and watch Polar Express!!
On Christmas Eve, my sister and I would be eagerly waiting for the imposter Santa Clauses who would arrive in jeeps with a long trail of cheering crowd following them. Most of them were little kids impersonating white-bearded old men in red and white costume. They would patrol the streets, singing Christmas carols, waving torchlight’s, greeting bystanders and scattering candies and sweets on their way !!! No sooner than we heard them, we would rush to the gate and wish them back..Sometimes even the simplest of things like a warm welcome or a greeting brings joy!!!
The night of 25th December would feel eerie!! It is said that 25th Dec has the longest nights and the shortest daylight periods of the year. The streets become completely desolate and all the shops shut down. . Ironically, all the hustling and bustling comes to end on the Big Day itself!! The only places that would be bustling with activity are the Churches! People would throng the churches dressed in their best attire and sing hymns in the name of The Holy Christ. After midnight, they would disperse to spend time with their family and friends, rejoice their reunion, celebrate their existence and remember all the good things that each has done. Some would light bonfires and party all night.
If I stayed behind in Shillong, during winters, I would go out with my family and attend to the prayers held in the Church. The Catholic Cathedral Church remained a spectacular sight adorned with beautifully decorated lightings, meticulously trimmed miniature Christmas trees and stars hung at its premises. We would often stop by to admire at some of the haystack statues of baby Christ nestled in Mother Mary’s arms, the glittering streets illuminating the sideways and the tinsel houses along the avenue. It would be impossible to distinguish between the stars twinkling in the sky and the colourful sparkling lights dotting the hilly city!! … We would also partake in the celebration. At times, we would also have the pleasure of savouring the deserts gifted to us by my Dad’s colleagues.
I too hope to sit beside a bonfire someday and party with friends.. but Darn I have suddenly been jerked out of my thoughts. And guess who did the honours??.. A mosquito!!
3 Idiots has always been my all-time-favourite. Although I have watched the movie ten times over, yet it never ceases to thrill me. When I had joined college, I had hoped to replenish an exciting life as those of the characters portrayed in the movie. Well, my little sister’s entry into the threshold of KIIT University tuned a time turner and reminded me of the days bygone.
It was the mid of May. The Bhubaneswar heat had a toil on us. Personally, it felt like I was baking under the scorching sun! Huge posters were hung up, directing the way and preventing those from going astray. We could be counted as one of “Those”! On my arrival, I saw the college campus bustling with activity. Vehicles were lined in the alley. Parents and students thronged the college campus with luggage in one hand and documents in the other. All of them seemed to be in a rush; the wards trying to keep pace with their parents hastiness. My stomach cringed. At one glance, my first impulse was to slip into the car and return home. However, I continued to walk alongside my Dad marvelling at the stone sculptures and appreciating the architecture of the buildings that had caught my attention. Frankly speaking, the campus appeared to be more of a holiday resort and less of a college. Before long, we were jostled into the auditorium, asked to settle down and complete the rest of the procedures. I scanned for some familiar faces in the hope of meeting some of my Shillongite acquaintances. But the hall was simply too jam-packed to go on a search patrol !! The time for allotment of branches well surpassed the scheduled time and after lots of phone calls inviting suggestions, confusion and patience I was finally allotted the trade of my choice.
The next challenging aspect that any fresher has is hostel life. So many questions swarm in our minds. What will our room be like? Will it be big enough to accommodate three or will it be dingy and crampy ? After paying such a huge sum, the room ought to be big, isn’t it? That solves it. But what about our roommates? What will they be like?: friendly? rude? bullying? bossy? How do we adjust with them for the next four years? Back at home, I was advised to stay composed, make friends but not be gullible so as to let others have leverage on me, be alert, keep my closet locked; since cases of theft in hostels are much in common and most importantly, try to ADJUST. Compromise with roommates, classmates, mess food and avoid hanging out with guys unless I have a girl-friend by my side. Especially after the Delhi rape-case, they asked me to be more cautious about my surroundings. Indirectly, they emphasized on to not get engaged in any sort of love-affairs. As for me, I was ready to keep my life at stake in order to venture out on my own.
Keeping the platitudes aside, I ensconced myself in our three-bedded room. While I was unpacking, a cute, plump, hefty and highly enthusiastic girl whom I had seen screaming and running around the corridors, barged into the room. I eventually learnt that she was my roommate. She gave me a hearty welcome and eagerly introduced me to her friends. They invited me to join in their game of running-and-catching. After a wild goose chase in our quest to find the right hostel and having to climb up the flight of stairs that lead to our room on the 4th floor, I was already too exhausted. Hence, politely turning down their offer, I retired to a deep slumber. I remember crying for the 1st time after I had left home.. a thousand miles away. The gloom of biding adieu to my Dad still loomed over me when my 3rd roommate moved in a few days later. She was a lean, lanky girl with rimless spectacles that contributed to her geeky appearance. Upon her arrival, she was bewildered to learn that the dress code for girls was salwar kameez and all that her wardrobe displayed were tops and jeans! She rummaged through her bag-packs and luckily found two suits in which she managed for almost a month!! Thanks to the BBSR heat. In Shillong, it takes two days for soaked clothes to dry. Pinku, was the “Aryabhata” of our class and before exams most of the students on the floor gathered in our room. Sometimes I was even forced to vacate my room and find refuge in the neighbour’s bed. Soon, days passed into months and we had become good pals until one day she had to shift into a different hostel. Thus, 1st year ended in a roller coaster ride writing assignments, poking fun of professors, cat-callings and most importantly getting to know one another.
Although it’s difficult to find a Ranchodas Shamaldas Chanchad ‘Rancho’, in our college, I bet every class is blessed with a ‘Chatur’ who have won accolades from professors. We had soon discovered one in our class too. As honourable as she is, she has an impeccably neat handwriting that anyone would compete for. While the rest of us go on feigning over our screwed up exams, she manages to complete an immensely lengthy paper well before time including even the optional questions. Some say she has a “generator” substituted for a brain assisted with a “motor” for a hand!!
I have had my share of fun too..Few months back I was down with jaundice and had to summon a van to take me to hostel. My friends were only too glad to accompany me. On our way back, we jeered at the guys passing by and hunched behind the back-seats to avoid being spotted. Who says only guys can jeer? The chauffeur was astonished to see a group of girls behaving like a pack of wolves!! He reprimanded us like we were a bunch of pampered kids. “Who the hell was sick?”
We all have our share of roughs and patches. We make and we break. Despite our differences, we have learnt to respect each other’s decisions and not invade in another’s personal matters. Perhaps, it’s because we are mutually dependent on each other and we know it. We have learnt to shed our callowness and move past individual differences. With God’s grace, most of us are now placed, some even bagged multiple-offers and I hope that we would stay united as we had for the past three years.
I wear a smile on my face. But deep down, I am swelled up with emotions. When in solitude, all those tears are quick to trickle down my cheeks and that charismatic smile slowly fades away. Just like a clown who entertains the audience in a circus, makes them tumble down the chair, clinching their stomach and rolling with laughter, I too manage to make my friends laugh through my unruly demeanor. However, its a fact that the happiest of faces are often the saddest. We can easily correlate this to Cherrapunji (Sohra) which is said to be the “Wettest Desert on Earth”. Hats off to those who have mastered the art of concealing their feelings from this cruel, cruel world.
One day, a friend of mine asked me,“Do you always remain happy?”. I was taken aback. It slowly dawned on me that I don’t. I simply replied, “Pour me a glass of liquor and you will know”. Smile is a curve that sets everything straight. However, it has failed to fix the turmoil in my life. Its just that sometimes its easier to reconcile to your fate rather than revealing your deepest and darkest of secrets to others. Someone rightly said, “If you can’t keep your secrets, how can you expect others to do so?”
Sometimes I wish I were a puppet with no strings attached. I would have maneuvered my fate with perfect ease and set it ashore the most jubilant bay. There are circumstances that upheaval my emotional stability. Although I perceive it to be nothing but a wild goose chase yet I wish to pursue them. I remain in denial and refuse to believe that things are not as they were and to let them be.
Sometimes I wish to be far away from my loved ones, break free of all barriers, rock on the dance floor, booze all night, savor different types of cuisine, mingle with punks and finally succumb to tiredness. There would be nobody to judge me by my appearance or behaviour. No one who would be hurt by my new found freedom. Everybody would be just another stranger and would also depart as perfect strangers.