MY NEW YEAR AT IIMB
It is a well-acknowledged meme that humans are the only species that celebrates when our home planet makes one circle around the sun. But no one can dismiss the fact that this is a global tradition uniting billions of humans in cheering for the end and hoping for a good new beginning. Every year, I, too, would immerse myself in a celebratory mood and sit curled up in my living room sofa, sipping hot coffee and watch random TV shows till it struck midnight, and we wished each other a happy new year and went to bed. My mother always made it a point to cook something special at home as it was virtually impossible to go out anywhere as all places would be booked.
However, this time, I spent the last day of the year packed with classes during the day, a project meeting in the evening, and finally, I resigned myself to picking up some snacks from Haneenas and going to bed. Life at IIMB seemed to go on as usual with people busy with their ongoing work. I missed my home and my favorite sofa corner where I would while away the whole day doing nothing, and here I was working on a submission on New Year’s Eve! It seemed like just another day until at about 10 PM CulCom set up the L-square party. And it was in the next two hours the entire mood of IIMB changed. Pretty ladies strutted the long corridors and gentlemen gathered in large numbers in the L-square. As I stood there in one corner, I watched the whole student community descend onto the arena. As laughter flowed and dance moves took over the floor, it finally felt like a New Year’s Eve. Then the countdown began, and with happy screams, we welcomed a new year. The party went on, and we danced and danced until we could dance no more. It was 3 am when we dragged ourselves back to our rooms. And next morning, everything seemed just as usual as we sprinted, with baggy eyes and heavy heads, to class at 9:59 am to make the card swipe on time!
My new year at IIMB was a new experience where parties pop up at the drop of a hat, and everything seems to go back to normal just as quickly. As I slog through the first day of the year with another submission due in a couple of hours, I am sure my year will be happening and full of great things to come.
The Brand New Phone..
The brand new phone fell. The cracks in the heart were bigger than the cracks on the screen. He hung there in silence. His cold body didn’t respond anymore.
You know what’s funny about life?
Because it lacks rationality, doesn’t knock at your door, walks in uninvited when you least expect it to and gives you such a hard blow that everything you’ve ever accomplished becomes insignificant in a jiffy.
To begin with, let’s say that you weren’t bestowed with riches on a golden cot like most lucky people. So you accept life as it is on a platter, close your eyes, and dream of turning it top side down by the time you kick the bucket. You work your ass off, dodge your inner demons, keep the light burning, take the bullets-of-failure on your chest, keep your head held high even at times of peril, and move forward. And one fine day, life decides to shower you its grace and you start building your empire, i.e. one damn admirable majestic kingdom of knowledge and wealth.
One brick at a time. You start seeing a ray of hope because things aren’t as rough as it once used to be. You feel the magic pushing you ahead and giving you an invisible arm of support. You start creating an impact on the people around you, make wise life choices, and after a few years, you establish yourself as the king of the empire you’ve built by squeezing every drop of your blood and grit. That is it. You are set. You’re not the regular, average, “one among the crowd” specimen anymore. You’ve achieved everything you’ve ever dreamt of, you’ve traveled places, married the girl you loved, started a beautiful family, created a stark social impact, managed to grab a respectable place in a few hearts, but even after all that, there’s a void inside you. An unexplainable vacuum that pesters you with a feeble voice and drags you down for no apparent reason.
You don’t pay heed to it and focus on ruling your empire. After all, the king cannot succumb to the voices in the head, right? So you keep a strong face, hide the monster knocking inside of you, keep it chained, and hope that it would perish with time. You indulge yourself in activities with the people who love you more than you expect, you make them smile, share your wisdom of life, and in the deepest corner, you wish that all these would dampen that voice of the inner vampire silently building its space. You struggle hard to find the reason, but there is none.
With time, slowly it starts dawning upon you. You’re reaching your end. You look back at the life you’ve lived and wonder how a mere mortal like you who had no initial hopes of growing into a giant in the land of billions, made it to the epitome of pride and perfection. You smile at yourself, but you also know that you’re not going to last any longer. You have your share of emotional trauma that has been building inside of you, like a parasite eating you one cell at a time. You’ve been fighting it for decades now, patching the cracks in your heart while it keeps ripping off, unknown to the outside world, masking it all with a radiant face and an exuberance that gave hope to the ones who looked up at you.
And one fine day, you snap. Your ever-burning light inside fades, and darkness takes over.
You give up.
All that empire you had built starts crumbling down around you, and it seems insignificant and hollow at that very moment. Life makes a complete circle. And that is when you realize it wasn’t a parasite, it was death, spreading its arms wide open for you.
As it wraps you slowly with all its glory, you hear it whisper under the dark velvet sky –
“You will bow down to me and I will stand tall.”
A Chai Stain..
The chai stain ensured that his only white shirt was rendered useless. In a reflex response, his eyes shifted to the tiny clock, which indicated only 35 minutes to 14 Feb, the date Rajan had waited and planned for, more than anything else, since the day he first met her last year when he went to collect his engineering degree. He recollected the conversation, when she, with dreamy eyes, mentioned that she is waiting when her true lover, clad in a white shirt and black trousers, beats every other couple in the universe to express his love on the love day of the year.
She has been turning away the proposals of the ‘most eligible’ guys, including the handsome and decent natured principal’s son. But, is it too much confidence in her abilities to judge the right guy.
She always parted away with the thought before it could strike any doubts.
The beautiful park avenue shirt, he purchased by saving his last month’s pocket money, had left him in crisis. With the few friends he had, away to their job locations already, he couldn’t think of many options. And then he remembered the tall, fat guy he meets every day while going for his coaching classes and who takes personal maths classes from her coincidently. But he once funnily commented at the poor guy to stay in shape.
Still, he took his bike onto the chilling streets of Chandigarh, led by fear and hope at the same time. His hands shivered as he rang the bell, and he wasn’t sure whether it was the cold or the fear. Luckily, Aman himself arrived at the door and gazed at him with a feeling of disgustful surprise.
‘She is not here. Tuition timings are 4 to 6 pm,’ he mentioned with a frowning face.
Not expecting an entry invite, Rajan narrated the situation. Aman, who stood expressionless the whole time, replied “So, what do you want.”
“Your white school shirt will do.”
Aman left and gently banged the door after him. While Rajan stood there pondering if he should ring the bell once more, Aman appeared. He handed over the shirt and mentioned, “It is not because I like you, but because she taught me today, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” You always did bad to me, but I should help you today. While the boy closed the door again, Rajan couldn’t resist a smile.
It was 20 minutes to midnight. He changed into the uniform, sprayed the perfume wherever he could, gently pushed the red roses and celebrations pack into his college bag, and decided to place the large teddy bear on his bike tank while he drives. As he called her cell, standing on the road outside her house, he realized how tirelessly he waited for this moment to arrive.
‘Hi, why this late. Come to college tomorrow’ – asked Shilpa
‘It’s important. Please come outside.’
‘Are you serious. At this time? Wait!’
As she opened the door and tried to locate his face amidst the darkness with her sleepy eyes, she heard, ‘I love you. Will you be my girlfriend’? Her tired eyes witnessed him trembling in the cold, wearing a loosely fitted shirt, black trousers, and carrying all the valentine luggage.
‘Are you crazy. Do you even care that I stay with my parents here? What kind of stupid behavior is this?’.
As she left, he heard ‘Jhanvi, who is there’ from inside the house. The door was still slightly open. Heartbroken, he packed his hopes and left.
As he lay down on his bed, wondering what went wrong and cursing himself for whatever it was, he couldn’t stop thinking if he has ruined their daily meetings.
As he woke up the next day, he scanned his cell, and amongst all the ‘Have a nice day’ messages, it was ‘Meet me at 10 in sports room if you feel even a bit apologetic for your act’.
Throwing away his blanket, he got into his leather jacket.
‘Let me save my friendship, at least,’ he murmured as he ran towards his bike.
As he was in the corridor leading to the sports room, he saw Aman out of the sports room, smiling shamelessly as he crossed him.
As Rajan entered the room, he saw her standing there, gazing at the door. Before he could mutter anything, she slapped him gently
‘All this while……….. and you remembered the white shirt.’
He looked at her and could sense love in those teary eyes. He held her shoulders as she went quiet and kissed her gently.
Pretending to be stunned by this action of his, Shilpa said
‘How dare you kiss me, even when I slapped you?’
The emotionally charged atmosphere got lighter, and both of them burst out in laughter as Rajan replied, ‘Because every action has an equal and opposite reaction.’
Phone – a friend or foe?
The brand-new phone fell down;
Cracks in the heart
were bigger than cracks on screen,
Her eyes welled up with a frown.
Walking with her handheld alone,
She was lost in the virtual world;
Bewitched by the swirling screen,
Had stumbled upon a stone.
Glued to her outstretched hand,
And treasured day and night,
Was her brand-new phone,
Now smeared with grit and sand.
Gripping alike old and the youth,
Is the fetish for fancy phones;
World would be a better place,
Had we got this simple truth.
Person miles away is now a friend,
But the one next door a stranger;
Emojis eclipse emotions,
With phubbing becoming the trend.
Replaceable is the phone,
Though humans are not;
Science wouldn’t surpass sentiment,
If only we all had known.
“O master, you are no longer one”,
Echoed a devilish cry,
“Your invention into this world,
Will be a slave to none”.
“This shall be the tale told to all,
Seize my power to rule the world
Or you will bow down to me
and I will stand tall”.