12 AM: Time to eat or sleep?
The doors shut close at 12 and now it’s a five and a half hours’ battle with oneself before one can be outside again, run around and live the free life that was promised at Manipal. My eyes feel like red balls of fire, I finally look up from my books and notice the time on the alarm clock. Midnight! Like the conditioned salivation of Pavlov’s dog, my stomach rumbles and the ritual begins.
It doesn’t matter when you had last eaten, as soon as the snack shops in Manipal close and the main doors of the hostels are locked, these midnight hunger pangs hit you like the sleep in anatomy dissection hall. I sigh, as nostalgia takes over – when one word, one small yellow packet was the solution to every midnight problem. It came to your rescue when words on books started making faces at you. It’s the comfort after a long, exhausting day. It’s the last minute cake for a friend whose birthday you forgot. I needed it more than a heroin addict needs his daily shot. That sodium soaked carbohydrate food product is what I need, caressing my taste buds. My tongue is almost cruel in its influence, crippling me to my most basic instincts. In a moment of utter chaos, a neuron rose from the ashes and rode a revolution. After what seemed like ages, the brain was under a partial control of my tongue.
The people sharing my wall better have some Maggi.
The news of the Maggi ban is still fresh in my mind and the wound has now healed as it is finally back in town! A few knocks, threats and bribes later, I start the ritual. The taste maker forms a thin film on top of the boiling water as I get my cutlery out. I crumble the noodle cake and place it gently in the water. The sinking noodle crumbs calm me. I pour the delicacy onto my plate and stare at it. I close my eyes in a silent prayer and pick up the fork to dig in. Smiling, I open my eyes to my BDC (textbook of Anatomy) and a pen, which also serve as bowl of hot noodles and fork in some parallel world.
I finally push my chair away and get up. I prepare myself for my daily midnight corridor walks as I try to shake the taste of the taste-maker away from my mind. Forty minutes and four conversations later, I am back in my room. I stare at the night’s loot as I pull my chair and sit down. Bless the people who come to my stomach’s rescue every single time. I sigh again as I dig into dry, home-made khakhras and laddoos, and console myself with a smile that the days of 2 minute breaks are not that far away.