The Beginning of an End
He stood across the road, facing a dingy looking club with a disyllabic name, and wondered what memories would be made here.
She walked in with two trolleys—one in each hand. One blue, one red (too bad, for cliché VIP trolleys), one trekking bag on her back, and one on the front. She was greeted by a torrential downpour while she protected a small folder in her hand that contained documents more important than her own life: her passport, her license, her certificates, and her Allotment Order.
He spotted from far away a lone boy sitting at the Food Court and saw in him a potential friend.
She entered a small three-sharing bedroom with no bathroom and was horrified at the peeling walls. She expected her two roommates to show up at any moment now, and she dreaded it. This would need a lot of adjusting.
But here they are, three years later. Not yet engineers though they will soon pretend to be one as they sit for countless job interviews. Each of them has questioned numerous decisions of their own while they came here and beyond. But what can be more important than possessing one big, round, sturdy umbrella?
Sometimes, you’re in denial unless it strikes you in the face that your time here is almost up. You can now count on your fingers the next few times you’ll make that much-needed trip to that same, clichéd college pub with no recollection of what happens that night. You can see yourself going to the academic block only to fulfill a few last-minute formalities. You’ve celebrated your last Revels. You don’t have any more tech fests that show you the extent of your lack of engineering knowledge.
And that’s it. Placed. Not yet placed, but will be soon. This city of unbearable heat, of unstoppable rains, is bidding you goodbye.
While you chalked out intricate wedding plans and bachelor parties over a night of revelry, you realized how some friends are going to be there forever. Yet, some of those friendships were overrated. Only meant to teach you that nothing lasts forever. Sometimes, you learned to cross bridges and sometimes, you decided to burn them. Once in a while, you also built a few bridges absolutely from scratch.
How do you convince yourself to leave the place that taught you to love? That taught you how life is unfair. People forget. They forgive. And most times, you learn not to care.
‘Grades matter.’ It took three years for that concept to sink in. There was always the scope for a 9 GPA, but you’re stuck with an 8.8. You wish you were a 7.5 but you’re stuck with an almost, 7.46. You’re this close to making it, but you don’t. And you’re an absolute procrastinator with the belief that you’ll end up submitting those 4 assignments, cheating in the other two, and manage to pass that lab because of your generous internals. There’s a reason they’re called deadlines, and not until you’ve had your college experience do you respect that word enough.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
The graduation certificate at the end of four years holds testimony that college and its inevitable deadlines couldn’t break you, countless therapies and fall-outs made you emerge a stronger individual. College teaches us practically what Friends did in its Pilot episode: Welcome to the real world! It sucks. It took us 4 years to make peace with that, but graduation is evidence that we are finally the product that’s going out there in the real world.
Not meeting deadlines out there could cost us more than a few marks, it could cost us our jobs. You don’t have the luxury of a 75% — it’s 100% or nothing. You can’t bunk office because you missed breakfast, you can’t party at 3 AM on Wednesday, because you have to get up sober at 7 am and report to your job by 9 perfectly dressed in formals. That’s when it hits you. You have a wretched 6 more months at this place. Just a few more months till you’ve exhausted your college experience. It’s a diary of 4 years full of firsts, memories, friendships made, relationships broken and made again, transformation from a shy kid to a social animal, from a judgmental person to a wise old monk.
So while you’re still here keep that phone away and make some memories in real time. Because, time is running out, my friend. Make sure you know why that man at the Cafeteria Billing is so happy all the time. Why did that one club reject you, when you made it to the other eight? What’s the correct amount of sleazy when you’re trying to ask her out? Very soon, those firsts will become #onelasttime, that building will be replaced with a new one, those friends forever will move to different cities and before you know it, you’ll experience your final rain in Manipal.
This is the beginning of an end. We might as well make it happy.
Prattusha Mukhopadhyay for MTTN
Photographs by: Anmol Rathi, Dikshit Sharma, Manan Dhuri, Nishant Sahoo, Samyukta Pingaali and Yash Singhania.