My day started per usual, with me waking up at 6 AM. I like to revisit my notes every morning, it keeps me on top of my subjects. Revels starts today, and I know that only because my roommate won’t shut up about it. Revels this, Revels that, all of it has driven me crazy! I guess his excitement is justified, he’s an organiser for a huge event in the fest. Anyway, at around 8, I left for class. As I made my way to AB-5, I couldn’t shake off this odd pessimism I had about today. Amidst all the excitement of the fest, I trudged on along the road to class, inexplicably wary of what would come next.
AB-5 was unusually quiet this morning, obviously owing to the fest, or so I thought. I tried putting aside all this negativity and walked to my class. I opened the door to my class.
What I saw in front of me shook me to the core. My section from the first year occupied this classroom. I looked at the board and recoiled in fear.
“So, we will solve this question using source transformation, be careful with the sign convention.”
No, it can’t be, I’ve passed BET! Why am I here? Why are my classmates here? Am I the only one who passed this subject? I’ve been through all of this nonsense before. Why again? So many questions ran through my mind in such a short while that I could only shut the door and run. Such an absurd start to my day. I opened the next door and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the very same class, with all my classmates from last year in it. I scanned through their faces and even found myself sitting where I always did, second row, second seat. I was overcome by a wave of panic. I fumbled out of the classroom and tried to find the nearest exit to sanity. The block’s layout didn’t quite help me at that point in time. I kept running around in circles, confused.
No. This cannot be real. I have to get to class. I mustered up all the courage I could and walked right back to where my classroom is supposed to be. I opened the door to another curious sight. This time, it was the same first-year classroom, bored, exhausted from studying about inductive reactance, but the man on the podium was different. It was like looking into a mirror. The teacher looked like an older version of myself. His dull monotone boomed across the room, yet no one was listening. His eyes were sad, perhaps from solving network equations all day. This time, I didn’t flinch. I was now accustomed to whatever was happening to me right now. I took a seat and opened a book. It seemed like the most natural thing to do at the time.
As I uncapped my pen, an intense light flooded my eyes. I felt nothing, yet I felt everything all at once. I drifted through what seemed like a void. I lost consciousness. I felt every emotion, saw every colour, yet I feel like I could see nothing. It drained me of all my energy. I lost consciousness.
I don’t quite remember what happened next, but I found myself in the middle of Revels. I got off the ground and saw the fest unfolding before my eyes. Smiling faces all around me, carefree. I felt relieved. I’d rather be here than anywhere near AB-5, anyway. I spotted Sanjay in the distance. It felt great to see a familiar face (other than my own, of course).
Sanjay was in a hurry. He seemed to be looking for something. We made eye contact, and he ran towards me. Before I could say anything, he stopped me.
“Oh, hey! I think I left the mic stand at SP. Wait, let me go get it. Oh, Avinash! What brings you here? So nice of you to get out of the library for once! Anyway, make sure you go to the quiz, it’s right up your alley! I’ll see you in the room!”
After that frantic exchange, I warmed up to the idea of a quiz. I mean, and I’m not bragging, but I’ve always been good at quizzing. I made my way to the quiz, as the sun shone warmly over hundreds of ‘revellers’. A group of MTTN photographers walked around clicking candid photographs. I was overjoyed by all of it. Maybe this fest isn’t that bad, after all. Maybe I could have a little fun, just this once.
“Get here with the mic ASAP!” my category head shouted through the phone. I checked the time on my watch.
I realized I had overslept. Battle of the bands was supposed to start at 5. Late-night organizer work had really messed up my sleep schedule
I put on my organizer tag, grabbed the mic stand and rushed straight out of my block.
I ran as fast as I could but Manipal’s scorching sun had me soaked in sweat by the time I reached SP. Sprinting towards the quadrangle, I kinda lost track of my surroundings and — “THUMP.”
I bumped head-on into someone coming from the other side. The mic stand fell out of my hand. I could tell that the other guy was pissed but I didn’t have any time to argue.
I scanned the area to look for the things I had dropped. The mic stand had found its way next to a pillar but the clamp that held the mic was empty. I looked behind the pillar, with my hand leaning on it calculating possible trajectories of where the mic might have landed.
I don’t remember when or how but it seemed as if the pillar stopped existing for a second. One moment my hand was leaning on it, and the other it went right through. With a “THUD,” I fell to the ground on my shoulder.
I got up and saw passersby looking at me. How dumb do you have to be for you to fall like that?
Suddenly, I heard a loud voice. “How does this sound?”
In the distance, I saw two people talking on a mic — my mic — connected to an amplifier. “How does this microphone have such good quality? We’ll replace the one we have with this” he said into the microphone. Take my cycle and get it to AB1.”
I tried shouting to try and gain their attention but they couldn’t hear me. The other guy took the mic and left on the cycle.
I turned around to see if there were any other cycles at SP. The only problem was that there was no SP. The huge colosseum structure of student plaza had vanished, instead, there was a huge roundabout in the middle. It was at this moment that I truly started taking note of my surroundings. Many of the buildings that I was so used to seeing were missing and those that were there looked a lot newer than they were supposed to be. The sight was something I had seen a lot in photos but never in person. The legendary Kamath circle in all its glory. That wasn’t all, there were huge posters and banners everywhere with ‘Revels 1982: MIT hosts its first cultural fest’ written all over them.
I could feel my heart skipping a beat and I began panicking. Am I in the past? Is this a dream? I could feel my brain giving me a million possible explanations but none of them made any sense.
I tried and snapped out of it. The priority then was to get the mic back. So I began running again, towards quadrangle.
I reached quadrangle and the mic was already on stage. The event had already started.
I saw a couple of tall guys standing next to the stage — what seemed to be the first iteration of vigilance. With them there, I wouldn’t be able to get the mic off of the stage. Instead, I decided to wait out the entire show. This revels was very unlike our current revels. There were no competitions, no proshow, just students performing what they loved.
It was nightfall when the show stopped and I was the only one left sitting in my seat overcome with a weird feeling of nostalgia. The stage was now empty and the mic had been left unguarded. For two entire hours, my task had completely slipped out of my mind. As soon as it came back to me, I went up to the stage to steal what was mine.
A blinding light covered my eyes when I touched the mic. It was like nothing I had ever experienced.
When my eyes finally adjusted I could see the huge Revels 20 banner right in front of me. I checked the time again.
I saw my category head walking towards me. He looked at the mic in my hand.
“You brought the mic but where is the stand?” he asked. No explanation would ever sound believable I realized. Dazed, I rushed back to SP where I had dropped the mic stand.
I rushed past, adrenaline coursing through my veins. It made me feel like a flight of a Luzon dove. I was invincible, the ball in front of me was running through the field as I directed it towards the goal post.
The opposing team ran behind me trying their very best to sabotage me. And yet — and yet there I was, so close to scoring the winning goal.
Just then, however, my foot gave out.
The world pulled away from underneath me.
It all happened too fast — pain shot through my body. My head started spinning.
I got up somehow, my ears still ringing.
The world around me had flipped and I couldn’t make sense out of anything. As consciousness slowly seeped in, nothing seemed to be the same anymore. For one, I was now in a different football field. Much bigger than I remember and filled with people I didn’t recognise.
“HEY! THE BALL’S COMING YOUR WAY!” someone screamed as I turned around. Sure enough, there was a football rushing my way, being chased by various football clad attire. I didn’t know where I was or who these people were, but I knew one thing. There was a football coming my way, I was on a football field and this — this was my game.
I immediately took to the ball and directed it towards the goal post in front of me. I might have been hallucinating but the ball seemed to glitch for a second.
In my confusion, a guy swept the ball from in front of me. So I a ran after him to get back what was mine.
The game raged on. We passed the ball from one person to the other, the opposing team running behind us. It seemed like they were chasing shadows. Despite all their efforts, they couldn’t get the ball off of us.
I looked at the time — there was a minute left. It was now or never. It was as if someone had turned on a switch inside us. We passed the ball with urgency like never before. I saw an opening in their defence and ran as fast as I could. “PASS!” I screamed desperately.
I saw the ball rushing towards me. I took aim and shot it as hard as I could. The whole goal post lit up as the ball found its way into the net. It was a spectacle I couldn’t have imagined. Bursts of blue and white lights moving in the air like little birds.
I turned around, hands raised in victory — I still didn’t know what was happening — where I was, who these people were — but this was my game and I played it and I won.
Cheers filled the field, confetti poured over our heads and streamers coloured the air.
(Where were they coming from?)
(My question was answered as a drone flew over us — only to raise a thousand more questions.)
Then, a loud bang went off. All of a sudden my vision tunnelled.
I blinked and it took me a minute to adjust. Gone were the streamers and the confetti and the lights around me. Gone was the football that I could have sworn had glitched.
Back to reality.
All my friends stared at me.
“Are you okay? You just stopped in the middle of the game.” one of them asked.
I was definitely losing my mind. Half delirious, I looked at them and said, “I don’t know.”
I sat outside the field for a bit, trying to make sense out of the situation. I was probably dreaming but it felt too real to be a dream. I thought about it for a while but then my attention went back to the football.
I decided to ignore whatever had just happened for the time being. All I thought about was how fun it would be to tell my friends, Avinash and Sanjay about how crazy my day was. Obviously, over potato twisters from the food stalls in the evening.
I entered the field and I called for a pass.
Written by Tanya Jain, Avaneesh Damaraju, and Harshaj Sood for MTTN
Graphics by Chirag Bansal
Edited by Chintan Gandhi