19. Peepshow

After the results of the 1st sem, most of us attenuated our study schedules a little. People either have got good marks, and felt contended about it, or got low marks and lowered their bar. There were of course exceptions. Maria also got over her arrear worries in a couple of days after the results.

Divya cursed me that, if only I took a tad more effort, I would have been the class topper. I rather thought that I would have broken down with anymore efforts.

We continued to watch movies in my laptop twice or at times thrice in a no exams/tests week. The movies ranged from English, hindi, tamil, telugu and whatever language we could lay our hands on.

It was after the 2nd asses, Jaya brought a porn dvd from her class friend, assuming that we shall watch it in my laptop. I got miffed that how could she make such an assumption. But I was later convinced that that was not a bad idea.

We decided to watch it that night after dinner. The news of the porn spread. By the time we started, there were more than 15girls in that 4 in 1 room. I really didn’t think that that was the way to watch porn, but couldn’t help it.

Uma my classmate suggested a little volume, claiming that sound effects would be more arousing. That was one hell of a risk, which we were not ready to take.

Half of them already have watched porn. The rest including myself were porn virgins till then. Our pulse rates kept on spiking higher and higher.

3 girls left the room within 10mins. As time passed by, our involvement got to the peak. A few girls were sweating now. My head ached, and I tried not to concentrate too much.

All our arousals turned to annoyance, when Anu vomited right at my foot.

18. The Artistic Apology

Yes, it was her, my most intimate chum. We avoided them and decided to ask her about it later at hostel. Preethi messaged her, “Hav u reached ur uncle’s place”. A micro reply, “s”, obviously Anu didn’t want to be disturbed.

On the way back, I recalled how I took her to meet kiran on the excuse of getting his 2nd sem books and genral senior junior talk. Anu also called him ‘Kiran’ and also told him about the anonymous messages, and kiran illogically apologized to her. Anu kept messaging some school friend of hers, but never told much about him. Everything dawned on me now.

Anu came back to the room. We were silent. She broke out after a minute, “Please girls I am really sorry, I beg you please talk to me, I should have told you, but I was worried.. I was confused..” she was blabbering in grief.

She repeated, “ Please speak to me..I thought you people will mistake me”

Maria, “You bitch, it’s not us, but you, you are the one who has committed the mistake, an unforgivable one.”

Anu avoided her, and wept more, kneeled on the floor near my cot, caught my hands and apologized with tears.

Divya, “You betrayed all of us, you lied to us. You cheated on your best friend and her trust.”

I didn’t mind her taking Kiran. I never gave a fuck about him. I would have rather been happy about it, if they had opened it up to me. The thing that anguished me, that kept on tormenting me the whole evening was that, she, my best friend ever, lied to me. She hid things of such a huge magnitude from us trickily.

I knew Anu, she badly needed love. After loosing her mom at 10, and her caring grand ma a couple of years back, with her fears of losing her ailing father Anu needed someone, some soul not just to love her, but also to be with her forever. Kiran used this soft-spot well. He cared for her, or at least pretended so, and Anu naturally fell for it.

“OK, ok relax. Everything is fine. I know you like Kiran and this is no big surprise and I am happy about you people. Just calm down, relax”, I said with a softer expression.

Anu hugged me and continued to sob. I took her shoulders in my arms, “ But I still couldn’t pardon you on hiding this from me. Don’t do this ever again.”

Anu swore that she will keep up her trust worthiness for life, but I was skeptical, not just about her, but her new found relationship.

17. Not mine Anymore

Our Data Structures ma’am had appeared to be one such psycho. In reality, she was really good, her teaching used to be innovative. However, people felt other way. They fretted that she was going out of syllabus. I couldn’t follow her well either. Anyway seniors' warning, “If you are fucked up with DS, your future as a good software engineer is also fucked up” kept me on my senses.

Not only me, most others, at least the ambitious few understood the importance of the paper and tried their best to keep in par with the professor. PDS (Prog in Data Structures) lab proved useless. We had to work more, at least 4times as much lab hours, on our own to get at least an inkling of the concepts.

Meanwhile the sms flirting with Kiran continued, as days passed by we even got messages from our class guys, nothing worth calling a chat, except for “Have you finished the problem discussed today?” or “Are you ready with the lab assignment?” etc etc. I wondered whether these guys really mean this or they just want to speak, but lost for words or topics on which to speak.

As time went on Kiran’s messaging frequency went down. Though, I wasn't worried about it, it felt weird. By the time many girls were getting flirty messages, class friends, 1st sem classmates, school friends and at times seniors like in my case.

That Friday we decided to go to the Ganesha temple as usual. Anu told us that she was going out to meet her uncle and left the hostel by four that evening. Maria despite being a Christian accompanied us, as always. This time 3 other girls, my classmates Sangamitra and Preethi, Divya’s classmate Sindhu also joined us.

Preethi suggested we would go to a Shiva temple that was a tad far away, for a change. We acquiesced, and we were there at the temple by 5.30. I, avoiding Divya’s teases about cute guys there looking like the sivanadiyaar’s (a die hard devotee of Lord Shiva) themselves, tried hard to get myself spiritual and considered ogling a sin at least inside the walls of the temple.

Sindhu gave a loud cry, loud enough to attract all our attention. We looked in the direction, and we, particularly I, froze. I saw Kiran but that’s not something appalling, but the girl with him...

16. Not the only one

After the nap we got up one by one. As usual my room started getting crowded. Our new friends from other depts were also there. We were gossiping aloud about their classes, lecturers, professors the most dreaded psychos etc etc.

The conversation gradually shifted towards guys. I am not sure whether I started the context. The enthu in the group grew exponentially. Our room grew louder. Every gal passing by entered our room and joined in the never ending cheer.

I was amazed by Preethi Ravi’s (She mostly is called with her last name, never knew y) memory. Anu and Preethi were fighting with each other on whose account about a guy was more accurate.

Rumors also spread that so and so guy is seeing so and so gal. Aiswaria from manufacturing felt happy that the girls to boys ratio was less than 0.3 in her class. I guess myself and Anu for the first time felt sorry for being in the computer science dept with too many gals.

But we still were less than 1, so we felt satisfied though the feminist in me prickled about this lack behind of girls. 'Why are there too many boys in the top college when compared to girls?'.

Anu reminded me of Kiran. She seemed to be more interested about him than myself. She asked me to text him, but Divya stopped me from doing it. Anu couldn’t resist it, and she texted him as anonymous.

Kiran called her immediately, but she didn’t attend the call. He called twice and then berated her through texts with horrible cusses.

At dinner we met our seniors and collected extensive info on the lecturers and profs who had to handle us that semester. My dreams were torn between the tantalizing dudes trancing fantasies and the horrifying profs nigthmares.

15. 1st day of 2nd Sem

Divya reached college the next morning around six. All of us were in sleeping like hypnomaniacs in orthodax-sleep, after the long small talks the previous night. She phoned us from the college’s main gate asking for help. Anu cut the call without even looking at it. Divya called her again. She attended the call and said, “I am sleeping call me later” and cut the call without even waiting for the other party to reply.

I disturbed by the calls was a little awake now. Divya called me. I attended the call and said that I will be at the gate in another 10mins. I just changed my night clothes and started walking to the gate. The gate was a good half a km from our hostel block. 

I could see her tired, and more than that annoyed. We came back to our room. Anu was still sleeping. Divya gave her a good kick and threw her heavy bag on her. Startled, Anu was wide awake. It took a couple of mins for her to realize what had happened.

Anu then started to get in duel with Divya. It was so funny that Maria and I were ROFLing. For those lucky souls who are not chatties in the internet ROFL – Rolling on the floor laughing. 

It got serious in a while, and we had to cut them off from each other but we were still laughing. After a few minutes of long silence, both of them apologized to each other. To our surprise they hugged each other, self-incriminating their stupidity and repeating ‘my mistake’.

Somehow the 1st day of our 2nd sem had a great start. Only then we realized it was time for shower. We scurried to the lavatory, which was already crowded. We got into dilemma, whether to skip bathing or the very first hour of our 2nd sem.

I missed Divya, she belonged to ECE. 2nd sem onwards we were be segregated into classes based on our departments. I was happy that at least Anu continued to be my classmate. 

Our classroom was at the east end of the main building which was built during the English era. The room was pleasantly sunlit with the trees subduing the light. The road across the canteen and the most frequented road run along the east side of the building. Hence it added sight seeing to our list of classroom hobbies.

The 3 rows of 4seater desks were concentrated more towards the last and people fighting for the center places. The day was very similar to the 1st day of our 1st sem with the regular intros with new classmates, and of course the talk about marks and ranks. More than that the most hot topic was about the phsyco(s), who will be handling subjects that sem.

I learned from my seniors that more than just hard-work and brilliance there were critical strategies that make acquiring good grades simple and smart. I was wondering who would be handling each subject, and most importantly ‘Data Structures’. The paper was perceived as ‘the mother of all papers’ for a computer science engg, as any processing would be useless without data.

Our first class was math and Padma ma’am handled the class. She was one of the best teachers, I had seen in college, or may be it was because of my favoritism for math. Padma ma’am thought us problems, and concepts as they should be. I was active throughout the class. 

Ishyu complained “Why on earth we computer enggs need math?”

Anu, “Oh dear, we have it till the 5th sem..”

The next hour E.Mech (Engg mechanics) was a physics esp. laws of motion, forces sort of a subject, and I felt like a natural. First time in college I was awake for 2 classes in a row. I was answering as many questions as possible, and that was part of the ‘critical strategies’.

I had made many friends in the break. I knew Priya, Sangamitra, Preethi Ravi and a few others. I now know Ishwarya, Revathy and Tamarai. My performance in the 1st two classes had stirred envy amongst my new classmates.

But the 3rd hour, Chemistry, ‘no way’, I was trying all possible tricks to at least keep myself awake. Nevertheless I was dozing off. Anu was voraciously noting down all the concepts, names etc etc. The first class was not so deep into the subject yet, I was literally sleeping.

The 4th hour thankfully was our class-advisor’s. She handled EVS (Environmental Sciences). She asked everyone to introduce themselves. That’s the best thing that could happen in a class for anyone. Nobody will doze off. 

I was making a mental note of everyone, of course esp. the guys esp. the handsome ones. Just then I looked around. It was not just me but every gal around me was doing the same. Anu, ‘my God’, I have never seen her as attentive as she was then.

She looked as if she was embedding every name and the details in some invisible notepad, as it would look lousy if she wrote it down in her note-book.

Both our afternoon classes were off. Data Structures ma’am will be in college only the next week, and the Digital Design sir readily agreed to our class rep’s request. He stated that we would make a mess during the free 5th hr so we would better leave.

We happily came back to hostel and the notorious ECE class regularities; Divya was there well before us. After lunch we had a good nap after discussing our new classes.

voraciously – greedily or hungrily.
Lousy – nasty
Hypnomaniac – a maniac of sleeping
Orthodox sleep – deep sleep without dreams
self-incriminating – blaming oneself

14. Back in College

The pleasant winterish autumn has begun. A hill station sort of an environment at the campus with trees everywhere contributing more to the mist, we failed to enjoy all this during semester exams.

We came to the college the evening before the start of the 2nd sem. Mom mantled my head in a mantilla to protect myself from the mist that had started soon after the dusk. I protested that I was not a kid but couldn’t fight her. Girls irrespective of whether or not they knew me giggled at me.

I carried my luggage back to my room with instructions from mom to come back soon. The sight of the cute little room of 4 was blissful. Maria was already there, she received me happily with a sigh of relief. She said that Anu was on her way and will be there in a couple of hours and Divya will be starting that night from her hometown and will reach hostel by dawn. 

I knew all these as I was in touch with them, but I didn’t care to remind Maria of that. I came down with Maria. The usual boring pleasantries exchange. I cut them short and said we are going back to room. 

Mom, “Well it’s almost time for dinner. You girls keep complaining about hostel food. Why not come with us for dinner?”

Maria, “Thanks aunty but I am not feeling hungry now. Besides mess food will be fine today.” She ventured in a desperate attempt to cut off from them.

Dad, “Let’s go to some good restaurant and in the city traffic we will not start dining at least for half an hour, get in the car”.

It was plainly commanding than suggesting so no more arguments. By the way that was not a bad idea. We reached a good restaurant that was just 3kms away after traveling for almost 15mins. 

We settled and placed our orders in another 5mins. It’s was then only 20mins from the time we started from our hostel. Dad often used to emphasis on being accurate. This was one of the reasons for my math abilities.

That was not so significant but still I thought dad got wrong this time. I sneered silently contemplating on pointing out dad’s approximation.

Our first order was served only after another 10mins. ‘Sh*t he got it right by coincidence’. But I knew it isn’t true. It’s typical of hi-fi restaurants to delay the orders that even the starters need starters.

We drove back to college. I saw a lot of hostel guys dragging their baggage to their respective blocks. There was not enough lighting for me to ogle at them, ‘how sad!’ 

Mom and dad showed no sign of bidding good bye. I broke the never ending list of advices and instructions and said “Ok mom dad bye take care. I will be fine see you” and attempted to turn back slowly and they did reluctantly bid adieu.

We were stopped by a sudden flare in mom’s voice, “Anu dear how are you? You look so tired”. I could see Anu trying hard to smile with the loads she was dragging towards them.

I ran back and hugged Anu. Dad proved his memory skills, “Anu how is your dad after the attack. Is he alright now? Guess it’s his first attack”.

Anu, “He is ok now uncle. Doctor said there is nothing to worry, but asked him not to strain much”.

Me, “Ok dad she is already tired, see you”. 

Mom, “Ok girls take care of each other”.

I helped Anu carry her luggage. We could hear dad talk to mom, “These girls don’t want parents anymore except for funding them”.

Back in room we were fighting each other on who will narrate their horrible holiday tales first. Anu was telling us about the handsome tutor at her computer class, and I protested my Karate class guy was macho. In course of the cheerful discussion Maria suddenly turned dull.

Noticing it we looked at her, “The results will be out in a week. I guess I would fail in EG.”

*EG- Engineering Graphics.

We cheered her up that she would have done it well and there was nothing to worry about. We continued the never ending gossips throughout the night, even after switching off the lights.

13. The Hols are Hell

Dad and mom had come to pick me up from college. Dad drove home with a long list of queries on how I did my exams; what I had learned from my seniors; what would be my road map for the next 3 years. I was trying my best to contain my frustration.

In less than a couple of hours I was badly missing college. Dad’s presence subdued my texting, yet I managed a few messages and learnt my friends were on their way to their hometowns. None seemed to share my skepticism towards being away from college.

The sight of my bedroom which had been my home for the past decade was refreshing. The unrefutable feeling, ‘If only my friends are here’ crept over me. Just then the thought of my school friends struck me.

Over whelmed by a sudden surge of excitement I opened my drawer to get my contact book. Back in school we were not allowed mobile phones and we had our home landlines.

I called my friend Anitha. Her mom picked up the phone, “Hello aunty, Elvia here”

“Oh Elvia how are you dear. How is college?”

“I am good aunty, College is cool. Is Anitha there?”

“Anitha is in college. She has her semester exams starting tomorrow. When does the exam start for you?”

“Yesterday we had the last exam.”

“But how come exams are over so soon for you? Oh Ya I remember your semester begun in August. Anitha’s started only by September 2nd week.”

“hmm.. Ok aunty thanks. Can I have her mobile number?”

Getting her number, I sat on my bed disappointed. I tried calling a few others, the responses were no different.

Finally I resorted to the only available and reliable company, ‘mom’. I walked to the kitchen. Mom was busy preparing feast for her daughter who had starved to a film of paper because of having hostel-mess food for the past few months. She kvetched for the umpteenth time that I have grown lean.

I sat on the kitchen table, and started talking about my friends and college. I never realized that I had already spent a couple of hours. Over lunch mom’s urging me to eat well couldn’t trammel my tongue.

I had finished narrating all my college tales to mom in less than 3 days. She had been calling me twice a day throughout the semester, so nothing much to fill her with. I thought TV would be interesting during my school days when I was forbidden to watch it. TV had already proved deadening during the holidays after +2 before joining college.

Finally that Wednesday I decided to check on my martial arts class. After half a year of absence, I went back to my martial arts class. Everyone welcomed me with cheers. I spent a couple of hours everyday, but still had a lot of time just being horribly idle.

Dad suggested reading my second semester books. Mom sensing my glare in an instance subdued the hotbed which would have broken into a battle between the father and the daughter by suggesting novels. She justified that it would improve my language which is very important for a professional.

The same day Dad took me to the largest bookshop in the city, and I bought Harry Potter series as suggested by Harini the novel nerd of our hostel.

The books kept me occupied for the rest of the hols, yet I was looking forward going back to college every day, and every minute.

*Unrefutable - Undeniable
*Subdue – Lesson the intensity or dampen
*trammel - To hinder the activity or free movement of.
*Kvetch – complain
*hotbed - a situation that is ideal for rapid development (especially of something bad);

12.The 1st End Sem

Our new found fun suffered cataclysm. We had 3 days holidays after the last working day of the semester. The first exam was scheduled to start that Tuesday. I was not a sentimental person, yet something was skeptical about that Tuesday, or it was my exam monomania.

The assuaging fact was that I had access to Maria's and Anu’s class notes. The question papers were taken within our college by one of our faculty, who handled the subject for the 1st years. Hence pouring over the entire book wasn’t necessary. Rather one can take cues on what to prepare from the lecture notes.

That weekend was my worst ever weekend. With an assortment of subjects, we were pretty much confused on where to start and what to start. On that beautiful winter’s Saturday morning, after breakfast I picked up my chemistry book. I was gallivanting through the book with Maria’s Chemistry notes to my side, but soon got overpowered by ennui.

Thankfully Divya asked me to help her out with math. After lunch I tried physics which acted more like a bedtime story as I dozed off in my bed. The next day was no different we spent more time on choosing a subject than actually studying anything. ‘Chemistry! No that’s too vague for the mood. FOC- Oh we have got 2 days of holidays before the exam. Math – I am already good in it…’

Finally we have all started with English by Monday morning. There was nothing much to prepare except to reiterate through our workbook. No essays or non-details in College English. Nevertheless the exams jitters made us flip through the pages.

That Tuesday many skipped breakfast mostly out of jitters than lack of time. I felt I really needed a heavy meal for me to stay strong through the course of the exam. Something made me weary or weak. The first semester exam created an uncanny feeling that no other exam in my life had made me feel.

The next exam was the most dreaded math. My room turned into a tuition center. I really felt, ‘I would do better with a blackboard.’ Fridays were usually fresh when most girls wore flowers on their plaits and everything would have a lush glow. But that Friday was grotesque in the most decent terms. The mess hall looked scarce with only a handful first years, who contented themselves with a glass of milk. I was made a victim of the rife exam-phobia.

I felt I would feel better looking at a few ever-cheerful guys, but in vain. At least girls who skipped bathing covered it up with some makeup, but most guys looked just out of bed or worse ‘never been to bed.’ I called mom for the second time to get an extra dose of confidence pills.

The whole block was so silent by 3PM, as if it was 3AM. Everybody was asleep in the afternoon after the exam, as we had 2 more days left to prepare for the next one.

The rest of the exams were very similar with little variations on who looked most gloomy depending on what the subject was. Near the last exam things looked much better withal it was chemistry.

It might be because people got too bored of being scared, and they were engulfed by the holiday mood. As we were still in the transition between school and college we never realized college holidays were hell.

Girls from long distances had already booked their train tickets. We thought of a movie after the last exam, but all our parents were there by the end of the exam to take us back home.

*Gallivant-To roam about in search of pleasure or amusement.

*Ennui- Listlessness and dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest; boredom:


*Grotesque- Characterized by ludicrous or incongruous distortion, as of appearance or manner.

*Withal - Although

11.The Exam Schedule

2/3rd of our 1st sem was over then. The labs as usual sucked, except for the comp sci lab. I had some previous knowledge on programming, as I was a PCMC at school.

Workshops continued to be a nightmare, with us struggling with the welding rod at hand, and cursing everyone from the syllabus makers till the last level instructor there. “Why do a comp sci engg need to learn welding”. 

Answering this obvious question one of the workshop instructors told us, “Imagine you go to a welding shop by chance, how embarrassing it would be if you say you are an engg and you don’t know welding. That’s why we are teaching you all this.”

I could hear my neighbor say, “Go to hell!!!”

The same regular time tables, canteen in the evening, dinning at mess cursing the cooks, the hostel officials, the dean and even the government as a whole for all the delicious dishes they served for the future pillars of the nation.

As I had a laptop, my room used to be crowded. We used to watch movies got from day scholar guys, who downloaded them from some torrent sites. 

Life was good, and even the news about 3rd asses didn’t bother us much. As it was just the best 2 out of 3, most of us felt we were not going to do any better in the 3rd than the 1st two. 

But, but the news about end sem was not the same. It sent shock waves through all of us. The epidemic of exam phobia spread all over the first years. It was far worse than the news about 1st asses. 

We have heard from seniors, "Even state toppers have at times failed, so keep yourselves upto the mark". This didn’t add to our fears, as we were already in a saturated level of fear, and we can’t be scared anymore.

Yes the last line was due to my specific college ‘Chemistry’ fears that burned words like ‘Saturated’ in my mind’s non-volatile memory.

10.Life getting Collegic

The 4 of us had become good friends. We visited a nearby temple that Friday, our first outing. Mom permitted me for the following reasons:
1. It was a temple.
2. It was near by.
3. Most importantly, I am going only with girls.
Sorry couldn’t help it, the engineering exam answering style.

Certainly I had to get permission from my mom to leave the campus. After all, I was then a kid.

Many of our college girls and guys were seen in the temple, most of them in deep prayers. I wondered what they might pray, ‘God please let me be my class topper’ or “Curse the PCMC guys we PCMBs are suffering in FOC because of them’ or even someone like me, ‘Please let something exciting happen in my life’.

*PCMC- Physics, Chemistry, Math and Comp sci. 
*PCMB- PCM + Biology.
*FOC- Fundamentals of computing a paper in our 1st sem.

We came across a few seniors as pairs. They looked like being in ‘a divine date’.

Anu whispered, “May be you will come here with Kiran in a month”. I had almost forgotten him. I didn’t think he was Handsome enough to dream about. Anyway Anu’s thought made me feel good. 

The 2nd assessments went well. This time the block looked a little relaxed than it was during the 1st asses. Even my roommates influenced by me, didn’t panic much, and stopped staying awake the whole night, yet they still made one hell of a preparation.

This time I missed a mark in math but Prashant got full marks again. There was one more topper, and that was Hari, the 11th rank holder. 

Hari came to me, I could feel my heartbeat rising, I smiled. “I scored a centum in math in +2. This college math is a bit different. Now I coped with it. Anyway thanks for that problem.” With a grim look he turned back.

All blood in my face drained out. The smile in my face disappeared. Divya consoled me, “Never mind these spooks”.

Things didn’t change much. I was still the topper in math amongst girls, and I had also scored good marks in other subjects.

To celebrate the end of 2nd asses Anu called for a movie, a cinema theater visit. I knew mom will not approve. I was no more a school girl, nor a kid. We left our hostel that Saturday afternoon after lunch to a cinema theater not so far away from college.

The first experience of movie with friends in a theater, the added thrill of being there without mom’s knowledge, was amazing. It was fun, guys cheering at us from a distance. On the way back, I suggested, a movie or an outing like that one every week. Other girls seemed to consider it.

9.Is this Flirting?

“Still don recognize me” the next message. Now all my roommates jumped into the scene. We got in deep discussion on what to reply for every message.

Anu said reply, “yes na, you are our senior at NSS”. Divya interrupted “Why do u use anna? That will lose a potential proposal..” all 3 of us were baffled, we never expected this from Divya.

(*’anna- Elder brother’ in Tamil.
That’s the way we address our seniors in college.)

Reading our puzzled faces she added, “You like someone proposing you, don’t you?” I nodded with a smile, and asked, “So how shall I address him?”

“Let that be your next reply..”, ‘brilliant’, I replied as instructed, “How shall I call u?”

“Does that mean u found out..”

“s u r our NSS senior : - )”

“hmm.. well, call me Kiran”

"k kiran nice to hear from u..” I typed it reading aloud. Anu stopped me, “Do you want to end this conversation?”


“Then why do you give such a dull reply?”

“So what do I reply?”

“Ask him, ‘when is the next meet?’” this was Maria, she was in my NSS unit.

I could see the other 2 nodding their heads in acquiescence, so I replied, “When is the next meet Kiran?”

“Keep checking the nss notice board” I read it aloud.

I had very little experience in small talk, and when it came to a guy, I had none. So, I looked up for help. Anu and Maria looked as puzzled as I was, on what to reply next.

Divya again “Don’t reply. He will start the next topic.”

I didn’t think that was a good idea. Anyway, I had no options, so I waited. Just as predicted, came the next sms, “Do u hav prev knowledge on carnatic music?”

This time I didn’t wait for others, “yes, my mom taught me, I hav won many prizes at skool in singing competitions”

“wow just as I had expected, then y don u join the college’s arts club”

“That would be gr8. How should I join? R u a singer?”

"nope I play miruthangum, I ll tell u when the club next meets : - )”

“Thanks a lot”, as every other message reading it aloud while typing. Maria stopped me this time, “Doesn’t that sound terminating?” looking at Anu for support.

I looked at Divya, “Hey that’s a good reply add this, ‘bye for now, we are leaving for dinner'”

Anu protested, “Why do u want to stop?”

Maria, “Besides we are not going for dinner now, and Elvia doesn’t want to end this conversation”

Anu, “Neither do I” and looked at me, I nodded.

Divya, “You don’t want to look desperate. This is enough for now. Keep him in check, so that he will come back without getting bored. You give guys too much, they tend to get bored. Believe me in this” sounding more like a date adviser of a teen magazine.

The 3 of us were never been more puzzled. We felt like in a fantasy. The same question ringing in our heads ‘How on earth she knew all this?’

As if answering the question in our mind, “I am from a co-ed school and have known guys both at school and tuitions”

Realizing it had already taken a long time to reply, I replied, as instructed by the date adviser half heartedly.

*acquiescence – acceptance.

8.An SMS

I was sitting before my laptop, doing some nonsense as usual. My mobile beeped with a sms. I thought it must be some stupid forward, from some bored school friend of mine. I ignored it. 5 minutes past another sms, 2 more minutes 1 more message.

‘Who the hell?’ I checked my mobile, the latest message, “Sry if I disturbed u, I just tot.. anyway sry tc bye”, then the 2nd message, “U ther?”, finally the first one, “Good evening..”.

No prizes for guessing it was a guy. My pulse rose, “Oh no! What have I done!” I don’t know how to reply, I almost sent “Who s tis”. Suddenly realizing it would offend him, I stopped the message.

After a couple of minutes I came up with a more convincing reply, “Sorry didn’t notice my mobile, who s this”. Got a beep immediately, 'Damn' that was the delivery report.

Mind started reeling across faces, 'Who might it be? The ‘11th rank guy’, Hari?' Suddenly I felt like somebody was watching me in the class, typical good looking girl syndrome. ‘May be it must be one of those 2 guys, sitting in the 4th bench on the other side of the classroom.’

Curiosity killed the cat. Being unable to wait I called the no, just after a ring I cut the call, feeling embarrassed that would have looked desperate.

I cursed myself for ignoring the 1st sms, and 2ndly for calling the number. I tried to forget it and concentrate on to my laptop’s LCD. 

But when my mobile flashed with a beep again, I grabbed it from the table like a hungry dog would do for a piece of bone, and checked the message. How would you feel, if I say that was a forward from a school friend. 

Certainly it was a forward, and at the moment I was about to throw my mobile in frustration, I got another sms. “I am Kiran, Comp sci dept :)”. I was scanning across faces, but couldn’t place him. 

As if reading my weird expressions my roommate Anu asked me, “What’s wrong?”, I abruptly asked her, “ Who is Kiran?”

She gave a more bewildered expression. We never heard of that name in our class. Countless questions popped up, I put 2 of them in a reply, “Which batch r u? How did u get my no?”

“I belonged 2 f batch”, I read it aloud. This has made things more complicated.

Anu got more annoyed, she looked more than interested.

Just then Maria, my 3rd roommate opened her mouth, she belongs to some other batch but not f. Anyway even ‘f’ it didn’t make sense, ‘belonged’. “He is one of the seniors in our NSS unit”. Damn! Why didn’t it occur to me!

The next sms, “u have a beautiful voice”, I read it aloud recalling the last NSS meet where we were asked to do something before everyone. I read it aloud, illogically blushing.

If not for we being only 2 months old in college, my roommates would have jumped on me for that message, as a sign of celebrating their excitement, which was (hopefully is) one of our college customs. They all just gave a weird smile.

*The SMS language was intended to be that way.

7.The First Guy

No more desolations or disgusting looks, as I was the class topper in math, the highly credited subject in our curriculum. I had also managed decent scores in most of the subjects. To my surprise even in the most boring college chemistry, I passed with decent marks.

People even started to help me out with my lab reports and workshop assignments, in exchange of practicing math with me. Divya at times got in duel with others to sit next to me. I never cared or longed for all this sort of treatment, but something else happened.

One fine morning, when I was sitting in our classroom one of those cute guys, whom I had seen in the counseling came to me, “Hello, I am Hari. My discipline is ECE, and I was ranked 11th in the state’s Engineering admissions”. The 1st line is good, 2nd not bad, but the 3rd, 'why do they have to attach this tag always? For how long?' Anyway I extended my hand, “Elvia, CSE”.

“I got struck in a problem, I don’t know how to proceed with the integration, Can you help me?” in a pleasing tone that, even Genghis Khan wouldn’t have said ‘no’.

I didn’t mind integration or differentiation, as long as I had got to speak with him. “Sure” trying not to sound desperate, I signaled him to sit next to me.

He sat a good one foot away from me. That was a tuff problem. Thankfully I solved it, or it would have been so embarrassing for me. If only I was not disturbed by his presence, I might have solved the problem earlier.

He was impressed. It looked like he would propose me, though not for my looks, at least for me solving that problem. I almost laughed aloud at this thought attracting a few weird looks.

6.The New Epicenter

The next week went dull. I found a few friends at the hostel mess hall, who shared similar interests. It became a hot topic, when the news of a 1st year guy proposing a girl of his class came out.

It might not sound too arousing, but then amongst us first years it stirred an interest more like the 9/11 or the moon landing conspiracy. A guy who had got the girl’s number had sent her a sms “I love u”.

For an entire week talks on this topic never ceased. Various rumors of the two being friends right from school, being neighbors et al popped up. 

Not just my kind of girls, everyone participated in these gossips. Even Divya, who had almost stopped talking to me since the 1st day, when I told her about the ‘red shirt’, asked me “Do you know; who the girl is?” With a smile I replied, “I don’t know, but she must be damn lucky” she gave another scandalizing look, and turned back.

One by one our faculty started issuing the assessment papers. I had scored above average in the 1st three subjects. Whenever a teacher distributed the papers the classroom looked like a stock exchange office at market opening.

People peeking into others’ papers; comparing their marks with expected toppers; satisfying themselves with words like, ‘Oh Deepak has himself got only 15 and no regrets on me getting 12’. But the feeling of being hurt was obvious in their tone.

Then the magic happened, when our math lecturer announced that Prashant and Elvia got 25 on 25. As soon as she left the class, girls besieged me.

In the break, my paper was flying across the class. I didn’t know what they were looking for! The secret formulae!! Or Mistakes!!! 

In the evening Divya came to me “How did you do that?” I just smiled.

5.The 1st Asses(ments)

Every now and then, I did come across girls, who talked about guys in the way they should be talked about. Unfortunately none of my roommates looked like one of those girls. 

It was our second week in College. The fine morning sunlight filling the amply ventilated classroom; the chirping of birds that celebrated the end of tropical summer; it was typical pleasant morning. We never expected our class advisor will ruin the mood of the morning.

We were balled over, when our class adviser coolly (coldly) told us that out 1st assessment tests were a week away. We, may be at least they, panicked, as internals count for nearly 50% of the total marks, and this test will contribute to more than 20% of the final total.

The entire hostel block turned grave, with everyone pouring over notes and books. Those who haven’t bought books flew for the nearest book stores, or placed orders at the in house stationery with an ‘urgent’ tag.

I missed my laptop, as dad asked me to wait for a couple of months, before I take my PC to hostel. So, I had nothing to do, other than sitting with those girls.

On the week of the tests, girls either stayed awake beyond mid night, or got up well before dawn. I gifted with a skill for remembering things, with an added analytical ability to quickly grasp concepts, or at the least gifted not to worry too much about marks, had a sound sleep, withal the disturbance by the girls, who were awake. 

By the next week, all our 7 tests of 1st asses were over. Somehow, I earned an image that I was a worthless and despicable student. Most girls who knew me started avoiding me, opining that I would spoil them.

4.The Next Day

The 2nd day passed by, relatively peacefully. The previous night my roommates continued the irksome chat about the ranks and marks. Feeling gruesome, I lied on my bed earlier, trying my best not to concentrate on the discussion. 

It felt like all my college dreams turned to ash. The worst fears of redoing +2(The final year of PUC) for another 4yrs kept badgering me, inspite of me trying my best to be optimistic.

In the Morning classes started with physics lecture. Our physics faculty a middle-aged woman walked in 5 mins after 8.30. A creepy silence engrossed the class. She cheerfully introduced herself and gave a brief intro on the subjet’s syllabus for the semester.

I didn’t know why it happened! I had many a once heard of the hysterical stories of hallucinating college lectures. That day I was in one. I was the most active student at school, and physics being one of my favorites. But then, I was almost fainting, just in a matter of minutes, after the beginning of the lecture.

Sitting right at the 2nd bench, I was dozing off. I was biting my tongue hard to keep myself awake. I had heard from seniors that, notes play a vital part in preparing for exams. So, I was trying my best to copy down everything on the green board into my notebook.

I noticed my neighbor, another roommate of mine, Anu. She was writing every word of the lecturer like a voice synthesizer turning every vocal syllable into texts. Her pen moved like the magic quill I saw in Harry Potter movie.

Initially I felt bad for being unable to concentrate on the lecture, and envied Anu. After all the 14yrs of schooling, the mark obsession was hard to get rid off. Later I felt gratified that, at least I would have Anu’s notes for exams.

That evening we went to the college canteen after classes. People had started shifting towards other topics for chatting, but still not about guys ‘crap’. Nevertheless every now and then those things did pop up, whenever some info from another class came over about a state topper or about someone who left IIT and choose our college as he/she didn’t get their favorite discipline in an IIT.

I wondered for how long? May be till the results of the first semester exams come out. After that, people will start speaking about the toppers in the 1st sem exams. ‘Damn’

A momentary thought crossed my mind, 'How good it would be, if people speak of me!' I hit my head telling myself ‘I am not going to run behind marks anymore.’

3.Day 1, the Most Memorable Day

First day at college remains the most memorable day of college life for most of us. The excitement; the adrenaline rush; the uncertainty; makes the day deserve a page in the precious memories of our brain.

I arrived at the hostel a day before the opening day. My room was a 10x8 room which was half the size of my room at home. I had to share the room with 3 other girls. It looked like a train's compartment to me, packed with our baggage.

I got readily acquainted with my roommates, but who cares all of them gals. Mind started warning me that I must give a break to such revolutionary thoughts.

The next day we were seated in the same Audi where we had our admissions. We were allocated our respective batches after a decade long opening speeches by a multitude of HODs from various departments of the institute.

As soon as we settled in our classroom, everyone got busy with the semi-formal intros. ‘Hi I am Elvia’, I got bored of repeating the same line like a call center professional.

Gossips started about the state toppers and top rank holders, who else were ‘all centums’ kind of stuff.

‘Why on earth are these creeps so obsessed with marks? Why can’t they speak something interesting?’ But none seemed to share or care my thoughts.

I was too bored. I grew impatient, and I ventured to start a different conversation. Turning to my roommate Divya, who was sitting next to me, I said, “Look at the guy in the red shirt, isn’t he cute?”

She gave me a look, as if I had questioned her virginity. I turned back with frustration, wondering whether they were humans or just mark scoring machines!!!

2.The Day of Admissions

I collected the admission letter after my choice got confirmed in counseling. I had to visit the campus in a couple of weeks after counseling to complete the admission formalities. Not a night passed without me dreaming about college life. The scenes of guys and gals hanging in and around the institute never left my eyes. 14yrs of schooling in a girls’ high school left me desperate for a change in environment.

As soon as we entered the campus, my mind started to vagabond, my heart flying over cloud 9, and the very soul was in some sort of an exotic bliss.

I was with my dad and mom. Dad checked for the fee DDs and the necessary documents for the nth time.

As we had come early we just toured around the campus. Usually non-staff vehicles were not allowed inside the campus, but dad’s authority needed no questioning. The campus in itself is a wildlife sanctuary, but I could see nothing other than monkeys apart from exotic trees.

There were excitement filled voices everywhere. Guys and gals with their folks were fiddling with their documents.

After ages we were led into the college auditorium where we had to undergo a long sequence of formalities one for every single paper in my folder.

The audi was air conditioned with a seating capacity of around 800 people. The portraits of a few national and regional leaders were hung on the walls of the audi. There were a dozen exits apart from the main entrance all with polished teak doors.

I was seated in the hall marveling the campus that was going to be my home for another 4 years. I had nothing to feel tensed of, as I was more than confident in dad’s planning and organizing things. There wasn’t a possibility that I would have missed anything that I am supposed to have.

One by one we were called for the long succession of procedures. Instead of concentrating for the sound of my name, I was looking forward to know the names of the smart guys, whom I recognized seeing in the counseling hall.

After finishing the last formality of being photographed for the college ID card, I came out to join dad and mom. Seniors were marketing various clubs in the college with booklets describing the functions and benefits of being a member of their club. I joined a couple of them.

I didn’t want to go home so soon. I consoled myself that I will be back there in a week’s time for the first day of my engineering. Bidding adieu to the flora and fauna we drove past the main gate.

On the way back home, for the nth time dad advised me to keep up the pace, as I had to fight better competition at college. He wanted me to retain my place, at least as one of the toppers.

Nevertheless my mind kept musing over, ‘How many of those guys will propose me!’ ‘After all, grandpa often calls me a beauty queen!’ Or ‘Will I have stiff competition with other girls!’ At least will these guys ever open their hearts to a girl or will they only keep their books open!!!

I laughed over my silly thoughts, but those were the ones that make life colorful. I had no worries about my academics at school; neither would I worry about them in college. I pledged myself that I wouldn’t let the last part of my golden age go vain.

Dreams Come true (I)

After all the 14yrs of schooling, and the spine breaking efforts of the previous year at school, everything was going to pay off.

I was in that sanctuary, the education sanctuary for all knowledge thirst wannabe engineers. The cool zephyr caressing the leaves of the umpteen trees, the branches gently waving back and forth as if welcoming me in, made my saturated desire to be a student in that institute get stronger.

Like every other candidate, I was waiting with my folks for the authorities to call us in.

Only one person was allowed to accompany a candidate into the counseling hall. I walked into the hall with my dad, leaving behind my mom, uncle and grand parents. Yes it looked like a picnic in that lush green campus.

I was before a terminal in the hall. I was trying my best not to ogle at all those guys around, in their sweet 17s and 18s, and concentrate on the matter at hand. I had already listed my priorities 1st ECE because of strong undeniable recommendations from friends and relatives; 2nd CSE; 3rd ECE at the 2nd best college in spite of Dad’s persuasion to choose EEE in the top college.

I was wondering how many of them were their respective school toppers like I, and how many were 'all centums' in the 4 main subjects. Just then my thoughts were interrupted by the terminal operator's voice, "All seats under general for ECE are filled". I thanked God, for I had heard electronics would be horrible.

I started to fully concentrate on the terminal screen, as I badly wanted CSE in the top college, and not ECE anywhere for that matter. My prayers were answered, and I got CSE in the most touted, prestigious engineering college in the province, and one of the best in the country.

I thought I will have a nice time in college as pictured in movies. I imagined computer science will be all fun. However, I was proved wrong later.

Adolescence to Elegance

It was a pleasant Friday evening. Alone at home, I was waiting for him. With a myriad of thoughts, whether he really loves me? Will we end up marrying each other? What will he think about me? No matter what, a minute spent in his company is worth a life time. The ring of the door bell shattered the ceaseless thought mesh.

I could feel the surge in me. The pulse rate shooting all time highs, I opened the door knowing that, that wasn’t going to be the day’s high, because I knew there was more to come.

Just after he entered, I locked the door behind. It was a sign that we were on something private, and the rest of the world doesn’t bother us. He came near me, his hands around my waist his eyes meeting mine with less than an inch gap between our lips. He said, “I love you”, all I could reply was, “Forever sweetheart”.

There wasn’t anymore waiting, I filled the gap. I felt like fainting, the first kiss of an adolescent, with the hallucination of love. It felt like an eternity, and I wished ‘Let the eternity continue’. Feeling his warmth, I realized that there was more to eternity...
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