A New Dawn (LXXVIII)

Reviewed by Ironmonkey.

After spending time with Shantanu, I came back to our hostel. By then, almost everyone who knew me, were informed of me not being able to attend the placement process. Though a few idiots asked questions like ‘Why didn’t you attend?’ or ‘Why didn’t they let you in?’ But mostly people were considerate, and they spared me off the mundane things.

I waited for mom’s call in the evening, and I opened up both about my arrear, and it’s consequence of me not being able to attend my dream company’s placement process. Mom felt sad, yet she didn’t get annoyed. I was more afraid of dad, but he said simply nothing. All he did was that, he tried to comfort me.

Opening up things to my parents gave me peace of mind. I felt very relaxed. It seemed like years of my dream, which crumbled in a minute, can’t keep me distressed for more than a day.

Anu came back cheerfully, but suddenly turned dull on my sight. I without a sign of melancholy, enquired about her chances. She was excited, and she completed all her 7 rounds. She was almost confident on getting through. Though my failure hurt me somewhere, I was profoundly happy that Anu had done well.

By 8.30PM the list of candidates, who got selected was announced. Anu’s name was on the top of the list of the 4 names. Sivathanu of our class also got in. Bhagya didn’t make it. She went till the last round, but was eliminated in the 7th round. Anu’s dad was also greatly excited.

Juniors flocked our room to ask Anu about the placement process. Anu looking at my face, which failed to cheer up in spite of all efforts made to conceal my dullness, promised them to explain everything in detail later.

Almost half our class girls were there, congratulating and sharing her interview experiences. All attempts of Anu to keep them away for my sake failed. I cheered up a bit, and joined them. For the first time in years, I felt like I was no more the cynosure.

After late night people left our room for us. Anu glowed like a candescent doll. She came near me, but she was confused on what she should tell me. So I asked her, “So where is the placement treat?”

She looked like she still couldn’t make out my mood, so she just replied a weak smile. After a few moments of silence, I said, “Ok dear I gotta sleep. We have classes right from the first hour tomorrow.”

I wondered, whether I should call Shantanu. It’s been more than 2 months since we had not been bidding good nights. I had no option of ego, and he had not till then brought the topic about vodka. I was confused, yet I made the call.

“Hi Shantanu”

“Hi dear. Hmmm... how is Anu. I wanted to congratulate her, but she must have already been very busy.”

“Ya she had been busy, just now people left our room. I guess she is still awake. Do you want to talk to her?”

“Hmmm… never mind. I will talk to her tomorrow.”

“She might mistake you, if you don’t congratulate her now.”

“She won’t. Anyway if you insist pass on the phone.”

I put the phone on speaker mode. “Hey Anu.”

“Hi anna. Thanks a lot. I am really sorry I should have called you right after the results, but many people were around so I couldn’t call you.”

“Oh come on no problem. So how does it feel?”

“Feel!!! Simply awesome. I never ever expected I would be one.”

“Ok sweetheart, will talk to you tomorrow.”

“Ok na thanks again. Good night.”



“Ok honey good night. Love you”

“Love you too darl. Good night”

I hung up, and turned to Anu, “Why do you have to thank him.”

“I was startled, when you were not allowed to attend the placement.”

“Only Shantanu had urged me to go ahead. He said that I had to prove that you would have got in Microsoft if only if you had been allowed to attend. This gave me the urge to give my best.”

“Not just that he walked with me till the exam hall, and ensured that I attend. His words gave me great moral support. And also the points given by the contacts he gave us were all really helpful in the process” She added.

I lay on bed thinking of a new dawn. I was profoundly happy. I had nothing to worry about. I was perfectly gratified, and more than all that, I was at peace of mind.

Transition (LXXVII)

Reviewed by Padu and Ironmonkey.

Everything around came crashing down on me. I could see Shantanu getting into a duel with the placement officers. May be he was arguing about how they could change the criteria all of a sudden. I knew it was hopeless. What can a final year student do against the authorities, who controlled our entire placement process, and had the control over our placement offers?

I gathered strength to urge Anu to go for it. “Just go. Prove that’s not something out of our reach.” I forced a meek smile, “All the best” and I turned towards our hostel.

I was all alone in our room. We had classes that day. Clearly I had no idea of going to the classes or anywhere else for that matter. I wished there was someone, someone to share my thoughts with, share before all my neurons disintegrated. At the same time I preferred to stay alone, I detested the idea of people pitying me.

I tried to get some sleep, but I couldn’t. I turned on Sangi’s Laptop, and checked for movies or something at all, that could keep me away from the worldly hell. I was skimming through every folder, mind kept loitering somewhere.

The very thought of facing my parents was bone chilling. The embarrassing thought of explaining this to my juniors almost killed me. Finally the thought about Shantanu, though I had no hope whatsoever in getting over the break-up, but somewhere in the depths of me, amidst all these brain eating thoughts his name silently drained the last of my blood.

I opened and closed three movies. Nothing was powerful enough to pull me in. I convinced myself there was nothing more to come. I told myself ‘Nothing can break me down. I am strong enough.’ A statement which made me weaker with every time I repeated it. Only then I noticed mobile flashing with Shantanu’s picture.

A cold feeling crept into me. I tried to answer the call with my hands shaking. Before my fingers could respond, the call died. I noticed there were 6 missed calls, all from him. I was wondering whether to call him back. Before I could make a decision the mobile flashed again.

I picked it up without second thoughts, with the first thought being, ‘The worst is over. No better bad news waits’.

Before I could say anything, “I know I shattered all your dreams. I can never forgive myself. I am not asking you to pardon me, but… I think I am going mad. I am..” Breaks!! In Shantanu’s words! Is he sobbing or what!! Mind raced with thoughts.

“Hey come on. There is nothing wrong on your part. Calm down. I want to see you.”

“Elvi I can never face you again. I..”

“Just come.” And I cut the call. I wondered whether I should feel happy about this. ‘Shantanu crying on the phone.’ For a moment I forgot everything. I had tears in my eyes. I didn’t know why. I quickly dressed myself, fumbled with my make up kit, and ran down to our usual meeting spot.

Shantanu walked towards me from the other side of the deserted road. I tried hard to control my excitement. I just stood there before him.

“Say something Elvia. For heavens sake accuse me please.” He was soliciting. It definitely was funny to see a man of his kind doing something like that. ‘Is he mad?’

“I broke your dreams. I..” He caught my hands “Hit me. Please hit me.”

“Hey cool it. You have nothing to do with me losing. I was equally guilty. It’s me who selfishly asked you to be my project mate, in spite of you wanting to stick with your helpless friends.”

“But… at least for my sake. Hit me”

I gave him a good punch in his abdomen, which startled him for a moment. I didn’t know whether I was angry with him, or over excited. He caught his stomach with his hands, and sat down in the pavement.

I sat next to him. Both of us were laughing. Some unknown feeling, an exotic bliss crept into our veins. We didn’t speak for a long time. We just sat there.

Finally I broke the silence, “So will you love a loser, who lost her only ambition in life.”

“Will you love a 7 pointer with an arrear?”

We laughed again forgetting about anything and everything, lost in our private world.

Unfortunately the Unexpected (LXXVI)

Reviewed by Ironmonkey. 

Not just Elvia everyone around there was shaken up to see her results. She passed compilers with a ‘D’. It doesn’t matter she passed, and there was nothing to be surprised of, as most of us knew her mental predicament on the day of the exam.

It was not because of the D we were all shaken up, but it’s the ‘U’. She had an arrear in Compilers Laboratory. May be because, she cheated over in the mini-project. We had no idea. But it was no time to wonder about that, the truth was that she had an arrear.

She was broken down. We had no words to console her. I called Shantanu, and asked him to speak with her. But he was more broken up than she was. Not because he too had an arrear in compilers lab, but because he felt very guilty, and considered himself the whole cause for Elvia getting an U.

Seniors told us about how psychotic that guy was. Elvia was one of those very few who managed 20+ out of 25 in the assessments and in the semester exam of compiler lab. But there was no stopping our faculty from awarding us whatever grade they think we deserve.

Some of our seniors said that with Elvia’s track records it was certain that, she can make a plea to the committee, and get things straight, but ‘When?’ and ‘With what consequences?’ by complaining about a senior faculty of our department.

Seniors advised of peace. To personally apologize to him touchingly, so that, he would pass Elvia the next semester. But still that was a black mark, something with which she had to live with for the rest of her life. She couldn’t get a distinction regardless of however high CGPA she managed to maintain.

We soothed her, saying that, she had to concentrate on Microsoft, as luckily the criteria set for attending Microsoft placements was a CGPA above 8.0, and there was no mention about arrears anywhere.

Elvia got over it. We decided not to tell about this to her parents. At least not until they hear the happy news about Mic. We made ourselves prepared to put all the knowledge we had acquired over the years into action. Just like in legendary tales, where they used to say after 7 hills, 7 oceans and 7 fires you have a box filled with treasure, we had 7 deadly rounds in the placement process for Microsoft.

Our senior Bhavya akka got placed in Microsoft the previous year. She dropped by our college on our request. She conducted mock interviews for half a dozen girls, who had good prospect of getting placed in Mic. I was reluctant, but Elvia pushed me in. I didn’t do it well.

Elvia and Bagya were the only two, who made it upto her satisfaction and Bhavya while leaving advised Elvia that she can ask for an internship in Mic in her 7th sem hols. She was that confident that there is nothing that could stop Elvia from being in Microsoft.

We were waiting before the placement cell for our placement officers to direct us to the hall, where the first written round will be held. Elvia got over her arrear agony. She was all set to be an employee of the dream company of any Computer Science graduate. She was seldom nervous, but she was excited, and looked more like setting her foot into the company on her first day, than attending the placement process.

The chief placement officer came out, and made the announcement, “Today we have people from Microsoft here to take the best among you people, as their future employees. The salary is 9.5lakhs per annum with added incentives. More than all that, it’s Microsoft.” He paused for a smile. He continued, “All of you who meet the criteria follow me. As you all know the criterion is a CGPA of 8 and above, with…”

Back to Elvia.

Heavy Wait (LXXV)

Reviewed by Ironmonkey.

Elvia was thoroughly overjoyed. There was no talk about any reunion nor did they continue their usual ‘love you sweetheart’ before good nights, yet she was very happy and excited. After Shantanu’s call many other friends of ours, who resided in the hostel for placements did call us, and told us about the schedule put up.

Elvia was more than just nervous, she was excited. She completed a couple regular books and half a dozen references for the top three subjects on whose knowledge will the future employees of Mic will be selected. Now she had nothing much to refer or practice.

She wanted to go to college now, but she was still afraid of facing Shantanu. He did call once in a while and spoke equally with both of us. I told him about our preparations. I told him about, how seriously Elvia took the placements, and how hard she worked.

He mailed us a dozen contacts of undergrads, who got placed in Microsoft. Initially I expected it would be our seniors, and we already had their numbers. To our surprise none of them from our college, when enquired about it he said that he knew we would have our seniors numbers. So he collected other contacts from IITs through internet.

Elvia has nothing to do now so, she just called those numbers, and bugged them about the placement procedures. Everyone seemed to know Shantanu well, and they responded quite politely. Meanwhile I made up for lost chapters, which I failed to cover for the sake of keeping in pace with Elvi.

Half the college got placed in the first 2 mass recruiters TCS and CTS. Almost the other half was covered by Wipro, Accenture and Satyam. The rest were mostly who didn’t attend placements like us, either because we were so confident about getting dream placements or people who waited for a particular employer, and as always a few unlucky ones.

Just 2 days before re-opening we reached hostel. We had Infy scheduled just before the re-opening. For some reasons it was scheduled in the 7th slot this time. A few people hopefully waited for Infy. Shantanu thoughtfully advised us to attend Infy, so that, we would have an exposure to interviews.

As it will not affect our dream placements in anyway, we heeded to him. All 3 of us attended Infy. Shantanu attended TCS, but unfortunately he lost it, and he was one among those, who waited for Infy. I was not sure, why he was particular about the two companies, and I never cared to ask him either.

We all took a written test, completely aptitude. It was just a cake walk, and we never even cared to check for the shortlisted candidates list, as we were so very confident. Shantanu dressed himself with a white shirt, black pant, black shoes and a velvet tie and was all set to give a pleasing professional look. We were in some decent Chudis, and were all seated before the placement cell with our files filled with resume copies, marksheets and certificates.

In Infy it was all about HR. One’s attitude is what they believe in Infy. It was all about whether someone could learn, instead of what he has already learnt. Shantanu conducted a mock interview for both of us. I wondered, what made him so qualified to do that. Anyway I didn’t question my big brother, and in those circumstances Elvia too didn’t.

Shantanu’s mock interview did work. He said he already had half a dozen such mock interviews with his seniors over phone, and couple even face to face. We all did the interview well, but I unfortunately got a bit nervous, which later was reflected in the results. Both Shantanu and Elvi got in, but not me.

They consoled me, saying that, this would be a learning experience, and I will be able to do better next time. I tried to take it that way. Nevertheless I was scared of my failure, right in the first interview.

We got our results for our 6th sem. We were nervous as usual. We ran to the department to check our results amidst the crowded hallway we fought our way to the notice board.

MicroSoft (LXXIV)

  Reviewed by Padu :)

It was a Friday morning. Dad called me early in the morning to inform that he was going out of station. I got up, and Elvia was still snoring. I tried sorting out our room which was full of scribbled papers.

Elvia’s mom entered the room with lingering aroma of coffee. On seeing her sleeping, she yelled, “Hey Microsoft today is Friday. At least today give some thought about getting up early.” I was not surprised. The previous day, one of Elvia’s cousin had called her, as she was in the bathroom, I picked up the phone, “Hey Microsoft, how are you doing?”

I never dreamed about Mic as she did. Our last week continuous preparation for Mic inspired me with the slightest thought, and a mildest hope of getting placed in it. I was fighting hard to keep up with her pace. Though she had loads to study and practice, she always patiently cleared my doubts.

Her room had completely changed. She wrote MicroSoft in big fonts, and stuck it all around her room. She took color printouts of the logo and stuck them on the cover of her books. She jotted down the key points, time and space complexities of algorithms in papers and stuck them on walls. Her room was more like John Nash’s deciphering room.

She had already mastered Cormen-the divine book for algorithm lovers, Silberschatz – Operating Systems for beginners in the respective semesters. She also made a schedule for revision. She almost finished an exercise e-book for Data structures which she downloaded for $11.5 with her dad’s visa card. She had downloaded half a dozen other e-books priced in dollars.

Certainly most of them were available for free, but Elvia’s Dad always used to say, “Never think, while you spend for academics”, and she took it exactly like a computer would take an instruction. She had no time to search for an illegal copy from creepy sites.

Every evening we went for a long walk to relax ourselves. Elvi looked rather she didn’t need any relaxation, as she naturally enjoyed all that crap. Even while walking, she discussed many puzzles and aptitude questions. I always admired her hard work and determination towards her goal.

The beauty of being a CSE engineer is that, one can practically experience almost everything he learns. But when it came to OS we couldn’t work out everything that we learned.

She crashed her windows for the nth time that week, trying to manipulate some dll files and other system files. Anyways she really didn’t enjoy much of OS, she rather found pleasure in making modifications, and analyzing the performance of existing algorithms.

Divya called us, and said that the placement schedule has been put up in the placement cell’s notice board. In the first few slots there were mass recruiting companies. Dream company schedules were yet to be up. Though I wanted to attended the mass recruiters, Elvia was ‘Do or Die’ about Mic.

She asked me to leave for college, and attend those placements, but with the past month with Elvi I became confident that though I may not make it to Mic, I will at least be good enough for some other high pay, good profiled company. So I stayed back.

Elvia rarely spoke of the break up. But she couldn’t stop herself from bringing in Shantanu. For every thing we did, she used to quote some line of Shantanu’s. Whenever I found it hard to solve puzzles in data structures she encouraged me saying, “Harder you hit, stronger you get.”

Though we weren’t there in college to attend the first phase of mass recruiter, Divya told us how students were nervous to attend the interview. They had announced the results for the first mass recruiter at 21:30 pm in front of the auditorium. The whole area had burst with claps and cheers. Faculties and wardens didn’t control the students since they were excited and restless about their first job.

When Parvathi called complaining, that she had failed to make it in the first mass recruiter, Elvi again quoted Shantanu, “You will for sure get what you deserve, if you don’t, you deserve something better.”

She even started acting like she didn’t care about it anymore. She talked about Shantanu just like she did about others. But she didn’t stop writing MicroSoft with the ‘S’ in upper case, and never stopped listening to ‘Teri Ore’ before going to bed.

One fine morning when Elvia just then got up she got a call, “Hello” she said drowsily.
“Hey loafer still in bed, Microsoft placement schedule is up in the notice board.”

Depressed to Determined (LXXIII)

Reviewed by Nathan.

Bad news spreads faster than any flu. Almost everyone who knew Shantanu and Elvia came to know about the break up. I didn’t know whether people felt happy or sad about this, yet many were curious to know what was happening, so they enquired about this to me and others, who were closer to her.

That night over dinner people spoke all kind of nonsense, and a few even in our earshot. “If she considered herself the princess then it’s the right time she changed.” “Well that scum deserves it” “I think Shantanu has took a right decision to..” and loads more. I didn’t know how people could talk ill about a person, who is conking out of grief and pain. I realized how bad envying could drive people.

Elvia who was in general strong by heart borne all the pain, and Shantanu’s acquaintance had made her more matured that, she could be able to take or ignore things her way. Nevertheless these things did affect her. But when compared to Shantanu’s words mostly they were like stabbing a corpse with a knife.

The hostel was almost deserted, and we were all alone in our room. Elvia switched her PC on. She played ‘Evanescence’ the collection which I had always admired. I understood she didn’t want to be disturbed. Divya came in. I waved her not to disturb.

“Being silent will not bring any solution. We gotta do something??”

I asked, “What do u expect us to do?”

“We can talk to Shantanu.. hmm… no she should speak with him”.

Elvia slowly turned to us. “It’s not about a reunion, and this is no ordinary lovers’ duel. He trusted me more than anyone. But I wasn’t true to him. I shouldn’t have hidden things from him, and there is no pardoning for this. All I need to do now is to prove him that, I still value our old friendship.”

“And how are you planning to do it?”

“He wanted me to get placed in Mic.”

Anu,” Do u think he will come back to you because of Mic??”

“I don’t expect him to. I never expect him to.”

We were not sure whether to encourage her to get placed in Mic or to console her for Shantanu. Finally we gave in that, there was no use in persuading her anymore, who else would know better of her adamancy.

Natalia Barbu's 'Fight’ from 'Moldova' had been playing for the nth time, she looked more determined for as the song went on. After sometime she let the player shift to ‘Memories’ from 'Within Temptation' this broke her a bit, and I heard her mumbling the lines,
"All of my memories keep you near.
In silent moments,
Imagine you being here.
All of my memories keep you near,
In silent whispers, silent tears"

But her eyes were dry without moisture. It’s because her tear glands had over worked and left her with no moisture. But she had not come out of the grief.

In another two days NSS camp was about to start. But she didn’t want to attend as she felt very uncomfortable to face Shantanu. In spite of me being the Lady General Secretary of our NSS unit, I was in no idea of leaving Elvia behind in those circumstances. So I called uncle, telling him that we had planned to come home.

We planned to go in train rather than waiting for the car to pick us up. Uncle said he would pick up us from the railway station. I was more worried, ‘What if Elvi’s parents ever found out something is wrong with her? Will they question me about that?
What should I tell them if they ask me?’ I felt horrific to go home with her, but I didn’t want to leave Elvia alone.

Fortunately Elvi got over her grave expression by the time we reached home. Nevertheless she continued to listen to Evanescence and LP. I had no idea whether they made her strong or weakened her more, and I never commented on it.

We didn’t talk about Shantanu or Vodka or compiler Exam. She once in a while chose to lie on my lap. I felt happy, that I had a chance to reciprocate her pampering. Her parents were always friendly and loving to her. But she couldn’t share this with her parents, not because she was afraid, but because she didn’t want to worry her parents with this.

After a week she was fine, or at least apparently. This gave me courage to ask, “How did you do your Compilers exam?”

“Hmm not so good.. Think I will pass with a C or D. I was worried of getting an arrear, good that I will at least pass”

“His words before exam must have given some strength”

‘Sh*t’ I bit my tongue for bringing Shantanu into the scene.

“Hmmm... well now it’s high time we prepared for placements.”

This was the happiest statement she made in the past week. I was thoroughly rejoiced that, she had got something to keep her occupied. I decided to fuel her fire. I started addressing her as Microsoft.
I also dreamed about Elvia getting placed in Microsoft. We started working on the dream. After all it’s now more than just a dream placement.
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