Chapter 1: Semester 3rd
1: At the City of Taj; Agra
Mehdi bhai was a distant cousin of mine at whose room I was staying now at Agra. My bhaiya (elder brother) Azaan had left me here as per my dad’s command and had went to Gurgaon to his job. I was here, waiting for my admission date after we had got our younger brother Ayaan’s admission into AEC, Agra in Chemical Engineering branch.
There were still around 10 days in my admission since bhaiya had left me here. I had nothing to do and I sat, bored, in Mehdi bhai’s room alone all day as he used to go away to his college. Though he never said of, I could realize that he was feeling a little uneasy because of me, besides his room was big enough to accommodate three people like me. May be he never said that because I never did let him spend even a penny on me; I used to pay for whatever expenses I made there.
As I used to sit, bored in his jail kind of room, I used to remember the past few days I had just come through. June 28th had passed just a month ago which had bend my life so drastically. I had never thought of coming to Agra when I was in Aligarh. But then I couldn’t make through entrance exams in AMU and I had to come here on command of my father as my younger brother Ayaan was allotted a college here in Agra. The very thought of my father reminded me of the last conversation I had with him.
It was June 28th, my 20st birthday. Though I was never so keen about celebrations, but I always looked forward to who was going to remember that and wish me. But alas, besides bringing me smiles, it was like a day full of misfortunes to me this year.
By 12.00 pm on June 28th, I was assured that I was not getting admission into AMU anyhow. I had already failed to make through AMU’s B. Tech. entrance exam, but that was obvious. We were never taught the subjects like PCM from which they asked questions in entrance exam and we didn’t have much time to prepare during our usual schedule. One needed to be too lucky or very studious to get through it, and for sure I was none of them.
So now, I had to pack up. I had already left my hostel and was staying at Kazim Bhai’s room who was doing BE from AMU. My all the bags and cartons were at his room only, including my big Desktop Computer which was now a mess to carry though it had been very useful to me since past two years.
The room was less a room and more a jail, I guess. First of all, it was on the second floor of the building, with no more rooms above it and so the direct heat of sun heated it so much in the day time that it was almost unbearable to stay there in afternoon. Secondly, the stairs to room were so narrow and risky that often in the dark, I had escaped slipping from it. And then the landlord was such a jerk; with his loud voice, he used to scold his children every time, waking me up from my little snaps that I could hardly manage to fall into in this super heating room.
So, I came back from Admission Centre to the room in noon where Hashim was waiting for me. Hashim was another batch mate of mine from Diploma. He was topper of his branch so he had made directly into AMU’s B.Tech. He was there to get his admission formalities done. Since everyone was home, he had no one else to stay with but me, but now since I had to leave, he had to find some other shelter as I had the responsibility of the room and I had to return the keys to Kazim bhai after packing up everything the way it was.
“So, you’re leaving?” asked Hashim. I had told him on call that I couldn’t make through the list so I’ll be leaving tonight. I already had the reservation for the night by Farakka Express and that meant he too had to leave the room by night.
“Yup; Tonight”, I replied in sad tone.
We hadn’t talked much then. He went out for something and I got busy in packing my stuff. It was damn too much to pack and take along on a journey, especially when you have to travel alone, so I thought I should call up someone to see me off at night. I had then called Meesum to ask him to see me off. I had to make the call short as my father called up in between.
“Why was your number busy?” He asked directly as I received his call, after I said Salam to him.
“Some friend was on call. I had called him to assist me in packing”, I stammered in a scared tone.
“So, you’re leaving today?” He asked again, in a rude voice.
“Yeah… Actually nothing left here to do. It’s clear that I’m not getting into BCA and so now I’ll wait for result of UPTU entrance exams at home”, I replied, in a lower tone.
“I never understand why the hell you people go home every other month! I’m living here; I never bothered myself coming home every six months!” he said in an angry tone.
“It’s nothing like that. It’s just that I’ve got nothing to do here…!” I explained the reason.
“Then why don’t you go to Delhi to find some job to yourself! And what about this UPTU result? Did I ever said I’m gonna teach you any further? No; right? Then how come you plan things on your own. I’ve already wasted a lot of money on you people and I’m not gonna spend even a single rupee on you people anymore. You brothers are all losers. You too would come up like your elder brother who is so non-supportive”, he had almost lost his temper on me.
I felt like replying to him, “You’re talking like you’re enough supportive! And you don’t wanna teach me anymore because you’re yourself not educated much and you’d feel complex then!” but I couldn’t dare to say this to him. My mom had taught me to have a grip over my tongue and that on my thoughts while I was angry. It was due to her lessons only that I had been bearing such an attitude of my father for years.
May be it was the remembrance of my mother that it just came out of my mouth, “But Mom, she has asked me to come back…”
“Then go to hell with her. She’s a bitch who ruined my life…”, he was saying, “Mind your language please...” I interrupted; daring too much beyond my limits to ask my father to mind his language, and it only raised his fury.
“You, son of bitch, you’re asking me to mind my language! Just wait for the day I come there; I’ll cut you all and thrown in to the furnace along with your mother”, he said, totally out in anger.
“I didn’t mean that. I just meant that talk to me of only what is relative to me. Dissolve your issues with mom when you’re home. This way you’re just wasting your money and raising your BP...” I excused.
“No, I know you all. You all are alike, dogs of a lineage. You and your uncles, bloody brothers of my wife, you all are alike. They too are such losers… Never earned anything to themselves so they keep interfering in my life..”, he was saying continuously and on this I felt like replying to him, “you’re talking like you’re such a winner besides one of my uncles being a Govt. teacher and the other being Manager in a company, and you living abroad in a country like Saudi Arabia, and still finding too hard to survive. Wow, how great is that explanation!” but again I kept quite on the part of my manner that I had inherited from my mother.
“So, you’re leaving today?” asked my father, once he was done with drawing his frustration on me and me listening to him quietly.
“Yea”, I replied back.
“Then close all the accounts you have there, and transfer all the money into my account, and don’t leave any work incomplete before you leave because you’re not going to come here again, ever. In fact, you’re not going anywhere other than home. You’ll stick there; you have my words”, he commanded me and I felt so sad on these words of him.
“And what about my further studies…?” I asked in confusion.
“No more studies. Get some job to yourself at home. I don’t have money for you anymore. If you’ve decided to go home then just go home, only that’s your future. You’ve learnt enough. You’re a Diploma Engineer now, you can at least earn”, he replied in a commenting tone.
“But dad, that’s nothing. I’m not going to get any job with this certificate… I want to study further, be an engineer!” I said, in a requesting tone.
“I don’t know that. I’ve to look for you younger brother too. He has just passed his 12th now. If any money would be left after getting him admission into engineering, then only I’ll think about you. And that too if you’d be nice at behavior...” he replied in such a rude and straight way that I felt so hurt at heart.
“Okay… bye”, I said, clearing up the tear that had come into the corner of my right eye, as I saw Hashim climbing up the stairs.
“Who was it? Sara?” He asked, with a smile, as he approached me. Everyone from my batch knew about Sara, but it was not her on the call.
“My dad”, I replied, trying to be as normal as possible in my tone, but I just had a rude lecture and I was feeling hurt so there was an obvious sampling in my voice. He would have guessed that something was wrong as he heard me and as my face gave the expression, so he simply moved towards the room.
“You’re all packed up, wow!” he said when he reached in the room, as he looked at the packing that I had finished a while ago all alone.
“Yea”, I said, reaching to him, clearing my face with towel after washing it with water to look fresh again, and it helped me regaining my good mood.
“So, what now?” he asked.
“Now? Its party time, baby”, I said and winked at him.
We both left for Shamshad Market where we had snacks and then we reached a stationary shop.
“Do you think a diary and a pen would be good as birthday present?” I asked to Hashim.
“Yes, it would be if the person is a student. But whose Birthday is it?” he asked in confusion.
“Sara’s. Her birthday is on 2nd July and I want the gift to be delivered to her by 2nd. And since you won’t be here till 2nd, I’ll have to courier it”, I replied back, informing him.
We searched for a nice diary that had some good friendship message in it, and indeed it was costly, and accompanied it with a nice pen too. I asked the shopkeeper to pack them both in a single pack, and then asked if he had the courier service with him and he agreed. So I filled up the form and then before handling him the gift, I insisted that gift be delivered on 2nd only, as it was 28th, as it was a local delivery only within Aligarh, and he agreed so we left after paying him.
It was 10.00 pm in the night. Hashim had left me in the evening itself and I had slept for few hours then. Actually, I had been crying over my destiny and having such a father, lying alone in the heated room and then I fell asleep. I woke up at 10.00 pm due to the mosquitoes flying around as the power had cut off and it was all dark around. I was very hungry so I locked the room with the help of light I had in my mobile to come to the Zakariya Market, the market by the side of AMU campus near our room, but only to find all the shops closed. So, I had to satisfy my appetite with just a cold drink.
I had been calling Meesum for half an hour now but he wasn’t responding. In fact, he was expected to be there by this time now but he didn’t show up, neither was he receiving my calls. Had he not received my calls, I would not have complained but he rather REJECTED my calls! I tried a number of times calling him but when he kept rejecting my calls, I felt so furious on him and then I thought I had been considering a cheater as my friend and this was the time I lacked in the tenure of our friendship that would have tested his friendship.
I had reached station on time but then the train was late, and again unluckily, I found my reservation hadn’t confirmed yet!
“Fuck…” I said to myself, cursing my luck. But then I thought it was for my better now as now I can climb up into any bogie as climbing up in any specific bogie with so much of luggage was indeed a tough task for someone like me, an average figure guy.
The train came late as was specified in the chart but then it took all my efforts to push up the entire luggage into a bogie. First of all, all the doors were closed so it was too difficult to find an averagely populated bogie and getting its door open. Then, every time I had to run back to the luggage to push it sliding long towards the bogie I had chosen, which was standing far away from the position where my luggage was kept. In fact, for one second, I just thought of cutting the thought of going anywhere; I had pushed up half the luggage and the half was yet to done, but then I self motivated me and finally I was able to push up the entire luggage into that bogie, and as soon as I climbed up that bogie, the train left.
“Will always remember you, Aligarh... What you gave and what you took away”, I whispered to myself, looking through the open gate, standing there to sigh high. And then, someone again pissed me off.
“Hey, don’t keep your luggage here. I won’t be able to come down properly”, complained an old man in 50s, who was sitting at the top berth in the last, just before me.
I stared at him with anger for a moment, and then shouted on him, “Shut the fuck up. I don’t understand what the hell is wrong with you old chaps. Neither you live yourself, nor do you let live others!”
He gave an expression to me like he was startled on my language, but then eventually he slept back on his seat, realizing that I was in a real bad mood.
I was standing on the gate of that bogie as I didn’t have my ticket confirmed. I sat on the stairs, sobbing, on myself, my destiny, my foolishness, on being cheated, on being left alone, on being broken away, on having no possibly visible future yet. The old man was still looking at me, lying on his seat only.
I had such a bad day. It was my birthday and I got scolding from my father for not doing anything, no one wished me on my b’day including her, my best friend deceived me in the time when I needed him, and then I had to leave Aligarh, the city that I considered a stair towards my bright future.
I was so pissed off that I thought to end up my life. It was the exit of Unnao Junction when I was about to jump off the train but then suddenly I recalled of my mother, my loving mother, whom I loved so much and I recalled all the bad times she had faced to make me stand at position where I was today.
I had got so lost in my thoughts that when it was Kanpur station only when I recalled that I was sitting on the door and that most of the seats were empty now. So, I picked up my bags and went up to an empty seat where I fell asleep until I reached my hometown.
I reached home by 6.30 am in the morning. I was very tired and so I simply went straight for sleeping. Even after waking up, I didn’t talk to anyone much for next one week until my UPTU results were out. My mom and sister were worried due to this behavior of mine and they had scolded me, and urged me to know if something was wrong but I never told them anything. I was just wondering on what was going to happen next.
For most of you it would be very small things and are to me too now, but for that time, to me they were very huge. I was tensed with what I was going to do if dad refused to pay for my fee. I was also tensed about what my future was going to be like if I didn’t get a college of my choice, and a lot of similar tension was there. More ever, Sara wasn’t replying to me. It was months now since I had talked to her last time.
Ayaan’s result for UPTU had come along mine and he had scored a rank of 56,570 in the general category while I had scored 2071 in the lateral entry category. None of our results were good but they were average so we were sure we were not going to get any government engineering college.
Later in the July, he was called up at Mathura in some Engineering college for his counseling. He went along with my elder brother to attend it. Though he had shortlisted certain colleges prior to the counseling but they had to resort after reaching there as those colleges had seats full. Finally, he chose certain colleges based on the current availability of seats and he was allotted Chemical Engineering branch in Anand Engineering College, Agra on the next day of his counseling.
My father had agreed on getting me admitted in B. Tech. under pressure of my mom but he said that both of us, we brothers, shall study from the same college, so my focus was now to get AEC anyhow. My dreams were all shattered as I had dreamt of studying in Australia in Bachelor’s course but I could never dare to talk about it to my father. Later I had thought I’d study in JECRC, Jaipur but then I dropped every plan of mine and chose to go with the path destiny had chosen for me, believing that it would be good, as the other paths had already shown me the dead end.
“Where are you so lost these days? Do you have any problem here?” Mehdi bhai asked me one evening.
“No, not really”, I replied, coming back to reality.
“There is some problem for sure, I guess. You can tell me if you would like to!” he said, kind of insisting to know what was going in my mind.
“No. No problems at all”, I replied in the same way again. He looked into my eyes and I couldn’t look back for long, as I was lying. “Okay”, I said as I sighed high. “I waa just thinking over...” I finally said, as if still unsure if to share or not.
“Well?” He asked, little confused.
“Actually I’m thinking over the ways of life. How drastically it changes; takes us to places we had never thought of, killing all our plans, and taking away our loved ones”, I replied mysteriously.
“Ohh”, he said as if he got my thought. “Brother, destiny and its ways are always mysterious. You’d never know what would come up next. Better you be prepared with the worst”, he too replied mysteriously. “And about loved ones, no matter wherever we are, our hearts are always connected. Being away doesn’t mean that we’ll stop loving them, right?” he added.
“Yea, but then we miss them so much, and yet we have no ways to get back to them!” I replied. “And about ways of destiny, if things are not going to come as we had planned, what is the worth of your plans and such a life!” I asked back.
“Brother, when we miss them, it means that we really care for their presence. Just wait for the day you meet them and then tell them how much you missed them!” he replied, looking into my eyes if I was satisfied now. “And about destiny, better you learn to be happy with whatever comes up. Plans are just meant to be guided in life; they can never drive your destiny. Destiny masters all of them”, he added with a high sigh.
“Yeah. Maybe you’re right”, I said, as I didn’t want to discuss it anymore as I was afraid I would have either unfolded every secret of mine to him or would have broken down.
I was missing my friends, my college, and my old life. I hadn’t talked to any of them since I had left Aligarh and I wished things get back to normal soon. I hoped that I would be able to get back into their touch as soon as the new life will begin and I’ll redeem whatever I had lost in past few weeks.
2: Into New Life
So, here I am, at my new college, to get the admission. This is August 10, 2010. Oh, well, I am Armaan Ali from Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), India. I am 5’9” in height as of now with an average build body (non-athletic). My eyes are brown that turn to black in light and the best thing I like about myself are my hairs with which I keep experimenting though without any dyes or colors. I have Indian accent with Urdu being my mother tongue.
Standing at the gate of Anand Engineering College (Agra), I was still wondering if this is the so called institution which was going to craft my future and promise me a good package after my final year! Well, I’m mentioning a ‘good package’ because after spending One lac and fifteen thousand just as the fee amount for one year of engineering course by a middle class muslim family boy, one would obviously expect a good outcome.
I had been allocated this college through UPTU counseling. Though my rank wasn’t too good as 2071 out of 8000 in Lateral entry category, I got AEC as my first choice only with the desired branch; Computer Science and Engineering! That was another moment when I started wondering if I was really good at luck? And now I feel so silly for looking at things just from the opposite bank. I should had realized luck is, never so kind to anyone unless you make an effort; the treacherous.
“Yes? You, boy… what are you standing here for?” a loud voice pulled me out of my imaginations. It was the security guard, Balveer Singh (if I clearly remember the name on the badge), at the main gate. With his red eyes, as if someone highly drunk, and big moustache like those of south Indian superstars, and a belly trying to almost burst out, he seemed like an immediate cousin of Yamraaj, the god of death. And indeed, he was moving his cane as if it was a mace!
“Admission Cell..? Where is it?” I asked back in reply.
“New admission?” he asked.
“Not yet, but yea, I’ve been allotted this college”, I told him.
“Listen boy, before you enter into this college, you must know certain things about me. I’m the eye of this college and no one spares my catch. If I ever caught you, remember, you’ll be gone!” he said, less in telling and more in scaring tone, with two red eyes almost popping out of their cavity.
“Aye, Aye, Captain! Now would you please tell me the way to the admission cell?” I asked. In fact, I was feeling like punching him right in his face as I didn’t have a good day because of the tiring journey of 20km to reach this college in this overheating sun.
He stared at me for a moment and then said, “Third room from the left in central lobby. Now go straight and don’t keep staring your sisters...” He spoke in a tone that was quite familiar to me, one like my father.
“Sisters?? How disgusting!! F*** you, old chap. Grow up!” this was the first random thought I had for him.
“May I come in, Sir?” I asked to one of the person-in-charge sitting in the admission cell.
“Yes, come in”, he replied.
“Hello sir, I’m...” he didn’t let me complete my sentence by pointing me “Shh…” and by his fingers only, he led me towards the chairs at one side of the desks. There were another twenty or more students sitting there. After about an hour of sitting, I was called up for my turn.
Before I could speak again, he said to me, “Submit Rs. 650 in the accounts section and get the admission form, fill it and then get back to me. By the way, you’ve bought the full amount fee demand draft of the fee, right?”
“Oh, yes sir!” I said.
“Then get moving, boy. Don’t waste my time”, he said in a hurry tone. I wondered if everyone here was such a jerk, screwing my mood every other moment.
I went to Accounts section, paid the fee and got the admission form. It was less an admission form and was rather two A4-sized colored papers with printing on it. I felt so aggressive for my father’s money being exploited so much.
I filled up the form, attached the Xerox and certain originals of the documents and went back to the officer in admission cell.
“What..! You don’t want to take the bus facility?” he almost screamed at me as soon as he saw the cross I had made before the ‘I want to avail the bus facility’ box. Actually, I had already calculated that if I’d go by private bus, it’d cost me just Rs. 6000/- approximately in a year, while the college was charging me Rs. 13,500/- (more than double!), plus there was timing restrictions too with the college bus. “Neither you want hostel facility too..?” he said angrily.
“Nope… Actually I’ve my Aunt and Uncle living nearby and I’ve a bike so I guess, I don’t need college bus!” I said.
“I don’t care if you don’t need one. But in that case, get me an affidavit of the statement taking your own sole responsibility in case you get any injury out of college”, he said.
“What? Where (the hell, obviously I didn’t say it) from I’d get an affidavit here?” I asked angrily, trying to be polite as much as I can.
“Well, there’s an advocate who sits in the right corner of the lobby. Care if you’re lucky and he might have come today!” he said with a grin, pointing me with his fingers towards the exit.
I gave him a rude stare and then suddenly rushed towards lobby to check if my Mr. Luck was waking, already knowing that it had never been conscious whenever I needed it. And I was right again. There was no such advocate sitting there. Actually, it was a Tuesday and people of Agra celebrated it as a holiday (that’s what I assumed).
I cursed my luck and went back to the officer, “There’s no one there, Sir. I mean, the advocate hasn’t come probably, I guess”, I said.
“Well, then I guess, you’ll have to bring written permission from the Dean Academics Mr. Arpit Sharma”, he said wickedly.
“And where do you think I would find him in college?” I asked angrily.
“Most probably he must be in his cabin; Room number 154, about the end of the lobby in the left”, he replied.
“I’ll be right back in a moment with permission”, I said and banged out of the admission cell. While leaving, I saw him looking at me with a smile such that he knew I was going to have a bad meet, again.
“May I come in...”, I knocked at the door and entered the room which had a board on the door written as ‘Arpit Sharma, Dean Academics’ and then I realized I still had a room to cross to reach to Mr. Sharma.
“Yes?” asked the peon, sitting inside the room.
“I want to meet Arpit sir...” I said.
“For what?” he asked back, looking at me from top to bottom.
“Regarding fee concern”, I lied, as I wasn’t in a mood of one more bad conversation.
“Oh. Well, wait here. He’s busy in a meeting inside”, peon said to me, pointing me towards chairs to sit and wait. After waiting for about 15 minutes, I saw a man in suit coming out of the inner cabin. I greeted him, “Good morning. Arpit Sir?”
“He’s in”, the man said to me, leaving to the exit door. The peon told me by sign that I could now go in. I rushed towards the door before it could close and suddenly got my knee hurt against the table.
“F*** man, what a bad day!” I murmured to myself with pain. The peon was startled as he went staring me for using the ‘f’ word but I moved ahead without caring for him.
“May I come in, Sir?” I asked to the man sitting on the chair behind the desk. I figured from his appearance and personality that he’d be 6’0’’ in height and around 40 in age with an athletic body. Wearing black suit on a pink shirt, he was looking smart.
“Yes..?” he said in a way kind of asking.
“Good Morning, sir”, I wished him back in answer.
“Good morning. What do you need?” he popped the question straight into my face while I was still analyzing the atmosphere in the cabin as I found a lady and a man sitting there, staring at me like I was the newest issue of the college magazine!
“Umm.. sir.. My name’s Armaan and I’m here for admission..”, I couldn’t complete my sentence as he spoke in the middle itself, “So, what’s the problem? Go and get it!” and I felt like “would you please let me finish first?”
“Well sir, I don’t want to avail the bus facility and I want you to permit me for that”, I said now directly addressing the issue.
“And how come you assumed that I would permit you?” he said, raising his eyebrow on me, and I hated the tone of the question and the expression he made for me.
“I have my own vehicle, Sir..! In fact, my family is shifting here, to Agra, as my younger brother too is here in AEC…” I tried to convince him in name of my family but it failed.
“I don’t understand what the problem with this new generation is! We’re trying to help them and they think we’re cutting through them..!” he said, turning to the lady and the man sitting aside, and giving me a rude look, he said, “Sorry boy, I can’t help you in that. You got to submit in written on stamp paper that you’ll have your own responsibility if anything happens to you out of college due to your PERSONAL convenience and the college shall not be held responsible in any way...” emphasizing on the ‘personal’ word.
I hung my head down, looking on the papers in my hand, thinking if it would help anyway.
“Now go and complete the formalities and don’t kill anyone’s time”, he said rudely and in response, I shut the door of his cabin loudly as I moved out.
I was feeling so irritated and angry. I was cursing myself for coming to this college. I sighed high and controlled my emotions and then went again to the admission cell, wondering if anything else could help this time.
There was some other faculty this time behind the desk. Though he too had a polite look like the Dean but from my very last experience, I assumed every polite face here was very rude in nature. Still, I reached him and before I could say something, he took the papers from my hand.
“You’re a Diploma Holder?” he asked, as he looked at the details.
“Yes, any problem with that?” I asked back rudely, with a little tension that it may not create any problems now.
“No, no... Actually, this year we’ve got a very small number of lateral entries”, he replied politely looking at me, trying to figure out if something was wrong with me. By this statement I figured that there was probably something in my favor. “You haven’t completed the admission formalities yet. Why?” he asked again.
“Well sir, I don’t want to avail the bus facility and people here are asking me to bring an affidavit for that…” I replied in disappointment.
“You don’t need one. We’re asking one only from the students getting admission in first year”, he said with a smile.
“Ohh! Then you should have told me that earlier only… I was so bothered!” I said with a little anger and joy too.
“Actually we’re getting very small no. of diploma holders this year so may be no one would have noticed that you were a diploma holder and so would have asked you to bring affidavit. Anyways, give me your papers and I’ll complete the procedure”, he said and took my admission form, signed at certain places in it, and handled back the form to me.
“It’s complete?? The admission formalities…?” I asked anxiously.
“Almost!” he said.
“Almost..? And what does that mean exactly?” I put up another question.
“It means that though now you’re a student of CS (2nd year) but you’ve not been allotted a section yet. You will have to go to the HOD (Head of department) of your department now…”, and after a pause of thought, “…I guess H.O.D. won’t be there in his cabin now as it’s already 02.30 pm. I’d suggest you to come tomorrow. You can join your classes too from tomorrow onwards!” he said, informing me.
“Ohkay. Thank you so much, Sir! You lightened my tension. By the way, where shall I get my uniform and other stuff? Their charge is included in the fee, I guess!” I asked, after showing a little gratitude to him in thanks.
“That isn’t my business, boy! Still, since I know, I can tell you. Go to room number 119 for measurements of uniform. You will get your books from the book bank in the library but it closes by 02.00 p.m. so you’ll have to go tomorrow there”, he said. “Now move fast or else you’ll miss the measurements too!” He added, warning me.
“Oh, thank you, Sir”, I thanked him and rushed towards the gate.
“Yes?” asked one of the two men sitting in Room 119 as I reached there.
To reach this point I had to wait for complete 15 minutes in the burning sun due to the long line out there.
“I’m a lateral entry here, Sir, and I want to have my uniform”, I said, this time specially mentioning the term lateral entry so that no mess rises up again.
“Okay. Give your measurement and keep visiting us. You’ll get your uniform when it’ll be ready”, he said and asked me to come forward for measurement.
After giving measurements, I came back to the central lobby and sat on a chair there. I thought if something was left to do but then I looked at my watch and it was already showing 03.00 p.m. I was tired and hungry and since I didn’t have eaten anything since morning, I quit the thought of going for anything else other than home.
First day of Class:
I was standing before the gate of the HOD’s cabin right at 10.00 am. But to do this, I had to wake up early at 8.00 am in the morning against my usual schedule, iron my clothes, and even searching the HOD’s cabin wasn’t an easy task too when there were a thousand mischievous students, leading me to a wrong person every time if I asked any one of them, “Could you tell me where is the cabin of HOD of CS Department?..”
“May I come in, Sir?” I knocked on the door and asked the man sitting behind the table in the cabin saying “Head of Department, Computer Science and Engineering Department”.
“Yes”, he said, breaking the conversation with the faculty (probably) sitting before him and said in an asking tone, “Yes?”
“I’m a new admission in CS 2nd year, Sir. I was asked to visit you for the allotment of a section to me”, I replied in full confidence, handling him my admission form. After my past incident about the bus facility issue, I was now quite careful since then about my words. I never forgot to mention specially the ‘2nd year’ or ‘lateral entry’ term wherever required.
“Oh, lateral entry?” he said, in the same kind of surprise that I had encountered yesterday with the faculty getting me done the admission formalities, after looking at my admission form. Then, he tore out a page from his diary (and this obviously surprised me) and wrote something on the paper. The only thing I could recognize him doing was drawing his big signature over the paper. After that, he handed me the paper and got busy in his talk again with the faculty.
“Now…?” I asked curiously after wondering for a while if he were to say something.
“Now what..?” he asked in surprise, and seeing the confused expression on my face, he said, “Go and get to your class. You’ve already missed a lecture!”
“Which room, by the way, Sir?” I asked him before leaving his cabin.
“Room number 239, Section A, CS 2nd year”, he replied getting back into his business again.
“Thank you sir”, I said and left the room.
It took me complete ten minutes to make up my mind whether I should enter the class or not and to gather the courage to enter my class.
“May I come in, Sir?” I asked to the teacher in the class, the same usual question which probably I had asked for a hundred times since I had been to this college for the first time. The teacher, in gray-white shirt and black pant looked like some government Inter college teacher, was probably dictating notes to the students as I broke his continuity. Everyone sitting in the class turned back towards me as the door was in the back side of the class and I felt so awkward.
“Yes?” he replied in a questioning manner.
I didn’t say anything; rather I just entered the room and handed over to him the slip H.O.D. had given me. He read it and after he was done reading it he gave me a look and asked me to find a seat at one of the empty benches at the back, handling over the slip back to me. I sat on one of the benches at the back seat where another single student was sitting.
“Hi, I’m Armaan”, I said to him whispering, giving him a smile.
He looked at me from top to bottom like he had seen something odd, and then replied simply, “I’m Ishan”, and got busy in his work again. I felt like I was something unwanted here.
“Which lecture is this?” I whispered again, as the teacher had begun his dictation again.
“ITIM”, he replied.
“IT… what?” I asked as I couldn’t get the name clearly.
“Information Technology and Its Management.. ITIM. Narayan Sir would screw me if he found us talking so please don’t make me talk. I’d suggest you either to keep quiet and take down the notes he is giving”, Ishan replied quite rudely.
“Ohkay, sorry bro”, I said and took out the register from my bag and started noting down the dictation Mr. Narayan Sir (I guessed this name from Ishan’s reply) was giving. After a while, Narayan Sir started taking attendance and asked me to show him the slip I had. He noted down my name in his register and informed me that I had already missed his two lectures. In a while, he left and now everyone turned towards me.
“Hey, what’s your name?”, “where have you come from?”, “B. Sc.?” and more similar questions began to hit me. Everyone was curious to know about me as Narayan Sir had told the class only that I was a new admission. And I guess this wasn’t enough for them.
I had always hated this; being the focus of the population, though there was a fun in it. I was wondering whom to answer as everyone was surrounding me and putting up his own question. I didn’t have even a complete look of the class yet!
“Hey, come here…” a loud voice came from behind the crowd surrounding me. I stood up from my seat to see as who was it who was ordering me! It was a guy sitting in the middle on the second last bench in the middle row. It was in front of me in cross direction to the right as I was sitting on the last bench.
“Bring your bag along with you...” he said to me, as I stepped towards him. I took my bag like an obedient student and went to his seat. Since I had got admitted in 2nd year directly, I had no fear of ragging, but still I was being precautious so as not to mess up with anyone. That was why I was acting so obediently.
“Hi, I’m Giri. Giridhar Vats”, the boy said to me, bringing forward his hand to shake hands with me. As I sat on his bench, another guy came to my left. One more was sitting on Giri’s right. Ishan too joined us on that bench the very moment.
“Hello, I’m Armaan. Armaan Ali”, I said, shaking hands with him and introduced myself with a smile.
“So... you’re a lateral entry, right? B. Sc.?” he asked.
“Well, quite correct but not B. Sc. Actually, I’m a Diploma Holder”, I replied again with smile.
“...and you’ve come from?”, he asked again.
“Well, if you’re asking about my studies, I’ve completed my Diploma in Computer Engineering from AMU, Aligarh”, I replied. And then they asked a lot of questions about my native land, residence, family and all, while all the others were listening to us surrounding in a circle.
“Yes, what’s going over there?” we were interrupted by a male voice in 40s. Everyone rushed back to their seats.
“This is Salim Sir, our NT teacher”, Giri told me.
“NT?” I asked.
“Numerical Techniques... Grandfather of mathematics”, Ishan spoke this time, giving a smile. I wondered if something was wrong with him earlier.
“We still gonna study math??” I asked in double exclamation this time with a huge disappointment. None of them replied this time but both of them just stared for a moment at me like I had asked a wrong question. “What?” I said, with a bit of confusion, for the way they both were looking at me, and then we all three gradually sat down without any further questions.
“By the way, it’s not just math, it’s Numerical techniques”, Ishan said to me, like coining something new and I gave him a sheepish smile like I had found some really good cousin of mathematics.
“You’re new admission?” Salim sir asked to me, after staring at me for a while (probably he guessed that just from my civil uniform as all the others were in uniform) and then turning back to the black board with his book.
“Yes sir”, I was confused with a question asked so randomly, and I couldn’t decide if to stand up or keep sitting while replying and I was like in the half way standing.
“Diploma holder?” he asked again without turning away from the board. I stood up finally, measuring the seriousness in his voice and replied in “yes” as the rest of the class sat silent, staring at me.
“Then listen Mr., no disturbance in my class or else you’ll be thrown out of my class. No whispering and no murmuring, got it?” he said rudely as he finally turned away from the board to me.
“Shit, I should had guessed he’s gonna scold me”, I said to myself, “very clear sir”, I replied in a low voice with my head hung down and sat down.
After the lecture was over, he started taking attendance. After he had finished doing that, I passed my slip over to him through my neighbors.
“Have you got mehdi on your foot so that you can’t walk up to here yourself and needed to pass it through them?” he commented, as he received the slip passed through my neighbors.
“F*** it”, I thought and rushed to him in less than a moment. “Sorry sir”, I apologized as I reached to him.
“So, you’re Armaan Ali, huh? Do one thing, visit me in my cabin”, he ordered me and after he had noted down my name in his register, he left, leaving me in great relief.
“Is every teacher out here is so f… I mean, isn’t there any politeness in teachers here?” I was about to use the word ‘f’ but then I controlled myself and asked it in a better and nice way.
“Well, brother, this is … god damn AEC!!!” Giri shouted that in a funny tone. “You’d barely find anything good and nice here. I’m sure you’ll get used to it very soon”, he added, patting on my shoulders.
“Hope so...” I said in disappointment, looking in his eyes.
“It’s Recess, by the way. You coming with us..?” he asked to me.
“Oh!..No, actually, I’m on fasting. You see, Ramzan is on and since I’m a muslim, I can’t cut on it. You go and enjoy your lunch”, I lied to them as I didn’t want to go out. Rather, I wanted to stay in the class and explore my new class.
“Ohkay, then catch you after recess” he said and left along with the other guys of the bench. I came and stood near window, looking out on the trucks going on the highway by the side of the college, and wondering if the next three years were going to be like this… sucking.
The next four lectures too passed like that. Every other teacher added more to the bad part of my mood. At the end of the day, we were friends; Me, Ishan and Giri. Actually, Ishan and Giri were from the same city, Orai. Also, Ishan was the second topper of the class for the last two semesters and through Giri, I became friends with Ishan too. On the way back to home, we kept talking about college, studies, teachers, hostel, mess, buses, and everything, except girls. Giri lived close to the college than me and Ishan so he had to drop earlier than us. After a while, I too dropped off the auto for my residence had arrived, leaving Ishan all alone in the auto.
“How was your day?” my brother asked me as soon as I entered the room.
“Just don’t ask about shit”, I said to him in a disappointing tone and jumped over the bed, throwing my bag on the couch.
As I lay down in my bed that night, a flash of thoughts from the day came rolling to my mind.
“So, this is it. That’s how the life is at engineering college”, I thought as I recalled of the day, and then suddenly, linking it to the faces of the faculties who had conspired the misfortunes of the day for me.
Narayan sir, as I recalled, wasn’t much interesting. His subject either was damn boring, the super bore ITIM.
“Are we gonna study subjects like management and relatives in engineering?” I questioned to myself, as I recalled of another subject, Industrial Psychology. “They’re all related t engineering somehow”, I answered to myself.
Dr. Annapurna Gupta Ma’am, who taught Industrial Psychology, as I recalled was a very nice teacher. She had her doctorate in Psychology and so it was damn easy for her to handle those stupid guys of my class. She possessed such a confidence in herself and she didn’t even open the book to dictate topics to us.
Suddenly, image of Salim Sir flashed in my mind. You must be thinking I would call him a rude teacher, but no, he was not. When I had gone to meet him in person in his cabin, later in the day, he had talked to me very nicely. He had asked everything about me, questions ranging from where I came from to what teachers I had at AMU. I guessed this affection in him had come out just out of the fact that I was a muslim (like him) and that too from AMU. “I wish he reflects his affection in my marks”, I had wished.
No more thoughts about the teachers were left as we had no more lectures in the day due to non allotment of faculties. It was then, so, followed by the thoughts about the architecture of the college.
Built in 1998, college was quite beautiful and had outstanding architectural design. I loved the college campus and the greenery around. I just hated the fact that it lied outside the city, around 20 km away from the famous Bhagwan talkies zing.
I couldn’t remember more from the day other than the faces of the numerous guys had met in the day, while walking along with Giridhar and Ishan. Most of the people whom Giridhar knew was kind of losers and were masters of the mess and I hated being introduced to them. Still, I did comply with the situation. Ishan, though, had me introduced to some of the nice guys who seemed studious from their faces from other the other section and branches too.
As the thoughts walked over to the entity ‘girls’, a streak of pain pinched into my heart with a name so familier, Sara.
“Not today, Sara. Good night”, I whispered and slept back on my bed, wishing myself a great day ahead.
3: The First Three Girls
I was before time to college next day. And coincidently, I found Giri and Ishan at the gate only. We wished ‘good morning’ to each other and entered the college, chatting and laughing. I could clearly see from the corners of my eyes that Mr. Balveer, the gatekeeper, was staring at me, while I passed from him, on my being in Giri’s company. We moved towards our classroom giving him ‘I don’t care, b****’ attitude.
There were very few boys in the class; most of the people present in the class were girls. However, we kept our bags at the same old bench we were sitting on the previous day and came to the back side of the class for gossiping. Our class was actually a ‘media center’ (kind of auditorium) so it was built in the shape of stairs; the entry and exit gates being in the last and at the top most stairs. So, we being at the back were able to see everyone from there.
As soon as we reached to the window at the back of the class, every guy in the class rushed towards us, curious to know about the new chicken (me).
While we were talking, Giri said to me, “Look at the guy who is approaching towards us. He is Bhaskar. I don’t really like that guy for he is too selfish and is out of my league. I’d suggest you too to keep away from him,” pointing a guy in specs and with French-cut beard.
I found him decent from looks and so I replied him back, “Well, okay, but please, no one tells me what to do so please let me choose myself whom I’ve to talk to and whom not to. Also, I’d like to judge him myself on my scale of experience rather than using public opinion”. Giri gave me such a dirty look to me on this very statement like that I had spit on him!
“Hi, I’m Bhaskar”, the guy had reached to us by now and he introduced himself, bringing forward his hands to shake with me.
“Hello, I’m Armaan, Armaan Ali. Good Morning”, I replied. He too wished me back and then began the usual trend of questionnaire. He asked me about my native land, degrees held by me, and many more questions, and I must mention, he was quite decent in his talk. I wondered why actually Giri didn’t like him!
“If you need anything, come straight to me without any hesitation”, he offered to me formally and I replied him with a smile. Suddenly he asked, “Aren’t you on facebook?” I felt quite good to hear that at least someone here uses a social networking site!
“Well, of course I am. I am everywhere. It is just that you won’t find me, I’m always invisible”, I winked at him, “Give me your id, I’ll add you there as you wouldn’t find me there”, I added.
“Well, it’s bhasker.aec on facebook”, he told me. I opened facebook on my mobile and went straight to his profile by entering his id in the address bar.
“You look smart here, than you look normally”, I said to him in a kidding way, after I had sent him friend request. “You’re the first friend in my College Friends list”, I said to him, as I had created a new list now named as ‘College Friends’ in my account.
“Prince Charming! Ahan, is that you?” Bhasker asked in surprise, looking at the screen of his mobile.
“Yea… you seem to be surprised. Don’t be. That fake name is just to avoid my relatives here, specially my dad. Rest of the information is true to my knowledge and belief”, I replied, with a wink. Before he could reply to me, a teacher entered in the class and we all rushed to our respective seats.
It was a lady faculty, and wearing tight salwar-kameez in dark ocean blue color with colorful carvings on her dress, she looked so hot! Though she was a little dark in complexion (like Bipasha Basu), it was only adding to her looks.
“OMG! If such would be our faculties, I’m sure I’m gonna flunk for I couldn’t concentrate on studies other than staring at her!” I whispered to Giri with a smile.
“She’s new here, I guess”, he said, adding, “Never seen her around in the campus”, and getting a little funny in his tone, he said, “Seek my permission before you look at such teachers in our campus as you’re new here and we’re the deserving ones prior to you”, and we both broke into laughter.
“Yes, you there, what’s your problem? Why are you both laughing?” She had caught us both laughing and she asked me by pointing by her fingers, “Where’s your uniform too? You’re not in uniform either!”
I stood up, little scared, getting caught doing some mischief on my first days at college, but before I could reply, Giri pushed my hand and stood up, “Well, actually Ma’am, we were wondering that you seemed to be new to college? Never seen such a beautiful and nice teacher in our college till date”, he said, adding the butter in his words, or I’d say it was dirt covered under decency, and for sure it worked! But still, his voice was kind of rough and with his attitude and way of speaking like one of those characters in the game Mafia Series, he was no less than the gang leader of our class.
“I didn’t ask you Mr…!” she said, leaving her statement in complete for him to answer with his name.
“Giri, Ma’am. I’m Giridhar Vats”, Giridhar said, with a smile.
“Whatever. I don’t want such mischief in my class and I won’t tolerate it next time”, though she said it strictly, I could still measure the softness in her voice due to lack of confidence.
After a while, she took a look of the class from one end to another, looking into every eye staring her and continued, “My name is Divyanshi Agarwal and I’m your new teacher for the course of ITIM”, she declared.
“What? Won’t Narayan sir teach us anymore?” many students asked together in confusion.
“No, I’ve been replaced with Narayan sir for this course because Narayan sir has already got too many lectures. He’s busy so I’ll be teaching you this subject. However, he’ll still teach you Data Structures”, she said, informing us. I don’t know about others, but I felt happy to see her because ITIM was already a quite boring subject, Narayan sir only added more to the boredom. But now, we had at least one thing amusing to concentrate on!
“Have you taught anywhere else, Ma’am, prior to coming to AEC?” asked one of the girls sitting in the middle row, in right-cross to our back. Though the question was quite straight forward and simple, I knew it would make ma’am feel insulted because it was like asking her qualifications. And for students of UPTU, they were not supposed to ask questions.
“No. I haven’t taught anywhere else prior to coming to this college, but however, I should tell you that I have been the topper of IT branch from BMAS college (it was the sister concern of our college, another college associated to the same group to which our college was associated; SGI. It was just a kilometer away from our college). I completed my graduation this very year and got placed here”, she said, feeling proud of her achievements. Before anyone else could ask more questions, she said, “Now let’s concentrate on studies please”.
“Who is she?” I asked Giri, pointing to the girl in frameless specs in the cross row behind us in the right hand side; the same girl who had popped up the preceding question to Divyanshi Ma’am.
“Who..?” asked Giri, turning in the direction my eyes were pointing in, and looking at the subject of my iris, he said, “She? She’s Deepti, She’s a nice girl, but why are you asking that?” he popped the question.
The girl, Deepti, as I analyzed in a glance, looked pretty by face. She had a pretty fair complexion, a sharp chin with a round face, beautiful pink lips and sparkling eyes beneath that frameless spectacle of her. In her own attitude of representation when she moved her head with her hairs loosely held and her hands moving here and there with every time she counting parameters on her fingers, she gave look of more a management student than that of an engineering one. And yes, had I been single, maybe I would have fallen for her.
Usually, when a boy enquires about some girl to another boy, there is considered to be some issue going on as the reason of interest of that guy in some specific girl is assumed to be something non-common.
“Nothing… as such... I just guessed she has got a lot of attitude. And the way she talks, I’d suggest her to change her stream to Management; she’s wasting her time in doing Engineering”, I said, turning back to him.
“Well, I don’t think so… about your attitude thing. Though she is kind of reserved, but she’s good. She has always been nice to me”, he replied in disagreement.
“Whatever. I guessed that from her way of speech and the way she throws her hands while asking a single question… Anyways, now let’s concentrate”, I said and switched off the discussion.
Divyanshi ma’am taught quite well, starting with introductory topics, moving to the other ones from looking into the syllabus, and at times I and a few other guys and gals kept back asking her questions from within the text. I had been asking a lot of questions because I was well acquainted with the subject and I wanted to make a good impression on teachers. She answered some of the questions quite straight, and for some others, she had to look into the book, while the questions which screwed her knowledge made her give a confused expression.
With the end of the lecture, I had made an impression of Mr. Database by asking a lot of questions, and Ma’am had asked my name twice for which I had to say, “Umm… sorry ma’am, but it’s Armaan Ali, call me Ami”, to say to me, “Look Ami, don’t ask useless questions. I guess it’s out of syllabus. Anyways, since you’ve asked, I’ll try clearing your doubts”. She did satisfy me up to a point with her answer-cum-assumptions but I felt happy for she had the knowledge I was wondering for. And after all, she was a cute teacher!
Next lecture was of Narayan Sir. He started with the third topic of unit 1st; Arrays. Earlier I didn’t know anything about the subject Data Structures when I had heard it’s name, but when I discovered that it was all about C- related concepts (C is a programming language; for those who don’t know it), I said to Giridhar, “I can bet I can screw this man in this subject with my questions. Not like I’m patting my back, but I’m too good in C”.
Ishan was too listening to this and he said, “Good to hear that, man, or I was wondering if you’re good at just sarcasm!”
This was less an appraisal and more a comment to me so I replied to him, “Well, for the first time you’ve said something for me so I’ll take it as complement, but I’m sure I’ll give you good competition in C in near future if you too are good at it”, I winked to add fun to my words rather than jealousy, “or maybe we can together screw people!” I added, and we three gave all together a hug with smiles.
While Narayan sir was teaching us about keys, he gave a definition which confused me about the concept of ‘primary key’, so I stood up and asked him, “Sir, if this is the definition for key, then how do we define primary key?”
I guess he took that question as me challenging his knowledge, and hence he said to me very rudely, “Listen, learn only what you are being taught, and don’t bother me with your stupid questions. Got it?”
“Yes sir..” I said, little surprised with his reply, and sat down, cursing him for using such a language with me. Actually, since I belonged to Lucknow, the City of Nawab and Tehzeeb (Manners), I never liked the language of people of UP (west) as I figured it out to be kind of abusive. Though it was not for them, but for me, it was a total disgrace. That was what Narayan sir was using. I felt like to stand up again and ask him to apologize for I hadn’t asked anything dirty! But anyways, I controlled my emotions and thought that I’ll show it to him through my intelligence.
As we moved on to topics, Ms. Deepti stood up several times, asking common sense questions (just fo