Monday, July 20, 2009

beginning of the close & Hema and Kaushik.

All the while I was getting drenched in the heavy downpour, my umbrella handed out to friends who didn't want to get soaked up,I was half thinking about it-thinking how would I put all this up in the blog.These thoughts however were ephemeral. Why? Because I was too busy jumping around splashing water all over my friends,that's why. :D

This is the first time I'm putting a blog title that in fact is a combination of two titles which were meant to be used for two different posts.The reason I'm acting like the public transport system of india-accommodating more than there's place for- is because I'm hell tired today, there are angry red rashes on my palms as a result of being subjected to incessant rains for about two extremely wet hours. And also because I desperately want to write about both of these and know that if I defer either one, it would remain in the drafts indefinitely just like those two unfinished posts that have been housed in there for more than a month. *yes,this post is going to be a painfully long one-long,even by my standards!*

I begin with the first one- beginning of the close.

Now, I really didn't want to grumble about college on the very first day of the last year. But they don't even seem put an effort to placate me,do they? By the time I was in my fourth semester, our department had got a brand new block.We were happy to move out of our old block. The new block was so beautiful that for one full semster we had cut ourselves out from the rest of the college. No frolicking around in the canteen block, no wandering about the rest of the blocks.We just stayed where we were,the place that made us happy! When I was in my fifth semester, one fine day it was declared that the iit-g'nagar would start functioning from our college till their campus gets fully constucted. We were excited.They arrived.We gave them a very warm welcome. All this plummeted when we were forced to give them our beautiful,airy classrooms with a superb view of the surrounds, compromising with our old block.But that was OK,we thought-the proverbial atithi devo bhava being fixated in our minds. But what happened today has led to pure resentment. They have now added up a fresh batch of students for a new academic year. And because it is a-more mouths than you can feed-situation, they've now taken up our old block as well. And we have been shunned to the block that we used when we were freshers. It sucks! Being in that block sucks! I hated first year. I hate every memory attached to it. And being there is evoking that gloomy past. It doesn't affect others much. I'm told they loved the first year. But I feel asphyxiated there. And the fact that ec dept is closer by doesn't raise my spirits either.

Anyway,sitting in that classroom had its instant effects. Like dumb driven cattle-a la first years-we attended each and every lecture, even the bogus ones.Labs of course are the reason we go to college.It's tough.We've been out of practice for two full sems. Bunk the fruitless lectures,go to labs,spend the worthwhile time in doing your sem projects.It was much more filling and self-satisfying. But today, I sat down in the very first lecture trying to drink the words of a veteran who seemed to regard every moment sans questioning students as a moment wasted. And ironically enough discourages wrong answerings! He says wrong answers get him more irked than no answers at all-the only teacher in my hitherto student life to say so. So, with every passing second I felt more and more stupid. Other lectures and lab followed. A few new names in the time-table had me sighing-"yeah right! that's what we need. Some more fresh out of college when-will-they-grow-up lecturers..huh!"Still I didn't open my mouth to complain until I noticed my time-table, carefully for the first time. Only B2 batch- two saturdays a month :x .What in the name of the holy mother of lord am I supposed to have done?? And then the rains. I know I've been cribbing for a month but then nothing in excess is well received-even by people who asked for them. Getting playful for a while in the showers is one thing and- being stranded twenty kilometres away from your home in mud-spattered,waterlogged roads in the unending rains accompanied with the thuderstorms, no mode of transportation in your visual range, with vision that gets increasingly hazy and shivers that the chill rain water brings as an additional obnoxious gift-is quite the other. I don't know how I managed to reach,but I did.Oh, I hope this darned hair gets dried up soon. Oh,dear god four days till the weekend...sigh.

Hema and Kaushik-

When I was reading Unaccustomed Earth, I saw that the last story had an interestingly simple name-Hema and Kaushik. It fascinated me. But I always read books in a serial fashion-unless I'm cramming for uni exams. Within two days I was done with all except this one. And I didn't want to read this anymore. I'd read enough of Jhumpa Lahiri to guess that like all her stories,this too will have a tragic end. Not exactly tragic-but let's just say that she's a very very practical author and consequently all her characters are also very real and have very practical lives. Whatever be the case, I didn't want this one to have a 'practical' ending. I'm not exactly a sucker for romantic novels. To be honest, mushy talks make me very uncomfortable. I've never read a Mills and Boons or a Love Story, I don't intend to read them either. But due to all those fairy tales I read as a child, all those movies I watched as a teenager, one phrase has gotten cemented in my mindset-the one that I've come to regard as axiomatic- 'and they lived happily ever after.' This should not be violated, says my inner self. This condition must be life. Which is why I didn't have enough courage to disagree with myself. I thought it would shatter my inner belief.

How wrong I was.

For some stories need not have a happy ending. They need not have an ending at all. That real life is not quixotic, because it comprises of real people, not the ones who're spun out of the imagination of their creators and who live within the dreamy chapters of frayed old books. Perfect endings, I think are just a state of mind. We never exactly let our desires end,do we? What matters in the end is neither the beginning, nor the ending- only that lies within.

These two names in the book also bring out some of my personal memories out of the book.Very different memories-very different indeed. And yet they are of no consequence to me.

Hema, oops! Hema ma'am was our teacher at school. And she probably is one of the most beautiful woman I know. Tall, svelte with most carefully carved features and a skin that shone. Back then I hoped to grow up pretty like her. I wanted to wear my hair long and straight just like her. I wanted to wear all those lithe and lovely sarees that she wore with matching bindis. She was my first class teacher at school and also the first teacher who told me that my handwriting was very small-like little messed up ants crawling.Of course I improved-and all thanks to her my legible, flowing writing still stays even after the deterioration by the generation of ball pens. She chose me as a house captain for her house, and we won in almost every competition. But as I grew out of primary and secondary my association with her decreased great deal. After a while it was only Goodmorning/afternoon ma'am if I ever bumped into her in the corridors. And no contact after I left school. But I've been told that she no longer nurtures her long tresses which she has cut short like a crop. Nevermind her,I'm growing it. I still want it long and straight.

I met Kaushik on orkut almost three years ago. It was one of those initial phases when people used to accept friend requests from anyone just to increase their friend count. I didn't. I was rude in my 'about me' section. I had written something about how jaded I was with all those frandship requests and that I wouldn't humor any,if sent. He didn't send me any.Eventually of course I did,but after a lot many pleasant conversations. As I said those were the early days when people didn't wish to hide their profile visits. I assume he found me having visited his profile. I must say,I was intrigued-to the point of intimidation. I logged in one day to find his scrap. I replied back,and the conversation started streaming. It didn't take me long to notice that I was talking to a very chivalrous man. Someone who was very generous with his compliments, evidently very knowledgeable, exceptionally insightful and wrote an English of the most refined degree. I was not even eighteen then, already a decade younger than him. What I began to think of's very obvious,isn't it? Oh,how conscious I would get! I would take no less than five minutes to reply to his scraps. I weighed my words, rephrased sentences many times, checked for spelling errors/grammatical errors if any. I just didn't want to be imperfect.It was all meaningless though, because he was someone who would never make fun of anybody's mistakes,nor of their ignorance. He gave me a word called floccinaucinihilipilification(I hope I've got the spelling right) and asked me to find out it's meaning. I did, and asked him in return to find the meaning of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-and he did. I think the last time we scrapped was on the day of Saraswati puja, two and half years ago. That was also the first time he typed in Bengali instead of English. Something about theism, atheism. he didn't come online a long time after that. Then about a week before my first university exams, one of his friends scrapped to inform about his demise. It was then I came to know that he was battling blood cancer since long and was in his last stage. I was in as much loss of words then as I am now. Never once could I sense a tinge of sorrow-never. I don't visit his profile. I can't. All those R.I.P scraps flooding his scrapbook even now..scare me. I don't know what else to I wished I'd got to know him more.
Hmm..I think my longest post till now.


Pallavi S said...

I met Hema ma'am last month.And man,she looks radiant as ever.I have never met a more warm,a more easygoing and more compassionate teacher like her.And btw,she still has her long,lustrous hair.

Pallavi S said...

And Jhims,this is a really well written post.Have you ever seriously considered writing a book?

abhishek said...

a wonderful read again..
well m juss hanging on in college and juss tryin to figure out howwaz my first day of last yr...
@ the kaushik episode...
i would agree wid pallavi fr sure.

kaushal said...

A few new names in the time-table had me sighing-"yeah right! that's what we need. Some more fresh out of college when-will-they-grow-up lecturers..huh!"
I know these names :D :D
Thank God i aint one of 'em

neelanjana said...

Indeed? Let's go to school sometime to meet her when you're back here on your vacation.OK? And please bey,I don't think I'm worth such a compliment-that too from no one less than you!

Building block of penning a good book is reading a lot of well written works(says JKR).Which is why,if at all I ever write a book,you'll definitely feature in the acknowledgements. :)

I think I might have to eat my own words after all.We had this new teacher for the first time today and she's a LOT better than many of the permanent faculties.

kaushal said...

Does the name start with a K?

Pallavi S said...

I stand by what I said.Your books will be bestsellers.Mark my words.Write them with bold letters on your bedroom door or something..and dont forget to thank me when you receive your Pulitzer.
This is in reference to your comment on my "College Collage" post.Yes,I bunked classes.I did a lot of other things which I shouldn't have done.

abhishek said...

now thats..modest.!! u r alreading picking up the traits fr pulitzer..ahem ahem!!!
seriously... u make a wonderful read!
i think we passed out at a better time, u know Punjab university is going to make attendance online frm this session and ,reports will be forwarded to the parents!!

neelanjana said...

Kaushal: Absolutely ;)

Hahahahaha...Pulitzer!!! Hahahahaha :D

I'm not a modest person, man! I don't think modesty is a virtue. :)

abhishek said...

sitting in office i re-read most of ur posts,this is the best ive read in any blog i follow.!!

Anonymous said...

hey...reading this article gives me goosebumps...its the sheer tentalising nostalgia which i come out with everytime i read your posts...considering short-story-writing?i fee,that's yopur strentgh..the endings r so abrupt yet powerful!!the beginnings as modest as ever!!kudos:):)