The street lamps zoomed past, illuminating the frame I held in my hands every time the light came through the cab window. In those split seconds, all the 83 faces, some trying to get into the frame, some confused over where to look and the rest smiling looked back at me and I couldn’t help but smile back. Hours ago that same smile flashed across my face as I handed over the yearbooks to those 83 at our farewell ceremony.
A year back when we hosted one, with the veiled advantage of getting our submissions done and skipping the defaulters’ punishment, I couldn’t help but picture my class at the occasion one year from then. And boy! We had to make a grand exit! So when the seniors vacated the classroom in hunt for their blackbooks, we sat down gulping the leftover pav bhaji and cupcakes as the college wore a deserted look at dusk.
“Let’s make a YearBook!”, I announced and had to undergo an ordeal of explaining what that damn thing meant!
“Umm, It’s a great idea but we wouldn’t be getting a lot of support from the class”
“Yeah, and see we are ready but for the whole class to come in? I think we are expecting more..”
I munched on my cupcake and heard the replies silently. A year later, with assistance from those present there and an unexpected support of the class, we unveiled our YearBook and delivered something which was unimaginable, even to me at some point in that one year!
I tucked the photo frame along with my copy of the book and looked outside. The driver now mounted over a flyover as the map instructed him. Mumbai at night sprawled before me with the high rises and pockets of shelters making up the spaces in the skyline.
“Saab ye Somaiya, Sion wala aur Vidyavihar mein jo hai, dono engineering ke hai kya?” the driver asked reluctantly and fixated his eyes on the rear view for my response.
“Ji haan, Vidyavihar wala purana hai, lekin dono ek trust ke under hai”
It was a deja vu moment!
This was 2018! A spring night of April.
Same thing was asked back in the monsoons of 2014 when I got the naya wala Somaiya as my degree destination.
The first day at college when there wasn’t a familiar face till the last day of exams when there isn’t a face that wasn’t familiar! Each semester had a different flavor to it. Each soul had a different story to tell. Days went by and years folded themselves till we were all at the end of our journey.
But what’s to gain from all this, I thought. Why ponder over these years that are behind us? The YearBook, the class photographs, mannequins? The car was picking up pace for now it entered the expressway and so were my thoughts. For me the answer was a simple one- To leave my mark behind, to have something etched onto the minds of people with whom I have spent these years that reminds of the great times of college life.
Yes, it would be an eerie thing to get up one morning, missing the early hour’s alarm, and realizing there’s no college today, not that you decide to bunk the 9am lecture but you are not needed to attend one. The benches at the back where you learnt the subtle art of writing assignments in the middle of the lectures won’t be needing your attendance. But that’ll be there for a day or two before we have a new schedule in place, and a new life to live on. College will reside then just on our drive folders, where an accidental stumble would open the doors of memories that those extravagant fests, those unforgettable IV nights, those anxious exam-days gave us! That’s going to stay there, time immemorial!
The road wore a deserted look when I alighted from the cab. It was quarter to midnight as I walked down home with dominoes of college pertinent emotions falling over one another. But one domino stood tall and upright amongst them! I’d become a better version of myself..
Nothing was planned! The admission happened because I had nothing else to do with my life back then, a paradoxical directionless bullseye this decision! Senseless thing? Surely it was! but there wasn’t much choice except to take whatever it was that I had and do something meaningful out of it. So far, so good I’d say. Sure college is ending as every good thing does, but it made me something I wouldn’t have imagined 4 years ago. Life will move on to new horizons but one thing will always stay till the very end of times- The people, the place, the phenomenon – K. J. Somaiya! Sionwala!