Just Be – the Conundrum of a First-Year College Student

The four years of my high school I spent in studying as hard as I could….so that four years down the line I could get into my dream college, and I did. I topped my class, passed out with flying colours and a lot of accolades, and before I knew it, I was standing at the gates of the college I had always wanted to get in, doing the course I wanted.

I should have been happy — but instead I felt lost. Where do I go from here? I wasn’t the only one. A few of my friends reported feeling similar symptoms of lethargy. We had lost the drive, the one goal that had been guiding our life till now. I lost interest in studies. Everything felt worthless. I tried planning for my career after college, but the road beyond the three years of college seemed so dark and gloomy, so full of unexpected twists and unknown obstacles, that thinking about it gave me goosebumps and panic attacks. I was almost in the midst of an existential crisis. I had spent most of my teenage life driving at breakneck speed towards this destination, and now that I was here, I had no idea where to go now.

It struck me quite suddenly, randomly out of the blue, but one day I just shook myself:

What are you so melancholic about? This is where you wanted to be for the last four years. You worked hard to reach here, and now that you are here, you are thinking of what to do when you leave?! 

Idiot! (Being me, I am allowed to call myself names 😛 ) Enjoy these three years to the fullest. Revel in the glory that is today. The rest will sort itself out, as and when it happens. Don’t think about that. 

Just BE!

It’s Been Too Long

With the cool evening breeze, a waft of nostalgia drifted into my room today. Fond reminiscences of my high school friends came to me, and I had a sudden desire to pen down all the memories that were crowding my mind, insisting that they be heard. This semblance at poetry was the result.

It’s been to long since I had an ice-cream with you in the cloy summer heat,
It’s been too long since the long walks home down the empty street,
It’s been too long since I laughed so hard that the nearby trees shook –
And the birds took to flight, all a-clamour,
Indignant at having their siesta disturbed.

It’s been too long since the last plate of shared pani-puri,
The last time we argued about the merits of Harry Potter over Twilight –
Like we were discussing the fate of the world!

It’s been too long since we shared songs over our phone’s Bluetooth,
Since we talked in hushed whispers under the librarian’s nose,
Since we giggled over certain words and talked about others in an awe-struck whisper,
Been too long since we discussed our futures on the playground swing!

Back then, life seemed so simple,
The future just within our reach,
All we needed was to pass the exam, and the world would be ours.
Grand dreams, solemn promises to never lose touch,
Promises fade, only memories don’t….

Been too long since I laid out the tale of my heartbreaks to you,
And you with a sympathizing air told me:
All boys are fools. You are better off alone“.

Been too long since we bunked of class,
Since riotous games, crazy dares and long hours of playing charades,
Been too long since our group studies, where we did everything but study.
The marks are inconsequential now when balanced against the memories.

The last laugh, the last cry still echo in my mind.
It’s been too long since, dear friend, we relived those memories in time.

7 Reasons as to why I am Hermione

All those who have been to High School that it is impossible to pass through high school without acquiring a collection of nicknames. One such nickname which I was often teased by was ‘Hermione’ (from the Harry Potter books), and my last birthday gift from one of my friends was a Hermione figurine-key chain. I didn’t mind this particular nickname as much as I minded some others. Hermione is the favourite character of 90% of all Harry Potter fans, and definitely falls on the list of Top 5 favourite characters of all others. This might also be due to Emma Watson’s good looks though – detailed research is needed.

Here is a list of my 7 quintessential behaviour (there are lots more, but my readers’ patience is limited and seven is THE MAGICAL NUMBER according to Harry Potter) that earned me the sobriquet:

1. I always had a tonne of books with me wherever I went. Throughout my school life, I have spent a majority of my recesses in the library, poring over literary volumes. My poor friends had to track me down there, if and when they wanted to talk to me, and converse with me under the pointed glares of the librarian and her constant shush-ing; and in all probability I would be so lost in the book that I wouldn’t be listening either. I have spent most of my P.T. periods leaning against the pillars in the balcony and reading books too. Even on those rare occasions when I could be dragged out into the playground, I would be found on the swing, reading a book. Inducing me to play, like inducing Hermione to fly on a broom, is an activity fraught with peril. I remember one fateful Games period when our coach forced me onto the pitch with a bat in hand and a runner in tow. All I had to do was hit the ball with the bat. The runner would get my team runs. The first ball was a wide. On the second, I swung the ball hard and hit — my runner hard on the forehead. My classmates left me in my books in peace from then on. 

2. My Hand was constantly up in class. I am not even kidding. Sometimes I would raise my hand even before the teacher had framed the question. It grew to a point where teachers started completing their questions with anyone else besides….yours truly…

3. My Marks were usually over the average. You know how there are some students whom you seek out after exams to ask their scores so that you can know exactly how well you have done? Yeah, I am one of those. 

4. I have lectured teachers. If there is one thing I can’t stand it is incompetent teachers and bad teaching. The next generation depends on teachers. They can’t afford to be lazy. The number of fights I have had over teachers who made mistakes in class would fill a volume. Some common topics were — Kolkata is on the sea side – it isn’t!; Ammonia cannot be liquid and other such errors. 

5. I do not care how I look. Why? It is simply time consuming. I may wear make-up and make an effort to brush my hair on special occasions say the Yule Ball but otherwise it is just too much effort. I would rather study or read books.

6. I have asked teachers for extra homework. I like studying. Seriously I do. It is fun to learn stuff, like exploring dimensions you never knew about. To me it is an adventure. So, yes, after finishing my class work and home assignments, I have spent time asking teachers for extra work. I have taken more subjects than anyone else too. While we were required to take only five papers for graduation, I insisted and took six.

7. I have fought hard for what I believe in, and always stood by my friends. Arts students should be allowed to study science subjects, and vice-versa. I fought so many battles over that with my principal, and finally became the only student to opt for subjects from both streams. And the extra effort I spent in studying for them were amply rewarded in my marks that only proved my point. You might be now wondering how such a nerdy, geeky person like me ever have friends – simple, I am also very loyal. You tell me a secret, no one else will ever hear of it. You need my help, you just need to ask. My friends mean a lot to me, and are perhaps the only people for whom I would keep the book aside.

I want my own Dream! So bad I’m gonna Scream!

highschoolmusicalLike almost all of my peers, I have had gone through the ‘High School Musical’ phase. Once upon a time, I was one of its biggest fans. I had it all – the posters, the pencil pouch and the stickers. But then slowly I outgrew High School Musical, until yesterday when while surfing through the channels I alighted on a channel showing the third movie ‘High School Musical: Senior Year’.

Having just finished my high school (2 weeks ago to be exact) and still clueless as to which course I want to pursue, much less which college I want to go to, I could empathize with the confusion the characters’ felt. But if I think about it the characters had it much better than I did. I mean, I am nowhere as gorgeous as Gabriela Montez, I definitely don’t have a boyfriend as hot as Troy Bolton (or any boyfriend for that matter)  and my voice is only useful in emptying an auditorium. I have not been called by any college to participate in their special summer program for meritorious students and my future plans do not consist of becoming the President or a basketball player or a Broadway actress. If they think they are confused, they should look at me! What I just want is to be happy in my future. I don’t care what course I pursue, as long as I am surrounded by good and loving friends and enough money to travel around the world, and buy some good books. That is my dream, my destination…….now if only I knew which road led to it. 

On The Last Day Of Exams………

The final bell rings, the examiner’s voice echoes through the room ‘Keep your pens down’ – it is almost like she is asking you to keep your gun down!

The paper is taken from your hands, its gone………..and that’s when you realize that its all over. All those months of studying, of frantically making notes (most of which you did not have time to read that morning), all those hours spent in class, the eternity you spent at the desk, mugging, learning – culminates into these last three hours, and it is all over!! You are free, free to do as you like.

The battle has ended, peace has returned, and though you don’t know whether you won or not, you are just happy that it is over, finally, wonderfully, gloriously, remarkably, unbelievably over.The long walk through the forest has ended, the long night is over, as is the steep climb, now all left to do is drop our burdens and breathe in the pure, serene air of freedom and wonder where next shall you journey, which college, which course, so on and so forth. But maybe before carrying forward, a backward glance at the road you have covered. True that there thorns and burrs all over it, but there were also roses. Roses, whose smell you are gonna miss.

Today my higher-secondary exams ended (stating it explicitly, just in case you didn’t get it), and as I stood in the school hallway with my fellow veterans, discussing the gruesome war and the fierce attacks of books, I remember the first time I walked in through these gates which I would be crossing today for the last time. Shy, inhibited, scared but determined I had entered, and leave a new person. Along the way, I have made wonderful friends, some rivals too, but then life is only half glass full. This will probably be the last time we all will stand together under the same roof. Everyone is all smiles today, discussing their vacation plans and exchanging promises to keep in touch. I will never sit in this classroom again; never again shall we sit in the library talking in hushed tones, under the baleful glare of the librarian, who every now and then hisses like a snake at you; no more standing in the long line at the canteen haggling with the lady behind the counter over change. I will not walk down these familiar paths again the days triumphs and regrets still fresh in our minds. The ice-cream parlor – the haunt of the school children, the stairs where we would hide after bunking classes. The jokes shared, the secrets confided, the stories, the gossip, the scandals, the guffaws in class and the elaborate lies woven to fool the teachers – all are now just a bouquet of nostalgia.

In the end, I don’t know what marks I will get or what college I will get into, and I don’t have the faintest whiff of where I am going to end up in life, but what I do know that I am going to miss these times. The biggest irony is till yesterday, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Now, I wish it could have continued forever………….

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