20th May 2017
A lone standee banner stood next to the deserted canteen on the roof. Although the glass doors leading to the terrace tried their level best to adorn the place with the brightness of the Mumbai summer, the desolate canteen screamed of gloominess. The four of us stood there just reminiscing about our time in college. The staircase leading to the canteen had served as a seating area as well, and had been the place we frequented the most.
As we walked down the stairs after the last examination of our student life, we were reminded of the memories and experiences spanning over the past five years. Eight storeys replete with our stories. We walked past the labs and recollected the funny memories – writing assignments and the lab experiments on A4 sheets, completing the submissions in the nick of time, messing with the equipment (and annoying the hell out of our professors), and especially the viva sessions which bore great resemblance to stand-up comedy programs for our professors. Life as we know it was coming to an end, and the best way to celebrate it was taking a walk down the memory lane (quite literally).
As we walked down the stairs we saw our classrooms and recounted the craziness those walls have witnessed over the years. From sitting between two classmates (during the first lecture of one of the strictest professors) who had a twenty-minute-long argument about the merits of reading Chetan Bhagat novels, to fun soft skill sessions where we competed as teams trying to build tallest “buildings” with blocks, and working on a derivation for a couple of weeks only to realize that the basic assumptions were flawed (and then disregarding EVERYTHING and repeating the entire effort once again), to the annoying Smith Chart problems that we rarely solved correctly, and finally, presenting in front of external examiners the mess of a research project. It felt like a flashback button playing the best memories getting activated – the internships that lasted for weeks where we learnt to work hard and party harder, the placement sessions (speaking of which – the super competitive group discussions), the feeling of immense relief while signing the spot offer letter confirming my acceptance, and finally, dancing our asses off in our sarees during the farewell. In essence, the college experience had been like a mini-version of life replete with ups, downs and bittersweet memories. Although it was very much different than what I had imagined my college life would be, it was an experience I will treasure forever.
The end of our eight-storey journey brought us to the library (the heavenly place with infinite charging sockets where silence existed only in theory) and the girls lounge (which also doubled up as the meeting room for all the college events) where I learnt the most important lesson in life – “In the end, gravity gets us all.” The sound of the Dhol grew louder as we proceeded to the exit – the class representatives had organized a celebratory dance at the entrance to commemorate the end of our half-a-decade-long roller coaster ride.
After dancing our hearts out in the scorching May noon getting our clothes drenched in sweat (and a policeman ordering us to disperse immediately), we clicked photos together for the #OneLastTime. The most memorable one was the class selfie, with the class rep shouting “Okay Class!” for the last time.
As everyone scattered in different directions, I felt a void and a sense of numbness sink in – life as we know it had come to an end, and that our journeys are going to take us to different destinations. I sat in the rickshaw ride back home I felt empty, and finally FELT what Robert Lynd was trying to communicate in 12th grade – the reality weighed on me, like a hand laid on a top, making an end of the spinning, making an end of the music.