Here’s a story I wrote for the college magazine :
“Have you reached college?? Has the class started?”. . “Don’t know..I am stuck at Nehru Place..”.
Next day – “Class shuru ho gai kya?? Yaar i woke up late today..”. . . “Don’t you think I am the wrong person to ask that question?? I am at Chirag Delhi flyover.. :-/ .”
Next week – “When you’re a bit more late for class than you usually are, you initially get a bit nervous. But a massive traffic jam on your way makes it almost certain that you are going to miss the 1st lecture. . Maybe even the 2nd. And then, you just sit back, relax, and enjoy the weather!! That’s exactly what I am doing right now..!!”
These are some of the conversations between my friend Andy and me, which took place via text messages almost every day before class. As is obvious, both of us were perennial latecomers and eventually backbenchers; not by choice, but due to lack of options. Most of the time we wouldn’t be allowed into class, and we would sit outside, on the staircase landing, chatting. All this continued, until one day. . .
There are two columns of benches in our class, each bench capable of accommodating four persons (though most of the time I would ask my friends to squeeze in and make room for me, when I wouldn’t get a seat). Girls would sit in the first half of the left column; not because they would all turn up at the same time to grab those seats, but simply because the boys would leave them vacant (maybe) out of courtesy. The rest of the seats would be occupied by boys.
There were some questions in my mind, and probably in the mind of every other boy as well; for instance, how was it that girls managed to top the exams each time? How was it that they ALWAYS got more marks – in assignments, practical files and projects? Where were we lacking? But alas, neither me, nor probably anyone else was bothered enough to look for answers.
I was running late for class – as usual – but the stakes were higher than just missing the 1st lecture. We were supposed to submit our assignments, and sir had already made it pretty clear, that all latecomers will not be allowed in, and their assignments would not be accepted. The saying “Old habits die hard” seemed to hold more relevance. I was fifteen minutes late. The chance to submit the assignment was gone. It was particularly displeasing, because this was one assignment that I had really worked hard upon; working late for a few days to study the topic and finally sitting up till 3 am to write it down the previous night. All wasted, just because of a silly reason – not reaching class on time.
It was one of those moments when you feel, that had this all been a movie, the camera would be revolving around you – with some slow music (violins) playing in the background – to make the scene look more melodramatic.
I was shattered to the core. What had I done to myself? Was I the same boy who never got late in school? Things were definitely not going right. It was time to change things; to change myself. It was the time for a REVOLUTION. . . .
It was 9:02:35 am when I set foot in college the next day – yes, I did note even the seconds – and even after trying really hard, I was still 2 minutes 35 seconds late! But it was considerably better than the usual 20 to 30 minutes.
I hurried up the steps, and reached class before the teacher, only to the shock of all my classmates. Their eyes seemed wider than they usually are, and Shaurya said, “Tu time par kaise aa gaya? Aj suraj nikla hai ke nahi?!” (“How come you’re not late today??”). I just smiled in reply; I had nothing to say. That day I was unusually attentive in class. I asked questions, I made detailed notes. My friends watched in shocked awe – they had to – after all, I was sitting on the first bench; something I hadn’t done since 3rd standard, unless of course asked to do so by the teacher as part of a punishment.
This time, the camera revolved again, but the music was now much more cheerful; the violins were replaced by guitars, keyboards and drums; and I had a victorious smile on my face!
Then started the melodrama. It was my friend – Andy, with an angry look on his face, and “Dost dost na raha” playing in the background. He clearly expressed his discontent about all that had happened. He had to – after all, he had lost a partner in crime! But with a little consoling, he too was aboard the revolution that I had initiated.
Next day, I entered class at 8:58:20 am, and some more accolades followed. As expected, Andy too was on time! Confetti fell, cheerful music played, as we shook hands, grinning ear to ear!
But the revolution did not stop at Andy and me. It spread somewhat like plague did in the 90’s, and soon enough, more than half the boys were ‘infected’. They would turn up early; grab all the front rows, so that the girls were left with no option but to sit at the back; paid attention in class and submitted their assignments on time!
It was a COUP, a Revolution. I can imagine what the girls might have felt, and I do empathize with them. They had been dethroned.
A week later: excerpts from a text message conversation between two girls in my class–
Naina – “Have you reached college?? I am late. . I think I’ll miss the class today. .”
Tanya – “Not even close!! I am stuck at a jam at Kalindi Kunj”!!