Last week I went back to my old college again, a place that had not seen me for the past two years even though I had made promises in my head to go there, countless times and had abandoned them with the same alacrity with which I had made them. As we move forwards in our life, I guess, it’s okay to take a break sometimes, a little pause and look backwards towards all that we have accomplished, ponder upon our failures, strengthen our belief in our dreams and rekindle old passions or hobbies instead of just rushing with the flow and going forward aimlessly, doing things just because others are doing it or it’s the way in which one can earn the most.
The whole journey from the beginning to the end was like a complete flashback of all the long-buried memories in my head, re-playing and unfolding itself like the whorls of a new bud opening into a flower and revealing all the brightness within. Rushing to line up for tickets, like everywhere it is in India, people jostling each other and calling out to the ticket collector to get seats first (I still have absolutely no idea why people do this, the bus always leaves at the same time). The different types of people you get to see in the bus, the old babaji with a beaded necklace, chanting away with his eyes closed, forehead tinged with a dash of vermilion, the colorful sari lady, preening herself continuously, fussing with her pallu and shushing her little boy, a dirty urchin with runny nose who refuses to sit still and throws a tantrum for everything the hawker brings onto the bus, the middle-aged office man who is continuously on the phone, barking orders, trying to look important and flashing red-brown stained teeth owing to the continuous paan chewing and the pervert who sits exactly diagonally across and keeps staring no matter what (you get to see these people every time while travelling, be it a bus or train) . Then you have to walk down an old rickety broken-down bridge that leads to the launch (people jostling you again to get in first, some things never change!). You stand on the edge, as the launch sails into the Ganges, feel the cold river breeze blowing in your face and there is a growing sense of apprehension (will it still be the same? Will the old professors recognize me? Will I have the same sense of joy and belonging as I had 3-4 years ago?). Then finally is the last bus ride that leads to the college, the rough driver driving like a maniac, meandering to skip animals and angry men on bicycles, through narrow dusty roads, with the lush green fields whizzing by and the hot sticky weather. I sit by a window and stare at the numerous village mud houses passing by, the dirty mud covered kids playing with tyres or chasing after a runaway hen, the women chattering among themselves while drying out spices in the sun or walking to the well with a pot balanced on one hip and a baby on the other. A true Indian rustic scene, full of simplicity and raw earthiness that fills me with happiness and contentment.
At last when I see the familiar twist of the college roof, I feel a twinge in my heart, of knowing and coming back to a place where I had spent a major part of my life, my first home away from home, a place that had thousands of memories attached. Wherever I look, I see old familiar places, the steps where we would sit and discuss secret crushes, the lawn where we would relax in the evening, the place where we would escape to snack between classes and so many more memories. And it’s not just the place that is responsible for all the memories; it’s the people you share them with. Looking out of the window with my friend, laughing away at the little things on the way, I realized friends and family are a major part of who you are and what you do. Staying isolated and alone in this big world is never an option. It is very important to take a break now and then, renew old connections and appreciate all the people in your life who have helped you to reach where you stand now.