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The story of a teen-aged girl in a new city who comes for her education and eventually lands up in a hostel, which she does not enjoy much in the first go.
“Every ending has a new beginning.”
She peeked out of the car window when hot wind almost lashed her in the face. Lashing of the wind seemed like an admonition to her big decision. While her father drove the car, Swara coiled in the backseat, experiencing mixed feelings. She was traveling from Dehradun to Delhi with her parents. She had got admission in her favorite college in Delhi University. Swara had burned the midnight oil to get good marks, not only because she loved to study but good grades were her ticket to deliverance from home, strict discipline and small town people. She was quite sure of embarking on a new journey and exploring herself until now when she was actually standing on its threshold.
Swara was the queen of her pack in school but now she was heading towards the big city as an anonymous. Though her parents were still there with her, she had already started missing them. She was aware of hostel food being so grotesque that it needs to be shoved down the throat. She realized that she had no idea of how to do laundry or wash the utensils. “Why did mumma spoil me so much?” she pondered. “She didn’t. Whenever she insisted me to help her in chores, I always refused to volunteer” a voice somewhere from inside reprimanded her.
Swara was still decluttering the thoughts in her head when the car stopped at the hostel gate. Ananya Girls Hostel, the big board shouted out loud the name of her temporary home. It was a three storied building, accommodating approximately 250 girls. Swara twitched her nose, a foul smell was emanating from a nearby sewer and unfortunately that foul smelling sewer was the landmark of the hostel.
A tall and stout man was sitting at the reception table, donning a lackadaisical expression on his face. He seemed like the type of man you would automatically start weighing your every word when talking to him. He turned out to be the owner of the hostel. ‘BUMMER’ she screamed in her head. This isn’t a good beginning.
Swara and her parents were directed towards her room. She was aghast at the sight. Two single beds were barely fitting in the corners of this pigeonhole. A steel almirah was squeezed in another corner that was meant for two persons’ use. There was no window in the room, just the main door that opened to the corridor. ‘Welcome to the hostel life, beta!’ her dad smirked.
It was time for her parents to leave. Swara wanted to be with them yet away from the rules and discipline they imposed on her. While her father was raising the car glass, she could see him holding back tears but momma couldn’t succeed in hiding them. She immediately got out of the car and hugged Swara tightly. Tears welled up in their eyes and started streaming down as they bid adieu to each other. “Don’t go momma, please. Or take me back” Swara pleaded. “You’ll be fine Swara, you are a strong girl. Just remember, this world is not like how we want it to be. There will be people with different opinions, people who you may not agree to, but don’t be either too stubborn or too docile. Find your way out. Don’t let yourself down, ever.” Mumma planted an affectionate kiss on Swara’s forehead and sat back in car. She stood there while the car zoomed past the hostel and soon vanished from her eyesight.
*All the fucchas (colloquial term for first year bachchas) were asked to reach terrace sharp at 9.30 pm after dinner. Ragging! They were preparing themselves for the impending horror. They were ordered to anoint their hair and tie them in two pleats. Upon reaching, they were asked to sit on the floor while the seniors would sit on chairs, subtly indicating their superiority.
One by one, every fuccha would give her introduction to the seniors. As expected, every name or surname was mocked by them.
One by one, every fuccha would give her introduction to the seniors. As expected, every name or surname was mocked by them. ‘My name is Swara Sharma’ exclaimed Swara trying to hide her nervousness. ‘Swara Sharma, thoda sharma ke toh dikhao?’ one of them blurted. She frowned at the remark. But what came next was nothing less than a horror for her. Swara was asked to sing, ‘BUMMER’ she screamed again in her head.
She knew that even a toad could sing better than her. Swara could have traded it with jumping off the building but sensing her fear, seniors were adamant on her singing a song. She gathered courage and started singing ‘Awara bhawre jo haule haule gaayen.’ She could hear sniggers coming from seniors as well as from fuchhas. Neither she could stop singing nor could she stop others’ laughing. The terrace thundered with laughter. She felt so embarrassed that her breakdown seemed inevitable. Suddenly, a girl rose up and volunteered to dance on Swara’s song. Swara felt a lump in her throat. How much more can she endure? The girl started dancing, and to every one’s surprise her dance was way funnier and terrible than Swara’s singing. While others were reveling in the crazy singing-dance performance, Swara wondered what made her volunteer to dance. In the midst of her twirling, she winked at Swara. The secret gesture was only meant for Swara. In a matter of seconds, Swara understood that it was an effort of her to distract the audience from Swara’s singing to something more dreadful. Swara breathed a sigh of relief. My name is ‘Palak Singh’, she gave her introduction. ‘Palak tum paalak bahut khaati ho kya?’ The unrelenting seniors again burst into laughing. Amidst the laughter, they looked at each other and Swara instantly knew, she has made her first friend in hostel.
Cover image via Shutterstock
Hailing from the foothills of Himalayas, Isha presently works in an advertising agency in Mumbai.
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