As soon as I graduated I realized that the fun-days may be over if I don’t make it to the next level, the university. By the way I graduated from Amar Singh College, like thousands of others who somehow disappear in the small world we know. In college I must have attended not more than two dozen classes, and I wasn’t meant to attend some. For example when we were in the final year we liked an English teacher, but she only taught first year. So we had to get in under false identities. One day the teacher asked what do you think about the ‘Old Man’. Back then I had read Hemingway two years before and had spared it good thought. So I said it was kind of metaphysical existence. The answer surprised her. I think she didn’t know what metaphysics was, neither did I. It is funny, all I remember about college is the canteen and sitting in a corner in the room where all day there was ping-pong going on. Don’t even remember those who were supposed to teach us. I guess that’s the thing they call ‘College’.
I was scared when I saw long lines of students picking up university test forms. It was like the whole state was appearing, and everyone made sure to pick up at least three, to appear in different tests. It was sort of increasing chances, working out probabilities. And the other thing was this scandal I always used to suspect. The officials were giving three forms for additional money and they knew the admission if anyone made it would be in a single stream. I tried to look through the counter window which always has this small arched opening through which you exchange crisp bank notes for dull green forms. What I was trying to look at was if the clerks were happy to see the dough. I guess it is everywhere, the suspicion that they are building houses and marrying their children on the money we pay for the forms.
I made it, and in all the tests in three streams. First the results were declared for a post graduation course in Sociology. I tried to imagine myself, a sociologist, reading these social theories and stuff that we already know but which some people like Durkheim, Spencer or Hegel had put together. Nothing interested in sociology in college, except some stuff on suicides, anomie or such things they call them. They say about these Japanese warriors, the samurais, that they used to kill themselves as a mark of respect because they couldn’t stand dishonour. I guess it was World War and defeated Japanese soldiers that these sociologists found good enough to be lab-rats for study. I didn’t like the whole idea, studying humans and society, so I didn’t got myself admitted. And I am sure those who think of themselves as elite in the field can never guess that this could be a reason for someone not enrolling.
Then the results for bachelor’s law course were declared. I was in and I rushed for admission. Well there was kind of a mini-scandal that happened during the admission which I am not interested to reveal at present. The faculty was conceited, I mean full of themselves and they made it sure to show it off even before you get admitted. I had to gulp that as I was not sure of the last test. After admission, I think my roll was 20 or 21, I attended a couple of classes. One of them was on ‘Contract and Torts’. That is the only academic thing I know about legal studies – that there is this thing called Contract and Tort. The lecture was like dead, and I desperately wanted to get out. That first impression about Law and legal studies was a bad one. So, I again began imagining. I figured out back then that the rest of the life was like – dead. The black suits that students were supposed to soon wear and the lawyers and the judges – it seemed like attending those English (foreign) funerals. I also thought about black color and it appeared as to remind of sin and crime. The criminals they wear all sorts of clothes, even fancy ones, but the law made it sure that its men stand out. How can you defend someone wearing a black suit, it is like the self in a person all the time does this talking that you are hiding all kind of stuff under the black shroud.
I was having all these weird thoughts, when the results of the last test were declared. Journalism. Saved. Freedom. Salvation. Hoopla... jeans and T-shirts here I come... to heck with black suits and crime and sin. As a matter of coincidence, the journalism department then was located at the back of Law department. For the rest of the two years I had to see Law first and then reach mine, the MERC. As I used to pass along it sometimes gave me the feeling that the Law department was looking at me with intense scorn, judging me as some kind of hippie or bohemian.
The next two years in MERC were like an extended picnic, except the last part when I felt an utter loser of a sort. Honest admission, I have never liked to attend any institution as much as I liked the Journalism department. Not that we used to do stuff like holding microphones and cameras, meeting people and celebrities and get their quotes. It was like doing nothing serious, just getting along in the company of the most eccentric kind. The department was as much eccentric as anyone of us, including faculty. It made no sense, yet it made all the sense in the world – free living.
Just one funny incident I happen to remember about that time: we had just joined, been there may be for two weeks or more. There was this old chest, kind of a cupboard in the classroom filled with rubbish. One day we decided to clean it and few of us took it out near those chinars at the back. The clerk in the office, more of a midget (no offense meant) saw us and came running. He told us, with a sense of hurry, to get the thing back in class. When we asked what was the matter, that we were trying to clean it up – he said he thought we were trying to steal and sell it, that he thought there was some kind of transport behind the chinar trees waiting to lift it. We laughed like hyenas, even today I laugh when I think about it. Imagine couple of college students dragging a seven by three feet cupboard, taller than any one, trying to sell it! That is where I belonged basically, an eccentric place where there were no rules at all. None.