There have been movies made on it, books written on it and every now and then a kid writes about his or her own experience.
Some days ago, I got up from my seat, handed in my final paper and walked out of the room. Before doing so, I glanced up at my classmates most of whom were furiously scribbling away into their papers. A few glanced around, whispered among themselves and a few could only stare at their papers with glassy eyes.
I took it all in and realized that eventhough I may see this scene over and over again in my life no matter how many times I sit for an exam, this would be the last time I would see it played out by these characters.
The characters who made four years in a no-idea-how-I-landed-up-here college worth it.
I did not see many of them again.
Sometimes, it’s better that way.
Back at my apartment, the atmosphere was celebratory but something was amiss. Between throngs of baked laughter and mindless smiling, someone or the other would say it.
This is the last time.
It wasn’t. But nonetheless, emotions flow a lot easier when 12 stories high.
And the decleration would stop the coversation as everyone would descend into a well of their own thoughts. Reliving memories, recalling laughter and feeling the tears flow again.
And it hasn’t changed. Close to a month later, when I hear a song that I like and I can imagine the ‘others’ will like too, I automatically make a mental note to play it in our next…sitting. I feel automatically the familiar tinge of expectation of that…sitting. Then I remember…like the icy cold water of reality dousing the flame of expectation….no more.
No more shall we laugh together everyday. No more will feats of madness be attempted everyday. No more will I wake up in the morning to find someone who doesn’t live with me, crashed on my sofa. No more will I try desperately to wake up, only to find everyone else asleep and give in to my pillow’s seduction. No more will the perfect circle form everyday.
No more. Not everyday.
Later that night, everyone headed over to a friends place to party. To celebrate. Before heading out, I made a customary stop at another friends place. Us and an orange pillar of immortality. Porcupine Tree’s ‘Trains’ washed over me, sinking into the deepest recesses of my flying mind and the happy notes filling me with some kind of hope. Hope that each of these moments could be relived. Every year, every month, everyday.
But reality is a bitch. She will claw at your balloons of happiness with her talons of truth until all you’re left with is a tattered memory which is cast aside.
I got up, my mind still whirling as we decided to leave. The rickshaw ride from there to the party cooled me down a bit. At the end of the day, maybe its all like this rickshaw. You just have to get from one place to another, you’re controlled by people you hardly know and no matter how bumpy the ride, you end up paying him for it.
We reached the party and a wave of noise hit me as I entered.
The Drunk Haven.
I smiled. Like I did evertytime I entered this holy house during a party. Here, in this large group of people were all my dearest friends. You could find scientists, musicians, managers, engineers, designers, environmentalists, philosophers, gamblers, teachers, psychiatrists, madmen, sleepers, insomniacs, giants and midgets.
A world within a world.
Each one of these many people had influenced me these past few years. In a big way or small, it didn’t matter. If at anytime, this era is ever scriptured, my chapter will have a line from each of them.
A drink was thrust into my hands and whether I liked it or not, this was done again and again and sometimes not totally as a friendly gesture.
But the mood was different today. It had not been called the Asmita Breakdown for no reason. By this time, at the very least, a piece of furniture, a glass and maybe a nose lay broken. And if some people had their way, maybe a shirt lay torn too.
But today, it was less…violent. Something was amiss, people stood in corners in small groups talking about things they had experienced in these few years.
They seemed to have flown by. We spoke about professors, friends, enemies, partys, fights, exams, love, life, songs, movies, habits, the future and more.
In a span of a few hours, we relived 4 years. I remembered so many things that had been lost in the recesses of my mind. And no denying, the copious amounts of alcohol was helping.
But all this recollectin was having a visible effect on us because as we ran through each memory the mood became more and more somber as the reality hit us all.
I looked around me. Is this what we will be reduced to? Silent, sober beings with only thoughts and memories to desperately clutch at while we would walk through a mundane existence? Will the last look I will see in my friends eyes be one of sadness?
And then the music started. The kind of Punjabi music that you only heard here. At Asmita. And as one my dearest friends, a fat egg of a guy, stumbled into the room balancing a glass on his head and singing “My english very risky, I love scotch whiskey, but I get only desi tharra !”, the somber mood of the occupants of the room evaporated in an instant as people began to dance wild drunk dances and sing in their slurred, unnaturally loud voices.
I was quickly engulfed with the brightness of it all and as I looked around, I realized this cheer would not die. No amount of distance, changed lifestyle or excuses would kill this spirit of the people in this room and the bond they shared.
The last thing I remember before blacking out was the 3 of my friends laughing and dancing together.
And as my eyes finally closed on the last day, I realized that graduation was many things, a time of happiness AND a kick in the nuts. But more than anything else, it marked then end of one era and the beginning of another.
Cheers to both.
* The name of this article is inspired by an Ausioslave song which happened to be playing while I typed.