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Way back in 2009, sporting the glow of a college student, my batch mates and I cast away the shy garb of a ‘fresher’ and geared ourselves for the second-semester Engineering exams. With basic Physics, Chemistry, Maths, English and a few other subjects as part of our curriculum, the Engineering course seemed a piece of cake back then. Also, our seniors pampered the low farers with a motivational speech about how it was perfectly normal to fail in exams, and that it was important to stay united and blame The University for our plight. Soon, within a year, most of us had mastered the blame game and banished our books into the depths of our wardrobes.
But, with the onset of May and our second semester exams, our books had the privilege to come out of the dark cupboard and see light. Twice in a year, our books were pampered with soft dusting, cute covering, colourful highlights and lots of vitamin D; well the kind of sleepy heads my group was, we preferred to study on the terrace while using all natural facilities like heat, rain etc. Girls hostels were divided, all the college freshers were allocated the hostel located at Phase 4 Mohali and seniors at Phase 7.Â Fate cruelly laughed at us when only 5 of the fresh joiners were placed at Phase 7 hostel. I was among one of them. Three freshers from CSE (Sonu, Lisa and Sheena) and 2 from ECE (Preet and me) staying amidst a hostel full of seniors. I know the mere mention of these details must flash images of dirty ragging, but to our great relief, all the seniors were very kind and considerate, and soon, we became good friends.
A few days before the final second semester exam, my phone rang and it was Lisa. She rasped, âCome down quickly, urgentâ. We rushed downstairs and found Lisa and Sheena rolling on the floor with laughter.
âWhat happenedâ Preet asked, to which Lisa pointed towards her room.
Loud music was blaring out of her room. I rushed and opened the door, only to find it was filled with seniors dancing, and on top of the table was our dearest friend Sonu, with her knee length hair swinging with the beats of the famous song â âChaliya, Chaliya, Chaliyaâ.
âIs she drunk!?â I ask, looking aghast, while turning up my nose with disgust. Back then, even the thought of drinking made me sick. I was a âsanskari kidâ back then. Now I can travel back and forth in the world of wonderland with a bottle of wine!!
Well Sonu was the kind of girl you would expect to sit with the Hanuman Chalisa before a crucial exam rather than dancing.
âNo she is releasing her exam tensionâ said Lisa while gathering herself up and entering the room, followed by the three of us. Lisa and Sheena freely joined the group.
Preet and I stood at the entrance, watching all of them jumping around freely, rocking to the beats. A small voice in our heads started to warn us of the consequences of jumping in and joining the melee – ie; failure in exams. Listening to reason, we turned around to leave. Just then, the song âJine mera dil lutiyaâ floated to our ears, we looked at each other. âOnly this song!â I promised and dragged Preet into the crowd. We ended up dancing tillÂ midnight. Then on, till the fourth year we set the trend to party hard before exams. No wonder we scored very badly but the memories are worth the loss.
The next day, we were relieved to know that we had the day off. Due to some local dispute, curfew had been declared in Punjab. So we did not have exams till the tension minimized. Since curfew had been imposed, everybody had been strictly forbidden from venturing on the streets or risk being shot. The news flashed: All shops would be open fromÂ 6.00 am to 7.30 am, then the curfew would come into effect. Hearing this Lisa and I decided to stock up our basic necessities from the store, which was at a walking distance.
It was a beautiful morning, the road was completely deserted and we both were humming the Chaliya ,Chaliya ,Chaliya song. The road to the market was long and straight, covered with trees and then a turn right to the main road. As we were heading towards the main road, from the opposite direction a bike appeared, it was headed towards us.
âWow, such a nice boy, awake in the morning, enjoying the fresh airâ I said to Lisa
âOr maybe searching for early morning prostitutes!!â said Lisa. A boarding school girl, she had more experience of staying outside home than me.
âNot all boys are same, and itâs not wise to consider them soâ I replied angrily. âWhat is the problem with you girls always blaming boys even if he is quietly enjoying the morningâ.
âWait and watchâ said Lisa firmly
We went to the store bought our things and headed back. We saw the bike again! As we crossed the main road and entered our lane, we heard the bike taking a U-Turn.
âSee, I told you, he is following usâ Lisa said
âBut why!?â I was really confused âDid we display any wrong âsignsâ? Maybe it was the song that we were singing!â I exclaimed.
Scared at seeing the bike moving menacingly all around us, I was trying hard to analyse our past few minutes to identify if we had unwittingly communicated any âwelcomingâ signals to him.
ââLeave the face, fuck the baseâÂ this is the mantra that boyâs practice these days. We didnât do anything. Let him follow, look down and walk straightâ, said Lisa
He crossed our path and whistled. While keeping our face down, we increased our pace. He came back again, and asked us to come to his flat, without stopping the bike.
âGet lostâ I shouted while picking up a stone and aiming to throw it at him.Â He laughed and left.
We were scared and carrying the heavy load of shopping bags, we hurriedly crossed the straight long road, and turned right. Our hostel was the third building staring from the right. We saw him again, his bike halted just outside the hostel gate. Confused and trying to figure out what to do, we moved forward. He gave his ugly smile, opened the zip of his pants, took out his âsuper ugly black dangling thingâ and started shaking it.
We both froze, and turned back while closing our eyes with disgust. âDid I see correctly, Lisaâ I asked, my voice shaking.
âYes, now runâ she said while holding my hand. We ran as fast as we could. At a distance, we heard the engine of the bike start again.
Phase 7 was a nicely covered area with rows of houses in each lane, we crossed few lanes. After running for a while, I saw an open gate and signalled Lisa to follow me inside.
Unsure of whose house it was and whether we were safe there, we stayed motionless behind the gate and heard the bike crossed the street. We peeked through the gate and found him nowhere in the vicinity. Since it was early in the morning neither of us were carrying our phones. âAmi, drop the bags and run as fast as you can!â Lisa said and opened the gate. We ran as fast as our legs could carry us and stopped only after reaching our hostel room. Our room was facing the road and as we dashed inside, we heard the bike roar again. He stopped near the gate and honked several times and then finally left when the closing time for the curfew finally neared.
Later I realized our mistake, we made a bad choice that day â We Chose To Stay Quiet and Run Away Thinking It was Our Fault.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
While pursuing my graduation in electronics and communication, I realized my life had nothing to do with why AC (Alternating Current) was passing DC (Direct Current) or why we had to turn into Aryabhata to answer which resistor or capacitor would fit in place. In the final semester, programming of Microcontroller introduced itself and our brief meeting was more than enough to kill the budding engineer in me. So after completing my graduation, I took writing as a full-time job. Of course, the transition was not easy and after 5 years of continuing in this field, I still encounter the question âWhy did you choose to become a clerk after engineeringâ (I can be seen typing/writing/working all day). Over the years, I have tried my hand at various genres of writing such as Resume Writing, Blogging, Story Writing and Content/Website Profile Writing. Extracting the key points from a person's job profile and writing an impactful story in the form of a resume has always been my major area of Interest. So far I have worked for Top notch clients who were associated with big giants such as Google, Facebook, Walt Disney, IBM, Microsoft etc. Each day is a new stepping stone of learning, so I would call myself a truly passionate writer, who is keen to pour her heart out and let the rhythm of my words dance in sync with the readers.
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