Ah! For once, I have someone prepared to hear me out! At least a feeling that someone is hearing or reading me! Thanks to the pace of modern life, even in small towns people do not have time to listen to others, especially when they want to talk about themselves. The time when you require to have a prior appointment to meet your own spouse or son or a daughter is not far, looking at the things are heading now. That is why, it seems, the number of people being glued to their computer monitors and to the Idiot Boxes, if they belong to an older generation, is rising by meets and bounds. And now I have an opportunity to pour my whole heart out, but I am afraid, even the machines have their own mind and heart. I do not want to strain their patience. Therefore, I must begin, not at the beginning of my life, but at the time when I was sufficiently grown up enough and wanted to take admission to a post-graduate course in Political Science, in one of the prestigious universities of the South India, more specifically of Karnataka.
The admission process was very simple, that of selecting the candidates based on their scores in the subject in the undergraduate course. I no doubt had every chance of being admitted, but my only anxiety was to know what my position would be in the merit list that would be published at eleven in the morning. It was Tuesday, in the month of June,as I remember. I got down from the bus in the Main Bus Stand, as it is called even today and caught a city bus from the CBT which is City Bus Terminus.
As a cool breeze brushed my hair gently, I felt that at last I have the freedom. Like all the growing up aspire to be free and independent, I too had been looking forward to it since long and I always felt that I had grown up long before even the first sparse semblance of hair appeared on my upper lip. But elders around me thought otherwise. It was a crowded bus, full of young boys and girls and all had anxious look on their face. Looking through the window, I could see a beautiful red coloured college building before which a vast playground had grown green due to some heavy downpour the city had received a couple of days ago. Even today was not a very bright and sunny day. It was overcast and gloomy and raining intermittently, in bursts and stops. Boys carried black umbrellas and the girls, multi-coloured ones with different designs and flowers which blossomed when they opened them. I remembered a poem by a famous regional poet about the umbrellas. The handles of the boys' umbrellas were crooked as in an inverted question mark '?' and the girls carried umbrellas with straight handles which symbolise Exclamatory mark '!' The poet had wisely concluded that the boys were always like a question mark to the girls and the girls were like a wonder to the boys. How true, I thought. Girls that had come in life had always made me wonder..filled me with wonder...and kept me wondering.
When I looked at the huge dome tower of the University Main Building which is located on lush green hillock, it looked gigantic yet beautiful. I have always wondered why most of the government buildings tend to have these domes, and why not other shapes.The same goes true of the clock towers. It is a common knowledge that they are all inspired by the colonial buildings which drew their inspiration from the Persian culture, whatever their claims are. I am not much of a connoisseur of architecture and have never felt any compulsion to study them. I have read many descriptions of art and architecture in the history books, but never could remember the technical terms relating to them. Above all, one cannot learn much from the illustrations in the books. What appealed to me most about the University was the thick vegetation that surrounded it, as well as the neatly maintained gardens.
When I reached my department, there was already a small crowd around the notice board and after trying to lift myself about a couple of inches to peep at the notice, I found that my name was indeed the second. I was shocked, for I was given to the understanding that I had scored the highest marks in the subject and was about to be awarded a Gold Medal. But it wasn't the time to think or worry about it. I went to the office and met the clerk, a lean bespectacled man with a permanent scowl on his face and asked him the further procedure I needed to follow. He handed me a bank challan and asked me to pay the fee at the bank and return a counterfoil to him. Right at that time, he was summoned by the Head of the Department and his frown widened into a mild irritation. I thought better of staying there and immediately rushed to the Bank.
By the time I returned from the bank, I was feeling sick. I returned the counterfoil to the clerk and didn't even enquire when the lectures would commence. I rushed back to the bus stop, got into the first bus and reached the Main Bus Stand. I found a familiar face staring at me. I recongnised it as that of a senior student of my undergraduate college. He came forward and started a small talk with me but I could hardly smile and reply. He helped me get into the bus. I couldn't even remember whether I got a seat or it was offered to me by someone. My friend took care to drop me at home and I was rushed to the hospital by my father.