Hostel, the dreadful word, signifying staying away from one’s home and family, somehow holds a very special place in my heart.
But it was not always the same though! I absolutely hated it the day I entered the campus. I was nothing short of eye-popping-ly shocked! There were cows grazing the fields across from the Administrative Building. Wilted winter flowers spread ugly in the heat of summer and a street dog was curled on the front steps.
My frustration only deepened when I saw that the main college building was a humble u-shaped three storied structure whereas big buildings upon bigger buildings of student residences (hostel) sprawled as far as I could see.
I still remember crying my eyes out when mom-dad left on that fateful evening two weeks later, leaving me with my new roommate. First year hostels were secluded from the reach of older students – the administration doing whatever they could to protect the newcomers from being bullied. Not that we could escape all the time. Remember the library I spoke about?
Anyway, all the rooms were identical with two windows, two steel cots, two wardrobes, two desks and two chairs. Yet, each room adopted the personalities of their occupants with time. My room had green flowery curtains and I used Disney bed sheets. My roomie had a pink fascination – pink posters, pink coffee mug, pink slippers, pink bag and pink bed!
See I am straying already. A novel is not in the scope of this post. So I will just finish with a story.
On each side of the long corridors of the main hostels, were the bathrooms which, contrary to the popular belief, were cleaned and bleached every day. Outside the bathrooms, we had a huge wash basin with twelve taps. Gigantic mirrors hung from the wall above it.
Now these mirrors attracted a lot of monkeys! Black faced long tailed monkeys. They expertly slid through the small square openings on the opposite walls and smudged the mirrors black!
One day, in our final year, we had the second half of the day off. While most liked to take a refreshing nap, some weirdos like me preferred to read a book instead. So I went to borrow a book I knew was changing hands a lot in the hostel. The current owner of the book was sleeping when I entered (by rule, we never locked our doors when we were inside, asleep or not).
I took the book that was there on the table, left a note and was just leaving when I saw an extra-ordinary thing. A monkey, a very big one, with a face as large as the moon was sitting on the window sill and looking intently at my friend. My mouth dried as I saw what he was trying to do! He was extending his hand inside the room trying to reach for her face. I don’t know why, but I knew that the aftermath of it wouldn’t be good.
In a split second, on impulse, I threw the book at him. It smacked the window, did its job of scaring the monkey off. But it did something else too. It fell with a loud flapping noise on my friend’s head. She woke up with a violent start and the words I was greeted with!
Even after I had described the whole incident I didn’t get the least of sympathy. She simply said, I should have found some means to ward the monkey off quietly!
So you see, that’s how stressfully eventful our hostel was. Where each day was full of struggles, fun, taken for granted friendships, laughter and love. Where we became friends for life, became a family from an unknown bunch of people thrown together.
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