Every day slips by only too quickly and I can’t help but think how fast it is approaching. The end. Of college. Of student life. Of living on this hill. I wish I had one more semester. One more semester to do so many things we do not have the time to do now. One more semester to go out to the city and eat at all the places we had favourited on Zomato. One more semester to set things right with some people. One more semester to become better friends with friends, and to get to know more people we could never really get to know.
How do I sum everything up I have seen, felt and experienced on this hill? How are you supposed to do something like that? It’s like trying to fit an elephant through the eye of a needle. How do I share what I felt when I woke up every day and just gazed in amazement at the view outside? How do I share what those long walks with friends around the campus under the moonlight meant? How do I describe the infinite cups of tea I’ve shared with my favourite people looking at the sunset? Sitting at the iconic tea-point and imitating everyone, those inside jokes, the times when somebody’s chappal would fall in the drain and one of us would have to jump down and rescue it. How do I express what I felt every time I would sit in class and it would start to pour outside? How I would itch to go outside and get soaked to the bone?
How do I describe those flashes of memories that fly before me so quick no editing software in the world would ever come close to the video that plays in my head? Those enormous clouds gliding past on those rainy days. The droplets slithering down the colourful umbrellas. The rings left on the mess table. The brown leaves falling on the road leading down to the mess. The screech of the bus tyres. The cacophony after winning a match. The twinkling fairy lights in the room. Pink Floyd. The warmth flooding through me when I would see my friends after months. The long hugs. Waiting at PMC. Running to the store to buy snacks for the night before it closes. Hot cups of coffee after dinner. Making plans of going to SS. Running to the terrace with the desperation of doing something spontaneous. Making plans. Oh, so many plans.
How do I write it all out? How it would crush me to remove the bulletin board we stuck on our walls with so much love? How will I get used to not sleeping next to a person as crazy as me who gets up squealing and screaming and laughing? What better way to start your day? The uncountable shoes under her bed. Her table so messy you wouldn’t know how she keeps a track of anything. Her laundry basket always overflowing with clothes. The sound her keyboard makes when she types away furiously. Her cookie monster face. Her horrifyingly loud and physically painful laughter. Her telling me “I ate three of your cookies in the morning but I replaced them today evening.” The one who understands exactly what I’m feeling because more often than not, she feels the exact same way. Who quivers her lips when I tell her we might not need another hand wash. Who cries when I read out my old emails I had sent to my best friend. How do I express what I feel when I think one day we would pack our bags together and will not live in room 445 anymore? How do I tell her how this time round, it will be me staining my pillow, for she will be gone and I would be missing her just too much.
How do I talk about the boy who sat next to me every day? He made me jam and butter sandwiches when I missed breakfast. He marked my proxies in class. He understood when I was hungry or sad even before I knew it myself. He sang old Hindi songs with me, he made me laugh and he made me cry. He hurt me more than anyone else here, but he loved me so much more than that. He sent me hilarious audio clips in the morning to wake me up for class. He sent me chocolates, he got me books, he encouraged me, he made me feel I am worth so much more than what I get. We would sit by the benches next to the basketball court and gaze up in amazement at how clear the skies were. He would invariably tell me “You see that? That’s the Orion belt. And that’s Ursa Minor.” And I would say “Wow”, even thought I knew that already. I would let him explain the constellations to me, because then, his eyes twinkled brighter than the stars. How do I say what it would be to not talk to him at the end of every single day?
How do I describe what those Whatsapp group conversations mean? Asking about the next lunch/dinner, discussing assignments, events, classes or people. That incessant chatter will one day end. I am afraid it would reach a point where none of us would have anything in common to discuss. I am even more afraid that one by one, each of us would leave the group and get lost in our respective jobs, dashing about concrete jungles and trying to make sense of the brand new chapter in each of our lives.
How do I explain how much I love my room? How inviting the bed is after a class ends and you stumble inside the room, drained out of energy. How fresh it looks when it is bathed in the sunlight entering through the window? How do I write what seeing familiar tables in the mess felt? Those times when you would stand till 11:59 outside the hostel gate, talking to everyone because it was just so much fun to be with all your best friends? How it felt when the cool breeze blew the hair away from our faces, and we ran around, high on friendship and on love.
What do I do with the endless photos I have gathered in my phone? The unusual uniqueness of every relationship I share with each of my friends. So different, so comfortable. How I know each one of them so well. Maybe too well. Which makes me love them and hate them at the same time.
When you live on a residential campus, your friends are your family. And I have found my family here. These hills, silently observing our every move, knowing what takes place in dark, obscure spots of the campus, enveloping us in their misty, majestic presence. They know us. It is oddly pleasing to look at the sprawling city spread out before you like a game of Monopoly. The shimmering city lights in the distance remind you that when you gain enough perspective, your problems do not seem as gigantic as you make them in your head. Right now, I feel that there is so much more to life than your career. Than your placement. Than your CGPA. That’s not what we will remember. What we will remember are the nights we were crazy enough to stay awake and go for breakfast even before the mess opened. What we will remember are those times we stayed up at night talking, realizing how we all have the same doubts in life, how we are all in this together. We are all in the same boat. We are a family.
I wanted to do this for quite some time. Just sit in front of my laptop without thinking and let the words spill out, like smoke billowing out of a chimney in haphazard patterns. There is so much more to this place than what meets the eye. It teaches you life lessons which probably no other place would teach. It compels you to bond with the people around you, to keep you sane. It teaches you that there is more to life than holding grudges against each other, or to wallow in grief if you miss out on an opportunity. Much like the roads here, life here has been full of ups and downs. And my heart refuses to believe that it is going to end. How would it be to not have to worry about missing class every morning? How would it be to never have to write an exam again? How would it be to not stay up all night and sleep the next day away? How would it be to not see the deep orange sky and the silhouettes of the guys playing football every evening? What would life be? Where would I be? Where would we all be?
We would all probably be struggling with our newfound freedom and all the challenges that come with it. But I am certain that we would never forget our experiences on these amazing, throbbing, gleaming, heartbreaking hills. The hills that have witnessed thousands of students come here, go through the same experiences every 20-year-old something would go through, and then leave with a heavy heart. They have watched them leave year after year, knowing that they will never be the same again.