Of Friendship, Love, and an Education – A Tribute to my College Years

I never get people who say the five years went by so fast, because if you sit and think about it, there were a LOT of things that happened. Things that happened to you, around you, to your friends, by your friends, by you, and because of you. But we never got the time to think about it. And that’s what actually went by so fast – the last month of college. The month you imagine would be spent laying on the grass and reflecting on the past, with some momo chutney and bread omelette for company, occasionally topped off with the right amount (normally a large amount) of Special Bunta. Yes, I am aware that I just described the first two months of this semester and a large portion of last semester, but there was no reflection during those days because we still had the last month of college saved for that. Or at least I did. Rather, I thought I did. Instead, my last month of college was spent on submissions I did not give a shit about at that point. So from someone who loved college and just graduated, take it from me, your last semester is really one where you want to finish your work on time. Because the last month in college is a cruel waste if it’s spent on academics.

But now I am on a 33 hour train journey and there is far too much nudity in season 3 of Orange is the New Black for me to watch it during the day without fearing a practical insight into the obscenity laws I just studied with Mrinal, so I have a lot of time to think. I joined this college a very under-confident guy with low self-esteem who was shy around girls because he was ashamed to admit that he had never dated (or even kissed – or should I say never kissed or even dated?) anyone. I was slightly homophobic because despite the fact that I did not understand it, my friends in school were homophobic and it was cooler to be homophobic than to not be homophobic. I had spent more time thinking about the person that other people liked me to be and too little time spent thinking about the kind of person that I would like myself to become. In college, I spent the best five years of my life – they have undoubtedly fallen short in many aspects but I don’t think one would ever be without complaints about their institution, and more importantly, these five years have given me so much more in ways and means that I never expected that I think it would be petty of me to focus on the 9 pm curfew and arbitrary policies instead of appreciating the college for all that I have gained. So let me tell you why I leave this place with a heavy heart.

My entire schooling had been as a day-scholar and it was going to be my first time in a residential campus, but I could not have prepared myself for what was in store. The level of intimacy which develops and the speed in which it happens is bizarre. We would sit together in class, then go to all the wonders that Sector 12 market and Section 6-10 market had to offer after class, return and chill till 9, only to continue chilling after dinner in the hostels and repeat it the next day. Going to the market got old after the first two weeks, but the rest repeated for five years. My friends questioned me on my low self-esteem and from them I learnt that there is only to gain from a minimum amount of confidence in oneself. I learnt that while cynicism may seem logical (you cannot be disappointed if you have no expectations), that the value of a positive outlook on life cannot be appreciated till you truly attempt it, and once you do, you become a happier person for it. I learnt to like myself for the same reasons that my friends liked me, while being open to the idea that I was not infallible and that I would have to constantly grow and learn from my mistakes to become a better person. I learnt that it was okay to be vulnerable to my friends because that vulnerability would develop into the strength to move past it. But most of all, we laughed.

When Biak hung off the bathroom window onto a sure death all in the name of hide and seek only to be discovered in the balcony, when Vered is more distracting when made to sit in front of the class than when seated at the back, when Somil lay on the bathroom floor unable to vomit or sleep with the shower on over his head while four of us stood around him getting happy, when Cheenu tests everyone’s patience while studying the night before the exam, when Pooms went to take a piss and returned with the toilet seat around his neck, when a tap on a friend’s cheek gets you permanent scars on your hand in return, when Manohar comes in to touch things in your room and leaves, when we dog-pile each other every opportunity we get ranging from the national highway to the grass outside the library at midnight, when ask each other questions about our own and each other’s dicks, assholes and balls that we were too embarrassed to bring up in regular conversation, when we did the Harlem shake in class, when Aakarsh gets tapood on the Court, when the slap bets are all redeemed on the same day, when it rains the night before the English end semester exam so you start studying at 3 am, and all the other times you walk over to that sound of uncontrollable-stomach-paining-eyes-tearing-gasping-for-breath laughter. My friends have been my life in college. I am forever grateful for the times that I have spent with them and the times I am yet to spend. They are the first and foremost reason why I am going to miss this place, so do yourself a favour if you haven’t already, make many friends, make great friends, and make merry with them.

In my experience, there is nothing that can bring down the confidence of a teenage boy than the lack of success with women. And the complete absence of it can leave one feeling pretty insignificant. My entire school life had been the repeated process of getting to know a girl, becoming close friends with her, realizing I liked her, then keeping deathly quiet about it because I didn’t think she’d feel the same way and because I was too afraid to do anything about it. I was the exact same in college, but circumstances led to her finding out that I liked her and for the first time in my life she reciprocated my feelings and yadi yadi yada both of us didn’t watch The Butterfly Effect that night. My first girlfriend revealed to me how hopelessly cheesy and romantic I am capable of being. She dumped me twice. Shit happens, I still love her as one of my closest friends, she’s awesome. My present girlfriend made me realize that it wasn’t just about my first relationship and that I just am, for better or for worse, a hopelessly cheesy romantic. And you know what? I fucking love it. Love is complex but when you share that relationship where you both reciprocate that intense an emotion, the result is something beautiful. No, not a baby. I’m just talking about the feeling here. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, okay? Okay. Where was I? Yes, love is complex and all that. I am not going to pretend to be entirely sure of what I am speaking about, but my parents were separated for eleven years before they got back together, so maybe it’s not a matter of wisdom with age but simply a matter of what feels right. And I know that both my relationships felt fantastic. And perhaps equally importantly, it allowed me to feel better about myself. I believed that I am that others would be interested in dating and that I was not merely the funny black guy we know. It gave me an increased sense of self-worth and the self-esteem to have a little confidence in myself. The confidence to believe that perhaps I am not going to have to pay prostitutes to hug me so that I can feel the warm embrace of a woman agai- wait, what? NO. I mean, no, I never thought that. I’m just kidding around. Ha ha ha. I never thought that, okay? Okay. So my second reason for missing this place – I found love. For all you fuckers thinking that you’re not going to find it, you’re wrong. And all you fuckers thinking that I’m a sentimental moron who needs to think more with his dick and fuck more women, you’re also wrong. Find a girl. Or a guy. Whichever suits your fancy, I ain’t judging. But do not think lesser of yourself because you haven’t found that relationship, because all you need is to be a little less scared and little more uninhibited, and the relationship will find you.

Finally, the education. Let me be clear at the outset – I am certain that I have forgotten most of the law I have learnt during my five years in this ‘Harvard of the East’. Family Law and Tort Law were both subjects that I found quite interesting but all I remember is the ‘Penis Cut Off’ case from Bangia on Law of Torts and the fact that Akhil and Sabrina are not sapinda, and so may legally get married under Hindu Marriage Law. The criminal law subjects are ones that I should ideally be well versed in considering that’s the field I’ve chosen to enter (God help me), but I’ve had to take two seminars on criminal law in my final two years in college and I wish I could take more. Worse are the courses where all attempts were futile. I never thought I would hate a subject as much as HLCD till we had two wretched semesters of Corporate Law, but at least it can be argued that it is relevant. But can someone please explain to me the rationale behind Insurance Law being made a mandatory subject? When am I ever going to apply marine insurance in my career? And lastly there were those courses which deserved to be forgotten – Constitutional Law-I where Article 32 of the Constitution and Directive Principles of State Policy were taught in a one hour class of on the last teaching day of the semester, or HLCD which deserves to be remembered only as the subject which infuriated me so much that I stabbed Shamim with a pen for rocking my chair the night before the exam, or Human Rights Law where the Ramayana and Mahabharata were given as the only examples to illustrate the violent history of humankind. Just to be clear, the same teacher also covered the fact that International Humanitarian Law developed due to the hostilities during and after the Second World War. And there were two of them! Surely one of them would have been plenty violent to make that list. Then again, Pooms does tell some badass stories from the Mahabharata. But seriously, she’s gots to go.

All of this granted and conceded, it would still be unfair to suggest that law school did not provide me with an education that has been complex, challenging, and insightful. Though courses such as Family Law, Criminal Law and Labour Law were good and the choice of certain exceptional seminars such as Criminal Practice and Practicing Intellectual Property have been a large contributing factor, the most significant and invaluable education for me has been from our classes with Aparna Chandra and Anup Surendranath. Anup started taking Jurisprudence-I for us at a time when reading a case with pages in double digits was considered a long reading warranting a search for a summary. He deemed it as good a time as any to make the class read Concept of Law by HLA Hart. We studied conflicting theories, debates between jurists and how theories of one may complement another. By far one of the greatest class I’ve had has been the series on the Rawlsian notion of equality. These classes made me think. More importantly, they required me to think. To question and wonder and debate. Or as Anup would repeat at least ten times per class, to engage. In the next semester, we studied Constitutional Law-II with him and it was quite a shift from our last teaching hour of Constitional Law in the previous semester. We no longer reproduced two line summaries of ratio decidendi, we studied full length opinions and critiqued them. We agreed with the dissent because we now knew that there was a dissent. We learnt about the politics of the judiciary and the role of the judiciary in politics. We learnt that Kesavananda was not a mere 7-6 split on the basic structure of the Constitution. And at the end of it all, we discovered that an open book exam with is far worse than a regular exam. At the same time, we had Aparna Ma’am teach us Jurisprudence-II. Wherein Anup had taught us to think at an intellectual level, Aparna Ma’am taught us to apply these nuanced theories in our daily lives. Kantian morality became the subject matter of jokes and the morality of jokes became the subject matter of class. Most importantly, I think Aparna Ma’am can proudly take credit for all the feminists in our batch, because it was her classes on feminism that made us grasp the incredibly difficult concept that Woman=Man and how present day gendered societal norms do not allow for this radical notion that men and women should be equal.

However, the most important aspects of education at this college for me have been outside of the classroom. It has been in the opportunities the University has provided for me be it paying for my travel and accommodation to Beijing and Toronto, or in the nature of the Insaaf Legal Aid Project and the Death Penalty Research Project. In these two projects, I learnt of the privileges of my life and the misfortune of others. I developed a work ethic of which I knew not myself to be capable and got angry with myself when I would not meet the standard of hard work and diligence that I would have liked for myself. I discovered that there was no other work which felt as fulfilling as these projects. Insaaf gave me an avenue to constantly challenge myself while helping those who did not have the ability to help themselves. DPRP threw me into the depths of lives and circumstances as distanced from my own as possible and taught me to learn about life from that perspective. They are opportunities which I am extremely fortunate to have gotten for I shall never get them again and they have changed permanently changed my own perspective of life for the better.

This University has given me more than I had ever expected. They have been the five best years of my life and that includes my time at Mirambika, which is no mean feat. I have made out with three guys since I joined college and a lot more women. I’m a more confident person with a respectable self-esteem who actually likes himself. It has made me the sort of person who starts an independent University blog with his friends and pours his emotions all over it because he likes to write and talk about his feelings in the hopes that others would like to read them. What can I say? I have a lot of feelings for this place and the people I have met here.

On my last day in college, my friends had come down to say bye when I left. We spent about ten minutes just standing at the car, saying bye and hugging everyone. After I sat inside the car, I waved bye to more people from inside. The driver, Mustafa bhaiya, laughingly imitated my waving as we drove past the reception and asked me, “College ko bhi bye bol diya kya?” Perhaps the significance of what he told me was lost on him or perhaps it was not. I was going to meet some of the friends who I just hugged goodbye again in a couple of days in Bangalore and others I would continue to meet in Delhi. But they came down regardless because there was something far more symbolic in that exit which all of us appreciated. It was not a goodbye to each other, because the friends I have made here are going to remain friends. It was an acknowledgment that what had brought us together was over. Mustafa bhaiya asked me if I had said goodbye to college, and at the time I had not because I did not have the time to reflect and appreciate all that had happened in the past five years. It’s been four days since I sat on that 33 hour train journey, and sufficient reflection has taken place. So yeah.

Goodbye.

 

(Certain changes have been made to the details of this article in order to ensure that peace continues to prevail in college.)

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8 thoughts on “Of Friendship, Love, and an Education – A Tribute to my College Years

  1. Very well written Arshu! Thoroughly enjoyable. Unfortunately the two subjects you claim to have hated have,at different points in time, been taught by me. I’ll have to live with this I suppose. But good luck and do well. That passion will take you a long way.

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    • Hahaha, thank you! I wish you the best of luck in making HLCD interesting. And I didn’t hate the portion of IHL that you taught. Just that you were teaching it in a semester where I really couldn’t have cared less about any subject. And then Mahabharata and Ramayana entered the picture.

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  2. ” when Somil lay drunk on the bathroom floor unable to vomit or sleep with the shower on over his head while four of us stood around him smoking a joint”… Excuse me? What is this supposed to mean? Who is “us”? Is this supposed to be cool?

    Frankly shocked by how openly Mr. Arshu is boasting about his peer groups drug abuse. I wonder why the authorities don’t seem to take notice? Maybe they are too much trying to be like NLSIU. Everyone knows these things happen in all campuses, but at least there is an attempt to curtail it, and students dont gloat about breaking the law that too on a law school campus. This behaiviour would not have been tolerated if Dr. Ghanshyam Singh were still with us, and it is a shocking insult to his memory that students can discuss illegal activities without fear of censure.

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    • Aiyo. Gloating about drug abuse. Haw. Aaj kal ke bacche, I tell you. Breaking the law without fear. Don’t worry, I am only trying to sound cool. Kya karein? This is what passes for cool nowadays.

      Like

  3. Pingback: Of Friendship, Love, and an Education – A Tribute to my College Years | Arshu's Blog

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