Hostel Life An Exciting Experience
by Vaman Acharya
It was at 12 noon. I was in the library of a prestigious college, Rao Saheb College of Arts & Science College, Bengaluru. I went there in search of a book. I joined service just six months back in this college as an English lecturer.
I was a student of this college right from pre-university course to post-graduation. There was no change in the set up of the library even after ten years. I observed the same bookshelves, same furniture, same peon, same tea boy and my favorite seat. The only change was a librarian. She gave me a book, which I wanted.
While turning the pages of the book, old incidents of a decade back in the college hostel struck to my mind.
The period 1993 to 2000 was a memorable time in my life.
During those years, I was staying in the college hostel along with my classmate Bhaskar, who was unknown to me before joining the college. There were about 100 students in the hostel. The hostel building was spread over in 3 acres of land. Purushottam, Manager of the hostel was a kind-hearted man. But he was taking action against those who break the rules. On the first day of joining the hostel, the student has to fill up the application and sign after agreeing to abide by the rules. Special instructions were issued for celebrations, parties, money management, late night studies, complaints on canteen, visiting hours for friends & relatives, going outside with permission and late wakeup.
The first year, it was very difficult for me to stay with Bhaskar. He used to come to the hostel late night drunk. Some nights, he was staying outside. It appears, he had managed the watchman. On one occasion, the police came to arrest him. I pleaded on behalf of Bhaskar to excuse him and assured the hostel manager such complaints will not come in future. Purushottam warned Bhaskar to stop indiscipline or face punishment. Bhaskar realised his mistakes and improved his behaviour.
During the final year, most of the Sundays and holidays I utilised for a good purpose. I had a passion for involving myself in a creative activity like writing short stories and reading books borrowed from the college library. My college education and creative activity were going on simultaneously. I had no space to keep dresses in my suitcase as it was filled up with papers of writings.
I refused a number of times to accompany Bhaskar on holidays to watch a movie, visit a hotel, moving around the city. Once he expressed unhappiness towards me.
“Ankit, don’t become a bookworm and don’t spend most of the time in one activity. The world is wide. If you move outside, the new places you see you will certainly enhance your knowledge. I am not against your passion. Come out for a change. Entertainment is essential to refresh your mind.”
I replied, “Yes Bhaskar, you are right. I will try to give you company. Please don’t insist me to come with you always.”
I preferred to stay alone in the hostel room. I was regularly visiting the college library. Once I finished the first draft of a short story, "Leave Me Alone." I approached my English professor Rajan and requested him to edit it. He gladly accepted my manuscript. He knew very well about my interest and dedication of writing. Rajan was happy when my short story, "Peace of Mind" was published in the college magazine on the eve of college anniversary
day. I being an orphan and belonging to a poor family, everybody in the college was kind towards me. Rajan sir blessed me to become a great writer. He advised me not to neglect academic studies. I get back the draft from him duly edited after a week or fortnight with a note in a separate sheet of paper. It served me as feedback. My journey as a writer went on uninterrupted. I became a successful writer and a bright student in a masters degree.
Bhaskar was not interested in studies. He was interested only in jolly life. He was satisfied just getting pass marks in each class. Due to his mother's pressure, he joined the college. He kept as secret about his family. Though we have become close friends, I never asked him to reveal his family background.
Gradually, I was able to adjust with him without compromising my principles. During the final year of College, I was really surprised to know that there was a transformation in his life and he improved securing good marks in the final year. Many times he expressed gratitude to me for changing his lifestyle. On several occasions, he wanted to reveal his family background. But he didn't reveal even after completing his graduation.
We got separated after graduation. Bhaskar went back to his native place Bhavani Nagar to look after his aged mother. While parting, we both were emotional and our eyes were wet, tears were rolling down continuously. He hugged me and expressed,
“Ankit, I am parting you with a heavy heart. All these years, I didn't reveal about my family. I lost my father when I was just an eight-year-old boy. My mother took the responsibility and sent me to Bengaluru for a college education. By God’s grace, my mother’s blessings and good wishes of a noble friend like you I have become a graduate and a good man. The entire credit goes to you. I appreciate your passion for writing. I was like a vagabond. I wonder, how you have managed to stay with me for such a long period! My mother’s wish is fulfilled. She told to meet her at least once in a month. She is regularly sending me money month after month. Now I have finished the degree and going back to my native place Bhavani Nagar as a reformed man. My mother would be happy to receive me. I have to take care of my mother as she is suffering from a terrible disease.”
I was shocked to hear his tale. My sympathies are with Bhaskar and expressed,
“Bhaskar, I pray to God to give you the strength to bear the troubles. You are like my younger brother. I also feel very much after hearing the critical condition of your mother. I wish her speedy recovery. You know I am an orphan. When I was just a six-year-old boy staying in the orphanage. One pious person Sudershan practising lawyer in Pavanpur took me from the orphanage. I was grown up in his house. I am indebted to him. I call him affectionately as ‘papa’.”
Bhaskar was unable to control his emotion and cried like a baby. He left the place and assured to meet again. Even after a decade, I have not heard anything about him. I continued to stay in the hostel for another two years for the studies of a masters degree.
His memories have remained with me. I had an exciting experience during the hostel life. ***