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Down the Memory Lane: College Days

In fifties and sixties, every parent wanted his son or daughter to be a doctor or an engineer. Civil services was another option. Humanities or fine arts was rejected by most of them. Those days, only parents made choices for you. All good boys and girls were supposed to obey parents. But not me. I was a born rebel. I got punished several times for raising my voice and speaking my thoughts. Even as a child, you must convince me , otherwise I will not agree. Logic was the key word for me. In matriculation as well as in Intermediate, my elder brother, who was my guardian, forced me to go for science stream. I faired poorly both times. Enough is enough, I told my self. Science is beyond me. I was certain, I would do much better in Fine arts. My family was in Delhi. I was studying at Ambala and staying with my aunt, Soma Mausi. My guardian, my elder brother sent me strict instructions to join science stream in graduation. I rebelled. No more science for me. I would take reigns of my life in my own hands I remember telling myself. Without consulting any one, I took admission in economic honours in my graduation course. I wrote a post card to my elder brother, Sham bhai seeking his forgiveness for defying his instructions . Thus started a new chapter in my life but now, ball was in my court and I had to prove myself. In first year of graduation, I joined hostel at My college, S A Jain college , Ambala city. My hostel room was meant for four students but I was lone occupant. It had one bed, one table and chair and almirah to store things. My friends welcomed me to hostel and some of them brought spare things to decorate my room with photographs and small artefacts. One of them presented me a thermos and a mug . My classes started and also ragging session for freshers. It was good fun, making us sing, dance and enact scenes from Hindi movie. As our cricket team was scrapped for paucity of funds, I turned attention towards badminton . My friend Bhola told me that a new boy, Satish Jain has joined BSc second year and was attending classes along with Bhola. I met Satish in the evening and we struck immediate rapport. He was a good badminton player and promised to teach me finer nuisances of the game. We had a good badminton court in main hall of college. We started practicing every evening. Satish was soon in the college team. I continued practising hard and within two months, I was part of college team as well. Now, I turned attention to my newly acquired love, fine arts and put my heart and soul in learning economics and political science. I consulted my professors who agreed to share with me detailed notes on economics and political science. They also helped in clearing my doubts on basic concepts. I also consulted final year students. I even went for help to Jawahar my class fellow, who was topper in class twelve, intermediate examination. He taught me sincerely and I picked up fast. Soon September tests were conducted and our class teacher announced results. He said that he was really happy that a science student who shifted to fine arts only three months back, has topped in the class. I could not believe my ears. Jawahar was crest fallen. I taught you and you surpassed me, he said! Another incidence which I remember vividly relates to freshers joining hostel after summer break. We seniors waited for their return as most of them brought with them home made goodies. One such boy got down from rickshaw in front of hostel and we greeted him with open arms. Conversation went on some thing like this; How are you youngster. Hope every one is fine at home. Your mother loves you a lot, is not it. The boy kept on nodding head. So she must have prepared some sweets for you.

The poor boy went on a defensive. No sir, she was not well but I promise to bring sweets next time. He picked up his trunk and started moving. We said why are you in such a hurry. Keep your trunk down. One of us said let us see what all you have brought from home. He got nervous and said sorry looks like I have misplaced key. I picked up a big stone and said no problem. I will break open your trunk. He quickly took out key and apologised, sorry sir, I have brought some home made pinnies. Pinnies are made of wheat, desi ghee and dry fruits. We said that is like a good boy. Now run to canteen and order some tea. We carried sweets to hostel common room, sat on chairs and relished pinnies with tea. Still, more than half tin was full. We gave him permission to go to his room and carry pinnies with him. Some of freshers got tough and threatened to report us to college authorities. We marked them as hard targets and decided to deal with each of them at night in hostel. Most of them apologised , took punishment and were let off. One of them was a hard nut to crack. He refused to cooperate. We raided his room at night and subjected him to Kambal parade. We threw a blanket on him in darkness and beat him up thoroughly. Next morning, he came with folded hands and apologised. We shook hands and that was end of matter. Our hostel warden was not liked by most of hostel students. Once, four final year students brought head of goat, applied tilak on its forehead, wrapped it in red cloth and threw it in the house of warden. Again enquiries but nothing came out. College authorities build an independent house for warden within college premises and he shifted there immediately. His flat in hostel was now vacant and Satish occupied it . He invited me and Bhola to occupy second room.

It was a proper two bed room flat with kitchen, bathroom and toilet. In hostels, you have to stand in queues to use toilet and bathroom. One day, I got notice from principal’s office that my full fee concession under sports quota is withdrawn as college is not entering team for inter college cricket competition. I met the principal and pleaded my case but in vain. I had to consider options and look for a college which could give me full fee concession. Those days, I had been selected for Ambala district cricket team-and Ravi Rehan, son of principal, Gandhi Memorial National College was also part of the team. We were on friendly terms. I met him during net practice and told him that I had to leave Jain college. He asked me to join GMN college. If I agreed, he would talk to his father. I requested him to try and get me fee concession, free books and hostel room if possible. Next day, he met me at college grounds and asked me to wait. He went inside principal’s rooom and came out after 20 minutes. He was smiling. All settled. Come and meet my father. The Principal gave me a letter for inter-college migration, a separate letter for registrar Punjab university, and also money to go to Chandigarh and come back. He asked Ravi to accompany me. We went to office of registrar in Chandigarh, completed formalities and in forty hours, I was a student of Gandhi Memorial National college, GMN. Now the next problem was to settle dues at Jain college and vacate the hostel. I cleared all dues, took my college leaving certificate and met my friends to say good bye. They were happy that my full fee concession has been restored At GMN college. the only person who was really unhappy on my joint hostel was my maternal grand MA, my nani . We called her Raji affectionately. As a matter fact, every one called her Raji. A real old timer, totally illiterate who still spoke pathwari only, local language of Pathwar region, now in Pakistan. She was simple, loving and childlike in habits. I never saw her loosing her temper. She had amazing memory. She could recall chapters of Gita effortlessly. She had a old version of Gita. Her fingers moved on exactly same words she was reacting. How could she do it, no logic can explain. My nana Ji died of a massive heart attack. He had gone to Barara to see his lands, allotted in lieu of his lands in Pakistan. He stood at Barara railway station for his return journey, and his brother in law Shri Ram went to buy tickets. Train gave a whistle and stared steaming in, he raised his hand perhaps for his brother in law, had massive heart attack, fell on platform with a thud as he was a heavily build man. He died on the spot. It was a Diwali day which turned into darkest day for family. We never celebrated Diwali after that. Raji was exceptionally unhappy on my joining the hostel. She started pestering her son to buy her a house. Mamu Jaan RamNath obliged and bought a house in Model Town, a new colony well laid out. Raji asked Soma masi to shift immediately and my younger cousin, Babboo ,Shiv Man came to my hostel room and gave me nani’s message. I felt happy and relieved. Model Town was just 15 minute bus journey from my new college. All things had fallen in to a slot. GMN college was going to give me full fee concession, books and now, I did not require hostel room. 242 Model Town will take care of my lodging and food. GMN college,oldest in Ambala had a unique architectural design. There were about fifty rooms in the centre of college with individual roofs. All the rooms had a single dome style structure covered with thatched material. It was more in triangle form than roundish dome form. It looked imposing and an architectural wonder. Later on more rooms came up around this structure to accommodate more students. The college had fifty-fifty ratio of boys and girls. Ambala is a huge army cantonment and a huge Air Force station. Wards of army and airforce personal mostly joined this college. The college contributed significant number of officers to army and airforce. I went to my new college to complete formalities. I submitted clearance certificate as well as college leaving certificate from Jain College , in office of GMN college.I was given slip to collect books from library and a slip for hostel room. I was now a bonafide student of GMN college which proved to be my lucky mascot. I cleared my first year of graduation with high second division . In my final year of graduation, I was selected as emergency commissioned officer. I said good bye to my college and embarked upon a new journey in my life

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