Friday, February 22, 2013

A girl called her..

"The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary."
 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Didi.. how difficult is it to get an admission into your college?" asked Ashima looking at  her elder sister.
"Its pretty difficult Ashu! There are thousands of them competing for one seat" replied Anjali looking at her innocent sister.
"So you are among the top few, di?" questioned Ashima again, as if being secretly proud of her elder sibling.
"Well, you can say that!" replied Anjali solemnly as she continued  to  pack her luggage. Within few hours, she and her father, they'd be traveling to realize her dream. A dream, she dreamt ever since she knew. A dream to heal, a dream to relieve people of their pain, a dream to help the helpless, a dream to be a doctor. She never let success get into her head. Success and failure should be always kept at bay, her parents had taught her. Her achievements over the years had been exemplary, yet she remain unaffected by them. Infact, she had a strange disconnection to either the sides of the spectrum.

Anjali looked at her family from the taxi she was seated in, who waved at her with a blend of happiness and sadness. A blend only people familiar with familial bonds would understand. A blend of happiness and sorrow.

"So beta, you are finally living your dream?" her father asked beaming with pride at the achievement of his little daughter. It seemed to him like it was just yesterday that she was a fussy, cerelac puking baby and now she was on her way to study medicine in one of the finest Medical schools of the country!
How proud I am of you, my sunshine! 
"Yes papa! I am." she replied and looked out of the taxi's window, staring at the wide open Gurgaon-Delhi expressway leading to the Indira Gandhi International airport.

Anjali sat in the airport lounge awaiting the announcement to board flight no. 6E-151 to Pune, with a book called "Life is what you make it" written brilliantly by an upcoming writer, as her father continued to scan through the newspaper. After several minutes, the time for departure finally arrived! And when the flight took -off Anjali could hardly contain the excitement. Euphoria enveloped her when it finally landed in the picturesque Pune Civil Air-base.

As she and her father took a cab to the college traversing a distance of 14 kms, the feeling finally sank in. Within minutes she saw the cantonment area of the city and eventually, her college. The best college that there was! A dream which was unfolding itself into reality. A dream only the crème de la crème of the lot could realize. The best medical school in the country for young aspiring doctors to serve both humanity and the nation. The logo of the college with the ever existent Rod of Asclepius adorning the Ashoka Pillar blared at Anjali as she finally got a glance inside the college that was in existence for six decades.

"Wow, Anju beta, your college is colossal!" replied her father looking rapt in the opulence of the campus.
"Yes papa!" she replied with a serene smile.

Never let it get to you. Never let it get to you. Success or failure. Never let it get to you.

She unpacked her bags and arranged everything in her hostel room neatly, as she had always liked. Perfection that she was, she believed in being organized. After a tedious few hours, she and her father had a silent dinner as they were exhausted from finishing the day's formalities that were needed to be done in order to fructify admission in the college.

After her father left the next day after breakfast, she was taken aback by the daunting task that lay ahead of her. An unspeakable fear persisted in her for some reason, but she pushed it to the back of her head. In the next few uneventful days, she waited for the classes to begin which finally did.

"If there's something I expect it is undivided attention and absolute discipline.." he said turning to look towards the classroom.
"Do you understand?" he barked loudly as he wasn't comfortable with uncomfortable silences. Not specially in his own classroom, the famed classroom..Classroom #2A
"Yes Sir!" replied the class in almost militaristic unison.
Anjali stared at the blackboard and looked at the Anatomical chart placed beside it.
"These are the femurs. Without the femurs we'd all be Stephen Fucking Hawkins, sans the knowledge ofcourse!" the Anatomy professor joked, but no one in the classroom had the guts to laugh.

Days passed and what began with a simple introduction to the skeletal schema of the human body developed into more complications as the dexterity of dorsal, ventral, dixtal nerves took over. Anjali soon had the onus of overcoming obstacles of meeting crazy deadlines and she did so by chugging endless quantities of caffeine, developing an amorous relationship with books in the library and finally ending up writing the first assessment examination of the freshman year of medical school.

"He is really cute. And today he walked upto me and asked me for a pen. It took me minutes to retract my thoughts and give him the pen" Anjali's friend said recounting an incident from the early morning class as they were seated in the sparsely decorated hostel mess.
"You should have asked him out" said one of the other friends sardonically, stating an obvious distaste.
"Shut up, willya? He's nice" said the first girl again, defending her version of Helios.
"I am gonna flunk in Anatomy dude!" Anjali said nervously, interrupting their conversation.
"And Ma'am why are we discussing disgusting things over dinner?" queried the other friend looking at her in mock-anger.
"Dude, I am sure I am gonna screw it up. I'm a gone case!" Anjali said again with fear.
"Chill female, nothing's gonna happen of that sort. I even think the prof's got a crush on you!" said her friend and laughed as the other girls joined too.
"Shut up female! I will kill you!" Anjali said and laughed with them.

The results were soon out and Anjali had done exceedingly well. She had aced all the exams and stood in the first five of the class. But then, just as everything was going perfectly, Anjali never saw what was coming. She could've never even imagined.

"Line up all the brats! Especially that studious female from the fourth room. That supposed nerd! Lets see what she's got!" Anjali could hear sudden noises from outside her room as she was reading Atlas Shrugged. She could hear a loud bang on her door and a hoarse yet feminine voice ordered her to open up.
It was the weekend after the first assessment examinations and the freshers had been warned to expect ragging. The seniors had arrived. 
Earlier, even when her other friends were scared, Anjali had pumped hope into them back in time, instilling rationale, saying that ragging was a part of the learning process.
"Oooh! So, here we are with Ms.Know-it-all, the pompous nerd?" said one of the senior who stared at Anjali with a whimsical contempt.

It is just plain, harmless fun. They are going to do nothing to me.

"So, girls. Lets begin!" said the same senior again who looked like a younger version of a fairy-tale witch.

Anjali. They targeted her. They harassed her. What followed was too brutal to be even written and talked about. But, after the ordeal that lasted for several hours, finally ended, they let her go.

The nightmare isn't over. They won't leave you. They'll make your life a living hell. 

She rose from the throes of her inner demons and fought her emotions. She refrained from divulging the details of the horrific incident with her parents, lest they got apprehensive. She went back to her room, numb - a certain sense of impropriety stemmed from anguish. Not just from the shame of the incident alone, but it was the fact that she had never felt so vulnerable in her life, ever. She felt a part of her had  been vanquished, stolen from her, slaughtered right in front of her. The Buddha statue was the first thing she could see from her hostel room's window. Buddha,  the king Siddhartha sat unruffled, who chose austerity after being aghast with the adumbration of materialistic existence. She felt a certain sense of rage seething inside her as she couldn't comprehend how the Buddha was so calm when she on the other hand had been subject to such terrible trauma. She was shivering from head to toe and she could barely think straight.

Why is it being meted out to me? What have I done to deserve it?

And being in an Army Medical School she realized had no clemency when it came to attending classes and she finally dwelt on the harsh reality that she had to make it to her class after a shower.

Anjali slowly recuperated from her demons, she fought them, she fought them hard. She was a strong woman. She had known fear was always bigger than the actual fright itself and with a great deal of valor she struggled and coped, things went back to normal for the week. The weekend came and to her utter dismay, it was a long one as even the succeeding Monday and Tuesday were declared holidays owing to the death of some big-shot politician.

Weekend meant only one thing. A morbid fear awoke in her and she feared the worst. Even in the exasperating melee of negative emotions, she turned to her books, which were in her words, were her man Friday. She struggled to focus, as an unhinged fear persisted in her. For several hours even after the hostelers had retired to sleep, nothing transpired. Yet, she felt cold as she covered herself with a quilt and a blanket, breaking into sweats as she struggled to sleep. It was only eleven o clock and her neighboring roommates had all gathered for their quota of a weekend laptop movie in another room. She dreaded going out of her room, as she knew she'd be the easiest soft-target for those diabolical, barbaric animals who called themselves seniors..

Finally, at one in the night, she could hear vague sounds. One of the senior females were arguing with the warden and then, suddenly Anjali's most deeply seated fears came true. A loud banging sound was audible and she knew what came next. Anjali walked up to her door and out of it and meekly submitted to fate.

"So, you are too good for us, eh!?" said the witch again as if she lived to suck people out of their happiness. 
Anjali said nothing to retort as she knew it was useless arguing logic with humans who thrived on monstrosity. What came next was too disgusting and demonic.

Ragging was supposed to be an ice-breaker goddamnit, not a spirit-breaker. 

Four days. The entire long weekend. The ordeal. Four full days, Anjali didn't bat an eyelid to even catch an glimpse of sleep. Four days. Ninety-Six hours of horrible trauma and anguish. By the fifth day, Anjali started envisioning things- hallucinating, seeing things that didn't even exist. 

What if all of these are the demons finally starting to exorcise my soul?

Her neighboring roommates had to finally relent and call Anjali's parents. They arrived immediately and were too shocked to even discuss what happened. It was way beyond their realm of thought. Anjali sat there numb, staring towards nothingness, in strange shock. The same old college emblem of the Asclepius with the Ashoka now looked like a vague memory from a vaguer past. A horrid past. PTSD, said the doctor initially and she was referred to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist gave his prognosis. He had simply stated that she was on the verge of clinical depression and felt that if she was left in solitude, she'd do the unspeakable. 

Anjali's parents decided to take her back to Delhi in the same flight that she had once come. As she stared listlessly at the college and its surroundings, and she slowly came to terms with the fact that her dream was ending, her dream had been shattered to the tiniest bits and that there literally was no going back. 

Reader, you must be wondering if Anjali sunk to a further state of depression. You are wrong. Anjali, the strongest girl I ever know, continues to fight her demons. She has put the past behind her, today she strives to struggle, to find hope and happiness. For me, she epitomizes faith, she exudes grace. 

Never let it get to you. Never let it get to you. Success or failure. Never let it get to you.

Whenever, she looks at her little sister, she asks her to live her dream. Don't give in without a fight, she seems to say. Anjali meanwhile continues to inspire many people like me, people like me who insist on being unhappy for no particular reason. Had I been in her place, I would've been broken and fractured. But, then she isn't me. She is hope. She is a girl called her...

Dear Ayn Rand reading Stranger,

You say you can count on my opinion. I have an honest opinion, please continue to inspire non-entities like me. I know you are a strong girl. You have shown what it takes to fight back. Thank You for meeting me. This one's for you! I have a certain sense of hero worship towards you right now, even as I write this :-)

A very strange stranger! 

Dedicated to a someone I met on Omegle.

1 comment:

  1. Ayn Rand. Philosopher. _/\_ to her life altering ideas.