“Anand, we are here.” That deep voice was my dad. It was just a 30 km ride from my home. By the way my dad drives, it’d been just over 45 minutes since we had started out. But that had been a deep sleep for such a short period. I opened my eyes to see the towering walls of the place where I was going to spend my next 5 years. This was somewhere I had never wanted to be but this is where I was. In metallic silver letters on the brick wall read the words – The National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi.
I completed my school education with the science stream securing 95% marks, and attempted JEE, BITSAT and many more entrance exams. But the exam that I cleared was CLAT. Law had never been a career option to me. If given a hundred options, law would have been my hundredth. And yet here I was at the doorsteps of one of the premiere law colleges in the country. As we rode in, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had earned by studying pure science for the last two years.
My dad and I weren’t alone in the car. I had taken with myself 4 bags of luggage. It had things that were familiar to me. We got off the car to walk to my hostel room. The hostel pathway was long and dark, extending to infinity. There were rooms on either side. “Your room is towards the end. Room number 319,” shouted the warden.
The room was big enough for two people. The walls were painted yellow. A depressing colour to go with my depressing mood, I thought. The hostel room was quite different from my room back home. Other than being half the size, it did not have posters of Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku – the trio that had developed a passion for physics in me. Soon this wall would have posters of H.R. Khanna and Fali Nariman.
“You will love this place,” – said my dad, interrupting my thoughts. He was getting late for office. “I’m good here. You can leave,” I said. He ran his fingers lovingly over my hair. “I will call you,” he said and left.
It had been my father’s decision to make me attempt CLAT. Not because he thought that I had an aptitude for law but because he didn’t want me to study in a college of ‘low repute’. The expectations from my family were huge and I did manage to deliver with an AIR 870 for a student who had heard about CLAT just 2 months before the exam. On one hand lay the preparation of two months and a cleared exam, and on the other, two years of problem solving, mock tests and reading that had not been able to help me pass JEE Advanced. Some short cut methods and a little guess work took me past the CLAT cut-offs.
I felt like a crow among a flock of pigeons. My family had bankers, teachers and civil servants but a lawyer – I am the closest anyone from my family got to it. I had always been under the impression that people who got into National Law Universities were those who belonged to a family of lawyers or judges or had at least been passionate about this field for years. And amidst such people, here I was, beginning my journey in a field different from what I had envisaged.
I decided to take a walk. The NUALS campus has a hilly terrain, it was a walk down from the hostel. I was not the only one out, and as the number of people staring at me increased, I began feeling more and more insecure. I had to escape.
But wait, I wasn’t the only troubled person here. In the shade of one of the very few trees in a campus was a gang of four, having pretty much the same expression, as I had. It is now or never. I have to break some eggs sooner than later. “Hi. I am Anand.” I said with an extended arm. I could see the relief on their faces. They introduced themselves to be Amjad* from Hyderabad, Sahil* from Chandigarh, Ramya* from Chennai and Marita* from Trivandrum.
It was Amjad who followed up talking, “We met each other a few minutes back. Like me, they were finding it difficult to talk to other people. None of us are actually from families with a legal background. Nor did we have any idea about an NLU when we were back in school. We do not even know if we can adjust to this place. But you seem pretty much in here. Is your father an advocate?” I couldn’t stop giving a smile. I wasn’t the only one here. “No,” I said.
I wasn’t actually the crow in a flock of pigeons. We are crows, pigeons and cuckoos forming a new flock to embark on a new journey. We are all victims of the Indian educational debacle. After spending 14 years in school I couldn’t find what I loved. It’s not my failure. It’s the failure of our education system. As I start off on a new journey spanning 5 long years, I hope to realise my passion, love and life.