If there’s one feeling which forms the core undercurrent of my life, it’s passion. That’s the only emotion I’ve ever understood when it comes to both my personal and professional life. Unlike any high-end materialistic dreams, my only dream was to study in a great college – the best one.
And, this very word – passion – made me, officially, venture into the world of Humanities in class 11. In one word, Humanities, to me, is comforting. Back in class 8, even when I wasn’t aware of the existence of such a word, I had it streamlined. I always knew it was going to be either history, civil services or law.
As today tells, I went with the last one and I am a grumpy, excited, driven and passionate law student.
I had decided upon pursuing law by the time I began my Class 10 – the reason being, I enjoyed the vibrancy of the career and it just fit. Though there is a teeny part of my heart that still aches for not taking up history in a full-fledged manner, I am more than happy on having chosen law.
Back down memory lane, Class 11 and 12 flew by while putting in efforts to prepare for the entrance examination called CLAT (Common Law Admission Test). A huge setback came to me in the form of my Class 12 Board Results – I had failed my Mathematics paper.
While I was still trying to gauge this catastrophe of an event and the ramifications it would have on my academic records, I was in for another setback – my CLAT results were out. I hadn’t made it to any ‘prestigious’ or ‘top-tier’ National Law Universities; and, the worst mistake I had made was that of not giving any other law entrance examination or exams of private law schools. Add to that, my Mathematics failure had drastically lowered my percentile, and hence, eliminated my chance of getting through well-ranked private law schools on the basis of the same.
Those months were emotionally and mentally devastating for me on levels more than one and for reasons more than few. I couldn’t afford myself any time to crib and complain. The acceptance of my situation was going to be my only aid, it was.
I finally narrowed down to a private college, located in the dream of a city that Bombay is. Though, only later did I realize that its location was a sham, and I was going to be spending my next five years at a place almost two hours away from Bombay.
This decision affected me on two major levels – first, having lived in a small city for 18 years of my life, the shift to Bombay was going to a major one; and second, I was yet to come to terms with the fact that my only dream had been shattered.
I entered my college with a lot of pressure (of achieving something), baggage (of the past academic failures), hope (of this college being the wing to my dreams), expectations and my omnipresent passion.
I realized that this place was a place of beautiful sunrises, gorgeous dusk skies, lots of green and of peace. But, it was just as dormant academically, which was expected, but still a huge blow to my academic zeal. Being the optimist that I am, I clung to hope.
I was trying my best to make peace with classes being suspended continuously, a dearth of faculty that would create an academic environment in class which would harbor debate and literary zest, but none of it happened. Classes became limited to just being physically present, and college to yet another place of socialization.
While I was still grappling with the issue of my crushed dreams, I had another major obstacle to face. Previously mentioned, 18 years in a small town had limited my experiences. Add to that, close to zilch social interactions in said small town. What was also different was the sheer kinds of the people I was coming across in college. I was used to dealing with people that had collective mindsets with almost similar backgrounds. Cut to college, where I had suddenly been exposed to so much diversity – of people, thoughts, opinions, and behavior. In one word, it was overwhelming.
That was then and this is now. I am so much better at social relations than what I was a few years back, which can also be attributed to my fascination for how social setups work. I have made peace with the status quo of my academic life in college – but having said that, I have managed to create an environment which helps me thrive in the domains I love.
I attribute a lot of my coping to my reading. Though I was lacking in practical exposure, reading had exposed me to various dimensions of how relationships function and how perspectives work. I also discovered that many aspects of surviving college were directly proportionate to the surroundings and the city I was living in.
Right from never travelling alone even in my hometown to navigating the local trains of Bombay amidst the hustle bustle, managing my expenses wonderfully, exploring the city, taking numerous decisions that would impact my lifestyle, I learnt it all. Surviving college was also about living and sustaining myself in Bombay. If I were to use one word that would sum up what this gorgeous city has given me, it’d be liberation.
Bombay and its exuberance liberated the 18 year old me in ways that are indescribable. In a lot of ways, my explorations and my bond with the city made me aware of who I am as a person. It gave me my first taste of independence coupled with a sense of responsibility that also came with being on my own. Marine Drive became my getaway and Fort Book Street my go-to, when I would find it unable to deal with the monotony of academics.
Now that I’m in fourth year of college, I can successfully say that I have a few takeaways from my previous years. I realized how time while healing things, definitely makes you get used to things and accept situations. I realized how if we really want to excel at something, we always find ways to further ourselves in that direction, without excuses and complaints. I realized how relationships evolve and work themselves out over time.
I have met the most amazing set of people I could ever meet, and college has also been about imbibing a lot from their diverse narratives – one with such streamlined vision about his career, one whose integrity could inspire yours, and one whose rationality will. From living this experience individually, it has gradually become an experience we have all collectively lived together.
At the risk of sounding cliché, the past few years also made me more protective of my siblings and closer to my family – not just the home food, but the comfort, candor and protection of home.
College years are important, they say, for they not only shape our perspective and broader our horizons about life. But, they also help us understand the nuances of human relationships, our passion, and our true calling. They often reveal to us what principles we’d compromise on, and they make us aware of who we are as people and what we choose to represent. I am only grateful and glad that I’ve been able to experience most of these.
Note: The usage of ‘Bombay’ instead of ‘Mumbai’ is intentional – a conscious decision for my love of the ancient.