This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Paribha Vashist. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“My Only Hope Is That I Get To Enter My College Campus Before I Graduate”

More from Paribha Vashist

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

One year and four months ago, I wrote my last board exam.

Euphoria dominated my psyche because all the stress associated with examinations had come to an end. Little did I know, or the whole student community for that matter, that in a few days a nationwide lockdown would be imposed and the trajectory of our lives would change forever.

Board Exams And The Rising Covid-19 Cases

Most of us in our preparatory leave before the board exams were actively following updates of Covid-19 cases and the news of the tragic deaths worldwide. I remember being particularly worried when I read about the first Covid-19 case in India. There was an atmosphere of tension due to the upcoming exams that were heightened by the news of exponentially increasing cases worldwide.

However, Delhi (where I live) was free from the clutches of this virus so it seemed that everything would be normal soon. But things were about to change, for the worse.

Representational Image. Photo:

My exams started on February 27 of 2020. I had English and when I entered the examination centre, everything seemed to be moving the regular way. No one had any masks on and there wasn’t anything pushing us to even consider the thought of social distancing.

For us, Covid-19 was a faraway phenomenon.  But with subsequent exams, I started noticing the change in the attitude of my batchmates. The environment around me transformed from “no one wearing masks, no one having sanitisers, no one observing social distancing” to “everyone wearing masks, everyone carrying sanitisers, and most observing social distancing.”

In fact, on the day of my last exam, we were allotted alternate seats and a row in between was left empty. I remember looking at these empty seats and having poignant thoughts about the impending isolation. However, I was never able to anticipate that such a long period of loneliness was about to follow.

Period Of Loneliness And Anxiety

Life seemed to proceed dully and a general lassitude prevailed for four months. On July 13, when our Board results were announced, the monotony was disrupted. I was happy to have done well, but now I had to wait with bated breath for the Delhi University cut-offs to be announced. There was deep anxiety because the good overall performance of the students would push the cutoffs higher. The stress finally ended when I met the cut-off for my preferred course in a reputed Delhi University college.

With the end of anxiety, a new desire to reconnect with my school friends emerged. I became closer to some more than I had been before and this bonding gave a strong boost to my mental health. Finally, when my college started on November 18, I was in a placid and content state.

online learning
Representational image.

College Life Begins

It was a refreshing experience to meet (virtually, of course) a diverse set of young, bright girls from all over India. At first, I was hesitant to open up because the days of “confinement” had transformed me into a somewhat reserved person, which was completely antithetical to my former extroverted self. However, I pushed myself to embrace this “new normal” and the changing environment.

For the first time, I experienced online learning with all its pros and cons.

The best aspect of learning new topics in school (in the physical mode) had been the ease with which we could engage in conversations and debates with our teachers and classmates, but the nature of the online mode has transformed the whole learning process into a monologue of sorts. Cross-interactions have become limited and the effectiveness of learning has been adversely affected.

The online mode necessitates the adoption of innovative modes of teaching and evaluation; however, in most cases, the traditional modes of assessment are being followed. This, in turn, creates a huge gap between what is being taught by the professors and what is being retained by the students.

Nevertheless, after eight months into college, I can positively say that the professors have started exploring new ways of teaching and made the learning process more comfortable for the students.

When The Second Wave Hit

The times have not been easy, however.

When the second wave of Covid-19 hit India, most of us went through severe physical and mental trauma. Many of the students and teachers tested positive and had to deal with the loss of loved ones. I personally saw my father suffer from intense physical and emotional pain when he was diagnosed with Guillain Barre syndrome as a post-Covid effect.

All these factors took a toll on me and I am sure many others have experienced worse. Given this context, it was a prudent decision of Delhi University to cancel our second-semester exams and evaluate us based on our internal assignments.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Youth Ki Awaaz (@youthkiawaaz)

Misguided Optimism

Now that the second wave has subsided and the vaccination rate is showing a positive trend, we are optimistic that our college may reopen in a few months. Yet, it is an unfortunate fact that our hopes have been shattered multiple times owing to the uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation.

Gargi College: the campus that I am yet to visit.

Many of us are missing out on the independence and the “newfound sense of adulthood” that comes with college life. With mass restrictions on social gatherings, hanging out with friends has become a virtual phenomenon. The only way left for most of us to relish our college life is to imagine how our college life “could have been” under normal circumstances.

Personally, I often picture myself touching the red brick walls of Gargi, savouring Italian food at ‘Diggin Cafe,’ and looking at my professors’ facial expressions when we blurt out wrong answers for easy questions.

Considering the obscurity of the times ahead, my only hope, for now, is that I get to enter my college campus before I graduate.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
You must be to comment.
  1. Ravindra Kumawat

    Dear Paribha, You shared lot about yourself and your struggles during pandemic. I like the way in which you have mentioned each and every incidents happened with you. I totally agree with your feelings about visiting the campus. Doing things online are partially impractical. I too missing the joy and fun with friends in campus life. I hope everything will be normal soon. Thank you so much for sharing such kind of moments.

More from Paribha Vashist

Similar Posts

By India Development Review (IDR)

By Nupur Pattanaik


Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below