Trekking up the mountain in a light rain, the first thing I did after changing into my pyjamas was badgering Ravi (our caretaker at the resort) to provide me with some paper and a pen. Yes, I was cold through the bones, I was shivering and asked Bankoti to lend me his socks because I had forgotten mine at home, I just felt that this one time, I must go for it right now.
Finally, after settling 30 odd people into their rooms, he gave me a drenched piece of paper, a very old diary and a neon green pen. By then, I had already put 3 cups of steaming hot coffee into my tummy and had sung a plethora of songs on the two guitars. Under the same hatch, a couple (foreigners) were really amused to see the ruckus we had created there in a matter of minutes and were throwing furtive glances at us.
As Ravi finally gave me my stuff, I quietly withdrew from the group and started looking for a lone spot. I picked my favourite and went there to write only to find that Sangam (my junior) was showing off freezes and teaching mild lessons to his juniors. Three weeks back, a writer friend of mine texted me, “What’s wrong? No updates on Learner’s Pen? I have been waiting forever to read them”. Since then, I have been truly wanting to write something but couldn’t find the motivation to do it. However, here at Binsar, I felt the strongest pull ever to scratch the pen on any paper I could find.
Maybe it was not the amazing setting, it was my 30 odd friends; maybe it was not the light cold breeze and the smell of the mountains, it was the guitar; maybe it was not caffeine, it was the merrymaking all around me; maybe it was not the beautiful trees and the chilling cold, it was the freedom I felt after such a long time. So I sat down on the stone slab and glanced at the view in front of me. It was one of the best I had seen in all my life.
In front of me for around 20 feet was a bed of mustard blossoming a lovely yellow, beyond that was a small cliff and then the ranges started. It was after sunset, nearly twilight and the cold stone table was making my bottoms go numb but nothing could distract me from the majestic wonder I felt. I widened my eyes to absorb everything in front of me – a small range of mountains in the shade of dark green followed by a range of dark rich brown followed by a range of deep cobalt blue; then another; coloured light, happy denim blue and finally the last range playing happily with the clouds in the shades of powder blue and white. The last range kissed the azure and grey sky which had patches and blots of gold, red and orange. As the sky was turning darker, stars lit up, both in the sky and on the mountains. A slight mist was descending and due to the rains earlier, the needle leaves were glistening as if to invite me to touch and caress them. I was roped into the charm of colours and I was furiously writing to capture the landscape. Just then, the best male vocalist I ever had the privilege to know came down with his guitar and we started singing our favourite CB songs as he worked his magic on the strings. I was blowing off steam into the star studded sky twinkling right back at me when we were called back for the bonfire.
And then it started, our entire batch dived into nostalgia and we started performing our most famous stage acts for our juniors’ benefit who had never seen it live. Within an hour, my batch had their last four years of life, growth, emotions, gratitude, wonder and inspiration stretched in front of their eyes and they grew quiet as the thought of leaving it behind began to sink in. As the troop descended to the dining hatch, I fed a morsel to every kid with my hands. As I looked at my first-years, I couldn’t bear to think I just had 2 months left with them. They looked so young, so innocent, so loving, so full of life. You could almost feel that they had a lot to say but were hesitant.
Then started the work of my department: washing and cutting 5 kgs of chicken with Shivam in the freezing cold. Wierd as it may sound, it was a relief to put my hands into the warm water turned deep red 😡 The chicken was put to marination as I joined my friends dancing, singing, playing, talking, teaching, cooking and barbecuing. I need not describe the rest. You can yourself imagine what happens when huge speakers, the most creative and talented people, the best singers, the best dancers, the best actors, the best drummers, guitarists, the biggest zehreele (people with an expertise in p.j.s) get together. The trip drew on and we went trekking, bathing in the falls, singing, playing, laughing and posing.
What I can tell you however, is that living and breathing in the company of the most talented, creative and hard-working people on the campus; lying on a friend’s shoulder while watching over the valley; watching 3 years younger kids mimicking you; having all-girls sleepovers; watching love-stories blossom in front of you; taking care of each other; being loved; being fed by your friend’s hands; remembering how you were 4 years back and laughing at yourself, how much you have grown since you first came to college, how much you have groomed yourself and possibly others, how much you have allowed your friends to change you; learning to dance better; to sing better; to write better; to work better; to study better; getting inspired with every move your bureau-mates make; to teach them and groom them; to be taught by them; watching each other get better at everything, finding relationships for life; the feeling of belonging to a community that always inspired you; to give back to it and prune it according to your versatile learning; to watch respect for yourself in your junior’s eyes are one of the biggest privileges of being in college.
When the trip was coming to a close, the final year members were making speeches and everybody was sentimental, one of my batch-mates whispered,”Tonight, everything would end”. Maybe he was right, or maybe we still have roads to fare together, nobody knows. I looked up at him and asked “At no other institution we will spend as much time as we have spent here, does that mean we will never find better friends?” and he said,”our perspectives are solidified now, so most probably not” and I looked at the bus, at the family the 12 of us had grown together, and tears welled up in my eyes… I smiled, grateful, that all of this happened…Dedicated to Himanshu, Nikita, Aditi, Gurpreet, Kritika, Nikhil, Sachin, Shradha, Monica, Saurabh and Naina 🙂