By TM Vignesh.

A picture is worth a thousand words. But a picture painted with a thousand words, is a masterpiece.
Allow me to paint you a beautiful mental picture of my life in a college hostel. Room number seven hundred and twenty two. Door slightly ajar and the rays of the morning sunshine bending around the edges. The alarm’s been sounding for the past hour for the scrawny Kumbakaran to wake up, but to no avail. But punctually at ten minutes past eight, I awaken and begin to gather myself for my morning classes. Morning classes begin at eight; I was late.
Following a very sincere brushing session, that lasted no more than thirty seconds, I return to my room to scrabble for my essentials for the class – clothes. Adorned in my unremarkable jeans and unremarkable T-shirt, I waltz out of the room, ready for the busy day ahead of me. Halfway down my building, I remember I have forgotten another essential. Books. I waltz back into my room, with a little less grandiosity, and pick up the first inanimate object the resembles a book from the paraphernalia scattered on my disordered desk.
As I approach my academic building, I am greeted by my fellow punctual confidants. All of us enter the doors to the building thinking, “Thank God! Nothing better than knowing you’re not the only one late to class!”. As we arrive at the door to our classroom, the minute hand of the clock above the blackboard strikes fifteen. Our teacher, read Hitler, was completely unfazed by the herd of students, read Jews, waiting at his door. One brave soul among the group mustered the courage and asked, “May we come in, Sir?”. Hitler turned to us, enraged, as if we had requested for his two kidneys. He then proceeded to give us a piece of his mind. Tape recorder. All the teachers had the same tape recorder, as a matter of fact. We nodded, as if to never repeat, and moved to our seats. Minute hand struck twenty. Inspite of his gruff voice, his lullaby was rather soothing and I could not keep my eyelids from kissing. But with determination in my spirit, I decided to weather the storm. Every second felt like an eternity. Minute hand struck fifteen. This is going to be a long day.
With the sun at it’s zenith and all the students receding back to the hostel messes for lunch, I felt like I deserved a Nobel Prize for Peace for not declaring war on the teaching staff in retaliation to the four-hour-long torment they put me through. But waiting for us at the other end was our Michelin star mess, plating delectable cuisine since 1985. Signature dishes included ‘Dry as the Sahara-Chapati’ and ‘Clear like the Pacific-Daal’. Completely rejuvenated from the manna I was offered for lunch, I ventured for another four hours of servitude.
But at five o’clock, it was time what I truly looked forward to, all my four years at college – my friends. We talked, we laughed, we had the time of our lives. Even as the sun began to set, the energy within us radiated out and lit the sky. All of the hangout spots on campus were bustling with so much activity and energy, unheard of a few hours earlier. Dance practices, drama rehearsals, bands jamming away to their heart’s desires. Love’s in the air as the couples mingle, freedom’s in the eyes of everybody single. It is a spectacle to witness; one you cannot resist from joining. My friends and I would lose ourselves in conversation about the most random and trivial of matters, because it wasn’t what we were talking about that kept us engrossed, it was who we were with. As the whistles sounded outside, for us to retreat back to our hostels, we would bid adieu only to begin where we left off the next day. But curfew didn’t keep us from having fun at the hostel. We watched the craziest movies, listened to the most outlandish songs, talked about love and broken hearts, and sometimes just lazed around staring into the night sky from our windows. Both the hands of the clock would point to the sky, but the night was young and not the slightest tire in any eye. Academics, you ask? Of course.
Four years have gone by and I find myself doing something rather unusual. I wake up punctually at six. Correction; my mother wakes me up. Brush my teeth clean enough to see the reflection of the reflection of my face in the mirror. Bathe so clean that pathogens would think to themselves, “He looks so hygienic, it’s almost intoxicating”. (Try to) Catch a bus at seven; air conditioned, multi axle Volvo, Formula driver. But not a single person to drive a conversation. Listen to music in the morning, listen to music in the afternoon, listen to music in the evening, binge TV shows at night. Work is cutting edge, but there is nothing refreshing. Home cooked, wholesome meal for breakfast, lunch, snack, late snack and dinner. “Ah! The independence of earning your own
money! Oh. The harsh reality of having to pay taxes.” Study table in order but life in disarray. How can I talk about work in Bangalore and not address the elephant in the room? TRAFFIC. TRAFFIC. TRAFFIC. The initial days of a new boy out of college are rather eye-opening. The real world is real, and unforgiving.
When one moves from home to hostel, it’s home-sickness. But my friends in college were my family away from home. When I moved back home from the hostel, it was sick-of- home-ness. My new family away from home I found in the other freshers at the office and in Sunshine Toastmasters. A ear to my thoughts and in return, a lot of thoughts for my soul. The five o’clock I looked forward to at VIT, is now Thursday evening, where I lose track of time and space, lost in the mirth and belongingness. I’m at a crossroad. But instead of turning Robert Frost, I’m embracing the moment that is now and taking in as much as I can of this moment before moving on. For there is always time to move on, but not too easy to turn back.
The painting is a little shoddy, penned over a night, rough around the edges. But the colours are dense with truth and the strokes are flowing with emotion. Take a step back and observe the piece of art that it is; the thousand words that make it up.