“When two men live together they usually maintain a kind of shabby neatness out of incipient rage at each other. Two men alone are constantly on the verge of fighting, and they know it.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
It was my first year in college and it was my first year away from home, ever. There is actually a big difference between the two. First year in college doesn’t really impact you so much if you have already lived away from your home earlier. Because going to college, although a big transition in life, is but going to school only for more hours. But when you combine the leaving family part into it, things get quite lonesome and at times morose. And that my friends is why they give you roommates in your first year.
We had a 3 in 1 accommodation then. I had made plans with two guys whom I met while registration to stay together but one of them didn’t make it fast enough to at the hostel. By the time I got to the hostel, one of the earlier guys had taken a room with some other guy and I was asked if I would like to shift in with them or get another. I chose the former and went there. The guy I had befriended earlier greeted me and I wanted to ask him why he couldn’t wait for what we had decided upon. But his parents were around so I didn’t. Then I turned to my other roommate. He looked like the introvert sort of guy, shy, timid, who was just there to study. Maybe because he chose to be that with parents around. My first impressions are seldom deceptive but this was one of those times.
His name was Abhishek, or as we fondly called him ‘L.O.D’. And this guy mind you was probably the best refuge I could have found away from home. He had lived in a hostel for his +2 studies and so he seemed to understand the qualms that be. And when he was willing to, he talked about them too. It was difficult to figure him out at once. One moment he would be that lurky guy the college was filled up with and the next moment he would turn into that Mr. Smart pants who knew everything about human nature but chose not to discuss them with inferior beings. He didn’t socialize with everyone but with his friends, he was at his best.
We used to call him ‘Lord of Darkness (L.O.D)’ or ‘Raat ka Raja’ stemming from his continuous late night trysts with..well with internet. He would be awake through the night, working his away on a borrowed laptop and would bunk the morning classes if he needed to. There was another uncanny rumour in the hostel that if you sit near Abhishek at night, your Wi-fi speed got tripled. And many including me had observed that it really did :p
But for Abhishek, my first year would have been spent as a recluse. I used to be in my geek-mode then and my objections to the tremendous disturbances that my other roommate’s friends used to bring with them had resulted in many fights with him. Also, he had had certain clashes with Abhishek in the beginning so both of us were not on good terms with him. That made us bond all the more. We would take all our 3 meals together, study together (that is when he did study :p ) and we seemed to have the same reservations towards doing silly things. That made us NOT do all the crap people do when they get into college. We had several moments worth recalling in that one year but this one takes the cake-
It were the final exams of the second semester and I had done away with all but one. Abhishek however had the subjects I had in my first semester and so he had two left. He had had a run of bad-luck recently and no matter how well he prepared for exams, he screwed up something or the other. But on this day, he was gonna make sure he didn’t do anything silly. So Thursday, he prepared the best he could and from the best of notes, writing and revising for the Economics exam on Friday. I had an English exam on Monday now and so I helped him with it, being myself good at it. Around 1 at night, I went to bed telling him to just go through the syllabus once and then go to sleep. He nodded and I drifted on my bed.
The next morning, I woke up a bit late from my usual days. Tired from a tough run of exams, I decided not to take breakfast and drift back to sleep. Meanwhile, I just raised my eyes above the table to look at Abhishek’s bed and landed back upon mine. And then it struck me. I pulled out my mobile phone and looked at the time. It was 15 minutes past the usual beginning of the exam! I got up hurriedly and tried to wake him. He didn’t. I jolted him up from his bed and told him- “Bhai, it’s past exam time”
“Whose exam”, he muttered, still in sleep.
“YOURS”, I shouted.
He suddenly realized what the heck was going on and pulled out his watch. “Oh shit” he went and somehow grabbed something to wear and rush down. I followed him down with my bag and asked him to take my pen-pouch in case he may need it. Then he asked me for the calculator he had lent me the day before and I went into my bag to find nothing. I kept on searching as he rushed to the gate telling me “Let it go”.
I then got back to the room, got fresh, changed and retraced my path of the day before, looking for his calculator. I went to my exam hall, navigated my way through every desk and corner of the room, went into the library, sifted through all possible desks and shelves I might have gone to and still found nothing. I just decided I would have to remunerate him with another one and went to his hall. I had searched for and hour and a half so he would be coming out anytime.
As soon as he did, I asked him how it went and he actually looked satisfied or even happy with what he had done. Then I told him I had lost his calculator and he went “Arre..I took it out from your bag last night. Couldn’t tell you in the morning”. Profanities were hurled and exchanged at this and to calm me down he caught my neck turning it towards some girl he used to tell me he had crush on. “Not for you”, I told him once I was cool and he replied, “I know”.