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College Memories

August 25, 2015

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In the words of Charles Dickens, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness”, we were in College (High School). The Eastern concept of High School is quite distinct from that of the usual Western ones. In fact it would be better to say that our College comprised of the students who almost idealized the Western Culture, but the administration had beliefs contrary to the imagination of the students. The main reason behind it being an orthodox mixed nature of College was that unlike other private institutions, this one was looked over by Pakistan Navy, deeming it a semi private institution. Although, the college was notorious outside its boundaries for being an extremely Western Cultured institution allowing the students to be immensely liberal in almost all sorts of matters, the situation was such that there was some strong segregation between the female and male wings of the building, and there were some really strict rules, the failure to follow which would lead to some intense retribution. Similarly, cell phones were not allowed inside the institution, bunking a class was most certainly prohibited and as almost all institutions, smoking was forbidden. Therefore the rumors that flew around in the atmosphere of different colleges regarding our college were almost entirely wrong.

The other day I was sitting with a couple of friends at a tea stall and we started recalling one particular day in our College life and it was pretty hilarious. It took us hours to wind up the conversation because our accounts were extremely elaborate as each and every single detail of the day was inscribed in our memories. Our college includes a semi formal administrative body of students called the students’ council. The hierarchy of the council is such that the College captain is the first in order, the Deputy, his subordinate. Then there are four different houses, each of which has a house captain who overlooks four prefects and a sports coordinator. I was a member.

The day we were discussing started as just another day in the College for us, meaning thereby bunking the first class of the day and deciding that we must start our academic day by having a healthy breakfast from a nearby market. The breakfast took longer than usual and we sat at the table for a good 2-3 hours, spending almost half the time of the College having breakfast, followed by tea and finally cigarettes (except me, of course I didn’t smoke). We all came by different modes at the breakfast place, some by foot, some by car, some by bikes and most by chance. We were thirteen and one of us owned a hatchback car. This is not a lie, we, the thirteen of us, sat in that hatch back and moreover the guy who was driving was in the mood to get us all killed. He started racing the car as soon as he saw 50 meters of clear road ahead of him anywhere. The roads we sped on included a boulevard which ran between the houses of some pretty important folk who had policemen as their protocol guards standing fast outside the houses, who in turn tried to stop us, but who were they to meddle with the verve of young blood.

One of us had to use the toilet owing to all the thrill and adrenaline and as funny as it sounds, it was a unanimous decision that if one of us had to answer the nature’s call, the act had to be performed inside the college. The car was parked outside the college, where there was a no parking board, because yes, we were cool like that . The guy, owing to whom we came to the college, rushed in and all of us sat outside the boundary of the college. Some of the other fellows, who had their own story of the previous half of the day, joined us as they were in the whereabouts. The weather was as beautiful as it could have gotten. The clouds covered the sun and the effect that the atmosphere gave was that it was about to drizzle. One of the fellows had a guitar and I started playing it. Some started singing to the tune of the particular song, almost all were smoking (except me, of course I didn’t smoke), most had their cell phones in their hands as text messages were considered as a trend back then. We were on a bunk, they were smoking, and we had cell phones in our hands. It sounds pretty silly now but we were breaking rules, although petty ones but rules all the same, and it felt good. It felt really good. That atmosphere had intoxication in it, not literal of course, but an intoxication of friendship, college life memories, the feeling of everything being perfect.

Whenever one has a feeling of perfection in life, it only has one problem and it is the same universally i.e. it does not last long. Accordingly, following the natural convention, the Principal, A commodore in the Pak Navy, and his second in command, the Vice Principal appeared straight out of no where and emerged smiling sarcastically into the previously beautiful scene. The smile on both their faces signified that either they were in a very pleasant mood that they saw us in this state and kept smiling or they already knew that they would find us here. The latter seemed more probable, as the former is something contrary to the law of nature. The beauty of the event was that the students who accompanied me were almost all in the students’ council, including two house captains, the deputy college captain and some prefects. It was so ironic that they used to enforce the rules which we were breaking by the virtue of the council, which we were the integral most part of. We all stood extremely straight, every one who was smoking threw their cigarettes away (except me, as of course I didn’t smoke). The cell phones were concealed, the shirts tucked in, the smiles turned upside down. Amongst us, the guy who was the senior most in terms of the council hierarchy, the deputy thought that he had been successful in not catching the eye of the administrators, and tried to sneak out by couching on his knees and silently walking on his toes slowly taking cover of the car while all of us, including the principal and the Vice Principal, were keenly observing him and wondering what he was trying to achieve. As the Vice Principal informed us, we got to know that the security cameras have been installed right on the spot where we were sitting the previous night and the output was accessible in the Principal’s room, by the virtue of which they caught us.

To our astonishment, the Vice Principal who was an unreasonably reasonable man, got hold of us before the Principal could pass any judgment as to whether suspend us or otherwise take more extreme steps, and asked me that why was I there. I’ve been complemented several times on my extempore framing of stories. I told him that we’ve been taking the make up classes of mathematics all day long and we were on a break as it was our sports class and we decided to sit here instead of going into the football field which was all sunny. The Vice Principal ordered us to go inside the college and sit in the class rooms. As we were walking inside, joyfully that the fortune is with us today, our mathematics professor emerged who was a bit of a strict guy. Before he could reach the VP and inform him that we were on a bunk and we didn’t take any class today and there is no such thing as makeup mathematics class, we ran as fast as we could, some to the cafeteria, some to the chemistry lab, some to the gym. Unfortunately, the mathematics teacher saw the guys who ran in the gym including me. As soon as we heard that the mathematics professor is at the door of the gym, me and a friend of mine took cover of the two pillars in the gym and hid ourselves behind them completely. If only Indiana Jones or Bond could see us take cover of that pillar, they would’ve burnt in envy. Surprisingly, the mathematics teacher, as soon as he entered the gym, called out my name and asked me to come out. I thought to myself that he is bluffing; he isn’t sure that whether I’m here or not, I kept as still as possible. He then called out my name and the name of my friend who was hiding behind the pillar with me and asked us to come out. We shared a look that he is definitely bluffing. We neglected all of what was around us and concentrated at concealing ourselves. A few seconds later I looked at my friend again who was then surrendering and I thought to myself, I’m not a chicken and I wont surrender. A few more seconds later I turned to the front of the pillar and there I saw a big mirror in which I could see the mathematics professor with a crowd of at least 30-40 students mocking me as they could see each and every single one of my expressions when I was thinking that I’ve deceived them. I was so embarrassed that I went straight to the teacher and said, “I’ll be in the class” and walked right past him. He too thought that the humiliation I was faced was enough punishment for me. That was the first time I saw him laughing. I’m glad I could help.

The bell rang signifying the end of the academic day and we all moved out of the college slowly talking to each other about the events of the day and how it went well at the end. As we got out, we saw the police car and the sergeant with the car that we were roaming in all day. Our hearts came to our mouths when we remembered that we’ve been signaled by the policemen and they could’ve informed the headquarters. The problem we were facing was that our college bags were inside the car and the sergeant said that all the bags inside the car would be held responsible. He didn’t say for what, but we got a clear picture of what was gonna happen. The owner of the car along with another guy went to the headquarters and we waited for them outside for a good couple of hours, then we returned to our homes and thought obviously it isn’t such a serious matter.

As I reached home, I got a text message from the owner of the car saying:

I’ve been expelled, all of the guys in the car would be suspended tomorrow for 2 weeks, message by the principal.

I advise you to inform your parents so that it might not come as a shock to them”.

Obviously, all of us were devastated. We formed a group like conversation over text messages and started sharing our views. Instantly we thought of the scene when our parents would be called upon by the Principal and he will inform them of all the misconduct we have been committing. He’s then going to tell them that we’re suspended. The image was so horrific that we all decided to tell our parents of the day. As soon as one of us told his mother, the author of the message sent a text saying that I was kidding and don’t tell anyone, the car was wrongly parked and he got a ticket only.

To others, outside our specific friendship circle, this day was not a big deal. We did not break any drastic rules, we did not commit some real daring acts, we know we were not cool when we over sped the car, we know suspension was not possible and even if it was, it wasn’t such big a deal and most of all we know, to a layman, this is lame. But every single one of us has memories attached to every single detailed second of this day and many other days which cannot be counted. Some people might say that we’re living in the past here, but I have formed a different view point. This is not living in the past, in fact this is cherishing those old, simpler, less complicated times which led us to be whatever and wherever we are now.

As we tried to finish talking about this day at the tea stall, everyone lit a cigarette and thought for a moment or two, and after those moments, everyone started their story in turn by “remember that time . . .” (except for me, of course I didn’t smoke).

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From → Biography, Humor

One Comment
  1. Sheharyar Raashid permalink

    Good one Usman!

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