lathhir mukhe gaaner shur, dekhiye dilo jadabpur!
The first time I heard this slogan was on a hot June afternoon in 2005, marching with a few thousand students from Jadavpur University down towards Writers Building
. We didn’t make it that far, of course. Somewhere near the Academy of Fine Arts
we were stopped by the police and we sat down peacefully to sing songs while cameramen ran in circles around us.
Two years down the line, if I close my eyes and try to remember, I have to make an effort to recollect every rationale and every logical argument behind the student movement, behind our protests. What I can remember effortlessly are the emotions , the sentiment; the feeling of walking in unity with a thousand strangers; of walking beyond exhaustion and thirst, for a cause that we believed in. Somehow that memory can still make me cry.
I can’t explain it if you weren’t there. I can tell you why I was in a michhil
, I can tell you who was right and who was wrong and why I still believe that, but I cannot explain what it was that made me throw dignity and self-consciousness to the winds and scream slogans till I was hoarse. Maybe it was the policemen who were lining the roads, flaunting their uniforms, their batons, their right to beat up the innocent and protect the guilty; or maybe it was just my impulsiveness.
I still can’t find words to express what it felt like to walk backwards, down the main roads of kolkata, in the middle of two lines of quietly marching people and clap my hands and scream till every single person within ear-range was screaming responses not with their voices but with their hearts.
This university taught me a lot of things through five long years, but that afternoon I learnt what Passion can be.
Afterwards, to be precise, over the next one year, ten months that came after, I’ve been taught what Apathy is. It’s been painful at times, but worth it.
Because at the end of the day this campus; this warm, friendly, welcoming, inert, lifeless, unconcerned campus has taught me one thing. That no matter how much it hurts, no matter how much you feel like the world is coming to an end, most of the world around you will not care. It’s a lesson worth remembering.
Chances are, I’ll forget it. Because after all there is just so much more to remember.
I spent tonight crying over memories. Which was a little ironic, because every one of them was a happy memory. But the thing about leaving a place, when you have come to love it and when you have built so many memories around it, is that it's a little like leaving a lover. You know you have problems, you know you were never meant to be together forever, you knew from the very first day that one day, you would have to move off. But in between, the years have gone by and the memories have accumulated and you’ve made love so many times through golden afternoons, hazy with the heat, and foggy dawns, and the bitter cold of winter evenings that when the time comes to leave even the happiest memory makes you look back in love, in pain and eventually in tears.
But I’ll leave college with a smile. I promise you I will not cry. Chances are when the final day of exams and farewell parties comes I’ll be so drunk and high that I won’t even remember my name. Just tonight I needed to cry. For you, because I love you. Because you’re the most difficult place I’ve ever encountered, but you’ve made me so happy. And leaving is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to. But you know how my old mantra goes; no strings, no loose ends, and above all, no regrets. I can't promise to cut ties, I have a feeling I'll bump into you again and there are a few loose ends we didn't get to tie up but at least I can promise you, I don't have any regrets. Not one. Not for the times when I sat on the side-stairs and bawled my eyes out, not for the times I got drunk, got stoned, got caught in embarrassing positions or managed to get away without getting caught in worse situations. No regrets, only memories, that's all I can take away. And all I can leave is a little bit of love. For you, for the people I'm leaving behind, but most of all, for the dream that is JUDE.