This is an article I had written around three years back, when I was a mere second year, and was still a student of the college I have had so many (not-so-nice) things to say about. This article was published in rediff.com sometime in 2002.
I watched them shuffle past. They looked pathetic, fear writ large on their faces, trying to fix their gaze on the sheer nothingness of the wall as they hurried away.
The first years had arrived.
I stifled the sadistic laugh that emanated from deep within myself, and felt my thoughts run away from the realities of the present to that day one year ago when.....
I trod on the ground with utmost fear and trepidation, as if it was readying itself to partake of me as a wholesome breakfast. The building was big, all right- it was big enough to fill the Warrier soul (which unfortunately has none of the courage that is normally associated with the word) with the blackest fears.
Gone were the days of my twelfth standard when I could be self-assured of the fact that I was a member of the top class, and walk without fear.
Now, I had entered college, and I felt as queasy as the goat who realizes his neck would soon have the pleasure of exchanging unpleasant views with the butcher's knife.
I looked at myself in self-appraisal. I had gone out of the way to look cheap and ugly. I ticked off mentally the list of things my 'senior' had told me, in a tone of absolute sadistic satisfaction, to be wary of-
Old, worn out chappals (yes), ordinary pants (yes), ugly looking shirt untucked(yes), hairstyle twenty years out of date (absolutely!), shaved clean (yes), and finally the look of absolute innocence (hopefully yes).
I found a few other lambs fretting it out almost as obviously as I was. We were herded by a second year---under the watchful eye of a lecturer, lest he succumb to the temptation of ragging us---to a shamiana, where the principal was to welcome us.
The principal's speech was, no doubt, 'exhilarating and invigorating' but in keeping with the tradition I had followed religiously since my induction into kindergarten, I fell asleep after two minutes and thirty two seconds. I woke up from my reverie in a start only when I heard him announce that classes would begin the next day!
I gulped. Tomorrow, I thought, I would actually be entering the college as a student.
Next day, I trembled my way to the stop where the college bus would pick me up.
The 'senior' had already regaled me with terrible tales of how first-years got their tails brutally chopped off in the college bus in a variety of ingenious ways. I prayed fervently to God that all the seniors would have decided, on this day, to stay home and catch up on their reading or their paramours, as their tastes may lie.
But it was not to be, as I saw quite a few people with the relaxed air that is the trademark of a man who finds nothing new in the college or the ride to the college. I tried to sit next to the lecturer who had placed his eye on the shepherding second year the previous day.
But he sent me back to where I was sure the seniors were awaiting my arrival - tersely informing me that this seat was reserved for the staff.
I silently cursed the man for his insensitivity and felt a sudden chill run down my spine.
I tried to stand, looking as unobtrusive as possible, trying to melt into the background. But my fears were confirmed as the most ferocious looking of the seniors pointed to the seat next to him. I placed myself gingerly on the seat. He did not smile. I gulped. He asked me my name in a tone that seemed almost like a bark. I answered in a low undertone.
"Did you bite your tongue off?", he asked me, in the same rasping voice.
He began to appear more and more like that bloke Heydrich, who was famous for his macabre tastes when the head honcho of the Gestapo.
I repeated my name... "Siddhu..."
"Siddhu...that's all?", the same rasping, and cold voice.
I silently pitied all those British spies unfortunate enough to be caught whistling "Rule Brittania" while walking past the friendly neighborhood Hitler youth. I was sure they felt quite the same emotions course through their veins as they faced the equally friendly neighborhood SS executioner.
"Siddhu Warrier", I said.
He called me a few choice words (which I must remember to use when I catch myself my first junior!), which I decline to write to avoid offending the morality of the decent, law-abiding Indian.
It struck me like one of those Daisy cutter bombs struck dear old Mullah Mohammed Omar, that the informative senior of mine had informed me how we first-years, being the lowest forms of life on mother earth, had to refer to our seniors using the salutation 'Sir'. I also recollected the terrible consequences a violator of this golden precept would have to face.
"I'm sorry, sir...I mean, Siddhu Warrier, Sir"
"Good, which branch have you joined?", came the clipped, and curt tone.
"Sir, computer science and engineering, sir", I repeated, in a small, almost feminine voice about which, the senior, who was very blunt with words, remarked rather luridly. After that I wisely abandoned the frightened falsetto.
"Tell me the names of a girl."
"Zaheera", I said, promptly, the inspiration coming from the monarch of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah.
"I said names, not name, you &*^&^*$#. Tell me names of girls starting from A through Z"
The ordeal of thinking up names within a short interval was very strenuous, and I was glad that the bus journey came to a halt when the burly chap was making some joke about my intellect, which I failed to find funny in the least.
Hearing this wisecrack, the other chaps, rather needlessly, if I may say so, started guffawing.
The classes went on, with most teachers introducing themselves, and doing other things, none of which I am sure the reader will find even slightly interesting.
I got through the return trip unscathed, except for being instructed by another chap to learn 'The Real Slim Shady' by that master craftsman (sarcasm intended, please), Eminem the next day.
Cut to: the last day of my first year
As I walked home, watching the setting sun, I realized, in an introspective and reflective mood that I had just stopped being a dreg of collegiate society. My freshman days were yet another page in the story of my life.
Looking back at the last year, I realized that it had been a good one after all. The ragging helped me make friends, and had been nowhere near as bad as I had feared
What I had gained most over the last year, I felt, were quite a few friends...
As the sun set on my introspection, I hoped the present first years would find their first years as 'profitable' as I did... ( evil grin)
As for those who didn’t, please contact Siddhu Warrier....