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The Millennium Batch Part 10 / Series 1

By Piyush Roy

Moving in with Rahul was so sudden an occurrence that it baffled me as much as it did the others. Particularly taken aback was the ‘hate-Rahul’ guy gang that had all but desisted from publicly terming me a turncoat. But then it was a decision taken more as chance than choice. My now-on-now-off relationship with my current landlord reached its heated worst, with my landlady throwing a near cathartic fit, on her third encounter with Tammy in my premises. Tammy had this unique habit of dropping in like a recurrent surprise, irrespective of the hour of the day and I had a tough time explaining to my ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hairelationship theory addicted’ landlord couple that ‘a guy and a girl could also be – just friends’.

Finally, I convinced myself that enough was enough and decided to give it a slip. With a long face, I was as usual ruing about my latest house predicament in the canteen, when the all ears Anisha informed that Rahul too was looking for a roomie as his existing one had been expelled from his college on disciplinary grounds. Contemplating on the option, I however had also requested Pam and the other guys to find an alternative. But theirs was a mere consolatory conciliation rather than any concrete measure. It so happened that day, that Rahul and I entered the class of Prof. Gureja, the institute’s most senior and strict faculty, at the wrong time together and were sent packing to the last row with a warning of being disallowed for the term if caught in a repeat act. The lecture was on ‘critical thinking’; but his personal asides were far more stimulating for their radical detours from the popular pathways to fulsome living. “An MBA may make you economically independent with a fat salary, a dream that’s got most of you here,” he began on a somber note, before declaring to dramatic twist, “But if you are independent psychologically no organisation can enslave you nor can any person be your boss or master. Follow these principles, and you will come back, five, 10 or 20 years down the line, thanking me for guiding you towards a life lived well and happy”. He paused, to survey his now stilled audience, before unleashing Messiah like – his three commandments! “Never let your doubt die. That’s the most precious thing you have got. It’s only the doubt that one day will help you discover the truth. So, doubt until you discover. Next, Never imitate. To become someone is very easy; to be someone is very difficult. Finally, and most importantly, Beware of knowledge. Because once you feel you are knowledgeable you enter a sensitive psychological space where your ego will start making you believe that whatever you are thinking, or spouting is your own wisdom. Never before this danger was so great as it is today because never before knowledge was so easily available to you through all kinds of media…”

Meanwhile, my sullen ego on being banished to the back-of-the-class, had resurfaced to seek succor insome ‘critically thoughtful’scribbled mumbo-jumbo spewing errant emotions of hurt creativity: “What’s wrong with me? These last few days. Why does it happen that the classes bypass my assimilation like unseen parodies? Nothing registers beyond, compe¬tition’s muted glee over slight failures. Nobody loves me. There’s none to wait for me for lunch at the college canteen. A semester is gone, and yet I have no lasting friendship. None that I can call a soulmate – a girl, a guy. Either. Neither! Friends are aplenty, but what about that special one, called buddy?

Now even the faculty has started picking on me — a model student of the class. Couldn’t that Gureja before gurr-ing his old fangs let me in without a reprimand before all? But then, what’s the point of reprimanding, if you don’t make a lesson out of it for others. And yet, how the hell he club me with a compulsive latecomer like Rahul? I have been the only one dili¬gently devouring his drum roll discourses without doubt from day one. Come again Avi… Did you realise what you just confessed,to? Your days sound so boring… Woe my solitude seeking solace in such sullen monologues. There I again go, yak…yak…yak…in self-pity. It’s high time I stopped making an issue of a passing scolding that I anyway deserved.

But then reputation’s such a shortlisted commodity. You are as good as the length between your last achievement and the next faux pas. Groveling at the base of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I, the savvy sapien selected to study an MBA…

Ah wait! Why make my choice for a career sound so base and abominable? But then it’s a confession done to the self, alone. So, what’s the hassle? I can live with it. At least a few morrows more, sans compunction.

Let me instead concentrate on some ‘critical thinking’ on my elective chosen this semester — Public Relations — the process of building and sustaining beneficial relationships as the balding Mr. Madok with his shining-to-perfect pate has mugged us, on to. That too is a facet in the life of one grooming to be an MBA, not bald pates (signs of future prosperity) but the ‘mug up’ act. LOL. Searching credibility in marks earning weekly assignments and presentations, through short and long discussion trips to a factory of jargons – churning USPs and NLPs, Positionings and IMCs – sieving through unlimited theories on any, or rather every possible human behaviour, from something as trite sounding as the ‘Trying to Consume Theory’ to elaborate treatis¬es on ‘Relationship Building…’Funny or Irony!

Equipping ourselves with supposed consumer-dictated sur¬vival kits in a third world market, based on experiential feedbacks of economy analysts from the developed world. Foreign authors, foreign markets… subtly kindling a shrewd desire for foreign recruitments, which how many will anyway get, with retrenchment being the in-vogue HR mantra, across companies and economies, already conditioning our ambitions for limited takeoffs, with a year-and-half still pending to the completion of our education.

What a mockery,perhaps like my fate today, that’s got me to share the desk, the banter and the beginning of my day with the class’ pathological snob (Rahul)… who’s been purposefully hitting me under the desk; for the past few minutes, now. He won’t chill before having us both thrown out of the semester.

Ouch… There again goes that knee-tap. Should I break his kneecap, if he does it again?

Damned luck, a curse to thee, and thy sinister magnanimity, (if Rahul’s the company you intend to bless my soli¬tude with)!

I stopped abruptly, ending one more of my midweek blues, a frequently undertaken exercise in intellectual timeout, a scampered diaryof scattered notes, for my timely surfacing suffers on recur.I didn’t notice that Rahul was all along reading my note from behind, to next snatch the copy, the moment I let go off my pen. I pulled it back and was ready to give him the thud of my frustrations, when he just smiled that half-smirk giggle of his. As his mischievous eyes curled up turning as small as those of a Tibetan Pekingese, don’t know what took over me. I just felt like giving him a cuddle instead, as an effortless smilenegotiated itself to the fore with an invitation to friendship writ large on my countenance.

“Nice copy… but why do you guys hate me so much?” he scribbled returning my note.

The writer is an author of three published works of fiction and non-fiction. For details visit: www.piyushroy.com

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