• Mahija Ratnoo

It's time now!

March 26, 2020, at 1:26 AM my inbox notified a mail. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a convert from ‘the college’. I felt goosebumps! The next struggle struck me immediately – to wait till morning to break this news to my parents and friends. I just couldn’t sleep that night out of happiness and excitement.

Within the next few days, as the ritual goes, I got added to the WhatsApp group of ‘the college’. I was in for another shock-cum-surprise, having overslept one fine day hence got late in checking WhatsApp and to my utter surprise the group showed about 600 unread messages, I curiously started checking as thought there must be some important official communication from ‘the college’. And all I could see was the whole group was celebrating 2 events – first being a birthday of our batchmate and other was welcoming a new person converting ‘the college’. Seeing such warmth virtually was a new experience for me. It became a ritual from that time onwards to celebrate on the group. And that’s how my journey with ‘the college’ began.

There are so many things I want to pen down, but I fear I might miss something or the other apologies for that in advance. My first presence on the group was marked with Eid Mubarak and that’s how I got to know Mr Techie and the owner of 2 handsome cats. Also, I got to know the group’s 3Ps and you wouldn’t believe they have a dedicated laughing sticker for them!!

Conversations, then, were never-ending and my routine got so well synchronized with the WhatsApp group trend. The days were filled with giggles and smile thanks to our “meme lords” always on a war mode to create memes and in return of their virtual war, we all got benefitted with hilarious memes daily! The evenings and nights were sincerely dedicated to zoom calls, Pictionary, all girls, scribble, ludo and what not. Ah, Ludo! The group floods with many ludo games and their codes, also let me warn you, “Sherni” is the unbeatable player there; she is tactful in inviting people to play and then defeats them all like hell! (Sherni must be smiling ear-to-ear reading the compliment).

As the activism rose, so does the number of Whatsapp groups, we have had official, gossip, ludo, book readers, artist, film making groups and the list goes on but surprisingly it never felt like chaos. It felt all good until one day someone made ‘foodies group’. It not only made us starved at odd hours in the night but also gave people like me a major complex seeing at the baking wonders, cooking magic and catchy presentation; enough of a deadly combination for us to drool over those pictures!

Finally, the classes started. My section was full of life with - the antakshari/sher-o-shayri queen who never fails to amaze you, the meme lord believe me he is the lord you name a situation and he got a meme/joke for it, Ms Excel as bold as her black and red reflection on paper, Mr Techie who eventually turned out to be Mr Coco by default, the police wala, the sleeping beauty oh but he is an amazing photographer, girl on the swing with her twin teddy bear right next to her, jack of all traits our every ready performer, the omnipresent case study guy, girl creating something beautiful such an amazing graphic designer she is, the class topper looking for The Why of Who We Are, mens sana in corpora sano believer, the golden talking duck trust me his name is even more unique challenging your pronunciation skills, the fitness and gymming freak, the self-proclaimed vampire as you can never see him sitting in a lit-up room on zoom calls are just a few of them.

I was lucky enough to be with the group to successfully clear many levels of ‘the gruelling game’. A game in which we discovered our dark side of the society by being typical patriarchy driven father and rude husband, by being an apathetic mother-in-law, submissive mother, the humble and mannered daughter played by our amazing voice artist, a modern-day kid struggling to catch up with Hindi accent, drafting a proper research paper out of nothing and adding icing on the cake were the graphic designers and the editing team.

The all-day lasting zoom calls made interesting by the continuous inflow of memes, making each other awkward by clicking pictures during zoom, the race against time to finish the pre-reads, a very coordinated effort to clear assessment exams and those amazing gossip zoom calls on weekends. What a lovely time was that!

So you must be wondering why I’m narrating all this. Well, I am terrible at goodbyes and I mean it! I don’t know how to play with words when my heart is heavy with the thought of not being a part of ‘the college’ and the group anymore. All of a sudden I wear ‘an outsider’ tag!!

All I want to say is thank you all for making me feel the immense love, care, warmth and affinity. Although the medium was virtual I know deep in my heart the feelings were genuine. I am going to miss you all a big time, I will be so jealous liking your Instagram posts!! Being with you all was like being at home and it always hurts, very badly, when you have to part from your family!

And here again, I am short of words to write any further!

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