On my first day back at work, I visited a college for their placement week. This is one task I’ve really looked forward to, since I started working and in the past few months, since interviewing has become one of my responsibilities, it is something I find I really enjoy. There is a certain heady thrill, which I still haven’t gotten over, about being on the other side of the firing squad (well…not always but at least in the early days of job-hunting it felt that way). This was my first experience with a placement week scenario, since my own college didn’t have one.
And it addition, this was his college. At one time I knew this place as well as I knew my own campus. I admit I had a lot of mixed feelings about that day, which I didn’t share with any of my colleagues or friends. I just tightened my belt and rushed into the day as I have been doing largely at work (it seems to have brought only good results so far, so why not…it suits my M.O.)
As we drove into the campus, I wondered what I would feel. I thought my nostalgia trip was over. But apparantly making peace with the past is a minute-to-minute process. The deeper you dig, the more you uncover. I passed the little coffee shop where we had our first real conversation, trading our stories about the cities we loved, Mumbai and Delhi. I walked past classrooms, where I knew he had sat for his lectures. I didn’t have the time to take a walk around the whole campus. But somehow, it didn’t seem necessary. I took another walk down another memory lane.
His home had a whole lot of memories, mostly painful, attached to it and this trip was all about my escaping the scars they caused me. But his campus, I found, I had only good memories of the place and him. Our first meeting at his college annual fest, much later waiting on the benches behind his college to surprise him after his exams, walking past the basketball hoop to ask his friends where he was, riding pillion down to the gate with him as he dropped me home. They were sweet memories, innocent memories untainted by the bitterness of the rest of the relationship. Yes, so much of nostalgia is about making peace with the past.
As I walked out, I passed some students in the corridor and I knew they were staring at my back. I remembered what it felt like, imagining that one’s whole future was staked on this one job. The blind panic, furtively smoothened out to appear confident before the peer group and the interview panel. Simmering under-the-surface hostility and competition with one’s own friends, flatmates and classmates. Bitter-tasting envy coupled with a pasted-on smile while congratulating the ones that made it. And that giddy-headed euphoria over finally MAKING IT!! It was a rough ride and I hope I never forget what it felt like to be a student.
One full circle I’ve come. Zero is a good starting point I guess.