Classroom- Rajshwii Bhattacharya, New Delhi

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The tubelight above flickered just like my eyelids hampering one’s vision in a glimpse of blindness. The white walls that surrounded a class of thirty-nine were without a speck of dirt or dust, and for a man who could think beyond the illusions a very picture of peace and equanimity in its profound purity. The light emanating from the tubelight that enabled my eyes in recognizing the white beauty was no less distinct from the paint that surrounded us though the colour in the tubelight glowed, and that on the walls was raw. It was the time of college when young male and female having shed their puberty embark on a journey of manhood and womanhood, fresh with freedom and driven by a spirit of adventure; some were occupied with talks of future, some were drowned in their smartphones with such dedication and focus that the noise and the people around couldn’t be heard or seen. Some listened to music and closed their eyes in ecstasy, while some indulged in a platonic form of love characterized by loquaciousness and empty stares. A lad unlike all of his counterparts sat quiet and still reading a book which for many was something of a rare species, and peculiar from head to toe. The classroom was indeed a confinement but, not suffocating as the door and a window at the back remained open enabling the wind to inter-play and keep alive the boisterousness that cavorted in the minds of those who inhabited the classroom.

I was a dreamer, and witness to all that conundrum, pandemonium and silence this world possessed unfit to be a part as I had failed more than a dozen times in being a successful actor in all the pantomimes I have come across in my life. The seats were built on a slope, rising in a slanting way towards a rectangular end made of glass through which the blue sky could be seen sprayed with remnants of clouds which may appear still for a moment but if one gazes for a while she’ll know they indulge in subtle movements unknown to ordinary eyes. A construction site with half-finished skyscrapers lay in ruins as if a small model of the so called doomsday when nature would no longer need man, and his artificialities. Students who dreamed of escapades often escaped to the construction site by climbing the worn out wall that defined the perimeter of our little college. It often seemed to me that those naked skyscrapers of brick and cement were staring at me, and I stared back at them in return conscious of those pieces of clouds that floated just above their tips. The window was the only way to be in touch with the sky, wind and sunlight; away from the dullness and boredom that the same blank walls and lectures brought about in the atmosphere of the classroom. The professor sang a lullaby of definitions and terms which lacking melody, enthusiasm and will mostly went to deaf ears as many slept while wide awake. Professors kept changing as morning wore off to evening, but failed to arouse any interest in our young, curious hearts; I often felt and still feel right from my school life throughout my college years the Indian education system has reached to the point of stagnation. Is it because teaching is considered to be a low profile occupation here? Or, because absolute theory and no practical at all sucks the life out of the desire to learn?

Tired of singing his monotonous song to an inattentive audience he dropped the book on the table, and reclined against his easy-chair probably contemplating how to spend the rest of his time left before another one comes to cook our brains. A couple of men whose names were the only thing I knew about them played carom with coins on the smooth surface of the table which they occasionally powdered while playing in order to increase the efficiency of the game; their surreptitious laughter and gleaming teeth reminded me of my senior secondary years when we were told that soon we shall be peeling off our child-like skin for good but, it seems many were so attached to the skin that even if it shed on its own they purposefully wore it back braving the eyes of this ever judgmental world. Amidst the chaos and the gloom which had become a daily routine and made me wonder why I was in the class: probably because attendance was compulsory or because there was this maiden who was no less than a dream with her hair coloured golden as if a ray of the sun had mixed with the dark foliage on her head. She belonged to Kashmir, and her beauty proved her origin characterized by proud mountains, lush valleys and crystal sky whose colour remained blue and full of life during the daylight hours, and brimming with scintillating stars during night time. I was too young and dumb so I fell in love at first sight, like every young and dumb does. She once caught me staring at her and showed her approval with a smile and gleam of her eyes; what she meant I do not know but I like to think of it as an approval because I was dumb beyond measure. I transfixed my craving eyes at the loquacious and sleepy heads in front but in my mind I saw her in the dress she wore that day. The tubelight stopped flickering like the dozen others attached to the ceiling, and glowed in repose in its utmost profundity. A JetAirways flew behind me across the sky, concealed for a moment as it flew then reappearing again from behind the spray of clouds; stretching myself in order to get rid of the stiffness I tilted my head backwards and at first glimpse thought it to be a bird, and it was indeed one only much larger in size. Unable to restrain any longer my curious eyes I shifted them in the direction where she sat prattling away with intervals of smiles and laughter that for me made my day. Sitting quiet and alone for so long I was often overwhelmed by surging emotions and thoughts which seemed so palpable that I often lost consciousness of what is real and what being a dream; “Now I understand why our culture, and civilization has been revering saints and monks from time immemorial”, I said to myself.

The entire world within was in a constant state of conflict between the devilish forces like anger, greed, animality, delusions and the forces of good which strive for an enlightened state of being. The restlessness was starting to grow heavy on me so I decided to roam about in the corridors not because I thought it to be a means of escape and distraction as there is no escaping one’s karma but because I felt sitting here would be of no benefit either.

“Sir, I’ll be back”

“Take this register and give it to Supriya mam on your way”, I took the register from his plump hands, and walked out of the confinement swiftly only to return again after a while. The corridor was cool and echoed with ceaseless murmurs some proliferating from the classrooms, some as a result of chatter between individuals who sat on the stairs and walked about with the music of high heels and squeaking shoes providing rhythm to the song of murmurs that resounded everywhere. I went to the cabin of Dr. Supriya Sharma, and handed her the register which she received with the utmost gratitude- rare to find in today’s time; it struck me quite immensely what the professor had missed by not giving the register himself.

While walking back to the class I found the corridor peculiarly silent with not a single soul about though the intense murmur of the past could be still felt by my ears as the sudden silence seemed unbelievable. Nonchalantly, I walked trying to figure out the case, when suddenly from round the corner a being emerged about whom I had been dreaming, thinking and wishing to the well and the stars. I sighed to myself: “What a beauty!”

“What?”

I rose from my silence and slumber, and activated my hesitant gregarious nature, “I mean… Umm… you’re talking to me suddenly”. She gaped at me with her eyebrows raised.

“I mean we don’t talk usually so you’re…” She cut me in between: “You said something to me that’s why, and indeed I am talking to you”.

“I didn’t mean it”

Why, am I not beautiful?”

“You are, absolutely. Umm… I meant”

“I have to go to the washroom”

“Umm… Okay”

“You wish to join me”

My heart palpitated and grew anxious at the same time, and I stood stiff and still like a bewildered fool. Her lips quivered then widened before bursting into a hearty laughter that rent the stillness and silence to shards. I, in response remained the same, speechless and expressionless as I did not want to take any risks; her laughter was brighter than the sun and more alive than any living I have come across. I steadily smiled and was about to say a piece of my heart when: “Raj bhai, wake up”. I opened my eyes in a shock of astonishment immediately turning into disappointment cause it was a dream or to be precise a sheer illusion.

“Brother, all our classes have been cancelled its time to party”, saying this, he strode away to a bunch of nitwits who were grinning at me showing their wide gaped teeth. I sighed and bit my lip, and when I looked up, the tubelight as usual flickered.

Name- Rajshwii Bhattacharya

E-Mail- rajshwii@gmail.com

Word Limit- 1,621

Blog- www.insolitus28.com

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