It was one of those days, when I was bogged down by the monotony of the news. I have this curious fetish for news; hence I can invest hours on browsing through e papers of ‘reputed’ and ‘not so reputed’ newspapers… Sadly nothing seemed interesting enough to keep my frantic mind engaged. After few hours of hopeless mining, I gave up…Now more than a break, I needed to breathe! Hence I decided to stroll in the campus.
I approached my friends and two of ‘The’ generous souls on earth agreed to come along!
I choose the road not taken (pun intended) … a trek through a jungle that ambushes near the new S.N.School building. My friends nodded their heads in approval.
As we walked, we got enmeshed in the darkness. The night wasn’t at its pleasant best instead it was baffling. We walked along the narrow path, trying to find out the way to the Gacchibowli stadium road… Meanwhile the trees appeared ghostly, they seemed angry as we had intruded its territory at a time when it was in no mood to entertain guests.
As we were drawing close to the stadium, the woods became more dense and intriguing. I had the guts to advance further only because I was familiar with the place, I knew it was the last leg and the most difficult part of the journey… and we were close, very close indeed.
We made it!
And I breathed…. the freshness of night.
Strangely the bonhomie with nature didn’t last long…couple of minutes passed and I felt the same. I started observing objects nearby, and I quipped … “there lies the mushroom rock”. My friend hushed … “chalein kya?” I don’t know whether he read my intentions or he was in a mood to gallivant through the bushes, Whatever may be the case, he spoke my mind and I was excited all over again! All we could see is the rock at a distance, none of us knew the way.
Round 2! We ventured into the uncharted territory. Broken paths were strewn all over the place, they crissed crossed and every path seemed equally promising as the other one. We tumbled on thorns and narrowly escaped thorny bushes… kept walking, the mushroom rock eluded us, but it couldn’t hide long from the determined spirits.
We reached the almighty mushroom rook, it looked majestic. The rock didn’t seem hostile as the trees; it looked amused at the untimely arrival of the strangers! It welcomed us wholeheartedly.
It was a grand structure, a towering one; there were numerous middle sized rocks which were perhaps envious of the mushroom rock, but there was a harmony, a peaceful coexistence … that one rarely finds in the world of men.
They stayed together… adding meaning and beauty to each others existence. So did we…. three of us were ecstatic, because we were together… like those rocks!
We started capturing moments… to be exact, my friend clicked to his hearts content. Truly speaking I love to be on the other side of the camera, arresting life into images! Strangely … I get irritated when camera stares at me… don’t know why. Some traits just remain unexplained!
But this time I wasn’t… I was equally keen to seize our joy in pics.
We hobnobbed for a while and then decided to climb on one of the adjacent rocks… my friend accomplished this feat effortlessly; he seemed a seasoned rock climber… I struggled hard…felt like a child, one who tries hard to get its steps right.
My friend gave me his hand and pulled me up, in seconds I was there.
We climbed up the rock… the view was a pure ecstasy, cold wind blew hard and the city remained wrapped in the blanket of night and all we could see is the lights of stadium and the mighty mushroom rock beside.
And this time…. I did breath in the freshness of LIFE!
I sat quite for some time, until I heard
“ Swami… have you heard of ponzi scheme?”
It was a rude shock , until now we thought that the night, stars, cool breeze and mushroom rock were all ours! But the mention of ponzi scheme by a fellow specie made us realised that we were not alone.
We traced the source of ponzi scheme to a adjacent rock, which lay couple of meters away.
There were two guys who were lying on the rock… it was difficult to look through the darkness … I mumbled, “These gay couples ,they could have chosen a bush instead, there are plenty of them in the campus” my friend grinned, and before I could observe more and make further deductions…
The punditry ringed louder “Swami I will tell you about the ponzi scheme it is all about……” . I was beginning to get irritated and felt like shouting to the pundit… Screw your ponzii!
My friends seemed unaffected… they seemed to absorb both … the breeze and the ponzi with ease! As the time passed… the pundit’s dose of gyan also increased. By now we all knew the name of the disciple (the other guy) was Swami! Swami was quite or may be he was already asleep and if he was in his senses, he must be thinking exactly the same as me.
The pundit went on, his words were loaded with terms that I couldn’t relate to, All this while I was trying hard not to eavesdrop but the pundit’s voice was difficult to ignore.
After some time he made the most humane remark of the night… “You must be hungry Swami, I have a chocolate brownie and a chocolate sponge cake in my bag!”. I turned my head and so did my friends! And swami turned alive… “Sandy, I love you”
One of my friends whispered, you were right “they are a gay couple”, we chuckled!
Our rock was no more silent… for some time we bitched about the profs, enlightened ourselves about the latest love affairs and sex scandals of our university and gossiped all possible page 3 stuffs on the campus.
We had almost forgotten our neighbours, until we heard someone jumping into the bush… it was the pundit… Sorry I forgot that pundit had an ultra modern name “Sandy”. Swami followed the suit. Perhaps they were leaving the places, we were happy to see them retreating.
Just when we were about to resume our meaningful conversation, my friend pointed toward them and said, why are they moving towards the jungle?
It was a good observation, meanwhile the other friend quipped, “I think we should also start moving, its 3.10 am”. I looked at the watch, it was late and we had to walk all the way back to our respective hostels, it would take another half an hour or so, hence by the time we reach it would be four in the morning.
We took our bags and started our journey towards land…
Descending was relatively easy, a few steps hither tether and our feets touched the ground.
We started walking … again the numerous paths lay before us, each seemed to promise us the destination, we were bit sleepy by now and no one was in a mood to think hard… my friend walked infront , we followed him blindly… we were assured that he would lead us from the darkness to the light , our saviour (referring to the light, we meant the light emanating from the stadium!).
But it didn’t take him much time to shatter our high hopes! We were being misled and our leader was more confused than us… we were going towards the jungle and not toward the stadium.
He said lets go back and wait till dawn, I didn’t want to heed but had no other options…
None of us was sure of the way back to the stadium road, and we didn’t have the energy left to explore and rediscover the path. Hence we walked back to the mushroom rock as it was “THE” only visible thing in the dark night!
We were on our way back, and about to reach the spot when we heard some people walking. I was bit scared as it was around 3.30 and there was no soul around… I knew there was a village near by but I wondered who would come to this place at midnight.
We walked briskly; the voice seemed more prominent now. We saw two men walking towards us.
They drew near and before we could think anything… one of them said “Do you guys belong to the university”
I instantly recognised the voice, it was the pundit… the pundit was wearing specs, he appeared like a bemused student who has been thrown of the school because of knowing much than the teacher… pundit was in formals, his white shirt was loosely tucked out and seemed crumpled. He wasn’t a student, or had he just come from an interview….naah not possible… in his hour long lecture there was no mention of any interview. He was a working guy perhaps…whatever!!
My friend replied quickly... “yes yes we are university students, and we seem to have lost the way…”
Shit…I said in my mind! Why the hell on earth my friend had to mention our hapless state…and that too to this pundit! I felt like hitting my friend for opening his mouth wide. I stared at my friend, and he ignored it artistically.
Well the damage had been done… and I had no control over it.
The pundit softly said… “lets walk together, I am sure you wouldn’t prefer climbing on the rocks and stay there in such cold night”. That time I felt like shouting…I prefer rocks than walking with a business channel!
My friends nodded their heads and shook hands …. “sure,lets go together!”
No one seemed to bother about my approval… I was getting furious inside. I was in no mood to spend the rest of midnight walking with a private Quelch! (Private Quelch was a character I had read of in my school, private Quelch knew everything)
The pundit started walking, so did his disciple…sorry disciples (Three new admissions!). A fresh journey commenced. Pundit marched ahead… carefully examining the path, he would occasionally shout “thorns here… be careful” , though I was dead sleepy then… but I remember clearly that he must have warned us about thorns at least twenty times… such was the effect that now I had turned paranoid about every plant..I would even suspect of basil plant to have thorns!
Surprisingly he didn’t talk, he looked intently at each rock ,every thorny plant hence examining path with great precision. He was a man on mission. Very soon indeed we found ourselves on a road… but not the stadium road!
I had serious doubts now, I spoke for the first time challenging the ‘leadership’ … I shouted “this cannot be the way… “, pundit replied softly “but isn’t it beautiful… I am sure we will reach the stadium road, there must be some way out”.
I was angered …retorted “to hell with your beautiful road”… he just ignored it but my friends hushed …chill , we know your are sleepy, but be patient.
I kept quite… drawing an equation 4:1 ( all guys had ganged up )
I decided not to utter a word anymore, would boycott all conversations further! I kept mum and sauntered.
After a while, when I looked around ( and thank God I did) I realised that the road was indeed beautiful and naturally lighted. I discovered that the moonlight had eluded us all night because it was lying peacefully on this road! Finally the moon also became a fellow traveller…
Pundit was true .
The road lead to a helipad, the one I had heard of often but had never managed to see in the last one and a half year.
I was thrilled by the discovery more than anyone … I ran towards the helipad! Everyone was bit shocked as till now I had been silent (and grudgingly silent later) and suddenly I seemed the happiest person on earth.
I was delighted as I had never expected to land on a helipad.
Just when I was ‘happy’ about the state of affairs, a terrible thing happened. My friend took out his cam and said lets pose together for a pic !
He looked at me and grinned … irritated and annoyed to the core I grumbled some jargon that my friends are used to hearing from me. Needless to say the jargon included some indecent words, that shouldn’t be uttered especially infront of the guys. I didn’t think at all then… my friends laughed, they seemed to have good fun. Swami seemed untouched… and pundit just smiled!
My friends pulled me and there I stood with mixed feeling (ashamed of the outburst and enraged). Pundit volunteered to click the pic, my friend uttered a cheesy line “ No, how can you, I want you to be in pic” .
So he fixed the timer, propped the camera on a small rock and grabbed pundits hand and ran towards us. There we stood and the camera flashed.
I noticed that the guys bonded well, apart from covering the journey, they covered a plethora of topics ranging from cars to beers, I think they also exchanged phone numbers and email ids…etc
The equation remained unchanged for the rest of the journey … 4:1.
More than anything I was feeling bit guilty on having behaved so rudely in the helipad, I shouldn’t have lost my temper, the thought kept bouncing back and I tried to shun them by increasing the pace.
We had reached university and it was already 4.30 am, the guys seemed more relaxed … It was only me who was bit miserable. My friends tried to talk to me , but I dismissed them saying I am too sleepy to talk… I was awake…
As we reached the cycle stand, I grabbed my cycle and mumbled a very abrupt “bye everyone’ and cycled toward the hostel.
As soon as I reached hostel, I had fallen asleep.
Next day was a usual one; I had a class on ‘feature writing’ and my teacher explained about the skills one requires to write a good feature… creative, imaginative, keen observation ability blah blah… it was an exhaustive list . I concluded that, I need to write first… rest all will fall in place later.
So in the evening, I took out my lappy , switched it on and clicked on the icon microsoft word, with the intension to write something (the ‘something’ would be decided later). While I was about to begin, I thought I must check my gmail, twitter, facebook and orkut (The intension was that nothing must come between me and my writing spree for next couple of hours, hence decided to go through them first).
I opened my gmail account, five new mails… 2 of them facebook friend request, which I carefully ignored , 1 mail from the feature writing prof , the mail reiterated about the assignments deadlines, there was one mail from the outlook.com, reminding me of the exciting offer that I would miss if I didn’t subscribe the magazine immediately and the last mail… from an unknown email address firstname.lastname@example.org
The message read “Thankyou guys for the wonderful time" - Sandy
What struck me is the last line “there are no traffic jams along the etra mile”
I smiled thinking that pundit never misses an opportunity to spread gyan. Pundit was a nice chap, more sure than all of us and a humble guy who excused all my stupid tantrums. Maybe I was bit unfair to him … whatever!!
I just wondered how he knew the campus …
And there was a pic attached to the mail.
It was the helipad pic and no doubts for guessing…the equation was still the same 4:1…
four smiling faces and a frowning one….