There have been several demarcating parameters among students at my college. In terms of favorite actors , the degree of studiousness and many other such parameters, there were varieties of unofficial tags for each one of us--like the 'assignment doers', 'assignment copiers', 'troublemakers', 'toppers', 'wanna-be-toppers', 'foot-boarders', 'nerds', 'wanna-be-nerds'...et cetera.
Almost all of us carried one tag or the other on our foreheads, known or unknown. Not all tags were permanent. They changed totally or else evolved into other forms, based upon the nature of change in the person w.r.t. time and the way he/she was perceived. But there was this one tag that just stuck to some of our foreheads so hard, that we could almost see it on the mirror every morning while brushing our teeth!!
The tag resulted from a line of demarcation that evolved in the later parts of our final year of college. Placement.
This one parameter overcame all others, washed out all other tags accumulated over the years, and created two prominent tags(at least mentally)--the 'placed', and the 'unplaced'.
Myself and some other friends of mine came under category two. Suddenly 'a job' appeared to be the most important thing in life. All that we had done in the past in all these years--all the good stuff, all that for what we've been appreciated--suddenly seemed like a useless bag of garbage. I/we didn't have the time (though I had the curiosity) to think why this job thing has become so important now than ever before. Should we have planned earlier seriously on this matter? Have we been complacent recently? Or is it not as important as it looks? No answer from anywhere. Not from within our brain cells even. They've already began to wander through options of employment like nomads on a hunt.
It was during this plasma state that my friend suggested us attending a job fair to be held at Trichy that Friday. Since we've already started feeling like neanderthals amongst the placed students, I shrugged my shoulders and said,"I'm in for ANY experience buddy!"
Later I seriously repented that I used the word 'ANY'. You'll know it soon.
It was the evening of Thursday. Luck and nature favored me so much that some unknown microbe found its way leaving out all other human bodies, right into mine.
"Acchhhhooooo....", I sneezed.
My inmates gathered the stuff required for tomorrow's job fair. Resume print-outs, photocopies of certificates and other such stuff. I kept thinking about the choice of shirt for the n number of interviews I may be attending tomorrow (It's a job-fair--you'll have many companies coming, something like a children fair!! ).
Before going to bed, I chose my first-ever placement-special formal shirt. The Peter-England blue-striped cotton shirt.
The next morning, Friday, I woke up with a burdened nose. It felt as though my brain was trying to drift away through my nostrils. It appeared like the world around me was moving at 2X speed. As I took my bath, I realized that my body temperature had increased a little. Yes, it's called fever.
I got myself ready with the required stuff, and wore the chosen blue-striped cotton shirt, and we got out of our house in pursue of our would-be jobs.
As we neared the bus stop, one of my friends (among us three) exclaimed,"We're gonna return with two jobs in each hand!!" Whoa...Touch wood. I doubted the possibility. How can life suddenly turn so beautiful? It felt like an 'in-congruent change'--as such phenomenons are termed in one of my final semester subjects.
After a few minutes of impatient waiting at our bus stop, we boarded the bus to the Thanjavur new-bus-stand. There, unlike every other day, this day saw a mad rush for the Trichy buses. Why are people so bent upon going to Trichy, just when WE have a job fair to attend? Trichy is always there, they could go there anytime--I thought. Well then, so could we. We had no option left but to cling on to whatever space that was left inside the bus. It seemed like a punishment to our earlier reluctance to go standing in these buses to our college which is twenty minutes from here. Now we had to perform the 'standing' stuff all the way to Trichy, which is around two hours from here!! Life teaches you the hard way!
As the bus stopped at our college on the way to Trichy, two other friends joined us in the same bus. A few minutes later, hunger and a little more body temperature joined me.
One the way to Trichy, we had calls from one of our friends who was already at the job fair. He reported that there were thousands of guys there, and from his vivid descriptions I could conclude that the length of the existing queue easily outraced a default Thirupathi queue. Also he added that most companies which held interviews there weren't our type i.e. they were not the 'techie' ones. Most of them were BPOs or banks. As we shuddered at the recent headlines wondering what to do next, the bus stopped with a sudden halt. We could see that ahead of us were a series of fellow-buses. Yes, it's usually called a traffic-jam. Awesome!
My nose started burning with the over usage of inhaler. The buses walked behind each other like one giant caterpillar. The two friends who joined us in the middle left here saying it would be better if they attended the remaining classes at least. I was too tired to decide on this myself. My inmates suggested that we go to Trichy and then decide. Whatever! I clung onto the bus' bar as hunger and fever clung onto me like two cowboys on a single horse.
We reached Trichy where we met the friend who had given us live reports from the job fair. He had gone there too early and wasn't positive about if attending the fair was in anyway worthy. It appeared almost useless and hopeless.So we unanimously dropped the idea of attending the job fair. The next thing we did was to enter a nearby hotel!
"One rava dosa...", I ordered my breakfast along with the others.
After a few minutes, the rava dosa appeared in front of me, on the table.
After the acquaintance my cold-invaded nose had had with road dust for the past hour, after helplessly clinging onto the bus' bar with raging fever, after losing hope about our would-be jobs at the job fair, after pushing the limits of my prolonged hunger, and after traveling like being taken to a Nazi camp, I finally found food!!
Life is food--I thought.
I savoured every part of the rava dosa, and the adjoining pooris as though I was trying to find the essence of life within their oil-clad bodies.
And then, we took our bus back to Thanjavur.
As history may put it, we thought, we were the only people who traveled all the way from Thanjavur to Trichy exclusively to have breakfast.
On our way back to Thanjavur, questions flowed freely through the folds of my brain. Why did I even have to do this with the hints of fever I had? What have we gained through this? Experience? At the most, I can write an article on this! Then?! Things seemed totally void of any sense then. Bizarre philosophies randomly made a blitzkrieg on my reasoning.
I began to trace the etymology of the first feeling I had when I saw food today.
Life is Schooling.
Schooling is Marks.
Marks is College.
College is Job.
Job is Money.
Money is Food.
Food is Life.
What a complete yet awkward cycle?! Whoa...the fever is getting to my head!--I thought.
We got down at the Thanjavur new-bus-stand at mid-day. The sun seemed detached from all the earthly happenings and continued to do its job of scorching us from the sky. My fever hadn't ceased increasing.
Well,.. fever-stricken boy under fever-stricken sky!!
There are situations in life when you do stuff and right after doing it you start feeling 'I shouldn't have done that'. I looked at the crowd at the new-bus-stand where we had to take another bus home. I looked at the fever-stricken sky. I looked at my once-ironed, now wrinkled blue striped shirt. I looked at the past few hours of my life. I shouldn't have done that!