Statutory warning – this may be a bit of a ramble due to injured feels. Inconvenience is regretted.
When people leave they tell you about the opportunities this place gives you and how you shouldn’t miss them. About how much you can achieve and learn in NALSAR. All of these things are true. However, what people don’t talk about is what this place can mean to you when you don’t make the best of it. Honestly, it’s not half bad.
I’ll be talking about several aspects of life in NALSAR. I call this The Funny, The Ugly and The Amazingly Emo-tastic.
So in the interest of optimism and not being a complete bummer in life, first…
My first set of friends here were made while staying up at night chatting like fucking fourteen year olds – about boys and home mostly, but strangely enough, also about parents and books and school friends. It was one of those nights you can only have when you’re young enough in NALSAR to be open and honest with someone you just met that week. We were all friendly and social back then. We all liked people almost instantly unless they were specifically rude. Believe me, that doesn’t last. But the strange part is that growing from that into a normal cynical disengaged-emotionally person is what brings you closer to these friends you make in your first week, as you sit and pontificate heavily on your rather uneventful lives.
Perhaps you are a hippie and you don’t think that is healthy, but that is the nature of life, jack – you get cynical. Like I was telling S a few weeks ago, we would hate our first year selves, but honestly they were better people. They made better choices, were more driven to do good, and definitely had more scruples. NALSAR in some ways, ruins you. In fact, we all sort of ruin each other for other people over time. But there is something magical about meeting people, having a long chat with them that lasts a whole night and knowing that you’re going to be friends.
The second significant moment of frandship was when a future friend of mine somehow perceived that I would be shameless with scoring kaju barfis at a college farewell for the vice chancellor. We found courage in mutual shamelessness and had at least ten each. Then we hung out outside the mess with previously mentioned friends – the ones whom I forged bonds of eternal frandship with over giggly all-night gossiping and pontificating. Keep in mind that this was our first or second week in college and seniors were a very real threat. I was sitting on the railing on the ramp outside the mess and talking to my three new BFFs.
The following is a representation of the events that transpired.
I remained like that, – my friends trying hard to exert some physical strength through their laughter, me laughing my pee out while hanging onto the railing only by the previously untested strength of my thighs (what are thigh muscles called? Laterals?) a bunch of seniors watching us whilst drinking coffee with expressions ranging from amused to flabbergasted, till one of them thought they should put an end to this madness, and pushed me back up from behind. That was my first laughing memory of NALSAR. Afterwards, people suspected that I got high off kaju barfis.
Then there is that moment when people realize how weird you are. This may be different for each person who knows you, but the moment you know that everyone knows you’re weird, and how you’re weird is something you’ll remember.
One of these was with regard to the mild OCD I have previously shown with regard to neatness. My friends realized I was arranging books on my shitty NALSAR shelf – that is very easily topple-able – as per order of importance, size and in ninety degree angles. So at one point when we were all sitting and having a large group talk session in my room, they toppled the shelf over about twenty times, and watched me put it back in place each time. They also took pictures and posted them on Facebook. I was cry-laughing very hard by the end.
This story is also very ironic given the current state of my room.
The next one was when Ips came into my room at about 10 at night to find me with my laptop and the lights completely off. This wouldn’t have been such a weird thing if it weren’t for the mask. The mask belonged to a friend of mine who had gotten overly enthusiastic about a possibly masquerade themed Freshers party we were going to throw for our direct juniors. And that wasn’t all. I had worn spectacles over the mask. Needless to say, Ips screamed her lungs out when she saw then. Then she did not stop laughing for a good ten minutes. I joined her for the most part. This is an inaccurate representation of what she saw.
There are too many nights where the brain is not alcohol ridden and yet, everyone is entertained. Everyone talks and listens to everyone else. Zingers follow quips; Quips follow jokes; and yet, there’s no alcohol. There is no awkward silence, because we can’t possibly be awkward with each other. Not after five years of drunken conversations and confessions and confrontations. We have finally understood each other, all of us, and there is absolutely nothing left to think about in the silence between when one person stops talking and the next one starts. As far as I can see, this, this is to be treasured. These are the kinds of moments and nights that one should remember because if the VC dinner is anything to go by, we may all just become excessively boring.
And there are too many nights when you need alcohol and friends in order to get by, and the friends will always be there. Some time in your law school career, one gets to the point where getting drunk with or around our friends does not mean you have to keep yourself in check for what you might say or do. Your friends will not judge and that is something you will not even have to think about before you blurt out that one time you made out with someone in a garbage can. While you were sober. And he was wearing a gimp costume. Or maybe he was just a gimp. You didn’t bother to find out.
Your friends will ask, “How far did you get?”
“Why did you stop?”
“Fucking security guard cock-blocked me”.
*Laughter all around.
So make sure you find that, and you appreciate that, children. Because once you enter the adult world of marriage, having children, and your parents and relatives visiting, nobody will listen to you talk about your forays into becoming a dominatrix.
Enough fun, you guys?
Well, on to….
I sat for my last class ever in NALSAR a while ago. Well, I say sat but really I leaned against the desk. And yesterday, I gave my last exam in NALSAR. A lot of lasts are coming by awfully fast even though I was expecting them to. I’m trying not be cliché or to keep saying “my very last this” or “my very last that”, but honestly, some things are just absurd.
For me its absurd beyond recognition. I have thought about leaving this place for good at least once for every two days I spent here. And I don’t mean leaving campus for lunch, or like the localites or people from Bangalore. I thought about simply picking up and pulling a Matt Damon from Good Will Hunting albeit without a Skylar. I have actively thought of killing myself for at least four months while here.
I was speaking to my oldest friend in NALSAR a while ago and I mentioned that I don’t think he knows what it feels like to suck, and to fail, and to want to leave so much while knowing you cant. I didn’t elaborate because I was feeling a bit raw at the time. But if gut-wrenching candor is what creativity demands, then I’ll try and not be afraid to create something ugly in the process.
I come from a normal family, economically speaking. We don’t have the kind of money that justifies me flailing about like a used tissue in the wind. We have more than enough for anything we bother to think of, but I suspect that’s largely because we can’t think of larger things. It’s not the kind of economic situation that allows me respite.
And so when I found out I was coming to NALSAR I was ecstatic. It meant that the money my dad was happy to spend on tuition for CLAT did not go to waste. Then of course I noticed the fee for NALSAR. Suddenly, even though I so wanted to come, the initial plan of spending five years in college while I figured out what to do did not seem like a good idea. Suddenly, things depended entirely on how well I did. That did not terrify me at all.
As I have previously mentioned, I have grown to not love this place a lot. But it honestly didn’t start out that way. I didn’t see the point of ragging and that was annoying, but for the most part, I was fresh-faced, rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed and full of good impressions and hopes. I know its hard to imagine that for people who have known me in the past four years, but I used to be quite the optimist. Then, as I mentioned previously I noticed quite a few things that put me off. How did I come to loathe thee? Let me count the ways. (And I know that’s not how the line goes.)
Everyone seemed to want a job. People started figuring out ranks and CGPAs the moment we came out of our first surprise test. There were such things as “surprise” tests. Someone told me that the only way to be anyone at NALSAR was to moot. My seniors said ragging happened so that people lost their egos, but they seemed to have egos indirectly proportionate to their looks. Their egos may have been based on their having won moots. Most importantly, the law was less interesting to me than I thought.
This list of rather petty grievances has evolved and changed over the years, but its essentially the same. Highest on the list of grievances currently is that nobody (including me) bothers to tell idiotic 18 year olds that its not a bad thing if they find out that they’re not cut out for this, or that this is not cut out for them, and they want to leave. I may not have listened, but when I eventually understood it I may not have tried to fight it with self-loathing and depression.
Someone asked me the other day why I was sad enough to think suicidal. Honestly, its because I couldn’t think of anything else that would be better. I didn’t bother to talk to anyone because from my twisted point of view, as soon as I mentioned my situation to anyone, I’d just be a dumb quitter who couldn’t keep up. Hardly the most charitable opinion I could have had of my friends.
And the Amazingly Emo-tastic
Which brings me to better things. The better things in literature and movies and songs are never something we want to examine. Nobody wants to know that Holden Caulfield got better. Nobody cares that Faizal understood the pointlessness that male bravado, false honor and egoism had led to. Nobody wants to think about the fact that Elizabeth Bennet was actually joking when she said she fell for Mr. Darcy after seeing how big his estate was (not a euphemism), or how she criticizes Lydia not for being a flirt, but for being a thoughtless one. Segue over. And this being the case, I doubt the next part will be what people find interesting.
Eventually, my friends got me drunk and talked to me. From which point onwards, I realized there were at least three people who didn’t think I was a stupid quitter. Sadly, I wasn’t in the list of three people, but I got there eventually. Which brings me to what I choose to take away from NALSAR, which has honestly given me a lot of things it never intended to, but I am grateful for anyway.
NALSAR taught me how to deal with fear. I have eye juice that comes out every now and then and moments of crippling terror about the looming unknown, but I can always remember a time when leaving my room in the morning was a scary thought because of all the imaginary mocking glances, and it seemed like a better idea to stay in bed and think of ways to die. And once I remember that shit, I feel good because now, I don’t want to leave my bed because I want to write, or research for a project on medieval punishment or obscenity or humor, or watch Doctor Who, or masturbate, or finish some art project because someone asked me to do it. Not for some paltry reason like believing that everyone I know secretly hates me.
NALSAR also taught me how to shut up when the time comes. Granted, I really don’t shut up a lot when I should, but NALSAR has taught me the hard way about the value of staying quiet when people lose their tempers in arguments and debates. Given that I don’t know how successful I am at this when it comes to my friends, around whom I shoot my mouth off like a bond villain. But you get to do that with friends.
NALSAR also accidentally gave me the ability to make reasoned arguments. For the feminazis out there who love my feminazi perspectives, my ability to write cohesively and with clarity is entirely owed to NALSAR. I can’t say for sure if I owe it specifically to the education or to people like my Mallu friend who gives me a complex and N, but it definitely came from here.
But really, all of this is blither when it comes to what actually matters. Wear your helmets people, there is going to be cauldrons full of hot molten mush coming your way.
I found friends here beyond what I ever thought was possible. Maybe it would be easier to understand exactly how ecstatic and grateful I am to life for this if I explain some stuff about my past. I have avoided relationships like the plague, but I always had friends. However, my earliest memories of friends also involve specific moments when most of my friends decided they didn’t want to be friends. There were no fights or confrontations, and there weren’t periods of gradual drifting apart. It was always over a span of about a week when they would succeed in amputating me. That did not stop till eighth grade. And I know now that this is something that’s not entirely unheard of during your teen years, but that didn’t really help with the sadness.
By the time I made actual friends from the ninth grade onwards, I was pretty cynical about all friendships. I remember really hurting my friend N in school when she casually mentioned that she loved me and I froze up, got awkward and got angry (“What do you want me to say to that?!”) in that order. I eventually learnt how to pretend to be normal with the friends I did make.
But always at the back of your mind, there’s that nagging doubt – one day, you’ll find out that they don’t want to be friends anymore. They don’t like you because you’re lame or embarrassing or stupid or weird or because they found something in you that is just repulsive to normal human peoples. And when friends have occasionally left without an explanation since after school, that part of me would rear its ugly head and I would start to wonder if eventually all of my friends would just come to the same conclusion and leave. This has happened about three or four times since college.
But since then I’ve learnt to be a bit better with the trust thing. I have friends who pretty much saved my life, although they didn’t know it when they got me drunk. These were the same friends I had in my depression suspected of secretly forming a “We Secretly Hate Billy Thomas” Club. In my head, they practically had meetings, and daily quotes and also a banner.
When I told S last semester exactly how bad a shape I had been in, she was shocked. N hit me so hard she gave me a red welt on my leg. M said she didn’t know it was that bad but she knew things sucked. Ips understood because she had been through her own kind of crap. Mal was there with her general aura of caring and supportiveness. They said they’d kill me if I didn’t talk to them next time I felt that bad. Which I sort of did.
NALSAR has brought me some deep anxiety and moroseness. It also brought me the kind of friends that I would actively want to keep in touch with. I don’t tell them often, and I don’t make public declarations at Farewells because I can’t even begin to express how much I owe them. People create themselves every day, but it really helps if you know there are people who’ll like whatever you make out of yourself, no matter what it ends up being.
Friendships are sort of like those Dove Real Beauty sketches, which I don’t have that much of a problem with, thought I think they could have been so much better. At some point of time you realize that your friends are weird in their ability to think of you as amazing, even when they know the thousands of reasons why you’re not. They will know all of your character flaws and your irritating idiosyncrasies, but will ultimately think that you are a creature worthy of amazing fate and adventure. We all see each other to be brave, smart, creative people who will get wherever they want to go. I remember someone mentioning that they hoped one of our friends goes to film school. One of my best friends told me I should definitely go to grad school that has nothing to do with law because I deserve more in life. We would never say that about ourselves. It would be so hard to give yourself that benefit.
I have no idea if real life is going to be harder or easier than NALSAR for me to handle, but I do know that every single person here has gone through a stage in NALSAR where their self-esteem is shot and where any and all happiness is lost (and gone forever). NALSAR can drown you, and what can keep you up are friends who care enough to be honest with you. God knows if the real world is anything like NALSAR we will all need someone. I guess I’m just grateful that I got to be here and have this – the people who are my people.
If it wasn’t obvious already, I have a lot of regrets about NALSAR. I regret not working hard and giving up and being angry and being afraid. I would also regret not leaving the first chance I got, but I really fucking can’t. I was talking to Ips about how maybe all of us need that one unhealthy involvement with someone who is bad for you, kills your self-esteem and makes you choose or think about things as acceptable that under normal circumstances, you would have walked away from. I don’t mean an abusive relationship, just an immature and simply wrong one. Once we’re through with that, we realize what we want in life, and what we deserve. And the friends who help you through that really help glue you back together.
So NALSAR kicked me in the asshole repeatedly, and honestly I poked NALSAR with a toothpick several times. I definitely walked away with more egregious hurt than NALSAR, I’m stronger for it and gave me some solid friends to add to that.
And I won’t be taking no mo’ of NALSAR’s crap now, girlfriend. But who knows, maybe NALSAR and I can meet at a ten year reunion, get drunk and not be awkward with each other.
I have never endorsed the idea that your college years will be the best years of your life. If our plan is to make these the best years of our lives, and set the bar at some weird low for the rest of our lives, then that’s not a very ambitious goal in terms of self-actualization or emotional and/or creative fulfillment, is it? It is an important part of life, and I will miss everything about it. I hate to leave this place, but god knows, its time. It’s time to take the friends and the memories and all the cruel lessons and jokes life here played on all of us for five years and lead a better life for it. Or at least try.
I always knew this would be my song for leaving as soon as the oldest friend sang it a few months ago. Along with Semisonic’s Closing Time.
Agar main ruk gayi abhi
Toh jaa na paaoongi kabhi.
Yahi kahoge tum sada
Ke dil abhi nahi bhara.
Jo khatm ho kisi jagah
Yeh aisa silsila nahi.
P.S. – If you must know, this is how I’ve been feeling.
I DON’T WANNA LEAVE!!!!!!!!
And I need someone to do to me what Jon Stewart does with the puppy here. (Pablo Neruda omage/ reference. Anyone?)
P. P. S. – This is last post. I’ll add a link to new blog once I start that.
People who like reading this and tell me often – I owe a sizable portion of my self esteem and confidence to you. As I mentioned previously to some of you – you guys are my favorite. You’ve given a lot of meaning to my life. Thank you. So much.