Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lady Brabourne and I

Lady Brabourne College. This has been my Mecca of leaning and unlearning many things in life. After completing my 12th standard, I longed for wings that could set me free, something which could give me a feel of liberty. I was desperate to come out of my sheltered life. While my friends chose the Delhi way, I saw the route of Kolkata before me. Well, I was still very scared of the enormity of the decision. To me Kolkata was a safe prospect as my kin would be at stone's throw. But I really didn't want my family to realize that I was scared too move out. Those were the days I weighed a massive 70kgs and was battling problems of my own-problems like low self-esteem, shaky confidence, Acne!!! And yes, the monumental decision... my stream of studies. I was undecided till the very last minute, as my heart longed for Political Science Hons. and a career in law (may be) but my mind desired English Hons. I really didn't know what to do. I didn't wish to disappoint my family or myself by choosing a subject which was not cut out for me. Still now I marvel at those people who are level-headed and great at making important decisions with a snap of the finger tip. I have been a confused person all throughout. With my last minute preparation, my unwillingness to eat veggies or binging on chocolates..I have been a poor decision maker. But then decision making indeed is a ten seconds affair. I chose English over Political Science and have been in love with the subject ever since.

I still remember my initial tryst with LBC. It was our second day in Kolkata, then an alen city. The taxi driver had taken us for a ride all around the city without having a clue where the college was. My mother got very upset and started yelling at the driver while my father got hold of another taxi. Finally, in Par Circus I saw the the name of the college which would change my life forever. There was a long queue in front of the gate. All of us wanted to get through its written exam. Nobody was sure what to prepare. The day of the exam, it started poring cats and dogs. The candidates were almost drenched while entering the college premises.The unpredictable weather had yet not prepared to carry an umbrella,always. While I scribbled lazily into my answer script, I was almost sure that I would not make the cut. But as luck would have it, I made it in the final list and never looked back ever since.

To be very frank, my grasp over the language was terrible when I began. Imagine the first class with ICD Ma'am (a living legend) was on Mimesis...!!! I couldn't even get the spelling correct in my notes.I was really scared and petrified of what lay in store for me. I was hard working and sincere but I failed to understand many things. As soon as I stepped into my first class, our professors treated us like pros and (God!) that was really embarrassing! I was not well read and bearing silent humiliation became quite the norm. However, I still remember the teacher who inspired me silently. Mrs. S.Ghosh. She was beautiful, pretty,smart...everything that I could never be. When I did fairly well in one of her tests, she was the sole professor to encourage me. And that really got me going. I was pleased with myself for a change and believed in the sheer possibility of the impossible. Even if I was never the topper, but I was never at the bottom either. And that was really comforting. Average rules! (to quote the tag-line of the American sit-com "The Middle") Finally, I really didn't do that badly in my final examination. I wound up getting a decent 60% which means securing a First Class in University of Calcutta, and was in fact a big deal. So, I patted myself on the back for not letting myself down after all.

Now,this was the academic side where the world was really not bright and cheerful. It was in fact painted in dull shades of grey and ash. However, socially I was on cloud nine. With an opportunity to enroll myself in Lady Brabourne College, came an added advantage of finding a place in Lady Brabourne College Hostel. This Hostel has been more than my second home. This was the place where I discovered myself, my friends and my future. The experience really added colours to my life. The colours dazzled initially but it started fading with time. Today,after almost 9 years, I can barely see them (literally and figuratively) but the spark and love that they  infused in my life,still remains. I  remember with distinct fondness, the first day in the dormitory. 10 girls from 10 different places, meant to share three important years of their life, together. Scary yet true. And the first evening was the evening of a power failure..a blackout which lasted for a couple of hours (symbolic??) In that blackout, all the girls who were terrified to open up to each other, perhaps realized the brilliant socializing skills of one girl from Orissa, Sonali Dey. She was the one who got everyone talking, sharing their frights,where a few also got a little sentimental while thinking about home-sweet-home. There was the sprightly Saika who could imitate people with ease, Barna and Anita, the nightingales of our dorm, Maria who was synonymous with attitude with a capital A, Sarmita who loved to switch on the lights even when she was fast asleep,Simanti, the most studious girl of our dorm (one who actually started studying from Day 1), Sangita ,the quiet sweet girl. The name of the 10th girl, I really don't remember, but she had long beautiful hair.

In the passage of three years, many things changed. In fact my equation with some people took a U-turn(for the worse). But the positive side was, I also came across girls with a heart of gold like Dwaita, a mad genius and Sangmita...a beautiful human being.  Being elected in the Hostel Union was a high point where I learnt that I had good leadership skills. I shouldered all kinds of responsibilities under the extraordinary guidance of our Hostel Superintendent, Sucheta ma'am. Everything was wonderful, till the time we had to bid each other adieu, and begin a new life outside the walls of our beloved hostel. How I miss the fight over tea table, the queue for Sunday breakfast which comprised only two pieces of bread and a banana/boiled egg (hence creating the difference between the vegetarian and the non vegetarians), the cat that occasionally licked our dinner plates, the dog(Lord Brabourne), the Saraswati Puja madrush, the triple movies day, the Holi bonanza....There can possibly be no end to this list. And yes, one can never forget to mention Chacha's dukaan and Bon Appetit who kept us from starving during the dark days.

I was never a brilliant student, as I have repeatedly said but keeping aside all my shortcomings, this college provided me the platform where I could explore deeper into myself and bring out the best. The teachers were very caring and considerate and took great pains to make us feel at home. Not a day goes by that I thank my stars for having been a part of LBC heritage. Yes, the professors were very strict and expected nothing short of perfection, but it did a lot of good to us in the long run.  The training helped us to adapt ourselves to the changing scenario and readily accept challenges. Today, I am sure that my professors have forgotten me but our laughter has still not died in its empty corridors. The canteens still buzz with our silent footsteps. The dormitories still revel in their midnight parties. Birthdays are still a big affair. After all, even with all the competition around the children within us refuses to die. Faces have changed but the hearts remain the same. The hostel may have expanded but the colours of joy keep the LBC spirit alive. Hail LBC! Today, after so many years when I look back at my college, all that I want to do is say a big Thank You to all my teachers who've made me what I am today. Without their constructive criticism and encouragement I would've been nowhere.  You're a part of me. You live inside me. My college. My love. My memories.


  1. Hostel life is truly the best years of anyones life............I miss mine so muchhhhhh

    1. Yes indeed, the days spent in the hostel can never be forgotten...