The Last Goodbye

The gates are opened once again. After a span of four years in my college, I truly realized the dimensions of this gate. What there was behind it and what lies beyond it. It seems like it has been laid open to the embrace of a new batch with the farewell to the last one. Yes, the roads, the gardens, the buildings, the statue, the commotion and the rush are still the same. For the first time I’m realizing how beautiful, how exquisite and how free they are. The late evening breeze sweeping past me leaves its silhouettes in the bright ochre light of the street lamps in whose dimness and brightness I’ve seen my shadows many times while taking the evening strolls.

Today’s shadow is also moving along with me. But it seems that it doesn’t want to go with me. In silent whispers it is pleading me to let go of it. To go back or rather run back to the classrooms, to quickly climb up the stairs that lead to
the various labs we hated to go once. To escape away to hostel room and snuggle inside the bed for catching a carefree sleep. To rush to boring lectures that worked as the perfect sleeping pill for us but still we went just for the sake of attendance. To the lush lawns of Nescafe and parking on whose green grass blades, we’ve spent countless hours just discussing some of the most stupid things and some of the most useful ones. To sit under the shades of canopies with a cup of coffee in one hand and writing a practical file from another. To the ever bustling and vibrant admin whose winds are always more than welcoming and soothing to the soul.

But I can’t grant that one time wish of my heart. The roads are jogging past and I have to catch up with them that lead to a new life I’m going to embark. I feel more than helpless today. One part of me is taking me forward and one part of me is pulling me backward. The dilemma is too strong and gripping to be overcome by my logical engineering mind.

The ropes of the future are pulling me to a mirage of tomorrow. I can imagine myself sitting in a wonderful AC office with a wide window on one of the side walls that opens to the vastness of the blue color of the ocean. Wearing an expensive suit taking decisions that would change the course of many fields in this country. To be a famous actor, to be a well known dancer, to be the Booker prize winner author, to be the highest respected scientists and economists and what not. The lure of money is too strong to resist and I find myself attracted to it. Today I’m happy, more than I could ever have thought of. My professional life is running smooth and more than satisfying. I’m extremely happy with the way my life is going. Nothing is wrong at all. Nothing. But somewhere through some of the most dusty corners and dingy paths of my brain, a tiny trace of a memory branches out. The trace that connects the present and the future. The trace of past.

My past here in this very campus whose four years were some of the best years of my life, the most wonderful moments of my existence. A place where I’ve truly been shaped into a crucible that can be filled with different colours of life. The roads that have walked with me with my every mood and have never left me in my triumphs or in my defeats. The walls that have protected me from the searing heat of April to the chilly mornings of January. The leaves that danced wildly with my every step and stride when I got my first job. But surprisingly, I’m noticing these things for the first time in four years.

And my past in the echoes of the loudest laughter while sitting with a bunch of people. The ones who have etched a permanent place in the heart. A place that can never be shared or replaced with. A part which is filled with sweet and sour snapshots of the rainbows of memories of my best friends. Rainbows on which we are sliding downwards and then coming upward are running around me. But through all the ups and downs, they are still standing beside me like a rock and preventing me from falling down. They are faking a mocking smile just because I have cracked a very bad joke or bursting into an uproar just because I was at the best of my wit. The contorted and anger brimming faces before breaking into a fight to the white embarrassed countenances thinking over about who would say sorry first are still vivid in front of my eyes.

Those honey filled voices coming straight from the house of the lord when you are absolutely beaten up and down in life. The only hands that outstretched to you when you’d fallen into an unexpected pit of a plan gone badly wrong . The thunderous deliberate pats that they lovingly gave coming from behind your back just to surprise or irritate you. The strong tug that pulled you out of the classroom while you wanted to attend the lecture but finally relented to the temptation of another hour of gossiping. Their mouths are all stuffed up with the aloo paranthas that one of them bought and all of them made it disappear with a quick swish of their fingers. The brim of the one coffee or ice tea mug that still carries the indelible lip marks of all of us is also lying somewhere unattended. On the sight of the girl I liked but never told her, they are whistling and giving me furtive and mischievous glances and in suppressed tones are telling me to approach and talk to her. In the strings of myriad songs that we sang together loudly or in a hush still resounding very clearly
in my head. I try to search for that one single moment that was the best and the most amazing. But I badly fail in this futile pursuit because each second with them was the best and the most cherishing time of my lifetime yet. I can’t distinguish between bright and somber memories. They all are tiny but luminous glitters of a wave whose ends are tickling me to a nostalgic laughter.

The sky above is still free and boisterous. And my shadow is still lurching backward again and again. So before it clings back to the hypnotic and ecstatic yesterdays, I must dig it into the deepest corner of my being. The clock is slowly ticking away and the life is coming to the completion of a circle. A circle that started four years ago from this very college gate and is ending today at the same place only. A place which has made me what I am today and given me the opportunity to become what I would be tomorrow.

And as I start walking towards the gate for the last time, I somewhere have the hope and desire to come back to this magical place just to relive the joyous days of my life once again.

Ankit Srivastava