Trigger Warning. And it’s a long one.
I remember this particularly difficult problem in my first year. I just couldn’t solve it so I called up my friends. We spent hours in the H15 common room poring over it, all of us BTing out over the same problem. We never solved it, but I didn’t care. I was happy for a brief while, the rat race forgotten. The hustle bustle in the wing right before 11:59 PM, people running from room to room trying to finish their assignments. I didn’t really care for the deadline or the grades at that point. I was just happy seeing all of them cramped up in a room fitting into every nook and cranny. Or the scramble before a 2 PM labs, mailing your graphs to that one friend going to the stationery shop, wishing you could sleep after the Chole Bature and cursing autowalas under your breath because you got late. Or the immeasurable relief that inevitably follows a submission two seconds before the deadline. The whole wing just sighing in collective relief knowing that you probably don’t have to worry about deadlines for at least a few more days. Back then I wouldn’t have really thought that I would miss all of this. But boy, was I wrong. That was heaven.
I think I was a freshie enjoying my first Mood Indigo Anthem moment when someone told me about Aniket Ambhore. I was curious to know who he was so I went on FB and searched for his name. I went back as far as I could, looking at a strikingly normal feed, just random writings from back when that was the trend. It was all so normal, a 2014 equivalent of a timeline filled with memes and shit posts. Then suddenly nothing. Just post after post from a grieving mother visiting her son’s profile on his birthday. There was this one post which was just his name – “Anu…”. I think those two syllables have changed me more as a person than years of my life.
I used to think that I was a mentally resilient person. I have personally been through some things and I was proud of my ability to cope. This semester is making me question that. The people I call my best friends, I hardly talk to them anymore. Somehow the effort of pushing a few buttons on my phone seems like too much. And every time I force myself to do it I just get more worried for my friends. We used to tell each other that we wanted to die in the insti, mostly during exam times. Gen Z humour right? Somehow the overplayed joke seems sinister now. Like something lurking underwater. Then we both laugh and I try and convince myself it’s just that – a joke. I promise myself that I will make more of an effort to call more but the next day, the effort to tap my contact book icon weighs me down. I tell myself that I will do it later but I very well know I won’t for a while. I am afraid that one day I will call that number again and no one will pick up. I visibly tense up when the line rings on, a knot only a warm hello can melt.
I can feel myself changing too. I was grateful to the pandemic for bringing my family back together for the first time in years. I was thankful for the time. But now I get frustrated with them for the silliest of things. I get bouts of lethargy and foul mood during which I feel like doing nothing. But we can’t really do nothing this semester, can we? So, I ignore it and muscle through. Work is getting done so that’s all that matters right? But every time I do that I can feel it getting more difficult. I don’t have much of the optimism I started out with. Though I am doing better academically than ever before it just doesn’t feel right. I can’t help but wonder, does somehow getting through your academics and other commitments mean that you are doing well?
I am not here to highlight the problems the student community is facing. We all know those and it doesn’t make a damn difference. Hell, being honest I am just writing this for myself. Do the authorities really grasp the gravity of the situation? Can we as a student community call for an emergency senate? Because it’s plenty obvious that GSAA’s recommendations have been by and large ignored by the professors. The town hall was a glimmer of hope but that ended in dust as well. It was apparent from the town hall that the GSs were working hard, but were in the end just students riding the same boat we are. I doubt whether the administration has truly understood what’s happening.
“The only thing dead about this dead week is me” oh Gen Z humour again. I hope to God it remains a joke.