Updated: Dec 1, 2021
If you told me on my first day of college, all the way back in 2017, that I would graduate sitting in my own room, giving my final project presentation over a Zoom call wearing shorts, not having attended a lecture physically (or virtually, truth be told) for the final two semesters, I would have rightfully laughed it off. Probably added you on the “don’t talk to that person, they’re weird” list while I was at it.
However, that is exactly how it happened. Who would’ve thought that the last exam I gave would be on my laptop, sitting in my own chair, with no one to supervise or regulate what I did. When we all left our hostel rooms for home in March when the country was in its nascent stages of the fight with the virus, we never would’ve imagined that was the last time we’d be in those rooms together again. In fact, I remember us celebrating the unexpected two-week break when we came to know of it first. No one could have predicted that we’d spend our final year cooped up in our homes, forced to attend lectures online. We all genuinely believed this was a thing that would pass in a matter of weeks. Little did we know.
People who know me even a little bit would probably use ‘sentimental’ as the last word to describe me. I don’t like to project my emotions to the world, never have. I know, typical male behaviour, right? But that’s how it’s always been. Keeping to myself, never really inclined to mingle or share unless I found the right person, or people. Even now, I tend to find comfort in long spells of solitude, sitting in my room reading or bingeing on a show. But when such an important chapter in your life ends as it did for me, you find yourself thinking about it more than you’d like. We all knew it was going to happen a long time ago, but I guess this was one of those things you can never really prepare yourself for. So when college ends as it did, on a rather uneventful night in May, how do you react to it?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I’ve found myself thinking a lot about things I’d try and do differently if I had the chance to do it all over again. Maybe try and make a few more friends. Maybe try and participate in a few more activities. Maybe tell the girl I love about how I feel sooner than I did. Or maybe just go through it all again like it was the first time.
Of course, college, in fact life during lockdown has been weird, to say the least. The initial few days passed by quickly as we hoped that all of it would die down soon and we’d be able to resume the status quo. However, as we slowly resigned ourselves to the fact that the virus was here to stay, things suddenly started to seem different. The precious few relationships that I had managed to make in college suddenly started to seem fragile, the strong bonds of love and friendship didn’t seem so strong anymore. I am not someone who likes to spend hours on video calls, or even voice calls for that matter, always preferring to use text as my medium of communication. But when the written word becomes the only way to convey feelings, they don't seem to carry the same weight as they did. Words that were exchanged implicitly by just being next to each other now had to be explicitly said. There was no longer the chance of looking into someone’s eyes and knowing what they felt. It became so easy to tell someone you were okay when you weren’t, so easy to hide away. I felt myself retreating back into the same shell it had taken me so long to just about crawl out of. Slowly, but surely, nothing seemed the same anymore. Will it all become better when we can start to move around and meet again? I guess only time will tell.
We all start our first jobs soon. Another milestone that we shall experience from the confines of our own homes. Something we’d all envisioned as the day we’d truly become adults and step out into the ‘big, bad world’, ready to face it all was all of a sudden reduced to remote onboardings and Work From Home guidelines. I know it sounds rather superficial to sit in my house, surrounded by people who love me and complain about how I have it bad when so many people have it much, much worse. But I firmly believe it’s okay to take a moment or two and really take in everything that we have gone through and will go through in the months to come. It is important to be thankful for what is, but it is okay to reminisce sadly about what could have been, and it is absolutely okay to dread about what will be.
People who know me even a little bit would probably use ‘sentimental’ as the last word to describe me. But now, even people who probably know me better than I know myself could be wrong about me. Such has been the gap in communication in this past year. When once I could recognise someone wasn’t feeling too good simply by the way they texted, I now only sit and try to blindly guess in the dark. So am I really sentimental? I don’t know, I guess only time will tell.