Sunday, 26 May 2013

What's Your Roll Number?

Image Courtesy : Google Images
It all started with inquiries about each other’s roll numbers. We were freshers in college, sitting in the English Literature class, excitedly waiting for the professor to come in. There was still some time to beat, so everyone was either busy fiddling with their phones or making acquaintance with those sitting around them. And almost every new conversation was starting with the standard question - ‘what’s your roll number?’

You see in our college the roll numbers for the first year students were allotted on the basis of the student’s position in the +2 merit list. From 1000 upwards the roll numbers were for the first year students, and below 1000 belonged to the kids from the +2 section. So the person who topped the merit list got roll number 1000, and the next in line, with even a point of difference in the score percentage and rank would get 1001, and so on. So if your roll number was anywhere within 1000 to 1100, everyone would know that you are a top ranker and that defined who you were, at least for the first few months in college.

So here she was, sitting a couple of seats away from me on the left. I had not noticed her, of course, for I was busy with my nose dug deep into some book to avoid unnecessary question answer sessions with strangers. And also more so because I was a fresher not just in college, but also in the city, and feeling a tad out of place among all the Punjabi speaking super bubbly crowd around me.

As we waited, the two girls sitting on my left suddenly realized that they had been sitting in the wrong lecture hall all this while, and got up to come out of the pew. And so this development caused the seats next to me to fall vacant. She shifted towards the vacant spot so that we could all sit more comfortably. And that’s when I saw her.

How beautiful she was! Not pretty, not cute, but beautiful, so simply beautiful! Milky white skin, lush long hair plaited neatly, rosy lips and a sweet ready smile on her face. She was the quintessential archetypal 
Punjabi girl. Gosh, after so many years I can still see her there, turning to me and asking – 'aapka roll number kya hai?'

I was so taken aback by her innocent face, her beauty and the charming manners, that for a second I did not know what to say. A hello? A hi? Nothing, all I could muster was a curt and indifferent - '1020'. 

'Oh  wow!', she said, but by that time I was back into the book I had in hand, though of course now I was not reading it, but instead wondering if I should have said her a friendly hello at least. The wondering and contemplation lasted a few minutes, and it was her friendly silhouette that finally prompted me to turn and ask - 'And what's your roll number?'

'Aapse to zyada hi hai', she smiled admiringly, '1042,  aapka kya rank tha merit list mein?' she continued, and thus began our first little chitchat. By the time the first day in college wrapped up, we had been together since that English class - we had almost similar subjects, barring one (I opted out of Economics went in for Public Administration instead), we shared her food that she got from home, had some snacks in the cafeteria, strolled around the college identifying the different departments, discussing the teachers and crowd in general, and generally having fun at our own expense, confiding about our eccentricities and whims and fancies.

Looking back, I realize, we were so childlike - we came from simple homes, enjoyed the small and little things that life had to offer, we studied, we had fun, we talked, blabbered rather, about anything and everything - we were so transparent, and that's the reason why we bonded so well. It was later that she shared that it was my roll number that first got her hooked to me - haha, my 1020 as compared to her 1042! Because of the roll number, she thought I was more intelligent than her, and this thought still amuses me!

Later in college, when I joined NCC, I pestered her to join too, so that we could be together, and she reluctantly gave in. And what followed was mad fun at various outstation camps - singing late into the night, helping each other in the strenuous tasks, scrounging for food when the NCC mess became absolutely unbearable and standing for each other when random discussion with other cadets started going out of hand.

In our friendship, she is the one who has always been the more giving and affectionate one, and I admire her for that. There have been times when I have been unable to acknowledge and appreciate her love and affection for me - and I think about those time off and on - and I realize my shortcomings. But she knows me, knows how I am, and that keeps me comfortable.

Today she is a PHD holder, a happily married woman with a cute little son and I am so proud of her. Here are a few lines I wrote about her as I thought about our days in college:

Ek sohni kudi punjaban
Naal mere oh pad-di si
Gori chitti pariyaan wargi,
Te mithiyaan gallan kar di si!

 This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

1 comment:

  1. I simply loved reading what you have penned.That's what all friendships are about we do not have to fake ourselves.

    Neither we are judged, its a relationship which is not to be judged.