The car winded its way slowly through the late morning traffic, edging towards the entrance of the university, the gate known as the ‘Singh Dwaar‘, or the Lion Gate. Just in front of the majestic entrance to the university is a roundabout, with a life size statue of the founder of the university, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, standing atop a pedestal overlooking the milling crowds around him. Once or twice a year the statue is washed, cleaned, polished, decorated with garlands and honoured publicly, but otherwise, it is just let be as it accumulates dust from the millions of vehicles milling around it, and the bird droppings from the gazillion birds which fly by, or sit on it.
Entering through the Lion gate in my own car, with Vaishali and the kids in tow, I was propelled into the past again. I could see in my mind’s eye, flashes of my past, as if in a time lapse movie. Here I had entered the university for the first time, riding a cycle rickshaw, and here I had given my exam for entrance to the medical college. Deep inside the campus, I knew, was the temple, the new Kashi Vishwanath temple or VT for short, where mother had spent her time praying for my success in exams, while I had struggled with the multiple choice questions in the entrance exam. Here we had waited, shiny eyed and still a little wet behind the ears, a bunch of young boys and girls, waiting to be admitted to the prestigious Institute of Medical Sciences, after we had cleared the entrance exam, and had been pronounced successful.
Here I rode my bicycle to class, and then to work, and then to clinics, and then to Vaishali’s hostel…..here, my seniors had stopped me for my ragging, the customary baptism by fire which was still very much in force at that time, and not yet illegal….here on the right hand side were the departments – Pediatrics, Pediatric surgery, Opthalmology, ENT, Radiotherapy…..and on the left side was the Women’s college….up ahead, even before I drove to that point, I knew, was the entrance to the institute, at the trisection of the college, the hospital, and the girls’ hostel……and then if one were to drive straight ahead one could reach the university press, and the small airstrip near it…….yet, if one were to turn right one could pass by the Laxman Das guest house, the Malviya house, the Vice Chancellor lodge, the headquarters of the University Proctorial force, the Ruia hostel and, behind it, the Dhanwantari hostel where we lived, and laughed, and found friends, and worked, and studied, and partied, and found love, and had been heartbroken, and had climbed to the top of the water tank in dejection…..all this and more had happened here, in this university, this little part of the world…….
The joy, the excitement of beginning to learn medicine, of finding new friends, of having the world open up before us, of discovering the power of knowledge, and then, of course, all of us had also had our share of disappointments, sorrows, sadness, and pain…..yes, pain…..a lot of it ….sometimes in the company of friends, sometimes alone…..in dark corners of the hostel, and the hospital, and the college, and the temples of the campus….. crying alone, and then the anger, the frustration, the retaliation, and then acceptance, and then a looming sadness, an overpowering sense of dejection…..all of this and more……and love, yes, love, love without bounds, without holding back, unconditional, overcoming everything else, supporting, encouraging, giving a reason to live, to smile, to continue…………it had all happened here………………….
To be continued………..
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