Monday, June 19, 2023

My Gokhale College Days

My Gokhale College Days From school I graduated to college. Since the college was walking distance from my house, along with a sikh neighbor Baljit Kaur's daughter Pinky, I went to the college to get my admission for BA (Hons') English. It was a women's college. The recruiter looked at Pinky and asked if she was my sisiter. When I answered in the negative, he said she resembled me. The fact was no one ever thought I was a Malayali. It was either a North Indian, a Bengali or a Kashmiri. My sibling Paddu menon and my son too don't look like Malayalees. Going through my board result, I was asked to take up pyschology as I had scored good marks in the subject. But I was insistent that I wanted to take English. It was then I realized the there was a test for all those who had opted for English (Hons.) I managed to scrape through. There were students too who were not lucky enough to pursue their English (Hons) I was lucky to scrape through with a warning. The college was just across the famous SSKM Hospital called PG Hospital those days. Our college gates used to be kept locked as a story went around that a student had run off with a hospital staff. We had uniform sarees. White with coloured border. I had a pleasant surprise when my mother gave a voile white sari with a red printed border with a printed red pallu. It was a beautiful saree. Then there were many sarees bought for my college sojourn. I had later given my sarees to printing shops that were all over the area and nearby places. Now such shops are hardly seen. I used to go to college with Jassbir, a sikh friend, my neighbour from my previous house. I got a chance to visit The Gurudwara near the college. Used to go not with ant regigious fervour but to get the Kada prasad a wheat halwa. Till today my fav prasad. I always had to go past her house. Somehow her mother trusted me, so waited for me to pick up her daughter. But the moment we reached college, she used to go away with her boyfriend. Her father was a goon and everyone feared him. My friend had even married the Begali boy on the sly. Later I came to know that her father had beaten up the boy and taken awaay his daughter. Don't know what happenedd to her. When we usedd to walk to college, there was a wood furniture shop and a staff used to keep looking at us as we went past the shop. It got too much, so I told my friend that in future, we would walk on the opposite side. Don't know whether it was providence, as we were walking on the opposite side, the huge lampost near the shop toppled and fell, I shuddr to think what wwould have happenedd if we had taken that way and not taken the opposite footpath? I made some wonderful Bengali friends. All had thought I was a Bengali. It was then that I saw my old school teacher Paromita and she turned out to be one of my professors. A professor Mrs Sinha once was explaining a Shakespearean tale and came out with a word asking to be translated to Hindi. Though I was good at Hindi, I wasn't able to place it, so did the other students. Finally, she came out with the word DIwana. All my professors were vry good in their teaching. We had women's scout. My friend who used to come to college after her visit to her boyfriend and I used to skip the class and go to see movies. Had gone to see Rafoo Chakkar when the whole college had gon to watch WTT (Word Table Tennis). The movies I had seen with my friens were Yadon KI Baraat, Julie, Agni Rekha to name a few. Used to frolic arounf Parkstreet and at Chinese restaurants. Mrs. Sinha used to take us to British Counsil to watch classics like Shakesperean plays made into movies, charles Dicken's and Oliver Gold Smith stories made into movies. I used to take my younger brother with me, Two sisters studied with me. Their house was in the suburbs and people all over knew it as Gol Badi. It was because of the design. A beautiful palatial house. Enjoyed lovely Bong dishes at all my friends houses. A friend soon got married while in college. She was very pretty but slightly overweight. My father had provied us with his company car as her house was quite far. The house was an independant and beautiful sprawling house. The marriage was held in the open illuminated premises. My friend was fully decked up in her bridal finery and looked heavenly. A small boy was staring at her. She chanced to ask him how she lookeed. The boy immediately said in Bengali, Gonesh Thakur. People around were shell shocked not knowing how to react. After the graduation test I was whisked off by my paternal uncle to kerala saying I needed a good rest. Stayed with my cousinn sister In Alleppey for 3 months. Had even gone with her for the inaugural opening Of Chinmaya Vidhyalaya. All the high and mighty of Kerala were present. Bhima Jewellery owner too had presided over the meeting. He was quite aged in the year 1976. Saw a lot of movies and had a wonderful stay with my cousin's maternal cousin in Ernakulam. It was there at a theatre called Little Shenoys, we saw the Hindi movie Charas, a dharam Hema starrer. At my aunts house in Alleppy, it was mathi or Sardine everyday. Relished the simple dishes she made. Learned to make plastic wicker bags from my cousin. One day my aunt said whoever came and stayed there got married soon. Infact left Allepy in September 1976 and got married in May 1977, It was a memorable 3 month stay. Once a family was having a Devi Puja in their house. We had all gone. It was a very friendly neighourhood. Every family knew each other. Mostly teachers from Thiruvam badi High school. The Thirumbadi Sree Krishna temple was ancient and beautiful. A huge temple. The appams given as pradad were hevenly. It was on a Krisha Janmashtami we had got the appams, big sized. Coming back to Devi Puja. As the priest was chanting the slogas, a a telegaram meant for me was delivered. It was from my father saying I had graduated. The pujari noticed this and asked to see the girl who had graduated. Truly God;s grace to be blessed by him. Even had gone to the famous Ambalaapuzha Sree Krishna temple and had got a container full of the famous payasam. as fortunate to see The Indra Gandhi trophy VallmKali or boar race on Onam day. A memorable experience. After returning to Kolkatta my father handed me the MA admission fomm.

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