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A Different Kettle of the Fish

- Jawad Haider

I was unexpectedly reminded of the quote “Every human walks around with a certain kind of sadness” on my way back to the college bus near Patiala Block. Since long I had a feeling that every soul was cursed with the black of sadness that it covered behind its very eyes, yet put on such a jubilant show of sparkle on the outside. That isn’t always the case with the people who are shattered to the point of oblivion towards every bright thing they come across. Such people, such devastatingly innocent touch-me-not, go-away-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you kind of people – I feel for them.

For those lucky fellows who chose – or were compelled – to stay at the college after 2 on 22nd of January, be it waiting for the bus (like me), having a football match with the juniors (yeah, 4th year guys), or those triumphed 3rd year folks who walked around the halls and the corridors with sweet-boxes under their arms, shoving the idea of “care to share” about joys of happiness in vague form of gulab jamun down everyone’s throat, saying “Meri distinction ha biochemistry me” – for all of these folks and others I failed to mention, this piece of writing is not for you.

Look where my thoughts brought me! Anyway, let’s rewind: I was on my way to my college bus. Stepping down the stairs in front of Pharma Department, I was being stared at by the gloominess of the day that lie ahead. I heard that an incipient show is the most memorable of all, yet the apprehensiveness of the first substage that lay ahead was as scary as a vague figure behind the window on a snowy night.

At a time such as this, I thought nothing could outdo the lump that I felt in my throat or the fast horse racing the beats of my heart. Every step I took, my heart made a leap. Every time I lifted my limb, the other one refused to back it up. Yeah sure, it’s such an immature thing to fear the harmless foes but this one was my first, and fearing the first is as sane as it can get.

Anyhow, I stepped on to the level and traced my path through the outskirt of the ground which was half-possessed by young miserables with their BDs held open on their laps, and half-possessed by the seniors playing football. On a far side where you’d look only with full consciousness, sat a guy and a girl in deep conversation about something, and behind them a bunch of first-years who kept looking at them from time to time. On another end under the shade of the high wall – which also serves as a place to sit for the ones in front of Pharma – patrolled a guy walking back and forth with a book in his one hand and the other hand in the air marking what seemed like imaginative doodles.

Far from this fuss, well away from such theeta-depression sat a sad soul on the pavement that led to the new auditorium. With a white cloth spread out with some bucks and dough scattered over it, and a hoody pulled over the eyes, sitting cross-legged, that guy was a different kettle of the fish in the picture. At first a thought struck my mind that a beggar somehow breached the tight security (sarcasm detection) of KEMU and came to look for a few bucks from the society-serving doctors. But the moment I reached close my attention was grasped by a paper that he held open for others to read.

At that moment I realized I wasn’t the only one standing there. A guy and a group of scarfed girls stood gazing at the paper held in his hand. The guy let out a muffled chuckle and left, while a girl went ahead and said: “Bhai Allah aap par fazal karay”.

I felt obligated to read what was written on the paper. With narrow eyes I read through the spidery writing:

Iltamas, meri GF bhag gai ha and meray paisay bhi le gai ha. Maali madad karain.

It was enough to make me forget my substage and viva and tests and medical and whatnot. I let out a hearty laugh and contributed to the ‘just’ cause. I felt for him, for this devastatingly innocent guy. Even if it was a prank – which sure it was – it lent a dozen smiles that day and an article from my side (quite an achievement if you ask me).

Running late, I left for the bus at once.

And I passed my substage too. 


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