Prologue: The IIT Roorkee

“Life, luck, destiny, fortune – all these were the common words I used in my language without ever thinking how much depth they had within. Even now, I don’t know how deep they are, but I have realized that it takes several years to shape our lives. What we presently are: how we behave in different situations – depends on a lot of biological factors like DNA if we talk scientifically, on our previous birth Karma philosophically but it also depends on few other factors. It depends on what decisions we make in different circumstances we face in our lives. It is also said that we as humans have the ability to shape our future. Of course, everything is not in our hands. We do not have the ability to decide what we face. But we have the ability on how to deal with what we face. There are a few sayings as well- Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt with is determinism; the way you play it is free will. So, what so ever you may be facing in your life, there will always be one best move for it at that time. Try to listen to your heart and then decide. And remember, whatever you decide is “the best” under those circumstances. And so, in case your decisions and actions don’t turn out to be wise, don’t blame yourself later in your life. Rather accept the way things turned out. This mantra should help you.”

I read the note my brother had handed me before I had boarded the train to my world of dreams. I had got selected into JEE and was assigned Computer Science branch in IIT Roorkee. And I was sitting in the bogie of Dehradun Express, making its way to Roorkee. Two days from now, I would proudly call myself a student at IIT Roorkee. I looked out of the window at the mango farms that ran past the train. Finding nothing more interesting to kill my time, I went back to read my brother’s note.

“After joining college, most students spend their spare time watching Hollywood movies or TV series, playing computer games, getting drunk or roaming around with their mate in college. Do all this but live more than just this. I want you to choose more for yourself than this. I want you to grow more than you think you can. All the best!!”

I read his conclusion. What more than this should I be doing? I asked myself. This was the first time I had left my home to live without my parents. To be honest, I was a bit scared about how the things would turn out. But, I was eager to join college and rush through what this college had to offer me. A degree and a job were not the only things I needed from this college. I wanted more. I wanted to have new experiences, I wanted to learn.

But what do I want to learn? I thought but didn’t get any answer.
Whatever it is, I didn’t want to hate my college life like my brother’s friends did and I got lost into the memories of my last visit at IIT Roorkee, which was 2 years back.

“Oye Gupte …Oye Ankit Gupte….,” I heard someone roaring out my brother’s name in the corridor from a distance. Although we were in the hostel room, the roars outside made me feel as if I was in the midst of a riot, and someone was approaching to stab us.

“Who is this Bhaiya? Why is he calling out your name in such a heinous way?”

“That’s how people are in a college hostel – wild and frustrated,” my brother answered calmly.

“Shall I hide somewhere?” I asked innocently. I was feeling little out of place inside a zoo maintained strictly for the species called IITians.

“No need,” my brother replied.

“Can I talk to him, like, ask his name or ask him about how he feels to be here in this great institute,” I asked, my eyes shining with curiosity. I had seen my brother, but I wanted to hear from others how it felt like being an IITian.

“No need. Just keep your mouth shut,” my brother said and opened the door that the devil outside had already banged twice.

“Yaar, do you have the fucking notes of the fucking DigiComm. I wasn’t aware that fucking Chakku (translated in English to knife) had announced a fucking quiz for the day after tomorrow.” Chakku was a nickname given to a professor named Chaturvedi, my brother told me later.
I looked at him with curiosity to identify if he was indeed a human. Probably he hadn’t noticed me and so was sticking to his ‘fucking’ intonation.

“My notes are with Rajat,” bro answered back.

“Fucking asshole he is,” he said. I wondered if he had even seen that hole or if he knew what it meant literally. I started doubting myself considering the way he had used it.

“After how much time that fa….,” he was to deliver his lines when I fell under his radar of sight.

“Is he your brother?” he rephrased his sentence, first one without uttering a ‘fuck’. Needless to say, he seemed to fall short of words.

“Yes,” my brother answered in as minimum words as possible.

“Any particular reason for him to visit the college?” he interrogated

“Yeah. His 10th board exams have just got over, so he wanted to spend his holidays here and wanted to see the college. He is also planning to prepare for the IIT-JEE, and so wanted to see how the college looked like,” my brother answered, and he started laughing cynically.
After a haughty laugh, he said “Why you wanted to ruin your brother’s holidays by calling him here? This is a place to get f…fried and not to spend vacations.”

I realized he had replaced the ‘f’ word with ‘fried’.

And then he turned towards me and said, “Don’t ever become an IITian and even if you do, don’t come to this sucking place. You will have better future anywhere else. Opt for any branch in any college but don’t come here.”

I remained silent and passed him a smile but thought in my heart, how he knew about all the IITs. He might have studied in others in his previous births, I presumed.

He then turned back to my bro and said, “How can you motivate him to study for IIT? You have seen our situation. We are living like dogs here. But what else will he do? Commerce is also a fucking bad option. It sucks as well,” he kept blabbering and my bro simply nodded to him.

“Has he got some of his screws loose?” I asked past his departure.

“Yes,” my brother said and laughed. We both did.

“Sssshhh.. Easy bro… Don’t laugh out loud. There are people living nearby, and we don’t have loose screws,” he said and winked. He was my calm, cool, intelligent, lovely elder brother. My brother had cleared one of the most prestigious exams of India – IIT JEE and entered IIT Roorkee two years back whereas, I had passed 10th class few days back and was in line to enter the coaching and get prototyped. And before being admitted to a coaching that would mould me into the prototype of my brother, I had come to IIT Roorkee to see how an IIT looked; how the college life was; how my brother was living in that world. I had hoped that it would motivate me further to study for JEE. However, my encounter with Bhaiya’s friend was anything but invigorating. I then realized why my brother had asked not to interact with any of his friends. Probably, they were too frustrated with their lives to motivate me. “Would I also become such a frustrated person after entering the college?” I asked myself.

“What could go wrong? They would have also prepared hard to get into IITs for two years or more. What made them hate this place so much?” I thought and thought and then left it to be explored for the forthcoming years…………