That summer many things changed. For him and his world. He found someone who will be the love of his life. He never knew that he had found that love. A baby was born. He was unaware. He should have been there to take care of that baby. He was far away. He didn’t see the things that were happening to him and his world.
It was a summer full of heat, rains, play, it was a good summer, a summer full of fun. I can’t remember investing so much time on myself, which essentially means I can’t remember wasting so much time. It was like a bird learning to fly. I was a free bird and I had the wings or rather the wings were growing and I was so excited to learn how to fly. Now that I look back I hardly learned anything that summers, not till it was very late.
The second semester for the year was over at IIT Delhi. My sixth semester and all the ‘would be final year’ students were required to do an internship (for 50 working days or 400 working hours, at least). It was the summer of 2003.
Like many others I also had plans of an internship abroad. The idea always excited me. I guess everybody makes a fight for internship which takes you to US, Europe or any other country which you find worth a trip for, a free trip. So there I was, sitting in the institute computer centre, finding contacts for all kind of companies, mailing them. I was never good at making a fight out of anything, at least not till than. I only got one response. “Thanks for your interest in our company. We don’t offer internships. Good luck for the future.” May be this one wish brought me luck, few months later. So after all the time I could waste on my “Videsh Chalo” mission there I was standing in the ‘Q’ outside Mr. Bhatnagar’s office (“Bhatti, the Tatti” as few among us referred to him as). The ‘Q’ was a bit long. Many missions had failed that year, I guess. I got USHA SHRIRAM (INDIA). They make electrical home appliances, I was told.
The semester ended around 5th of May and I had one full week to arrange for a comfortable summer ahead. Veeru’s PC moved to my room. Swimming pool pass, a database of movies and FRIENDS. All the books I could find. Summers looked promising.
It was 13th of May and there I was, with Deepak Garg, at the company’s office. Rishi was there before us. He was waiting in the lobby. And guess what? Then we waited in the lobby till they took us to a visitor’s room. And there again, we waited. It was one hell of a wait. The company wasn’t expecting any trainees from IIT. They had written to the Training and Placement cell and as with every other company, they too got no reply. The company had waited long enough. The company presumed no body was coming and took trainees from other colleges. But we were still waiting. After a lot of confusion and many phone calls and more waiting, one of the managers (an ex-IITian) told us that we will be taken in. He will find some work. At least this waiting thing was finally over.
And he did find us some work. The work began next morning and ended the same morning. Yes!!! We were shown around the research lab (what they research there is still a mystery to all) and we were shown the room where we will be sitting. The work for 50 working days or 400 working hours was over. We were supposed to find a project for ourselves and work on it on our own, make a report for ourselves and keep it in our own rooms. Another wait started the wait for 50 days to pass. And they paid us 5000 bucks per month (10,000 bucks for the summers and NO TAXES!!!). Nothing gets better!!!
We went to office for first 5 to 7 days regularly. Next week may be two times. Next two weeks may be one day a week. And next month we went there to get our certificates and the cheque. In short we hardly went to the office. No, internship gets better (unless of course it’s a paid foreign trip, Ah! It hurts!!!).
It was the best summers I had at IIT. After initial few days at work (lets assume it was work), daily routine took some shape. I would read books (one book at a time), sleep, eat, watch movies (again, one at a time), eat, sleep and do these over and over and over. I hardly left the room. The morning trip to the swimming pool was an exception. Tried my best to learn how to swim but there was this cool babe in at that time. So could not concentrate on learning. It was a good one hour bath daily.
My sister had D-school entrance exam in last week of May. Aman and elder brother came. I booked room for them in institute guest house. We went around the campus and had dinner at Mezbaan (Actually the name is Secular House Canteen but ’47, ’84, ’92 were not long back. In a hardly secular place ‘Janta’ preferred to call this place Mezbaan. It sounds better and fits the place even better). They were not speaking much or I just thought so. Next day after the exam we spent some time at India Gate and then they went back. Back to home. Ah! Home. I wanted to go too but had to get that training certificate first. It was nearly six months since I met mom and dad. I remember calling home few times that summer. Dad used to be out at the farm. Once mom and dad had gone to visit relatives, Aman told me. Some times I do miss my village, only some times.
‘The Order of the Phoenix’ was released that summer. Rishi got me the book from his girlfriend. One sitting of 21 hours and the book was finished. Harry lost his Godfather and his parents once again. And Mr. Garg lost the dare. He said 24. I gave him 36. He couldn’t finish the book even in seven days. At the party he gave us, Rishi and I ended up paying more than he did.
That summer I started chatting on yahoo. I was not really interested in chatting and spending time just like that. I preferred to waste time in a better way. But I have a habit of picking up bad habits and then this person (a girl) caught my attention, and it was first time in my life a girl was really interested in talking to me. And talking to a girl and not sweating was a new experience for me. I found myself waiting for 2300 hrs. She got online around this time. I preponed the Nescafe visits with Hriday to suit this schedule though he never knew why. And to tell you the truth nor did I, not till some time later. It was such a summer. I never knew that seconds were accumulating, not passing. Accumulating into hours and days, to be feared, loved and lived later. It was such a summer.
In two months I watched around 60 movies, many more than once, read 10-12 books, watched most of the FRIENDS and downloaded tones of songs using Kazza. Apart from passing days like this nothing much happened. July came and it was time to finish the internship. Though I didn’t required the report for the certificate, it was required by the great Bhatti. Spent few hours modeling a storage type water heater (read geyser). Pujo did the rest. Some coding in MATLAB and I had an impressive report ready (though the ex-IITian manager found out the flaws in the report in 5 minutes, Bhatti the Tatti could not, Pujo got his treat).
Our home is the first in the village when you come from the town. Mom met me on the road. “Beta, we are lucky. God was with us. Nothing happened. Everything is going to be alright”. What was mom talking about? All along the way from town folks were behaving oddly, but they generally behaved oddly with us, kids of ‘Doctor Sahab’. Mom was saying something as I entered the house. I was trying to make some sense out of what she was saying. She looked much older than last time. I was just away for few months. And than all the riddles presented their answer. Standing in a corner my cousin Preet was massaging someone’s leg. The leg looked lifeless. Lying on the old wooden bed, I saw a man who looked like my father.
I had never seen my father cry. Not in his earlier life. This one was a new life.
It was the night of 14th may. He was going to Jalandhar ‘Sabji Mandi’ to sell vegetables. It was a good crop that year. The truck was traveling at over 80kmphr. The driver was too tired to drive. It was past midnight. He dozed off and the truck hit a ‘keekar’ tree. Only dad was injured.
“He was in between the truck and the tree”. “They left him lying on the road wrapped in a blanket for hours”. “Your mother saved him”. “You were lucky to get such a good doctor”. I heard the incident many times over next few days. I lived it in that first moment. “After his operations (he had many) he looked like a baby. A skeleton and a cover of skin.” They had shaved of his head and beard. He was so mad when brother cut his hair. God is not fair sometimes, but he gave him his life and that is His fairness I guess.
He was in ICU for 31 days. He walks with support. He lost his voice. But when he first became conscious, on third day after the accident, he told mom and brother not to call me. I had very important training going on and should not be worried. Yes, God is fair sometimes. I look at my father after two months of accident and it’s the biggest shock I ever had.
Mom and I are inside and mom is telling me all that happened. I have been holding the lump in the throat. Mothers can feel you inside. “Cry son, don’t hold it back”. And than I cried there in my mothers lap. I cried for the best summers I had. The summer of ’03.
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