First day: Chapter Two
She felt left out and lonely yet all the others were newcomers too and just getting to know each other. She had often reflected shamefully on her trance in the rain the other day and felt grateful to the gentleman who’s been sensible enough to drag her away from it. She could have been down with the cold or a fever if it had not been for him. Her hostel was quite comfortable and her friend Divya, was a warm and friendly person who behaved as if she was at ease with her surrounding and exuded such confidence and good cheer that it always felt better after a while when she was around. Here, in the classroom, she was still quite unfamiliar with everything and everyone and her thoughts went back to that day, having now, started that train of thought. There had been two separate queues and he had been on the one right opposite her. He’d probably been applying for the lecturer vacancy that took place the same day the enrolment for first year students had been going on. There had been a thousand venues for American College was a large rambling old place that had been built in the times of colonial days long back in Madurai. It had been the first to accept girls in those days and was the only option for them too. It was a stately majestic building with a rich and lovely history of compassionate missionaries and artistic and architectural delights and was of high repute. She’d been awestruck despite her initial misgivings when she’d entered it’s magnificent grounds. When she’d tried telling Divya about the eloquence and majesty of the college’s structure, she’d waved it away as she was not so appreciative or artistic by nature. Now she allowed her thoughts to dwell on her first moments here and smiled unconsciously, a proud smile of delight and self contentment. It had paved pathways, numerous ones that ran through like a labyrinth throughout the college. The grounds were filled with tall palm trees and other tropical trees throughout and it bore no official, imposing atmosphere. It was an admirable piece of architecture. She had read about this college in a book by a local author who, like Milton, had penned it down and published it after he became blind. His words were so full of life that they could move anyone. He had published pictures alongside his descriptions which presented his pencilling skills too and after having read this, she too wanted to seat herself on some such stone bench that strewed the college and attempt to pencil everything that met her eyes. Unknowingly, she had fallen into a reverie again, now, gradually, she came back to the man again. He had an angular face, didn’t he? He had looked so distinguished, broad shoulders donning an elegant suit. He looked so respectable. And a single glance at those eyes, black and lively inspired trust from anyone. His voice was deep and soft, intriguing and mysterious. And he wore some faint perfume that even now she could remember vividly. Sharp, straight eyebrows and a high forehead. She wondered why he had impressed her so much. She was not at all a vivid observer, she was the vaguest of people, even that day, she’d forgotten her ID card. Perhaps it was the air he commanded, dignified and gentlemanly. “Oh my God” she thought to herself, “he wasn’t even that good looking” and laughed within herself, but then again was he? Anyway he was a very elderly man, wasn’t he, at least to her but he didn’t behave a bit like that. Though he had seemed cold and reserved at first, he was concerned enough to knock some common sense into her by taking her away from the rain. Anyway, no more on that, she decided.
She looked around her classroom. The boys were obviously excited beyond measure and some of them were giving those high screechy hysterical laughter that was characteristic of ridiculous college boys. And she felt a surge of excitement within herself too, why not wave away discipline of every sort, of course, they were no more school children, but college guys. And she felt happy saying that. The bell had not yet rung, and the chatter was growing louder, every bench getting filled in by the endless stream of students.
“Excuse me, is this seat taken” asked a voice behind her.
She turned and saw a pretty girl, hair tied back in a pony tail and a fresh expressive face who was smiling at her.
“No of course not, please sit” she said smiling back.
“I am Meghna” she said.
“Jen, Jennifer” she replied.
“Pleased to meet you Jen, which school are you from” Meghna asked and they launched into an animated chat discussing everything from their schooldays to the college and as to why they’d taken that course to the low level of education that prevailed in India nowadays.
In about 10 minutes, Jen came to know that her new found friend was a complete chatterbox but she immensely enjoyed her company and did not realize how fast time flew. No one noticed the lecturer entering.
“Good morning” said the lecturer. She was a lady with a very fair complexion and fringes and she had such a friendly face that Jen knew at once that she’d chosen the right college. She wore a blue saree with a silver border and she looked so graceful and elegant and undeniably classic. She could at once be identified as a lecturer. Jen liked here immediately and commented so to Meghna who heartily agreed.
“My name is Mrs. Betty and I shall take the course, Elizabethan age this semester. Let’s start with all your names and you can tell me about yourselves too and also, why you’ve chosen this course” she said still smiling.