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June 11, 2004 12:42 IST

It was my favourite place in the whole college. In fact, it would be fair to say I spent more time in the canteen than in the classroom.

We usually occupied the corner seat, which gave us a 'bird's eye view', particularly of every girl who entered the place. Which was not to say we had the courage to strike up a conversation.

Until the day SHE walked in. I thought she was gorgeous and wanted to take a closer look. I walked around her table a couple of time and was thrilled when she finally looked into my eyes and smiled.

Then, she called me over.

This was definitely my lucky day. 

"A plate of idli please," she told me sweetly, before continuing her conversation with her friends.

My world shattered. Trying to keep my composure, I passed on her order to a waiter before returning to my friends.

Now that I think about it, she wasn't all that beautiful! And no, it's not a case of sour grapes!

Amritraj Thankurz, UK

My daughter, my mom

My daughter Anarghya -- we call her Anagi -- is just two years old.

We had recently joined my husband in Japan and would feel bored once he left for work. So, sometimes, we'd play a game where we reversed roles -- she would become my mom and I would become her daughter.

As her 'daughter', I'd ask many questions. As my 'mom', she'd reply.

One day, while we were playing this game, I asked her what she would do if her 'daughter' became restless or kept crying. Would she shout at me? Would she hit me?

No, she said, she would cajole me out of my bad mood.

I was stunned at this unexpected answer; as an adult, I still couldn't think from her perspective.

I have no doubt now that my daughter is my 'mom'.

Jayanthi Udupa, Bangalore

Papa is no more

I lost my father recently. His death came a shock, particularly since he was perfectly healthy.

My mother would wail, "The Gods became jealous of our happy existence." What she says may sound illogical, but I am beginning to believe it is true. I have never come across a couple like my parents. They understood and grew with each other.

Despite our occasional spat, he was a good father. My friends thought so too. I still cannot come to terms with his death -- after all, I spent just 31 years with him. My mother only got to share 34 years of his life.

Sometimes, I feel Papa was not ready to go; if he was, he would not have had tears in eyes during his final moments.

I get this dream about him. We are travelling by train. The tracks are flooded because of heavy rain and the passengers are asked to get down. We drag our heavy luggage off the train.

This strenuous activity gives Papa a pain in his chest. He had a similar pain when he had to cremate our grandmother. We panic and pray he is not having another heart attack.

Papa comforts us saying it is only gastric pain.

At which point, I wake up sweating. I heave a sigh of relief -- it was only a dream. But the pain is real. Papa is no more.

Nainthara Vallattuthundathil, Chennai

The art of ragging

This happened during the beginning of my second year in college.

It was our turn to subject the freshers to something we had faced in our first year -- ragging.

Our only hurdle -- the college had just banned it. In fact, if a bunch of seniors were found in public with a group of juniors, they would immediately be punished.

As a result, we were forced to limit our 'interaction' with our juniors to the hostel and, believe me, we did not miss a single opportunity.

Once, I stormed into the room of a junior only to find her missing. Instead, a bunch of girls were sitting there, chattering merrily. Her classmates, I presumed, as I haughtily demanded, "Where's Soumya?"

Silence.

After a while, one of them responded indifferently, "We don't know."

"Don't you know you are talking to a senior?" I raged. "Don't you know respect? You know what we seniors can do, don't you?"

My angry outburst was greeted by amusement. "Do you know who we are?" one of the girls asked in turn.

"Priyamvada's classmates", she continued. "Now who do you think should learn the basics of the art of respect?"

Blushing, I apologised profusely and left the place in a hurry.

Priyamvada was the hostel head and the girls with whom I had tried to act smart were her (day scholar) classmates who, for some reason, had collected in my junior's room. I still die of embarrassment when I think of how they must have laughed while narrating the incident to Priyamvada.

Gita Ganapati, Pune

Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh


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