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He Waited

He Waited

The Creater

Last update: 2023-02-06

Chapter 1 Campus

  • I had two minutes left for my interview to start and I couldn’t ad the room. Lost, I stopped whoever I could in the confusing corridors of St. Stephens College to ask for directions.
  • Most students ignored me. Many sniggered. I wondered why. Well, now I know. My accent. my English was So Bad I don’t want to talk now like I did back then. It’s embarrassing. It wasn’t English. It was 90 per cent Hindi mixed with 10 per cent really bad English. For instance, this is what I had actually said: 'Cumty room...Where is.? I Have Interview Today
  • If I start speaking the way I did in those days, you’ll get a headache. So I’m going to say everything in English, just imagine my words in Hindi, with the worst possible English thrown in.
  • ‘Where you from, man?’ said a boy with hair longer than most girls.
  • ‘Me Manas"
  • His friends laughed. Over time, I learnt that people often ask what they call a ‘rhetorical’ question—something they ask just to make a point, not expecting an answer. Here, the point was to demonstrate that I was an alien amongst them.
  • ‘What are you interviewing for? Peon?' the long-haired boy said and laughed.
  • I didn’t know enough English back then to be offended. Also, I was in a hurry. ‘You know where it is?’ I said instead, looking at his group of friends. They all seemed to be the rich, English types. Another boy, short and fat, seemed to take pity on me and replied, ‘Take a left at the corner of the main red building and you’ll find a sign for the committee room.’
  • ‘Thank you,’ I said.This I knew how to say in English.
  • Can you read the sign in English?’ the boy with the long hair said. His friends told him to leave me alone. I followed the fat boy’s instructions and ran towards the red building.
  • I faced the first interview of my life. Three old men sat in front of me. They looked like they had not smiled since their hair had turned grey.
  • I had learnt about wishing people before an interview. I had even practised it. ‘Good morning, sir.’
  • ‘There are a few of us here,’ said the man in the middle. He seemed to be around fifty-five years old and wore square, black-rimmed glasses and a checked jacket.
  • ‘Good morning, sir, sir and sir,’ I said.
  • They smiled. I didn’t think it was a good smile. It was the high- class-to-low-class smile. The smile of superiority, the smile of delight that they knew English and I didn’t.
  • Of course, I had no choice but to smile back.
  • The man in the middle was Professor Pereira, the head of sociology, the course I had applied for. Professor Fernandez, who taught physics, and Professor Smith. whose subject was English, sat on his left and right respectively.
  • ‘Sports quota, eh?’ Prof. Pereira said. ‘Why isn’t Yadav here?’
  • ‘I’m here, sir,’ a voice called out from behind me. I turned around to see a man in a tracksuit standing at the door. He looked too old to be a student but too young to be faculty.
  • ‘This one is 85 per cent your decision,’ Prof. Pereira said.
  • ‘No way, sir.You are the final authority.’ He sat down next to the professors. Sam was the sports coach for the college and sat in on all sports-quota interviews. He seemed simpler and friendlier than the professors. He didn’t have a fancy accent either.
  • ‘Basketball?’ Prof. Fernandez asked, scanning through my file. ‘Yes, sir,’ I said.
  • ‘What level?’
  • ‘State.’
  • ‘Do you speak in full sentences?’ Prof. Smith said in a firm voice.
  • I didn’t fully understand his question. I kept quiet.
  • ‘Do you?’ he asked again.
  • ‘Yes, yes,’ I said, my voice like a convict’s.
  • ‘So...why do you want to study at St. Stephen’s?’
  • A few seconds of silence followed. The four men in the room lpoked at me.The professor had asked me a standard question.
  • ‘I want good college,’ I said, after constructing the sentence in my head.
  • Prof. Smith. smirked. ‘That is some response. And why is St. Stephen’s a good college?’
  • I switched to Hindi. Answering in English would require pauses and make me come across as stupid. Maybe I was stupid, but I did not want them to know that.
  • ‘Your college has a big name. also,’ I said. ‘Can you please answer in English?’ Prof. Smith Said
  • ‘Why? You don’t know Hindi?’ I said in reflex, and in Hindi.
  • I saw my blunder in their horrified faces. I had not said it in
  • defiance; I really wanted to know why they had to interview me in English when I was more comfortable in Hindi. Of course, I didn’t know then that Stephen’s professors didn’t like being asked to speak in Hindi.
  • ‘Professor Pereira, how did this candidate get an interview'?’ Prof. Smith Said.
  • Prof. Pereira seemed to be the kindest of the lot. He turned to me. ‘We prefer English as the medium of instruction in our college, that’s all.’
  • Without English, I felt naked. I started thinking about my return trip to Home.! I didn’t belong here—these English-speaking monsters would eat me alive. I was wondering what would be the best way to take their leave
  • I stood in the corridor, figuring out where to go next. Sam came
  • out of the committee room. His lean and fit frame made him look like a student, despite him being much older. He spoke to me in Hindi. ‘Your sports trial is in one hour. See me on the basketball court.’ ‘Sir, is there even a point? That interview went horribly.’
  • ‘You couldn’t learn some English, along with basketball?’ ‘Nobody speaks it in our area.’ I paused and added, ‘Sir.’
  • He patted my back. ‘Get out of Hindo mode , son. Anyway, sports quota trials are worth 85 per cent. Play well.’
  • ‘I’ll do my best, sir.’