July 15, 2009

IIJNM — Looking back

The beginning
“I feel like a fish in the water,” I proclaimed at home on phone after my first day here.

Just a couple of months before joining IIJNM, I was so clueless about my future: law, army, management, journalism… Had applied everywhere and just didn’t know what I really wanted. But the first day at my journalism college was enough to affirm I had made the right decision.

“Be a shark in the water,” came the prompt suggestion from home. Yeah, shark is so much cooler, I thought.

Social life screwed?
I was disappointed upon learning that I had only 54 other faces (and only two dozen girls) to see in the last year of my college life. That the college was situated in no-man’s land on the outskirts of the city didn’t help the situation at all. “Man, my social life is screwed,” I thought. I saw my already slim chances of falling in love here vanishing.

Life in general
If the initial hiccups may be ignored—when I used to stammer and fumble while talking to girls (out of obvious nervousness)—it was a fairytale beginning. I liked everything: my teachers, batchmates, roommates, classes, my computer, food, security guards, mess workers, pink, red hibiscus flowers in hostel… You get it, right? I liked everything and everyone there. I was so grateful and so cheerful! How I used to grin 24/7 out of sheer joy! How any minor thing used to elate me to no limits! Those were the days of delirium.

I wanted to be a columnist, to raise awareness and generate momentum against the fundamental flaws in our society, viz the flawed education system, corruption at grassroot levels, red tape, discrimination, women empowerment. These were the issues I wanted to write about. Instead we were required here to do news stories. That irritated me.

Have I ever done something when I don’t want to even if I’m required to! And well, my academics suffered. Initially my teachers seemed impressed by my potential and enthusiasm. But as the course (which was not in sync with what I wanted to do) gained momentum, my disapproval (which clearly reflected in my work) of it turned in to faculty’s disapproval of me.

When going gets tough…
Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. My grandfather passed away on October 8, the day when our week-long Dushehra break  started. I was frustrated with myself for not being able to do well in reporting, the core course. Was feeling guilty about falling in love (unknowingly) with a close, cherished friend, who then snubbed me, only to augment the troubles. Grief, loneliness, guilt, frustration, helplessness amalgamated into what was the toughest phase of my life.

Had withdrawn from work, food, friends, world. Oh, I had turned into such a loser. Every night used to sleep with a strong headache and wake up with it the next morning.

…the tough get crawling
I had almost quit college after first sem. Thanks to our vice-dean, I was able to come back and finish the course. (sigh) I still can’t fathom how this beautiful dream turned into a nightmare... No day in the second semester was easy. Frustration, helplessness and unanswered calls, unreplied messages and all kept haunting me. All the joy, silly grin, enthusiasm, love for food, popularity was gone. Life was dull, tough.

The only time I was oblivious to the pain was when I was engrossed in Softcopy, our college’s news website. I still remember the frenzied pace at which I had worked on the first day of daily news bulletin, single-handedly managing to get the multimedia-rich website up and running. The site looked really cool, everyone liked it and appreciated it. However good it was, I cried after completing it, as there still was scope for improvement. That was the only day in IIJNM I felt I had done justice to my potential. Softcopy was my only solace.

I passed!
I was surprised, and pleasantly so, upon learning that I had passed the course! Yes, I was going to get my diploma! I had passed! Big achievement, considering college administration had sent two letters to my home, saying that I was failing the course.

Then came the convocation, and I was looking sooo handsome in that formal cream-coloured shirt and bottle-green trousers! After receiving the diploma I delivered a short, spontaneous, sweet speech! My jokes worked, the audience applauded and I got compliments from fellow students and others for it. Well, delivering speech is something at which I was a veteran even before I was a teenager!

I’m highly grateful to God that I came to IIJNM. I maintain that it’s the best place one can go to for serious journalism training. Yes, my story that had a fairytale beginning did turn nightmarish, and I do regret having let down teachers who had faith in me. However, I know the time will come when my teachers will take pride in my achievements. My work will be my atonement.

"Life is not all cakewalk and no baking." — Notes From The Universe

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