An engineering student’s life is quite miserable, me being one of those few, unlucky ones. Well actually no, the medical students score a higher number over there, but still we stand second. Seven hours of college; two hours of travelling and for few, more than two hours; a month long exam that churns out all our frustrations; and the most important element of engineering, the most dreaded part, the VIVAS. It is a sheer slaughter of all our self-respect, self-esteem, and self-confidence. It is as if you know you are going to be raped, but you cannot do anything about it and have to face your offender without any ammunition; and mind you, sometimes, it is a gang rape. The externals, the brutal and inhuman folks, throw such missiles at you that you have never heard of; so how are you gone defend your-self? They expect us to know in depth, but let me ask them with seven hours of college, and burden of assignments and projects, where the hell do we have time to do the in depth study? In addition, few even expect us to study from more than one book for a subject but; do they realize how many subjects we have in total. Had I taken up engineering, after studying so much, spending sleepless nights, avoiding parties and festivities to get insulted like that, now and then?
These questions were pondering in my head, after one of the externals had trounced and affronted me. I was in the train going home after an insolent happenstance in college. The train was crowded, which irritated me; it was a fast local from Dadar to Grant-road. It was not that crowded, just that I did not get a seat, but considering the frame of mind I was in, it maddened me a lot. I was standing near the door, few women beside me were whispering, but it seemed as if, they were yelling in my ears, that cross I was. I looked at them in anger, but they did not seem to notice; they were looking at someone who was opposite to where we were standing, they were discussing something about that person. “Poor her….” Is all that I could hear, Vexed I looked up to the person who was standing opposite to me and realized what made those women say such a thing about her. She was a young woman in her twenties, was slim, wore a nice dress, and had straight silky hair, which she had let lose; it suited her; but her face…. It was deformed; her eyes barely could be seen from her glasses. I looked away, I could not see her sight; it disturbed me. After gathering some strength I looked back at her, after observing closely I realized that she was not born with that, her face was damaged by acid; maybe she had encountered an acid attack. That made me miss a heartbeat, how could anyone do such a gruesome crime? It is worst then killing a person. I really felt like crying, I looked away again. I know it was bad, I should not, but my eyes kept drifting towards her; she was enjoying the cool breeze that was swaying her hair. Her face showed no amount of anger or sadness or grief. She looked in my direction and locked my gaze, I should have looked away, it was bad manners, but; then she gave me a smile. I did not know what to do and I looked away, “Shit Bindi…. That is so insulting.” I said to myself. I looked back, she again seemed to be lost in thoughts, and her face depicted a kind of serenity that you do not get to see often these days. My station was nearing and it was time for me to get down; the train stopped, people were pushing from behind to get down. I looked at her, I had to, and she looked back at me, I said “YOU ARE VERY BEAUTIFUL….” And got off the train. Once on the station, I looked at her, she had tears in her eyes and a smile on her face, I smiled back; and then the train left the station.
The ten minutes that I spent with that girl changed me a lot. She taught me the meaning of life. Our problems are not that big; it is we, who make them big. She taught me that life is a challenge; we have to face it and accept it and stop blaming others. She would have been the most beautiful woman, but destiny had other plans for her and she had accepted it well. It would have been so difficult for her to survive like that, people constantly staring at her, some even getting scared of her; yet she was surviving, not only surviving, was living her life happily. I forgot about how mad I was, before I saw her; maybe the externals insult us to prepare us for the future, with that thought, and a smile on my face I headed home.