Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First night at the Peak of Learning

It’s 10:30 pm when the taxi we hired from Trashigang Town dropped off us in front of the college gate. I had my friend Karma all along. For us, everything was new, strange and difficult. It was in the mid March, 2005 when I first went to Sherubtse College in Kanglung after I qualified for BA in English Honours.
From right below the gate, a skinny boy in early 20s marched towards us in a ramp walk style. His pant, hanging at the edge of his buttock, revealed the underwear beneath. He had long hair and cigarette tucked in his fingers. As he approached near, a very strong smell of local brewed alcohol and marijuana exuded.

“Are you two fresher?” he inquired in accented English, eyeing at us in an arrogant superiority. A senior student, we sensed. We humbly bowed in respect and I replied, “Yes la Acho. First year la.La is a suffix commonly used by the Sherubtsean fresher to indicate respect for seniors. Acho and Ashim mean big brother and big sister respectively to show affection and respect for seniors.

He, then, inspected us-from top to bottom and shouted, “Where’s your gho?”  Seized with panic, we immediately apologized and assured him that we will wear it right away. As we began wearing gho, another cab arrived. He set off towards the cab to inquire about the fresher there.

After a minute, a crowd of seven drunken boys mobbed us. They distinguished us as fresher because in the campus only fresher wear gho late night. Glaring at us hostilely, they welcomed us but in an unbelievably rude manner, “Welcome to Hell!”

It was nearing midnight but there’s no one to guide us to our hostel room. We were patently in a hopeless situation, traumatized, lost. A pang of uncontrollable pain ran over my throat. I felt like returning home and tell my parents that I don’t want to study in the peak of learning and that Sherubtse College is very bad, for there lived only uncivilized beings, devils.

Gradually, like a swarm of locusts, drunken boys and couple hand-in-hand swelled in number and swirled around us. Every second of every minute was so terrifying and we continued waiting miserably and anxiously for the constant menace. This is the time when I spotted my old friend, Tshering, then a final year student. A sense of relief embraced me instantly. He took me to his hostel at Campus II, a self-catering room.

Two other inmates shared the room with him. After cooking dinner for us, Tshering left to attend a gathering which he told me, ‘patch-up party’. It was later I discovered that the ‘patch-up party’ is a party thrown by the newly paired up couple to their classmates or friends for their union.

His inmates told me later that Tshering was known in the campus by his nickname, Pussy. “Nobody knows him if you called him Tshering. Even his lecturers call him Pussy. Here everybody is known by their nicknames. Your name is necessary only on your documents, certificates and test papers,” one of the inmates told us. Even the Director of the college was known by his nickname. “His name is Jagar Dorji, but we called him India Dorji,” informed another inmate, laughing hysterically. Later on, I learned that the college union’s president was also nicknamed "Bill Gates" for all the college funds is directed to him and at the end of his tenure he can siphon enough funds to buy a new car.

It was midnight when Tshering’s two inmates also left to watch blux movies in the TV room. Blux is the campus slang for porn. Again two of us were left alone.

When we were about to sleep, a hard knock on the door disturbed us. I opened the door. Again a group of drunken boys broke into the room. “Fresher? Hmm…Take out 100 bucks each. Fast! But don’t ask the reason, why,” ordered us by a tall boy. My heart was chilled to ice. We took out Nu 100 each and gave away it instantly.

“Brother Abu, let’s go back to the DH-4. We didn’t collect from there,” said another member of the gang. And from him I knew that the boy who took money from us was also known by his nickname, Abu i.e. anus. Later I knew that this ruffian group was one of the most feared gangs of the college known as RBG (Rejected by Girls). Other gangs were the CGS (Corrupted Guys) and the Eagle gang. The eagle gang was formed in Kanglung after they consumed Eagle beer and fight with eagle beer bottles.

Despite the cruel suffering, a paradoxical feeling engulfed me. I was more amused and fascinated by the campus and its students than feeling victimized or ragged. I didn’t feel dishearten, but amused to take my stay here as a challenging adventure. Exceedingly tired, frightened yet amused, we slept in gho.

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