A sip of Sherbutse

Posted: August 11, 2010 in memoirs

The first month, the month of the initiation, gets going quite the hard way. Even now that period refuses to leave the memory. For ragging, with all the good intentions, cannot be a substitute for a welcome.

Numerous briefings in the hostel rooms, by the roadsides, in the dining hall, along the corridors, in the TV rooms, while playing football, all are indelibly etched in the backyard of the mind. And those myriad rules, too -no smoking in the open, no drinking, no monkeying around in trousers. Respect your seniors.

The introduction night is animalism at its best. A wild, howling crowd shouting at timid freshers. It is a harrowing experience for them, sadistic pleasure for the seniors. Abuses, name callings, cacophony, it is literally anything but education. You hate it, but can’t avoid it. It’s just a matter of time, though. Until the tables turn your way and you become the howling crowd. It’s my time now. To howl. To shout. To enjoy that sadistic pleasure. To get back! At whom?

The howling is over, except for the dogs, sleepless in the streets. Cute dogs. Dirty dogs. Dogs with disease, limbs falling apart, pancake wounds, (we used to call it  the pizza dog) – all kinds of dogs. Or if not for some drunken, nocturnal, mischievous brats, the street-lamp-lit nights are calm and peaceful. Romantic. At times, ghostly.

An effusion of dark fog is hovering around the hills and among the trees like loitering souls and lost spirits, beckoning lovers, clasped to each other, to grace the night. Countless shadows rise from the dark corners, secret, private rendezvous. The kissing corner. The view point. The suicide point. The fuck point (if there was one). The abandoned air strip at Yonphula. The green maize fields of Namla. And the sliding slopes of Rongthong. Places and memories are mixed up.

The walk in the drizzle with lovers and friends. Drunk singletons singing Bob Marley’s “no women no cry” (with a distorted addition: ‘No men, women cry’). The jumpy, child like exhilaration of falling in love, for the first time, the second and the third time. You lose count but love it is real every time. Palpitating heartbeats, blind dates, huge rainbow colored umbrellas, run-out-lucks, and a broken heart mimicking WB Yeats – poetry.

The early morning downpour, a peep through the curtains, plonk back in the bed and mollycoddle in the rug. And continue the unfinished sleep. Classes, I can still afford to miss a few more. I am on the better side of the percentage. Othello, Shakespeare’s dark tragic hero. Freud’s theory of dreams. Oedipus Complex. Things fall Apart. Waiting for Godot, absurd. My son’s story. The Angry Young Man. The Balcony. The Rhinoceros. The Rape of the lock – stained brocade or lost honor. T.S Eliot’s Prufock and the hollow men. The Ghost. And many more.

Ding, dong! The signature clock tower. Never on the right time. Recess. At the Bombino canteen right outside the college gate, sweet tea, and a smoke.

The fond memories of drinking at the balcony or inside the kitchen at Palas. Breakfast at Dimpon’s restaurant. Monday – bread and jam. Tuesday – rice and suja. Wednesday – fried chana rice with boiled eggs. Thursday – bread with butter this time. Friday – rice and suja again. Saturday – bread and jam again. Sunday – what’s the menus?  Hardly, ever used to go for breakfast.

Saturday night excitements. House parties, birthday bashes, pair-up parties, re-unions; every weekend is a celebration of some sort. Buckets of punch, bottles of black mountain, ara, and 10,000 (beer). River of booze. I drink, so I am. Waking up with the worst hangover the next morning. And a guilty promise: I will never drink again. Not so much, at second thought.
The mud bathe football matches. Girls cheering and boys shouting: “bacteria” “leave the ball and kick the man.” Monsoon tournament is like playing the world cup. Fanatical celebrations follow! Crammed TV rooms, people watching late night porn or English Premiere League. An indication that football and sex compete for priority.

At least then. Two of my friends became fathers, just an example. And a few more others too. It was almost the baby boomer days in Sherubtse. The joke going around: do not use the condom provided by the health clinic. The condoms are porous.

Those were the moments of wild escapades. A close friend put it quite crisply during his farewell speech: I came here as a boy, I now go as a man (a father, to be precise!). And as I leave taking hordes of memories, I will shed the tears of missing you, Sherubtse!

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