Life after school

May 29, 2011
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“We present to you, the graduating class of 2011!” The screams of excitement and glee as we threw the hats in the air was infectious. Teary parents clapped as the blue hats with white tassels flew like a stream of firecrackers on the stage where 68 seniors finally received their diplomas. A scramble on the stage as everyone searched for a hat to put on their head, the pompous music, and the hurry with which everyone departed the stage to meet their parents and take photos all passed in a blur. I, wearing a heavily embroidered saree underneath the blue graduation gown, could think of only one thing- am I already a graduate? Will I no longer have to come to school after summer holidays and sit through the welcome speech of our superintendent and plan for classes? Will I not have any holiday homework to do the day before school starts with all my friends on facebook helping me through it? The thought was odd and it had a weird feeling, like lead sinking into the pit of my stomach. “Meha, SMILE!!!” someone screamed and grabbed me into a bear hug. The next instant a camera flash pierced my eyes. “Why are you looking so solemn? Cheer up! We got a huge dinner to attend and I have heard that Crowne Plaza has the best buffet dinner in the whole world!” shrieked Misha, my best friend. “Honestly, all you care about is the food?” I asked her. “I am hungry! I went on the stupid Master Cleanse diet to fit into this dress, now I am about to make up for the loss of food that my body has suffered.” she said, patting her wash board abs and adjusting the tiny pleats on the dress. “You know that you didn’t have to go on the diet. You are skinny enough as it is.” I said, unconsciously pulling the front edge of my saree to hide the slight bulge on my stomach. Misha ignored me and said “Come on, you’re coming in our car. Text your mom and ask her if you can stay over at my place. I can finally show you those new shoes I got the other day. I still can’t believe! Those were on sale and yet they were so good!” Her laughter was contagious, and I had to laugh along with her. For a moment, the lead in the pit of my stomach was forgotten.
That night, as I lay on the sleeping bag with Misha at my side, I kept wondering whether I would ever see the people I am so accustomed to meeting 5 times a week for 8 hours. All those lectures that I always dozed through, the massive amount of lab work and reports to be written, the English essays that ultimately had “Thesaurus” words to make them look smart….all those little things seemed so far away now. Suddenly, my once busy organizer had nothing on it. “What are you thinking about?” Misha asked. “It’s been so long now, school had become my world. I don’t know how I am going to handle university.” I said. “Hmm…we will stay in touch right? I mean, I AM going to wall post you every day, and you are getting a Blackberry so we can BBM all the time. And whenever you visit Mumbai, you and I will see each other. It’s not going to be that bad.” she said, rather optimistically. I laughed in my head at the plans we had so carefully made to keep in touch. We had a separate private group on facebook where we promised to post a note once a week about all the important “stuff” at university. Mostly about any hot guys, how the food is, whether the girls are as b****y as they showed in the movies etc. all that seemed so childish now, so infantile…eventually, there would be a seminar or a club meeting that Misha would have to attend. Or a lab report that I needed to complete for submission the next day. The due note on facebook will remain pending for one week, two weeks, a month….
“Snap out of it! I know you are filled with pessimistic thoughts about how we will eventually lose connection. As long as I am alive, that is NOT going to happen. Even if you ignore me, I will make sure that I make it extremely difficult for you. I am very persuasive, that is one of the reasons I am going to study law.” Misha said. “Okay, I will accept that for one moment. But Misha, don’t you see, this whole setup is very….fragile, to say the least. Do you actually believe that we will be as connected as we are now for our WHOLE lives? Like how we promised each other? You are going to Ontario and I am moving to Pennsylvania. Those two places are very, very far apart.” I said, crestfallen. “Meha, it is not about distance. It is about the will, the willingness to stay connected. We have been together from the time we first went to school. I will not allow that connection to falter. I know you, and I know that you will try your best. You and I will finish university, then we work and then we get married! Like how they did in Friends! We will be one big happy family. Then if you have a daughter and I have a son, they will get married and we will become relatives! It’s all planned. All we have to do is stick to the plan. Trust me, I have a feeling that it will all work out.” she said with a reassuring smile. I smiled back, wishing I could believe the way she does. I closed my eyes, let the happy feeling sink in and forced myself to enter in a world where this would be possible. I pictured Misha in a long, flowing black coat that the lawyers usually wear and me in a cute pencil skirt and blouse that I once saw a woman in my dad’s office wear. I pictured us walking down the aisle, with the perfect men in our arms, getting married. I pictured our cute babies gurgling and laughing in a beautiful house with plenty of sunlight. Hers was wearing blue clothes, mine pink. I pictured us, old and grey haired, watching our children get married. Yes, in that world, it was all perfect. I soaked in the feeling of happiness and let myself believe, like Misha, that it would all work out.





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