July 15, 2019

I had spent a better part of my three years at grad school preparing. Not for interviews for a job but preparing so that I could get the opportunity of sitting in the Cardinal Gracias Media Resource Centre at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

As I finally sit here, reading Karan Thapar’s Devil’s Advocate, I can hear my juniors outside preparing for the upcoming college fest, fiddling with music and lyrics of the songs with the same interest I hold while skimming through the shelves of books in the library, trying to decide what to read.

Anyway, ignoring the fact that I do tend to slip away into several subsets of a story while narrating one, something today, right here, reminds me of Oak Grove. I do not know what it is. It might be the light drizzle combined with the cold winds and a little fog, or it might be the music being played outside that reminds me of juniors back at school, rehearsing for the next day’s morning assembly or simply learning to play the guitar. Or maybe, just maybe, it is the smell of the books that surround me. That force me to travel back, in my head, to the time when I would go to the library to have a book issued but would end up either separating the genres or setting them up in alphabetical order because it bothered me to no end.

I thought of writing poetry at first but then I wondered, can a poem actually keep in its words and present memories that were etched in the brain, to stay there forever, far too detailed, remembering every aspect of the surrounding?

I remember sitting on the steps of the badminton court with a pen and a notebook in my hand, just like today, pulling the lapels of my blazer closer as I revelled in its warmth, trying to put into words of how cold yet mind soothing that October wind felt or how, as I closed my eyes every night to sleep, I would go back to the same staircase, breathing in that air and sketching that scenery in my head, carving it there, so that whatever part of the world my life would take me to, a part of the place which made me realise who I was and what I was to become, would always stay with me.

I still do not know what it is today that suddenly reminds me of Oak Grove. It might be that foggy wind or the smell of books or the music outside. But there is a great feeling of satisfaction that my first view of Oak Grove that had been inscribed in my brain without even realising, is still as new.

– Ruchi Lata Pandey (2016 Batch)

This submission was emailed to Oakgrovians Young & Old by Ruchi Lata Pandey on July 19, 2019. This is her second post on this website.


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