End Of An Epoch…

Writer Speaks: This is a rewriting of the events that actually took place on the campus of REC Hamirpur when the students revolted against the system and destroyed the library, computer center and even the personal vehicles of the teachers! It was sheer torture to watch them hurl stones, shamelessly, at the defenseless women and children in the Teachers’ colony!

 August 25,Year 2018 

Sitting in this auditorium among students, many of whom I was sure had been forced by their seniors to fill the chairs to give a semblance of at least a respectable farewell to me, I was suddenly filled with nostalgia for what had been for such a long time my working place. Oh, this tooth was really giving me a lot of trouble, but still the plate in front of me looked tempting enough to tolerate a visit to my dentist, the steaming hot Gulabjamun melting in my mouth, how nice it tasted but why didn't I listen to my rational self?

 

Looking at the boys, oops! sorry, students I thought of a number of them having passed out from this college and were they any different from the ones sitting in front of me? Did I use the word "college" but it is "National Institute Of Technology," my rational self again corrects me. But what is the difference between a college and an institute– a question good enough to put in the first Periodical examination– making a mental note of it I felt a bit satisfied, wasn't it a good practice to put all those questions to the students that you don't know yourself! But you are going to be retired in a few days, wasn't this farewell in this very context only, warned my rational self.

 

What was happening to me? Why was I not able to concentrate upon the totality of the situation? Perhaps old age was fast catching up with me–what was this boy saying–was he putting a question to me, regarding my experiences in the college? Damn this habit of dozing of in between discussions, ever since I had taken to the wearing of these thick glasses, it had really become so very convenient to take a wink or two in the class itself, when the students thought I was deep in thought, I enjoyed a nap, and had they not slept in my class all these years, why must I be guilty! Oh, it was really painful to sit in the same posture for such a long time!

 

But what was this boy asking me–"Could you please relate a few of your memorable experiences in this institute as we understand that you have been associated with the college since last many years?" Oh God, not again, How boring not only to teach the same syllabus year after year but to answer the same very questions, why can't these students be innovative? Looking surreptitiously at the watch of the boy sitting next to me, I could easily see the time and the date, oh God, my kids back home had arranged for a small get together, I may not be late for that. But why I used the word kids for my grown up children surprised me.

 

"Ma’am, please tell us something about the time when this institute of ours was known by the name of REC," pestered the same boy again.

 

Was it "our institute" that caught my attention once again? When did we start calling this college as an institute? Walking down the memory lanes, I gasped, wasn't it in the year 2002 that we gave a new nomenclature to this college. Suddenly I shuddered at some unpleasant memory.

It was the same date, August 25, 2002 when an epoch came to an end ushering us in a new era. How do I remember the date after such a long time? But how could I ever forget as it was my Birthday that day when suddenly hell let loose and a horrible incident unheard of in the history of this glorious college of ours took place. Suddenly I found myself drifting towards happenings of the past on that fateful day.

 August 25, year 2003. 

Sitting in the serene and peaceful environment of the Manimahesh Temple(Manimahesh Hostel for 4th year students), the blind Dhritrashtra (read final year students) asked Sanjaya of the outcome of the 18th day of the famous Mahabharata war.

"Oh Sanjaya, tell me what the faithful friends and followers of my son Duryodhana (read third year student leader) now plan to do to help him in this great war"?

 

Duryodhana having been forced to run away from his palatial residential quarters the Dhauladhars(Dhauladhar Hostel for 3rd year students), where he reigned supreme and his words were considered to be law by all the residents of the Mount Kailash(Kailash Hostel for 2nd and 1st  year students), lay hidden in the dense forest surrounding forest covering majestic "Techno Kingdom"(read REC Hamirpur) situated in the foothills of the Dhauladhar Ranges.

 

"My brave sons lie unsheltered today, oh! who will help them to regain ascendancy to the legitimate throne that only they must accede to", lamented Dhritrashtra( the hostels were vacated).

Our own Dhritrashtra was not born blind like his legendry namesake but this loss of sight was a recent development. Did he not revel in his accomplishments all these years and more so during his ascendancy to the royal throne? All these years he had shown unparalleled bond of love for the Techno Kingdom that was not only his alma mater but was also his sustenance. And his love for Pandavas,(read teachers) that the poor innocent Pandavas thought to be genuine affection, was in fact a make-believe mask. It was during this sojourn that he developed loss of sight and in the love that he developed for his most favorite son, almost became oblivious to great good of the "Techno Kingdom".

The outcome of this royal protection resulted in what we mortals call subjugating the rights of the ordinary and commonplace citizens(read the first year jangoos) of the kingdom who by virtue of being junior most in the hierarchy had to bear wrath of higher ups for no fault of theirs.

 

Pandavas having relegated all the rights to the Kauravas, or to be specific, Kauravas had usurped the Pandavas from any say in the running of the affairs of the kingdom (had they not insisted upon to run their own affairs without any outside agency poking its nose all the time) and our great warriors came to know of the atrocities being committed on the hapless juniors when some of them came crying to them with the telltale signs of the beatings that they had to suffer on slightest pretext.

And how could the great Pandavas shirk from what they thought was their Dharma, as was it not true that the eldest Pandava was himself Dharma personified. Being custodians of the law and order of whole of the kingdom in the larger public interest, the Pandavas plunged in a skirmish that turned out to be the greatest ever war that the inhabitants of Techno land had witnessed.

 

This is what led to the great war of the "Techno Kingdom" where the people who inflicted injuries and those who suffered injuries had years of emotional bondage. Was it not that both the warring groups were related to each other through common lineage and had lived peacefully for such a long time although their mutual interest collided most of the time.

The war started on August 8,2002 and came to a bloody end on August 25, 2002, exactly on the 18th day of its having started. And it is the 18th day that I was able to see clearly even today through the celestial vision of Sanjaya.

 

Dhritrashtra in his vision of the land where green bucks are aplenty and where he soon planned to migrate had unfortunately overlooked the importance of the legitimate rights of sons of Pandu and ultimately lost contact with the near ones who had stood by him through thick and thin in spite of occasional differences. And in an unprecedented manner had tried to pass the maze to his own sons.

 

That day the omens had been bad and although even his faithful Sanjaya had reprimanded him for this obsessive "Putra Moh", yet he waited with excitement the outcome of the immoral action of the few faithful that led by Ashwathama, Kripacharya and Kritverma had gone in the thick of the night to attack the sleeping Pandavas to avenge the shame of defeat(the student leaders coming to teachers’ colony to wage war).

 

Everything was silent at the Pandava camp. The attackers followed by some others, either out of fear or curiosity, carried loads of stones to destroy the Pandavs while they slept peacefully after winning a war that lasted for18 days. On the way they came across the "pustakalaya"(REC library) where the ancient books of knowledge were amassed with great care and love.

"Away with the books", shouted a young soldier who in spite of being in the Asharam for a very long time was not able to qualify in the great arena where the skills of the pupils were challenged in the open to attain public approval.

 

And in their maddening frenzy burnt all those rare books!

 

"Down with the enemy's armours",(Computer center) shouted another, and went in flames all the "ashatras" and the "shashatras"(hardware and software)of the poor Pandavas that they had amassed with the help and assistance of numerous friendly kingdoms, the likes what we call today World Bank Assistance."March onwards". "Death to Pandavas", warlike cries made the feeble hearts tremble with fear. "Victory to these brave warriors", exclaimed Dhritrashatra with obvious pride, relegating all thoughts regarding whether it was right to attack the camps of Pandavas in the night whereas the moral law of the war proclaimed that after sunset the war must not continue.

"Sanjaya, please give a vivid picture of what these brave warriors did to harm the enemies", cried Dhritrashatra with anticipation mixed with excitement.

 

"Armed with stones they raided the enemy camps and have started hurling stones at the camp", said Sanjaya, "but it seems that the Pandavas are not in their camp". "Oh God, they have started destruction all round."

 

"The chicken hearted cowards! Dhritrashatra exclaimed with disdain. "How they ran away fearing the wrath of the friends of my brave son". "Tell me more about their heroic feats," urged the old man full of excitement.

The trio followed by faithful non-entities kept on hurling stones at the hapless Pandava women and children.

 

"Destroy the chariots, (cars and scooters) that they use to reach the battle ground,"(read campus) a cry went up and in an instant all shifted their fury on the chariots of various colours and hues that the poor Pandavas had bought with their meager  savings and donations from the helpful friends.

Having wrecked all the chariots they went back shouting victory to their side.

 

Dhritrashatra beaming a full smile could not fore see the grim future. And how could he see, wasn't he blind! And Ashwathama,(boy who were caught) what happened to him?  Perhaps he roamed alone the forests of Techno Kingdom, shorn of his friends and admirers to lament his fate.

 

And this was how the REC came to be known as NIT. I remember all those news reports that all newspapers were filled with after this incident and this was how people started to know the new name of our college.

 August 25,Year 2018 

Someone was tugging at my sleeves, perhaps I had a reverie and had seen all those happenings of the past and here in the present I heard faintly the still persistent voice of the same boy, "Please tell us something about how and when this institute's name was changed from REC to NIT? And I wondered why a change of any kind had to precede by a bloody revolution where those who are hurt are our own and those who inflict grievous injuries are also our very own.

     

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