Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a kingdom called Calcutta. Okay, well, she wasn’t really little. And it wasn’t really a kingdom. She was quite grown up. Legally, an adult. And Calcutta was far from being a kingdom. It was a city. A city full of chaos. A city where everything moved at a terribly slow pace. A city, where all its inhabitants seemed to sleep forever. Nobody seemed to want much from life. A city where nothing developed, except for streetlamps and flyovers. In spite of all this, it was called the city of joy. It used to be the capital of the country. It used to be beautiful. The girl couldn’t understand how the beauty of the city eroded into what it became. But it was still home. Though it was beginning to feel like a cage.
The girl wanted to go out. She wanted to visit places. She wanted to leave the country and roam the world. She wanted to experience all the cultures, wanted to see all the beauty the world had to offer, wanted to meet different people. She wanted to live. But times weren’t easy for her. She was trapped in the city. She had to remain there for three years to finish her graduation, after which her father had promised to send her wherever she wished to go, within reason, by any means.
He was a good man, her father. He always took care of her. Never let her want for anything. He would give her everything he could before she could ask for it. But the girl wasn’t spoilt. She valued things. She valued everything. And she knew that her father would keep his promise.
She attended a supposedly good college. The college had good name. But that was it. Like every other institution in Calcutta, it was all on the surface. Initially, she couldn’t fathom how the college managed to maintain its name. Then one day, it all made sense to her. NAAC, an accreditation body, funded by the government, had come to visit and inspect the college. It would later grade the college. And of course, the college had to look its best for them. Then the grooming started. First, they started painting. No, not the entire college. Just the patches where the paint had come off over time. And it wasn’t even the same shade of dull yellow. It wasn’t done a month before the visit, though. So the entire building was smelling of paint when the NAAC representatives came to visit. Smart move, she thought to herself. And they made all the students of the college wear semi formal clothes as well. And, they actually installed WiFi for those three days. They scrubbed and dusted and cleaned and polished every corner of the college. They even painted the boards black. The girl was flabbergasted. It all made sense to her, how the college maintained its name and grade. It was all a facade. They were all pretentious, to an extent. No classes were held for the girl and her batch that day. So she did not know how the NAAC representatives graded their teaching method and all.
That day, she realized that they were all faking it. The authorities, the students, the teachers. Every one of them. Perhaps the entire world was faking it, she wasn’t sure.
But anyway, the girl had learnt to accept a lot of things in life, so she accepted that too, with a smile on her face. For, what else could she do?
Days dragged on and on. Classes were tiresome, schedules were tedious.
One day, she had the greatest and most uncontrollable urge to use the washroom. Nature was calling her. Not softly either. Nature was screaming through a mic into her ear. So she decided to use the college washrooms. Usually, she avoided public washrooms. But that day, she couldn’t. She just couldn’t. And of course, when you know you should avoid doing something but you do it anyway, it comes back and bites you in the arse. The girl got an E.Coli infection. The college had once again proved that it was not what it should be. That day, she realized that they had never come across the new age product called “disinfectant” either. She could not attend college the next day. So she stayed back at home, sat down on her bed armed with a bottle of water and a bottle of medicine, flipped out her phone and typed all of the above down.