The Hostel Ballad
On July 10th, 2021, I returned to my college campus to clear out my stuff from my hostel. I haven’t set foot at that place since March 14th, 2020. I never thought it would ever come to this that I’ve waited for more than a year. It makes me resent the pandemic that was supposed to be all but over.
Before going to college, I was a privileged brat who just graduated from school. Like Richie Rich, I get everything on a silver platter. But being a privileged kid also made me out of touch with the real world. I didn’t know anything about household chores. I did not have even the slightest idea on how to use an ATM Machine.
That is until I got my college acceptance letter. That’s when everything changed for me. Within just a few days, I had to shift to Delhi in a hostel because living in flats was expensive. And my Ma would think I would end up doing “wrong stuff” other than studying.
When I started living in my hostel, let’s say I had quite a few problems. For starters, the place was expensive as hell because my college is private. Secondly, it only serves vegetarian food. Call me a picky person, but I love eating non-vegetarian food once a week. And lastly, I felt homesick for a while.
Despite all these problems, its perks overshadowed the said problems. I mean, college was a different beast when it comes to lifestyle. The freedom I had in college was like a sweet chocolate cupcake compared to school.
Without any parental supervision, I can get up and sleep anytime. I don’t even have to worry about my family waking me up at 5 am. Sure it did ruin my day and night cycle. But I also knew I won’t get times like that ever again.
There’s also little to no restriction on what to eat. Sure, there is only vegetarian food available on campus. But there are varieties of food I wanted to eat. Outlets like Dominoes and Subway were quite popular in my hostel, and I like eating there on weekends.
On paper, my campus prohibits non-vegetarian food. But my friend and I order food from the outside every Thursday. We just had to hide it in the bag so that the authorities won’t see it. So the rule is paper-tiger.
There’s also the freedom to go outside of campus during weekends or after classes on weekdays. Howbeit, we need permission to do so. So when we’re outside the campus, we go to malls to eat at McDonald’s or watch some movies when we have the money.
Most importantly, my friends and I love to hang out in the hostel rooms at night when we play PUBG Mobile or watch a movie. While playing PUBG mobile, we scream and curse like we were in the Xbox Live.
Living in the hostel gave me responsibilities too not, just freedom. I have to get out of my comfort zone, and I had to do things I never did in my life. I learned how to use an ATM Machine. I had to change bed sheets every week. I had to wash my clothes and shoes using my hands and brushes.
I send the articles of clothes that are hard to wash to the laundry. I had to go to the laundry myself. I also had to worry about the expenses. Otherwise, I could get an earful from my Ma and my Sister because I spend too much while buying food. I had to skip breakfast because of the budget and my classes.
That’s how I got through my college and hostel life for almost three years. Sure there were ups and downs, like how I got caught while bringing Chicken Biryani on the campus. Panic got into me and, I was crying hysterically. Regardless of that, I loved every moment of it.
So when Covid-19 became a serious business, things started to fall apart. On March 14th, 2020, I was forced to return home. The college told us that we would return after 31st March 2020. I never thought I could ever see my friends physically again.
Fast forward to the present, I became the same privileged brat I once was post-school. Only this time, I had a lot of time. This dreaded pandemic not only took my freedom but whatever responsibilities I had.
I used to drink Mountain Dew back in college. It got replaced with beet juice. I used to take walks on campus regularly because it was big. I couldn’t leave the house for months because of the lockdown or the cases. The only responsibility I have now is to help my brother with bathroom activities.
When I returned to the campus on 10th July 2020, I finally saw the condition of my room. It was a shell of its former self because my stuff got covered with dust. It was like going to a graveyard.
At the same time, nostalgia started hitting me. But I was also sad because the things I once enjoyed are now memories that’ll make me fuzzy and warm during the worst of times. Nonetheless, I didn’t have time to let those emotions out because I was busy packing up.
After it was all over, I met my hostel warden to get some paperwork done. I had to give my keys and ID card to him. It’s funny that they were inside my wallet for more than a year.
Eventually, I left the building. When I saw the campus for the last time, I had a flashback. A year ago, it was lively because people used to hang out there. Now it became a ghost town.
I don’t have any idea how long this pandemic would last. It dashed my hopes for it to end sooner. All that’s left for me is to wait for the college to open. I wish that I could enjoy what’s left of my college life.