“Tomorrow mass bunk,” read the WhatsApp group title enthusiastically.
The app began to load more. 276 unread messages. I skipped to the end and came to the conclusion that no one would be coming tomorrow. A brief flicker of hope started to stir, but I was still uncertain.
So I texted my friend, “You coming tom?”
“Yeah, no choice,” she texted back, much to my despair.
So it was with a heavy heart that I sat down in the room, in the third row where it was somewhat the safest –with the back bench being the repeated target of the professors and the front bench requiring our necks to be craned back like starving baby birds.
The class was almost empty, with the exception of a few day scholars lounging about, chatting. A few minutes later, the assistant professor strolled in, looking sourly at the sparse number of people in the room.
“Let me guess,” she eyed the empty front bench with disdain. “Mass bunk?”
A murmured chorus of affirmatives arose from the back. The professor shrugged. ‘Attendance now.’
I could feel the mixed cloud of emotions in the room. There was nothing more important than attendance in our entire college years –it was for attendance that we trudged through the scorching sun, through the dusty, rough roads which wore at our shoe soles and sloughed them in dirt, and it was definitely for attendance that we stood in crammed, suffocating buses where elbows came flying out of the blue, aimed squarely for the glasses perched delicately on unsuspecting noses.
Just as the professor completed her checklist of absentees, a stream of sweating, somewhat disheveled people filed through the doors like an army of book-clad sentries, steadily depositing themselves at the back, just out of sight of the professor’s eagle view.
The professor did not look surprised as she surveyed the now completely full class.
“Close the door behind you,” she barked at the last person slipping through, before turning to the board.
Hence, the first unsaid rule of college arose: Mass bunk means about 90% present.
“I’ll fail the test for sure,” my friend groaned miserably, as she dropped her head into her arms.
“Me too –I don’t know anything,” my other friend agreed, looking equally unhappy.
As the papers with red marks came flying, there was one common agreement: no one had failed.
The second unsaid rule: Your marks are probably very much proportional to the amount of stress you display before getting the results.
Just as the classes finished in the evening, I made an instant beeline for the college buses outside the building. Time was short, and if I wasted a minute it would mean having to stand for an unbearable amount of time aboard an exceptionally bumpy ride.
As I climbed into the bus, I noticed that it was nearly empty. Well, somewhat. Each seat had a bag in it, meaning it was reserved. The sad thing was that every seat in the bus had these.
As I sat down near the last few empty seats, a senior appeared at the same time and with a knowing look, dropped her bag in the seat next to mine.
“Wanna get snacks from the cafeteria?” she asked her friend, and they disappeared.
After sometime, a professor appeared and glanced around at the reserved seats irritably. She made for the seat which the senior had just ‘reserved’ next to me, and took a long look at it.
“Here you go,” she said with a smile as she handed the bag to the senior who had come long after she’d taken the ‘reserved’ seat.
The third unsaid rule: Professors always come first!
Assignments everywhere, records everywhere, tests everywhere –and all due for tomorrow. We scrambled to finish everything, and at the same time trying not allow a single wink of sleep to guile us into nightmare-filled oblivion.
“I haven’t completed anything,” wailed many the night before.
“Yeah, we’ll be turning the assignments in today,” many answered nonchalantly the next morning as they finished their hundredth revision. “Yeah, almost complete –just a couple more questions.”
The final unsaid rule: College students are one of the most resourceful beings on Earth, and can almost do anything in a short span of time.
The awesome thing is that we’re also getting real-life training from these situations!