Helen of Troy: College Diaries #4

“Let’s have the time of our lives till the lights burn out.

Let’s laugh until we cry.

Life is only what you make it now.”

— “Time of our Lives” by Miley Cyrus

There best thing about the college vestibule: it features a mirror. Monday morning, I walk by and stop briefly when I notice my backpack looking like this ginormous black and yellow tortoise. But that wasn’t because I decided to bring my library to class. Zippered inside was a change of clothes because 6/7 was the set date for the Freshers’ Party. 

Yuletide, ex-Josephite and good friend, and I blueprinted our afternoon and discussed our costumes. Our opinions on the same were mutually exclusive. 

When the time came, Yuletide decided against wearing her loathed palazzos. She was to remain in what she was wearing. 

I did feel uneasy to sprint for another building all by myself, but the stars were aligned in my favor. The cupboard and copy machine room next to our classroom was vacant. So, a trio of Freshers, myself included, claimed our territory, dumping our bags and baggage on the dust-laden tables. 

My moss green gown appealed to others as much as it did me. Even the chain I planned to use as a makeshift circlet was perfect. 

When I wrapped up my morning’s goods and chattels, I announced to the slender gathering in the musty room, whose only source of light was an amber bulb and whose only source of air was a fan without its lattice – a potential hazard, “I am Helen of Troy.”

The party was in a hall on the ground level. The seniors frantically picked us apart for our late arrival, but hey, it’s only a mark of civility to arrive to a party at least fifteen minutes after the stated time.

A round of a capella singing kicked off the festivities. Another senior showcased her songbird-like whistle.

Then, the spotlight was redirected at us. 

Order #1 of the evening: each squad of seven must send one member who can shake a leg to the front. This to me was like asking Panem to volunteer a tribute from its population.

Happyface went.

What followed was a jaw-dropping succession of twists and twirls, light steps and hard stomps. 

Up next was the Haiku challenge. (Send forth another tribute.) As my life revolved around the axis of literature, I, like Katniss Everdeen, volunteered myself. 

The theme was “Hera’s Apple”. Now, that triggered joy because I did write an article called “Apples, Anyone?” on this blog (check it out!) and it actually featured the myth of Atalanta’s Race. 

My haiku was awarded Comaneci’s score at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. I was lifted on the hands of a zephyr to cloud nine (pardon my synthetic use of literary devices). A senior complimented me on my haiku and asked if she could keep it which was fine by me.

Scarlet Streak was the pulse of the party because she was a social butterfly. She came as a Greek goddess. The hue of the Sun and the Cloud with a floral wreath on her head. 

All the wallflowers, though not convulsing or whipping our hair on the dance floor, were contentedly making conversation. 

Selfies and group shots, vegetarian pizza and packet chips constituted the rest of the evening.

***   ***

The next day, the party became a thing of the past, like a dream within a dream (like that eerie lamppost in The Chronicles of Narnia). 

Poetry sessions were swell because I found myself gaining a fresh perspective on the appreciation of the same, an appreciation which was not fine-tuned at school, but rather robbed.

It stunned me that the only reason schoolteachers kept badmouthing college staff was because college pedagogy know the real strategy of teaching and imparting. They know the buildup and the breakdown of their area of expertise. They don’t stomp on people’s creativity and individuality. The class isn’t expected to be this homogeneous group of people. They appreciated you for understanding rather than memorizing. 

During the course of the week, I warmed up to the library. I started finding pearls of wisdom in those yellowed pages. I borrowed a couple of books that treated of Shakespeare’s sonnets and perused them for notes on Sonnet 18.

The highlight of the week was my first Spanish class. I was so hyped and eccentric about it that my outfit and my nails were matched and painted like the Spanish flag. 

It thrilled me when the teacher, a purebred Spaniard, tapped my Spanish for Dummies book and smiled at me. She also duly noticed my nails and remarked that they resembled the Spanish flag. 

When I realized that I could form decent sentences and still read with an accent, I silently expressed my gratitude to mi madre for playing Enrique Iglesias’ music on loop since I was two. 

The French professor was also cool about my reading the Spanish book in class as she, regardless of the fact that she was The French Teacher, was a language enthusiast. 

The Sabbath Day was a day of rest. Now, the Sabbarh Day has been shifted and Saturday is synonymous with Sports Day. Because I have a flexibility fetish (and also because I wish to catch up on my sleep), I chose yoga. 

The Freshers’ Party hall was thrown into chaos. And what was supposed to be two hours of contortion and Buddha imitation turned out to be squandered time, courtesy of the roll call. 

My newly purchased running shoes proved to be a waste of dough because, as the pepper and salt instructress said, “You do not wear shoes for yoga.”

I got bored in the van, so I decided to literally “hang out”, and I did manage a couple of good shots.

I never did understand why folks liked college so much. I understood today. 

College endows you with the feeling of independence and the added benefit of privacy, automatically kickstarting that transformation from green to ripe. And that, by all worthwhile standards, eclipses school policy in terms of magnitude of efficiency in molding the youth of the latter-day.


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