Five minutes to 10 am. I had to make a dash to the lecture hall in another 300 seconds. Armageddon. What was this word doing in my head? A look at the mirror – messy hair, puffed up eyes and wrinkled clothes – did help satisfy my doubts to an extent.
The lecture hall was more like a beehive. Laughter, nervous whispers, exchange of gossips and hugs among a colony of ‘bees’ who had prepared a bottle of honey together.
Roll No. 77. I took my seat, slid down and took a wide stretch.
“Ouch,” came a voice from my left.
“Oh am sorry,” I said, without giving a glance. Some days you just wake up with an extra mean gene.
I knew her name from the final candidates’ list put up on the college site. Naveena. I quickly gave it an image. Now, I was curious to verify my imagination.
“Did I hurt you,” I turned to her and asked. She kept rubbing her eyes. The thick strands of hair fell like a veil, as if to delay my verification process.
“Na, it’s fine. It’s just that my iris emulates that of an Irishman at the slightest dust or a blow, in your case.” She snickered at her own ‘joke’. It took me half a lecture’s time to make out that she referred to the Irish-being-drunk analogy to convey the redness in her eyes.
Armageddon. My mind had a good sense of timing.
I could hear the constant giggles she exchanged with her other neighbor (‘bee’ traits ), the scribbling sound of pen against paper, the ruffling of pages as she turned them often to revise her notes, her sighs, ‘oh my god’s and laughter wherever the lecture demanded. Such a nerd, I thought.
Her elbow moved from left to right like a printer. The rhythmic nudges, which had put me to sleep at some point in the lecture, suddenly became deliberate and obvious.
I woke up. The lecture was over.
She somehow seemed entertained and constipated by reserves of laughter waiting to storm out.
“Good sleep, eh?” she asked.
“What is that?” I asked, pointing at the paper which revealed contours of a face.
She handed me the sheet and turned on her laughing faucet.
She had done a sketch of me sleeping, with a tributary of saliva flowing from my half-open mouth. A dialogue box read, “Arm…age….ddon…Noo!”
It struck me then. I remembered dreaming about the end of the world in the night.
The bees were now buzzing around their new juicy target – my embarrassing sketch.
Armageddon indeed. I wished a meteor could enter the earth then and strike two things away – the picture and Naveena.
(This is a fictional account of my first day in college as seen through one of my friend’s eyes)