“Is Jindal nice?” the lady in front of me asks. She’s heavy with anxiety and concern, and her 17-year-old-fresh-out-of-school son is standing behind her and clutching his Class XII certificate and his heart in his hands.
“Nice?” I ask her, and blink.
I’m not quite sure what to say.
My eyes wander to another boy sitting hunched over a sheaf of papers and trying to make out which steps of the registration process he’s finished. His parents sit beside him but seem unable to help. They’re proud of their son, and they wish that the more number of times they pat his shoulder, the better their chances get of deciphering the words in front of them. In front of them sits a family of another three; the father holds a file in his hand, the mother a bestseller – the kind that lines the windowsill of airport bookshops, and the son a pair of headphones. He turns back and extends a hand, which the other boy shyly takes. It makes me a little glad that there’s chaos and waiting lists in this world.
Across the room walks in a huge family of twelve – complete with a 60-year-old and 6-year-old – each one jostling the other with inexhaustible gusto. A joke is cracked and there are 11 laughs; the scared 17-year-old, not unlike the one in front of me, trailing after the group timidly stares at the roommate she’s been allotted. Another girl taps her on the shoulder and excitedly asks, “SB 112?!”. The 60-year-old and the 6-year-old and everyone in-between turn back. A joke is cracked and there are 13 laughs.
13 is not an unlucky number.
I think about my roommates and how our combined love for Harry Potter keeps us stuck together like glue even though we’re from three different parts of the country. I think about the groups we formed and the stories we shared sitting in the comfortable (itchy) grass while staring law school in the face. I remember the dancing and the singing and the laughter punctuated by bouts of homesickness and classroom tragedy. I think of the unlikeliest of friendships and of both poetry and pop music echoing through hallways of glass and stone and cement with the same vigour. I think of the deliberate and contrived Instagram captions and the colourful snap stories. I think of the crowd – no, mob – that throngs the eateries in-between classes. I think of all of these new kids becoming a part of said mob and talking about Biswamil and Magnus and Amul Sandwiches and Oreo Shakes and late night Convenience Store Visits.
“Yeah” I say, and smile.