Bhojpur lives to its name of the 'City Of Gardens' and 'City Of Education'. There are colleges and gardens all along the winding roads of the city. Many places have even got the honour of hosting colleges before roads. Now colleges and gardens make a great combination as every student will agree. Gardens provide just the right ambience for the progressive research projects actively taken up by the young and curious minds, especially when they outnumber the foot-soldiers of the omnipresent regressive brigade.
The premier institute 'Residuum Olympus of Technology', lovingly called 'The Rot' is located in Bhojpur. Buoyed by their families' sacrificial altars, a few hundred fragile souls swim to its shores every year. Here they are put through a rigorous program specifically designed by the major souls to groom them for facing the cruel world. Clear heads simply call it RP, jokers call it ragging.
As soon as the yoke is lifted off their shoulders, the toughened minor souls start exploring the expanses of 'The Rot' at a trot. They are delightfully surprised to learn that the elaborate screens carved through intricate pierce work of the Mughal era were inspired by the eerie patterns formed by the peeling plasters and crumbling concrete of the walls and roofs of The Rot. Power potholes provide power footholds in the power corridors of The Rot. Once, gripped by her powerful thoughts, my dear friend Sushma succumbed to a power pothole and ended injuring her leg.
As she cried her pain out, a few bright souls wondered aloud why The Rot lacked a technology to see through tissues, decided to work on it and started discussing their modus operandi. A lesser bright soul fetched a bucket full of ice to calm down the leg swelling with anger. Someone fetched the gold medalist Rot doc who specialized in curing people by looking at face. The doc saw the salt lines left behind by the tears on Sushma's face and scornfully suggested application of a couple of ice cubes, both on the spot of injury and on her face. The more experienced interpreted the scorn for us, 'This little birdie must have been somehow spared during the RP'.
It was 9 in the evening, Sushma was still groaning in pain and needed to see a lesser specialized doc who believed in the vision of the X-Ray imageries more than the vision of his own eyes. The major souls, expert at RPs and all the ways of the Rot suggested us to take her to the best and the worst hospital in the city, Government Necrosis Laboratory. GNL is best if you land into its premises with a good recommendation, worst otherwise. They convinced us that the privilege of being The Rot Minors was a solid recommendation in itself.
Now any late evening excursions were forbidden unless accompanied by the Hostel Administrator as per the Rot rules. Again the major souls came to our great rescue by warning us against the stinky Hostel Administrator. He would not grant permission as he was known not to be generous enough to have ever accompanied a single soul to such worthless places like Hospitals. If he agreed now, that would have raised serious doubts on his intentions. After we started of our own, someone was sent to cheekily inform him of the events and he was least bothered as usual.
Guided by the major souls’ blessings, the five of us soon reached the filth filled premises of GNL in an autorikshaw. The sleepy Residents of GNL almost suffered an heart attack on seeing the Rot Minor Brigade. They brashly refused to accept Sushma’s injury to be accidental. They immediately concluded that Sushma was a first year student being ragged by the four of us, whom they branded as the heartless seniors. All of their closed doors investigations on Sushma for the next fifteen minutes failed to nail us. Dejected, they decided to have a look at her injury. It appeared to be a fracture which was confirmed within next fifteen minutes through a cursory analysis of the X-Ray report. Next half an hour was spent on casting her leg in a plaster and everyone was happy to find her relieved at the end of it. We were asked to wait for half an hour more to ostensibly let the cast set properly. Overall, the GNL Residents had provided her with a satisfactory treatment.
It sounds like a happy ending, which was sadly, not the case. We had not realized that used to their private practices during day, the doctors needed the crucial sleep during their night duties at GNL. Now their biological clock was severely disturbed. Not used to strains at night, their brains became super-active. They went to another room and after ten minutes one of them came out to inform us that the GNL Chief Laboratory Officer had called up the Rot Director on the case of ragging and informed him that the victim and the culprits had come to the hospital without any Administrator. The Director had assured him of an immediate corrective action. We interpreted the statement to mean that someone from the Rot would be coming to soon pick us up in the Rot Chariot.
After a futile wait of an hour, the five of us again hired an autorikshaw for our journey back to the Rot campus. What a grand welcome it was! We were received by the entire council of Rot Administrators at the hostel gates and showered with choicest curses, threats and warnings. We found ourselves lucky to see that they had forgotten to bring the bag of abuses along for our welcome.
The day-after papers were devastating for the Rot’s reputation. The GNL CLO had fed the alleged tales of torture at the Rot to the local Piranhas ever hungry for bytes of sensational information. His grave photographs with the evil twinkle in his eyes holding Sushma’s X-Ray report with the fracture highlighted by a red circle accompanied the reports. He was being hailed as the only revolutionary to have come up in the open against the menace of ragging. All the while, people in the city were casually asking why the victim’s and culprits’ photographs were missing from the reports. The calculative CLO knew the reason quite well. The Piranhas would have definitely preferred the delicate smoothness of pretty faces over the oiled smoothness of his bald head, if given a choice. Later, statistics revealed that these reports did wonders to his private practice in the city.
Inside the Rot Campus, the major souls and the hostel administrator had denied having any knowledge of the minor souls’ daring activities. All five of us were made the scapegoats as the Rot administrators fought amongst them-selves to settle the previously unsettled scores. All of them became equally blind to the fact that Sushma’s fracture had indeed needed an immediate attention. The hefty price we paid for the fiasco is better left unsaid. An year after the tragedy, we were shocked to learn that RP is practiced quite sincerely at GNL under the patronage of its revolutionary CLO.
Life inside the sacred gates of the Rot is full of drama. A couple of months before we were to walk out of the sacred gates, I was woken up by my excited friends to have a look at the newspapers. I recognized the boy in the reports. He was our own Director’s son studying at GNL. I recognized two more faces, one was the same CLO and the other one was our Director who was being crowned as the new revolutionary and a great father. It so happened that his son was made to attend the RP, the CLO was remotely monitoring through a camera and he was being recorded on a camera hidden in his room. Our Director had eventually squared up with him. But what about us? I am writing this piece in the fictional hope of getting our dues back.