July 1997. Madras Christian College. A college student at last. I wore my best formals (imagine that - white shirt stripes, cement coloured trousers) The story of my admission is in itself a mini adventure in its own right. I had applied for English Literature. However, the Dean of Arts gave me a seat in Political Science as English Litt was full. I sat down to fill in the necessary forms, when my dad got an inspiration. He remembered that our church pastor had a friend in MCC. He sought him out and wonder of wonders, he turned out to be the Dean, Student Affairs. Need you ask. He cancelled my Political Science seat immediately and checked the English Litt for students who had not paid the admission fee till that point of time. A girl had not paid the fee. He struck her name off and gave me the admit card. I literally ran to the bank to pay the fee before they could change their mind. My name never figured in the admission list. And yet there I was, a student, a gentleman of MCC at last.
My first day in college was a forgettable affair. The only class I attended was the general English class. I sat in the last row of a huge room, filled with students. Right next to me was a six foot giant with bulging biceps. He turned out to be from English lit. My classmate Sutharson Babu. I learnt from him that the departments of English and economics get together for general English. and that he was a sportsman (it explained his physique), a discus thrower to be exact (it explained his biceps too) He took me to the sports pavilion, a place where I had been advised not to venture. But I figured that no one would mess with me while a six feet plus solid steel bodyguard was around. So I went with him (I was to learn later on that he was one of the most soft spoken boys I would ever meet, never getting angry even when we climbed on his shoulders, truly, appearances sometimes belie true character)
The next day was better. I looked around for Babu, but he was nowhere to be found. I went up to the very first bench and sat down. A boy came up to me and introduced himself as Valentine. He was quite bubbly and very outgoing. He introduced me to Wesley, Jagan and Sterling. Just then Dr. Felix Moses entered the class and Literary Forms commenced. I usually am a good listener and do not take notes. However, just for the fun of it, I took down the notes he dictated. Little did I know that, that small decision would change my life. The class was about the epic and its governing rules. Prof (now Dr).K Ganesh was next. He handled English Literary History. He started with Beowulf and came up to Chaucer. During the break I got to know my classmates better.
And I understood that college was way different from what is portrayed in the media. You could not "cut" classes at will. You would face shortage of attendance and not complete your degree. Whew. A far cry from the make believe world of the movies. Then came the first C.A test (Continuous Assessment). I scored 86 in Dr. Felix's paper. He was supposed to be very strict in his valuation and a senior(name withheld) had boasted that no one would ever beat his record of 66 in Literary Forms. My notes had done the trick. Immediately every one's opinion about me underwent a sea change. I understood then that you could depend on no one but yourself when you seek to achieve something. I never forgot that lesson.
College life was a blur. Most details have simply vanished from the recesses of my mind. However, I do remember that one of our favourite lecturers apart from Prof Ganesh was, Dr. Ilango of the Tamil Department. He could handle his classes with aplomb. I was always at loggerheads with Tamil and actually dreaded having to study it again. However, Dr. Ilango, displayed immense maturity and spent more time relieving us of our fears than teaching the assortment of course books that were prescribed us for which I have to be eternally grateful. The fact that I got my degree has much to do with his timely help at various junctures for the two years we had Tamil.