Anyone who knew me back then and got to know that I was admitted to St. Stephen’s, did not quite believe me in the first place. After telling them that I really made the cut, they all said very bluntly that I would be the biggest fool in the world if I don’t join it. I was somehow still not convinced if I should go there. Then, my father told me an untold story, his story. My grandparents came from a very humble background. They struggled hard to settle after partition in India. Thus, my father grew up within limited means. He told me that back in the days, for his graduation, he had also got admission at St. Stephen’s (in sports quota). But he went there just for few days and joined another college after that. He said, he did not felt very comfortable in that environment. He was ridiculed there because he could not speak high class English. Coming from a humble background, he could not gel up with the kids of the top brass. There were a couple of more reasons for which he had to move to another college. But that spark was still there in his heart for all these years. He wanted to see his kids one day to study there. Since, I was lucky enough to get through the college of his choice, he asked me to just go there, get enrolled, get the ID card and decide later if I wanted to attend its classes. Then, I finally understood why he asked me specifically to fill Stephen’s admission form. So, for my big man I finally decided to join it.
And so, started my short journey at Stephen’s. The new students were invited a day in advance than other colleges for orientation and a lunch. I was quite amazed to learn that. The day started with an assembly and a welcome note by the then principal, Dr. Wilson. It was my second interaction with him after the interview. His introductory speech just blew me away. I was already in awe of that person but after that assembly, my respect for him just kept increasing. And I made a point to attend each and every assembly possible which he addresses. Actually, the first year students had to attend it compulsorily but I went to them not to satisfy the rule but to actually listen to the guy. It was a treat to listen to him. The personal experiences which he shared during his speeches were the things I cherished the most. Even though he is no more with us today, still my love and admiration for him holds on like a rock, firm.
After the assembly we had to deal with some administrative work. It was then followed by the gala lunch. The dining hall was pretty huge with long laid tables and benches. All the students were served lunch along with the teachers. The white bowl of chicken curry and its taste is still fresh in my memories. I was a non-vegetarian back then. The day ended with meeting our class mates and introducing ourselves to each other. I was quite impressed by the first day. I had not expected such reception.
Then came the ragging part. It wasn’t as intensive as I had expected it. I heard the local resident student faced it more in the evening than day students like me. But it was a great phase to learn about our seniors and make connections and relationships which sometimes last for a lifetime. Slowly, I was learning my way into the college. The different canteens, some of them designated for students of a particular department. The sports and extra-curricular activities which this college had just blew me off. They even had a Hindi Shakespeare Society!! I got enrolled in a couple of such societies, played basketball with the top players from the sports quota on the college courts. I was really enjoying my time and getting an experience of a lifetime.
Before I knew, the official college festival, Symphony came with a bang! Things got more interesting. The activities, the concerts, the fun, the people just took over me. I was slowly realizing the qualities of this unique place and why it stands out from the rest of DU. My respect and admiration grew after getting first hand experiences. Even people among friends and family started seeing me in a different light. Cousins begged me to get them the official college apparel at any price. I felt privileged to study at that place and truly understood its importance.
But like all good things come to an end, this experience was also short lived. I got a counseling call from an engineering college and got through there as well. Finally, I took the hard decision to leave the fun of DU and the comfort of my house to study what I really wanted to in a far off city. It was easy to leave but I still cherish every moment I spent at Stephen’s.
More than anything, I lived my old man’s dream which left me more satisfied than ever.