Page 100 - November 2020
P. 100

                                                                                       November 2020

                                                         THE CHILL

                Once in a week they were allowed to visit the township downhill. Basking in the
                slant  rays  of  the  winter  sun  it  painted  a  nostalgic  watercolour  image  tempting
                everyone.  From  the  campus  it  always  looked  like  a  promise  land.    The  warden
                was  in-charge  of  counting  their  heads  while  entering  and  exiting  the  bus.  Any
                hopes of flying high were clipped by the measured time schedule permitting only
                basic buys and hardly any loiter. Ayesha quickly sensed the watchful eyes of the
                town scanning each one of them with their fingers poised to inform the MT at the
                touch of a button. She had the eerie feeling that the very purpose of their lives
                was to pass on a lurid info and die. They all found that the town was nothing but a
                lesser extension of the campus. Frustrated Ayesha chastised the cool breeze that
                happened to steal in to her room, “You too go and conspire”, before slamming
                her  crooked  window  shut.  The  door  suddenly  opened  and  the  warden  stared
                frigidly filling the fog back in the room before she closed it. Ayesha crept in to her
                blanket noiselessly.

                MT had a trusted lieutenant in one of the professors who had an uncanny ability
                to  spot  offenders  even  in  disciplined  lines.  He  terrified  the  campus  with  a

                reverberating  laughter  reminding  Ayesha  the  giant  in  the  ‘Jack  and  the  bean
                stalk’  story.  He  scanned  for  offenders  with  an  angled  head  and  a  drilling  ogle,
                with his thick lower lips tucked-in by tobacco stained teeth. Swaying his big fat
                body  to  a  virtual  music  and  rocking  his  bald  head  rhythmically  he  revelled  in
                making any act punishable. He was no different from the other members of the
                disciplinary  committee  but  the  manner  he  puffed  and  panted  along  the  college
                stairs  made  Ayesha  think  that  he’s  struggling  to  defeat  even  the  MT  in  the
                punitive matters.

                She was in no mood to render the prayer for that function but for the pressure
                from the culture-in-charge madam. Madam was like a fried ice cream with warmth
                ensconced  by  a  belying  frigidity.  Ayesha  was  scared  whether  MT’s  spy  cams
                would detect her liking for her but still she dared to show it. But an hour before

                the start of the function MT called madam and sneered at her, “College protocol
                allows  only  keertans  and  bhajans.  Hope  you  get  it!!!”  When  finally  Sridevi
                rendered the prayer song, Ayesha exhaled relief.

                The  minute  Asif’s  smile  started  ensuing  a  blanket  cosy  warmth  Ayesha  was
                cautious. Added to it was Mahesh’s comfy muffler talk making her to palpitate.
                The PA girl’s unblinking stares were warning in itself and Ayesha had no doubts
                of MT’s skills in detecting a leaf falling wrong in the campus.  So she was not
                surprised when finally the call came to meet him in the chamber of doom. With a
                fierce  frost  he  successfully  desiccated  whatever  moisture  that  was  left  in  her
                before letting her out.
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