The first week of August in 2011 brought about many changes in my life. I arrived in NIT Jamshedpur, kind of loathing myself for the choice I had made. A new city. Lots of new friends that would stay for life. And many, many lessons to come.
With all that new noise, came a name that stands distinctly out in my memory.
That first week was the first time I heard this name. I would go on to know the person a lot more later onwards.
NIT Jamshedpur was a really dark place. And in that darkness all over, Oshin turned out to be a bright spot.
It is like you are looking at the dull, depressing and dark night sky with barely any stars to gaze at.
And then suddenly a shooting star passes you by! And you rejoice your luck!
Well, Oshin is that shooting star!
She is a lot many things to a lot many people. To me, she is O!
O is hungry!
O is stubborn!
O is glamorous!
O is outspoken!
O is beautiful!
And O… is… One of Us!
People have friends. Oshin is my friendship!
My very first memory goes all the way to a phone call with Kittu in that august, who being in the same college and the same batch, was updating me about everything. In that conversation she told me about this classmate of hers, called Oshin, whose father was about to come to college.
I do not remember when I met her for the first time. That is really scary because I always remember the first time I meet people. This is so unlike me.
Or maybe Oshin was that one person I met so many times that I cannot recall which one was the first.
You see… initially she was just the stranger friend of a dear friend. So, she did not matter much to me or my memory.
Soon she became my friend. And with that came a lot of unforgettable smiles and memories.
I remember the first time we went to eat in Novelty, and I was surprised with the appetite this girl from Assam had. We were the only non-vegetarians in the group, but together we ate twice what the other vegetarians did. I knew then itself we could be friends… appetite unites us all.
In just two years, this amazing person from Assam became my chicken buddy!
I remember shooting the movie, “The Last Myth” with her as my lead actress, and asking her to shoot a scene again and again, but she did not get irritated. She was playing a ghost reincarnated in the movie, and it was a complex tale of a spirit coming back to complete the story.
It was then, actually, that we got to be proper friends. The more I got to know this “famous girl of the first-year batch”, the more I was amazed at her humility and benevolence. Initially I was very formal with her on all our conversations which was stupid, because Oshin is just too friendly with about everyone. Soon, it got replaced with friendly banter and jargon.
The movie was a such a dud that I have not seen the final cut ever again (Still got a copy with me though), but it defined what would be next three years of awesomeness.
The thing with Oshin was, she had a whole lot of friends, and whole lot of haters who wished they were her friends.
And yet, in that long list of people, she always had time for me!
I remember my first birthday at college, in the March of 2012, when I was in bistupur with the guys for a treat, and I was forced to return to college (a good distance of 12 kms) because Oshin and Kittu and Shreya had my cake ready. To make it more memorable, it was raining. In March!
So, I had my birthday celebrated, with the most famous people from my batch. In front of all the girl’s hostel. While it was raining. At seven thirty in the evening. Under an umbrella. And with flashlights and torch on.
And it remains my best birthday ever. More so because I was so very happy. How can one forget a memory like that? And all the people in it.
I remember going to this unknown hotel close to RIT more, in our very first year for my birthday treat, and eating my stomach to the brim, sharing the chicken items with Oshin.
I remember being called out of the blue after our end semester exams in first year, because Kittu and Oshin and others had decided they would go to dangerously high Shimla point. And I was to accompany them. And I had to climb the fearful flight of vertical stairs, all the way up to the top of the huge tank, and pretending I was not scared at all.
I remember so many mornings, waking up early and looking out from the windows of Hostel B towards the basketball court, and recognizing the familiar silhouette of Oshin from the distance dribbling away!
I remember participating in the T Shirt painting competition, teaming up with Oshin, painting at it while Abhijit and Kittu sat behind.
I remember taking those tempo rides with the G gang and others, and visiting Eyelex, then Jamshedpur’s own “marine drive” and the rock garden, among other things. For someone who rarely went out, most of my Jamshedpur trips were accompanied by Oshin (because I was forced to come.)
When everyone else jumped ship from SMSs to WhatsApp, I was a little too late. Since I could not afford a phone, I installed an android simulator in my pc and installed WhatsApp therein. And I closed the app, forgot about it for a day. Opened it later and discovered a text from Oshin pending to be read.
WhatsApp has become such an integral part of our lives today.
But the first message I ever got on WhatsApp came from Oshin.
And of course, those were the good old days of “Facebooking”. Every activity was shared on the Facebook wall then. Ours was the teen generation that started with Orkut and Yahoo messenger, and then switched on to Facebook and WhatsApp.
Even though Facebook does not interest me anymore, and it’s been five years I used it like a junkie, yet I have an emotional attachment with the content generated on my wall then. Because who wouldn’t want their college life recorded in real time. And ours was.
And if someone were to go down my Facebook wall, it would be smeared by Oshin!
Every time I wrote something “abnormal” on my Facebook wall, Oshin would “get” it.
Every time I posted a Facebook photo, Oshin would comment on it.
I remember taking her to drink masala cold drinks many times.
I remember going into UCB with her as others checked out the new collection.
I remember those evenings we spent chatting away at Sudha.
I remember how happy she was when Sudha started card payments.
I remember when she got new spectacles and looked all kind of bossy.
I remember when she got the big Lumia phone and ended up cracking the screen a little later.
I remember the last day of college, when we were all leaving, she gave me a hug and asked me to take care.
I remember that I sent her a card from my very first salary all the way back in 2015 July.
There was nothing simple about her, of course. But she was simple enough for me to get along.
It is rare to come across someone free of miscellaneous thoughts, and Oshin, despite many layers that the people created around her, felt always very simple to me.
Then there are two milestones of my life where Oshin played a major role (literally and film-itically).
The first major memory is of course the cultural fest of 2015. The fests at NIT Jamshedpur used to be a mess, mired in controversy and corruption. I had never, not once, been a part of the cultural fest organizing team in any way. And I had never been interested either.
So, when it came our batch’s turn to plan and execute the show, I was flummoxed. First it was like they cancelled the fest. Then it was like no there will be just marginal claptrap.
Eventually they ended up giving the green signal, but with very short duration to prepare. Just about two weeks. And I got handed over the position of “Planning head”. Meh! It was more like I did not step forward to take the responsibility, and more like everyone else just kind of went two steps behind.
I did not want it. I did not ask for it. But in about two weeks’ time, I was running on two hours sleep and lots of caffeine, shouting instructions and WhatsApp-ing away the schedule and budget, with determined eyebrows.
The only reason, the sole reason I did it… was Oshin.
She was the most excited and the most eager, and I felt how much she wanted it to happen. She wanted the stage shows and the ramp walk. All our previous years had had their fests and passed out with memories of it.
And me? I just wanted my friend to be happy.
So, we did work together, and ended up managing a decent fest in a much small time. There were a lot of arguments too, quite unexpected to someone as cool headed as me… but there were differences that justified it.
Of course, O and I did not agree on everything. That is true. But we always got along. That is truer.
We were always at loggerheads on decisions, I being on the more conservative less effort less money and less time side, and her on the “making it more fun” side. At times She would get angry, and she would not say anything but glare, eyes wide and brows dipped, and I smiled, not ready to budge. But she ended up having her way, nevertheless.
I remember how I disagreed with her swacch bharat event in 2015 February, and she went ahead anyway to spite me. Of course, I took pictures to make fun of her and others as they worked and I did not clean it myself because I felt it would do no good, but it did hit me in the end that she was right in doing so.
Sigh. I never admitted that. I guess it is too late.
I remember this one time going to the field in Ups and discussing with Oshin and others on the location and dimension of the stage. And we loitered on the goal post and broken road roller for quite a while and discussed the planning. In the meantime, we tried to move the roller, but it did not budge.
The organizing, planning and execution of the fest left behind a lot of memories. It taught me lot of lessons too. And it set the stage for another one of my most prized experiences.
This bring me to my second and more relevant memory I have with Oshin.
The second short movie I made remains one of the most prized memories to have. Oshin was my lead lady in the movie, again (default choice. I had no other person I would have asked at all). If she had not agreed, I won’t have gone ahead with taking the pain of making a short movie.
We spent some two weeks discussing, shooting and editing the movie. The movie was many things, and we could not finish the shooting because of a freak accident to my dear friend Abhishek. But I went ahead with whatever shooting was already complete and submitted to film to be screened. It was funny and memorable.
The Song “You’re Beautiful” was a little too long for people’s interest. After all, you cannot have a 3-minute song in a ten-minute movie… but I put in all of it, ready to handle the disdain of the audience and profs alike. One of the reasons of making the movie was to put in the song… because I had this vision of capturing our youth in college, when everyone’s got a spark. The song, the photography and the memories shine golden on my college years, as one of the brightest things I have ever accomplished.
I hold it special. And so is Oshin. Special.
Here, have a look:
The fact that she trusted me twice with movies to act in, is a privilege. I will forever be grateful for that trust and confidence, and while time has grown the distances, the memories only grow fonder.
It was very recently, many years later, that I realised I have many photographs of Oshin, but barely any with her. Mostly so because we were always separated by camera, she in front of it and me behind. But I guess that is what makes it more meaningful.
It has been awhile since I met this powerful lady. The last time I met her was on 19th of March,2016, on the day of our convocation. It was a short meet, and we shared the old smiles.
College got over a long time ago and life has happened since. But then, I have made sure I never forget her birthdays. How can I?
You do not meet people like Oshin more than once in your life. And I make sure I am grateful.
Yes, it has been five years. A lot of people have come in and gone from my life.
Those happy memories fighting with Oshin in the carefree world of NIT are in nearly forgotten distant past. Very few pictures remain. Memories are getting blurred with time or forgotten.
But the happy feeling stays.
That is the thing with us writers. We do not feel time as transient. We feel the past just as much we feel the present.
And Oshin is a happy memory.
I am planning to pay her a visit soon. It has been awhile. It is not a matter of if but a matter of when. When we do, there will be a lot of hugging, humming and hogging.
And guess what I will say next time, and every time I meet her?
“You are beautiful!”
-A, December 2019