The Butterfly Effect

If you have been following my blog since the very beginning, you’d find multiple posts where I have made snide remarks about my college. College was traumatic, to say the least and when a lot of people describe it as the best time of their lives, I feel a tinge of envy. Despite all the subtly placed commentary on my college life in my posts, I never spoke about why I hated it. Perhaps I should. Perhaps it would be a catharsis of sorts. Or perhaps it would be an utter disaster. I don’t know which. Why am I talking about it now? Because someone recently remarked that it’s about time I put it all behind and move on. That I let go of all the anger inside.

I don’t want this post to be a rant fest, but if I am to do it right, I should probably start at the beginning – I studied in a wonderful school right before college. I have studied at variousΒ  schools in the country and have been a part of various friends’ circles, but Sreepuram, Kannur was the only school that made me cry on the last day. Our class was more wonderful than you can imagine – we were united like India before a cricket match, and strangely, got along like a house on fire even with most of our teachers (even when they were angry at us about the sorry state of our test scores).

College on the other hand taught me one thing in the four years that I was there – trust no one.

School was the age of innocence – however crude our jokes were, however depressing we thought our problems were, however tough that integration problem seemed to be – it was still the age of innocence. College was a rude eye-opener. I don’t know what it was but I was always on the wrong side of the wrong place at the bloody wrong time. I had merely walked through the tall wrought-iron gates and it just seemed like everyone had an opinion on me. I walked in, unfortunately, wearing one of those Kareena Kapoor-esque 3/4th kurtas and bell-bottom pants that were a rage during those times, but rather unheard of in the sleepy town where my college was situated (the natives call it a “pure land” but you know, whatever) and suddenly I went from Sreesha, one of the class toppers to “that slutty bimbo in first year.” Yep. All for a kurta that some moustached seniors couldn’t handle.
Oh wait, did I say seniors? Then I missed one important character in this story – an ancient chemistry teacher who looked at me once (just once) and said, “Soo… You are here to flirt with boys?”

With all due respect for your age, Asshole, I just got here.

Now, as someone who was never “accused” of “flirting with boys” (hell, the boys at school thought I was one of them!) I was pretty shaken. Insulted on the very first day with a rather unfounded statement. Before we go any further, let me just tell you, this man should have been booked for harassment. He could not speak to a single girl student (and on one occasion, to my mom) without literally coming so close to her, that their noses almost touched. Conversations with him looked like the Bharat Matrimony logo, only more creepy. But like I said, I had just come from the land of innocence to this, and in any case, I doubt that that college had any sort of harassment policy in place.

This man made this statement in the presence of students from four first year divisions, and I am not sure how many seniors. Regardless of whether there was anyone present or not, as a professor of a known, some might even say reputed, college he had no right to say that. No right. There’s no other way I can be delicate about – he had simply no right to say it.

Now the corollary of the above statement – regardless of what my professor said, my seniors had already formed opinions about me. For the same reasons – they couldn’t handle the attire that, to their eyes, was alien. One might think it was the male students who looked at me like “I was easy.” It wasn’t. Yes, they were definitely looking at me like that, but it was the female seniors who behaved way, way worse. We live in a world where there are protests when a lawyer blames a rape victim’s clothes. These protests are lead by women who say clothes must never be a reason to rape someone. And I agree. But in my college, it was the female students who said (my batch as well as seniors) “Look at her clothes! The slut! She’s asking for it!” Asking for what? What are you claiming I am asking for?

Baseless accusations of the kind often have a terrible impact on a seventeen year old, who has never seen anything in this world but sugar, spice, and everything nice. And to be labeled a slut because someone felt my attire (presentable, acceptable and even welcomed in every other college in every part of the world) was improper is the most soul-crushing thing that can happen to anyone. I withdrew into a shell I did not know I had, and the previously chirpy little girl vanished into a desperate shadow created to keep everyone’s attentions off. My mobile number was passed around in chits all over the state of Kerala. I had to change my phone number every six months because I was simply tired of having random guys calling me up on my phone asking me if I was “available” and tired is not a word that can do justice to what I felt.

Needless to say, this affected my studies. I went from being class topper (in school) to someone who barely made it. It did not seem to matter. Nothing did. I just wanted to leave, go home, bury myself under a rock and not ever come back. I knew how everyone was looking at me, what everyone’s opinions of me were. There was nothing I could do to defend myself, and if I did, I am sure that it would have been rather pointless.

A few years later, I went through a phase of depression. I do believe that the seeds of it were sown right there in that college. Most people love college to such an extent that they cannot imagine how it was for me to bow my head and walk, for fear of someone seeing me, or to not laugh at anyone’s jokes, because someone might hear me. And then point and say, “Hey look who it is! It is that girl. With the 3/4th kurta. *wink**wink*”

When I went through my phase of depression, I could trace everything back to me joining that college. I just kept pouring piles of regret on an already mountain-high pile. If I had not gone to that college, I would have devoted more time to write. If I had not gone to that college, I could have secured a better job. If I had not gone to that college, people who have never met me or spoken to me wouldn’t call me a cheap, slutty, seductress, only because they had heard of me from an acquaintance of theirs who had heard of me from one of theirs. If I had not gone to that college…

“If” is a very small word. “If” is a big, loud, mind-shattering word.

With all those lines of regret converging to the point where I chose which college I would study in, all I wanted was to turn back time to that one moment and instead of saying, “This is where I want to study,” I would have chosen a college closer home (forgot to mention – this college was 6 hours away from my hometown). I know that if I had that one option of turning back time, then everything would be different. I don’t know whether it would be for good or bad, but from where I am standing, and from the lens I am looking through, the grass is greener on the right side of the right place at the right time!!!

If I could talk to my seventeen year old self, I would tell her, “Sweetie, the world is a shitty place, but there are less shitty ways of learning that than dragging your name through mud for eternity for crimes you did not commit.”

I know this is not a conventional blog post. I know I am just inviting a lot more shit by “putting up all that drama on social media.” But I needed to let this out.

I have to forgive myself for all the years of regret.

I have to let the ghosts of Adi Shankara Institute Of Engineering & Technology be laid to rest.

Edition 66, Indispire: Have you ever wished there was an undo button in real life?


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37 thoughts on “The Butterfly Effect

  1. Somali K Chakrabarti May 27, 2015 / 7:17 PM

    One irresponsible comment by your chem teacher spoiled your four years of college. Time to get over it now.

    Like

  2. Sreesha Divakaran May 27, 2015 / 7:26 PM

    True that I should get over it now. But still, because of his comment, and because of what ensued, what should have been the best years of my life got terribly tarnished. In fact, hard as it may be to believe, I am still suffering because of all the “rumors” about me that were circulated.

    Like

  3. Tomichan Matheikal May 28, 2015 / 1:11 AM

    Sometimes the Iago enters our life and plays much havoc. Yet life goes on. Has to go on. We have to learn the lessons and let bygones be bygones.

    Like

  4. iwrotethose.com May 28, 2015 / 1:35 AM

    I think certain wounds are harder to heal. Especially if like you said, it keeps happening again. I did not have the best time of my life in college either. But for different reasons to yours. The sole consolation for me is that I 'found ' my partner in crime there. I'm sure i could say to 'let it go' and move on, but it's often harder than we think it is. On the other hand, it's great that you managed to put it in writing. It may actually speed up the healing
    Good luck, Sreesha.

    Like

  5. amit May 28, 2015 / 3:34 AM

    Very brave blog Sreesha.
    you must be away from those shitty peope now so try to forget that and don't let the past spoil your present.
    it's just useless to comment or talk about people who judge a girls character by her attire. They are just a heap of shit which should be removed from the society.
    enjoy your present and keep laughing and spreading happiness the way I have seen u doing at the workplace. πŸ™‚

    Like

  6. Sakshi Nanda May 28, 2015 / 6:00 AM

    I really admire you for writing this. I hope it has helped put all this behind you. I wish college was for you what it should be for young adults.

    Like

  7. Pendown M Talks Here May 28, 2015 / 6:08 AM

    Seriously that must have a bad phase in your life. College is supposed to be so chirpy and fun-filled time but why did you not make great friends. In fact even my engineering college had some 'black-mark to society' kind of people but as friends, as college gangs we stood strong and it never came to affect me deeply. You did a right thing by venting it out here, and now just get over those incidents and people.
    Best,
    Manjulika.

    Like

  8. Preethi Venugopal May 28, 2015 / 9:08 AM

    Sad to read this. But I agree, people sometimes create hell for other people. And your chemistry teacher was one such. I am sure you have shown a virtual middle finger to all those in your past and moved on like the winner that you are.
    And you named your college correctly.

    Like

  9. Anil Sawan May 28, 2015 / 12:22 PM

    of all the places in kerala, kochi was not receptive? the place where i studied in a remote village of kasaragod, people were more open to students and of course their individual tastes! i would have expected kochi to be much more open to attire and attitude compared to some village in northern tip of Kerala. see how you broke a general perception πŸ™‚

    Like

  10. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 1:34 PM

    True that life goes on. But it's the ripple effect of how the past affects your present that matters. Anyway, I am hoping at least now I'll find the courage to put it all behind me.

    Like

  11. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 1:35 PM

    Oh yes, even I found some partners in crime! πŸ˜€ They made the journey bearable. It would have been utterly difficult for me otherwise.

    Like

  12. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 1:39 PM

    It'll take a while to completely let it go. But writing about it definitely made me feel better. Like a deep breath πŸ™‚

    Like

  13. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 1:42 PM

    I did make friends after a while. But I think a lot of people were hesitant to approach me at first because of all that they had heard about me before actually talking to me. I am thankful to those who stood by me and even protected me when necessary.

    Like

  14. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 1:45 PM

    The chemistry professor, the senior boys, and surprisingly, some of the senior girls.
    Yeah, I guess in a way all those bad experiences helped me become who I am today. Like I said, before that I took it for granted that the world was a lovely, rainbow-and-butterfly filled place.

    Like

  15. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 1:49 PM

    That's the exact misconception even I had! I studied in Kannur (my hometown) for a while, and over there no one found it outrageous even when I walked around in jeans. I had done most of my schooling in Mumbai prior to that, so I thought perhaps Kochi would be a city I could relate more to, and that's why I was only looking at colleges in that district. How wrong was I!! But to be fair to Kochi, the college was in the district but really, really far from the city.

    Like

  16. Parul May 28, 2015 / 3:56 PM

    Oh gosh Sreesha..So sorry to hear this but proud of you to put that all in writing. You should write more and let all the ghosts out..It will heal you..You learnt an important lesson at an early age – never trust people so easily.
    I had an okay time in college and not that I was sad leaving it.. I made a few great friends and many enemies. It was all jealousy..I am happy you put the name of the college there. They need to know!

    Like

  17. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder May 28, 2015 / 3:57 PM

    I do remember reading in some of your posts about your abhorrence of your college.But, I'm feeling happy that you finally have made the right decision to vent it out. So brave of you, Sreesha.

    And, to tell you one thing. Just forget those words. Similar things happened with me in the college. Kolkata, especially South Kolkata boasts of its modern and open mind. In a reputed college of South Kolkata, a first-year student wore a jeans and a top and, all hell broke loose! In those days, jeans-top was not so familiar. I got a reminder from the Students Union that such a thing would not be tolerated further. I got hurt. But I didn't let my happiness be tampered with those words. I enjoyed my college days to the fullest. I can totally relate to your words and, can understand the agony through which you had to go.

    It's time to move on…life is beautiful, dear… πŸ™‚

    Like

  18. Keirthana May 28, 2015 / 6:09 PM

    Don't let those words weigh you down, it's high time you don't allow them to ruin your peace. I too had one professor who bordered on invading personal space when it comes to girls and once he came too close to my comfort while talking and I couldn't help but blurt out “Sir, can you please step a little back?” Guess what? He never came close again.

    Such people exist and we need to get over it in order to preserve our peace.

    Like

  19. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 6:55 PM

    Yes, writing about it was a deep cleanse of sorts!

    I purposely mentioned the name there. When I first hit the Publish button on this post, it wasn't there, but then I felt it would be more appropriate to keep it. Not that it would do any good. If anything, some loyal, fanatic kinds might hurl abuses at me. From what I've seen in that college, that sort of stuff is sure to happen if a “girl dares to raise her voice.”

    Like

  20. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 6:57 PM

    How sweet of you to remind me that life is beautiful, Maniparna πŸ™‚ Yes, I should remember that more often.
    Oh, I can only imagine the damage a pair of jeans would have cause, if a kurta created such havoc! My God, these people!

    Like

  21. Sreesha Divakaran May 28, 2015 / 7:00 PM

    Yes, this man used to pick on me so much in class that I got frustrated and told my dad about it. My dad complained about him to the principal! After that he ignored me like I was invisible, but the damage of his words was already done.

    Like

  22. Ananya Tales May 28, 2015 / 11:07 PM

    Bad phases are hard2 survive..and writting abt it helps u let go of the pain… I do it too !
    Its needs strength n courage to put these feelings out in d world n kudos 2 u for being able to do that

    BoHo StYLe

    Like

  23. elly stornebrink May 29, 2015 / 5:43 AM

    Oh, I am so sad to hear you had to suffer so much because of one teacher's negative comments and the ripple effects of that: how disconcerting! I hope that sharing through writing helps in the healing process and that you are able to get the help you need to forgive and move on as that is the only way, though easier said than done. Take good care. ❀

    Like

  24. Sreesha Divakaran May 30, 2015 / 7:33 PM

    Yes, Elly. It's been a while, and I'm only making life harder for myself if I continue wallowing in self pity. While it's true that even today, I am afraid of what people might hear about me, I've come to realize that there will always be juicy gossip keeping people busy and I cannot go about defending myself all the time!

    Like

  25. Vinitha Dileep July 12, 2015 / 10:27 AM

    For me college was a mix of good and bad, good only because during those times the situation at my home was the worst. I choose not to think about the bad stuff and yet at times all those bad stuff from different points if life hover upon me and take over me and feel pity for myself. And at those times I let it be. After sometime I get over it and forget the painful part. I'm learning to look at the bright side more often and at the dark ones with a chuckle, and yeah, its hard but I want live without much regrets. I hope writing about this gave you some sort of peace. I want to write about my bad phases in life but not courageous enough yet. Maybe someday!! Hugs dear. πŸ™‚

    Like

  26. Sreesha Divakaran July 12, 2015 / 11:34 AM

    Writing about it helped me to some extent. But I can't help but feel sad when even today I hear new stories about myself. It makes me wonder why people I studied with nearly a decade ago still have so much interest in me. It makes no sense really.
    If you can disregard the dark times with a chuckle, then that's great. But if you ever feel a chuckle isn't covering it, then maybe write about it. I hadn't written about this until this year. When I did, I felt perhaps the healing has begun. Not complete, but begun.

    Like

  27. Awkward Earthling November 15, 2015 / 11:37 AM

    Brave you are !!
    I know lots of people, nears & dears to me, who faced this same trauma. So could easily relate. A lot many episodes had unfurled & exploded at my college too; because they thought all these were against “societal ethics”. Whatever, you fought & now you should be proud..!!
    Keep the boat rowing steady !! πŸ™‚

    P.S : & in Adi Shankara Institute Of Engineering & Technology – hmm…that’s a very very big surprise !!

    Like

    • Awkward Earthling November 16, 2015 / 1:08 PM

      Of course..
      Had friends from the college too; if I am not wrong..
      I was from the same time period but did my engg. from the malabar end..

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sreesha Diva November 16, 2015 / 1:20 PM

      Hah! If you had friends then most definitely you would have known someone who knew me. Even now people walk up to me and tell me they know someone (whom I would’ve never heard of or seen and who weren’t even in my batch) who knew me back in college.
      In retrospect, I keep thinking I should’ve stayed in Malabar too!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Awkward Earthling November 16, 2015 / 2:03 PM

      But when I evaluated; I thought Kochi would have been better than Malabar; although I hail from Malabar.

      Whatever – “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. “

      Like

    • Sreesha Diva November 16, 2015 / 2:06 PM

      Hahaha, yeah. Exactly the misconception with which I went there.
      So do I; I spent little time there – but enough to evaluate it is still better than where I was.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Awkward Earthling November 16, 2015 / 5:37 PM

      Its how time takes you and how you decipher all those experiences !!
      Its how it caters and molds you into what you are now!!
      Its what has become, a part of you..!!

      Its why; its called “Life” !!

      #randompoetry

      Like

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