Chameleons of The Varsity

Continued from “K and SDP: A Feud”

University Memoirs X

The varsity was full of chameleons. The most outstanding property of the species of chameleons, apart from their poison, is their ability to change color quickly. The word, ‘chameleon’ is as though manufactured for the varsity and varsity alone- ‘poisonous and changing colors’! It’s the perfect word.

So, the place was full of chameleons. Geetesh was a research assistant earlier. His powerful uncle, one of the creepy old generation professors somehow brought him in teaching cadre. Geetesh was the perfect subordinate for Vice-Chancellors. Smiling, serving, managing, seeing off and receiving at railway stations, booking tickets, attending relatives, escorting ‘Madam’ to markets, carrying bags, gently joking, a little poking- Geetesh was lovely. He could organize seminars efficiently, supervise plantation and garden-management in the varsity, and look after different guest houses and what not. He was such an adorable tail-twister. He even knew the art of reaping benefits quietly. Nobody ever complained. His tasks were miscellaneous. For example, if some great dignitary was coming to the varsity, there’d be a flurry of purchases- curtains, table-cloths, shawls (for honoring the guest), tea cup sets, coasters, plastic flowers for decoration etc. Now, Geetesh knew the shops and shops knew him. Something worth a thousand would cost two – the shop keeper was happy, the Sahib was happy and so was Geetesh. Interestingly, every big function required the same purchases all over again.

I think I’ll never be tired of expressing my disgust at cheap women. Cheap women repulse me; cheap men also do. When you live for show, your life becomes unreal.

Savita was another chameleon breed. Women chameleons give an entirely different impact than men chameleons. When a person constantly ‘acts’, s/he forgets who s/he really is. Lady Professors like Savita were full of such plastic smiles. I loved watching their acts, day in and day out. The woman dressed herself in Eliot’s wasteland. Belinda dressed herself in ‘Rape of the Lock’. The lady professors of the varsity also dressed. I always called the make-up, an investment. The make-up when it pays you rich dividends obviously comes under the category of investment. The lady professors were forever in search of an innocuous, sweet, innocent look. The bitch, the she-fox had to be hidden. Hyde must not come out; Jekyll only is to be demonstrated.

I think I’ll never be tired of expressing my disgust at cheap women. Cheap women repulse me; cheap men also do. When you live for show, your life becomes unreal. You’re forever living for the public eye, for the various messages that you’re sending, for the impression you’re creating on others. Life becomes a perpetual worry. What to say; what not to say? Too many questions! Your thought processes lose originality. You become hollow. You must learn to live as you are, without bothering about the implications for your being.

You went to temple, but going to temple would not be complete unless you’ve passed on the precious information of your divine stint to others. Only when others know that you’d gone to the temple, the impression of your religiosity would be complete. The lady professors of my varsity had evolved intricate methods to create the impression of goodness and religiosity. Whenever tea and ‘samosa’ would be ordered, they’d keep quiet. But once, it would be served, an abrupt announcement would come, ‘It’s a Thursday or Wednesday or some Chaturthi today. You know I’m on fast.’ Everybody would start looking at the lady professor. She’d be glad. Her whole purpose of fasting would be granted. God is kind, indeed; He immediately grants the wishes of fasting people.

Students had free access into Savita’s abode. Her third storey flat, her solitary existence, her ‘loving’ nature, her useless time, her abundant boredom – everything supported her abode into being a social spot, a kind of club for the chosen ones. For a moral-less, middle-aged, unattractive woman, young, sturdy boys in the form of students become objects of interest. Earlier, I knew just one meaning of the word ‘man-eater’. But after seeing lady professors like Savita, I came to understand a newer meaning of the word, ‘man-eater’. Savita was a man-eater.

Once, a young boy who had come to our university from Odisha for pursuing Ph.D. found himself in a hazardous situation. He went into Savita’s chamber for requesting her to become his research supervisor. Savita, on her part was very hungry that day. Seeing a good looking, fresh boy, her hunger arose further. Sitting in her professorial chair, she quivered looking at the handsome boy in tight blue jeans and white T-shirt. The first button of the poor boy’s T-shirt was open which further aggravated Savita’s thirst, hunger, craving and what not. She must have lost her mind. I don’t exactly know. But people say that the boy was found running outside in the corridor, shouting ‘Save me, save me.’

The other professor, a man called the boy in and asked him as to what had happened. The boy said that he would not be able to ‘speak’ what had happened to him. The professor asked him to write down as to what had happened to him. Thus the boy wrote the following precious document of our varsity, ‘I’ve submitted my Ph.D. form under the supervision of Dr. Savita Madam. But she’s expecting the unthinkable activity from me. She’s not given me my research topic. She’s not guiding me in preparing my synopsis. She calls me to her chamber and her home. Today when I was sitting in her chamber, she tried to sexually assault me. Please save me. I’ll be thankful to you for life if you save me. I thought teachers were like mother and father. I don’t want to do Ph.D. under Dr. Savita Madam.’

Well, ‘Guru Bramha, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshvara. Guru Sakshat Prambramha, Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah’ (Guru is equal to God, so therefore worship him/her.) The Sanskrit shloka is very popular in our country. Every Teachers’ Day, we are made to listen to the heavy couplet. Teachers feel so grand and pumped up after listening to the couplet. They really believe that they are gurus and therefore even, God. It’s absurd. After playing the part of a university teacher for decades, I always stand up against the stupid application of the shloka for teachers of today. I always take the pain to explain that the couplet was written for spiritual teachers, who led the disciples to self-realization. We’re government paid employees who work for a living. We’re not gurus. Let’s first become good teachers of our respective subjects. But as you know, Indians are super hypocrites. We cry when we part from friends and relatives. As soon as we turn our back, we express the relief that the bore, the burden is gone. But dear reader, please remember the golden rule that generalizations are wrong and exceptions or possibility of exceptions is always alive, even in India.

To come back to chameleons, Savita was once beaten by a part time teacher of her department. A lady professor, physically beaten? Yes, our varsity even had that distinction. Many versions came out of the incident. The beater’s version said that Savita was very close to the part-timer. Then, she tried to rein him in. first she promoted him and when he believed that he had a hold on Savita, she tried to pull him down. When things kept brewing for a long time, he finally beat her up. Poor part-timer! A police complaint was lodged against him. His career was ruined. All chameleons came together in harming him.

It’s not that I can’t understand sexual hunger. All us have experienced the lull, the ache , the longing where nothing else matters. What’s the need to raise humans to divine heights. There’s no such need. Let’s remain humans only, a bunch of imperfections. Still, there ought to be certain do-ables and certain non-do-ables. Using young boys for one’s middle-aged hunger is certainly a non-do-able. Love-less, intimacy-less, brazen, crude sex shocks me. Even the remote idea of such an activity is unacceptable to me. Trapping, using, exploiting and then sharing the secrets cheaply with friends in order to prove masculinity and laughing- certainly a varsity can do without these things. Never think that I’m against committed relationships, love, giving and taking, sharing. I’d be a fool if I was against love. But I’m against all that which is exactly not ‘love’. Okay, leave it at that or I’ll keep harping assuming that I’ve yet not made my point clear. Over the years, this thing has grown within me. I must say what I want to say. So, let’s change gears.

In India, things can’t be complete without the touch of spirituality. Near our varsity was an ashram. It was affiliated to some international, charitable, religious organization headed by Param Pujya Swami Alokanandji Maharaj. The head of the local ashram came from a royal family of Haryana. The name of the local head was Prabhu Premanandji Maharaj. The royal family had gone full plunge into politics. Prabhu’s younger brother was a big wig at the centre. Some murders, some smuggling across India-Nepal border, some liquor franchise and lo and behold, ‘A new leader born’. Prabhu’s brother was one such great leader. He was a ‘vata vriksha’ (a Bunyan tree). He gave shelter to many others. His ‘jalwa’ (influence) was endless. Prabhu felt envious and said, ‘OK, brother! I’ll tell you as to who is the elder brother. Leaders will come to me and touch the dust of my feet. The big, the rich, the powerful will come for my blessings. My ‘jalwa’ will be absolute.’ And so he joined the clan of Alokanand. It was a lovely life. Butter, milk, dry fruits, silks, women, girls, luxury cars, exotic locations, leisure, some breathing exercises, some lecture-vecture- that’s all. The Baba-bairagi was ready. When I first saw Prabhu, he was about to spit his precious saliva. A servant ran with a silver pot and Prabhu dropped his sacred saliva into the artistic urn.

Prabhu was a peculiar man. He was forever hungry for ‘respect’. He always wanted to sit on dais. He always wanted to be heard and appreciated. Now, he realized that people won’t come to him easily. His target was high level, rich, intellectual type of people. The university was his weakness. He loved sitting beside the Vice-Chancellor on the dais. So he planned programs for the varsity. He donated to begin a lecture series in the varsity in the name of his late father, whose only contribution was that he was the king of a small area in British India. Prabhu brought the spiritual touch to my varsity. People told many tales about him, particularly the tale of his resemblance with the children of the households he frequented. Those were the secret ‘spiritual’ waves flowing in the varsity.

One Deputy Registrar of the varsity always commented on whatever a professor, especially lady professor was carrying, ‘your bag is very good; your pen is simply excellent; your key-ring, your diary, whatever you have is good’. After, one or two attempts, he would come to the point, ‘Hum aapke mitra hai (I’m your friend), so if a friend likes something, you’ll not give that thing to your friend’. Later, everybody understood that if DR Sab was praising anything, he wanted you to part with that thing. Once his greediness was fully advertised, people knew what do to with him. He always had somebody carrying him to dinner, giving him toffees for his children, and all such ‘cute’ things.

One Lecturer was a special disciple of Prabhu. Instead of ‘Namaste’, ‘Hello’, ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Evening’, he always said ‘Jai Omkareshwar’. And believe it or not, if he was talking to a lady, just after his ‘Omkareshwar’, he started, ‘I get down from my bed at four in the morning but you know I get down after taking off my clothes. Seasons don’t affect me. When I’m naked, my body gets acclimatized to the weather. Then I take my bath.’ In the same breath with his ‘Omkareshwar’, he could easily, happily, naturally churn out sentences, ‘Aapka snan dhyan kab hota hai, Madam?’ (When do you bath and pray, Madam?) His own bath, bath of lady professors, personal schedule of others – these were the most obvious topics for him. Such were the members of our teaching fraternity.

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Continued to "The Epilogue to University Memoirs"

NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real situation/s, institution/s or individual/s is a coincidence.



More by :  Prof. Shubha Tiwari

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