My drunk eyes flickered, I sensed the hostel warden staring at me. It didn’t worry me at first; the worst he could do was to confiscate my Day-Scholar ID Card. As soon as I got hold of myself, I realized the room was engulfed in smoke. My bed held stashes of weed. Crisp, dry, green.
Suddenly, everything rushed back to me. It was on a Saturday evening. I remember we were excited about Div’s birthday party at Paharganj. That got cancelled. So we decided to go to the nearby ‘theka’. I remember I drank gallons, we all drunk our heads off, only to stumble back to campus.
I couldn’t head back home till I was sober, so Div offered his hostel bed but I wasn’t new to this, I had sneaked a few nights in the hostel. Plus the hangover was too bad to travel. We went inside the hostel and met our class friends who were excited to see me. Too drained to continue, I started to nod while we chit-chatted, but soon hit the bed and dozed off.
Somebody was nudging me, trying to wake me up. I resisted and the push turned to shove, quite literally. I blinked and heard Div say, “It’s the warden” . I saw the warden looking at me and thought, “Holy mother of God, how would I get myself back to my flat at 2am’? I sat up and put down my feet to face him, only to feel the weed fall down my legs. The room held me, Div, his 2 friends, and smoke, thick pungent smoke. The friends were from the Law dept. The warden seized all our Identity cards and sent them to the Chief Proctor.
Our hearts hammered over Sunday. I hardly slept. Monday came and we had no idea what was going to happen. I had heard, once the case gets under the Chief Proctor, chances of not getting rusticated are meager.
We were in our class when our PL sent for us. Div and I went to his cabin, the proctor of the Engineering department was already present there. They told me to explain everything and said that they would be our sole defenses at our hearing with the Chief Proctor. We told them about the drinks we had and how I stayed back in the hostel.
Div told them that the 2 guys who were present in the room were from law dept. and that they had brought the weed and offered it to Div for his birthday. Our Proctor listened with a keen interest, and said that the hearing was scheduled on Wednesday.
The D-day arrived and we were summoned to the Chief Proctor’s office. The two students from the Law department were also present there. We were sitting in the waiting office with the PLs and proctors of Engineering and Law department, with our heads bowed and hands clasped in prayers. The Chief Proctor arrive and my heart started throbbing. My mind did a somersault.
He was old, and almost bald, yet had this intense, stout look. He took his seat behind the table and called the proctors. His voice was low yet audible from across the table, “E2 basement auditorium had a new theater installed and an Akshay Kumar movie is to be shown this evening. Do you mind if we postpone this hearing until Friday?” I was stunned. Here we were, traumatized till the brink of collapsing. Haven’t had a proper meal in almost 5 days, cried thinking how we’ve let our parents down, some even considered suicide! And this hairy man here was more concerned about watching a movie.
In the class on Thursday, Div told me that the other two guys were pursuing him to plot against me. I was a day-scholar and they wanted him to say that I had brought all the grass in. This way all the hostlers would escape and they’d get to blame it on me. Div waved them a big no, and pointed out that it was their mistake. They got into a fight, the warden came, then they got into a fight with him too. It was a horrible, miserable mess.
Friday saw us being summoned to Chief Proctor’s office, this time to a big round table. Everyone was present there and we were given a sheet of paper with some questions on it and we had to answer all of them. It asked for your name and department. They were followed by questions about the events of that night. I answered those questions as innocently as I could. With the written details in place, The Chief Proctor started bashing us with his questions. The law guys had clearly devised a story pitched against me but Div stuck by my side.
They falsely claimed that I had brought the weed from outside into the hostel and offered them. Chief Proctor gave me a stern look and asked me if it was true. Before I could speak, Div interrupted and said, “It’s true that we were drunk but Apurva fell asleep way before any of this happened. The law guys came and offered me the grass but I denied to smoke it. Being their friend, I did offer them the room to smoke but that was it. The only mistake from our side was that Apurva was a day scholar who sneaked into the hostel and that I did not tell on the 2 law guys when they were smoking.”
The chief proctor suddenly shouted in rage, saying he wanted to hear the truth from us and he was utterly disappointed to see his students lie in front of him and go back on each other. He asked the other proctors if they wanted to question us. Our proctor, Rathore sir, was waiting for his chance. We had discussed this earlier. He asked us a few questions and wanted to check our bags and belongings.
I thought that it was completely useless because who in their right mind would have something against them in a hearing. I was amazed to see the law guys resist. We were taken individually into a room and our belongings were checked.
First I went inside and when my bag was being checked, I knew it held nothing objectionable. Still my heart was pounding and I was trying to remember every little thing I had put in my bag since I bought it. It passed with clear.
Then I came outside and Div was called in. Few minutes later he too came outside, looked at me and nodded. Then one of the law guys went inside.
We heard shouting and screaming behind the closed door. The second guy was also called in while the first was still inside. The shouting became stronger and more violent and our Proctor came out with 2 packets of weed and a lighter.