This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan. To read from the beginning, click here.
It was time for Industrial Visit trips organised by seniors for all students. Basically, it was an adventure trip but was named as IV so that maximum students could get permission from home to shell out Rs. 7,500 for college picnic.
IVs were the most happening trips of the college – people got to know each other and their seniors – this year they were headed to Manali. The entire batch from the first year had decided to come. Those who didn’t register were coerced into the trip by others. Swami got enrolled like that. Madhu did not have the required money as nothing could be saved from the money he earned from his part-time internship; it just helped him cover his routine expenses. Arpit, Abhinav and Niket chipped in and filled his application form too.
As they caught the train from Mumbai Central to Manali, they were awed by the preparation of their seniors – they were carrying every gadget possible along with them and huge power extensions and power banks. It was as if they had come prepared for a digital war. They were also carrying booze and cigarette cartons for the new year’s party.
The travel agent had for the first time arranged a trip for college students and had given them good facilities at throw away rates anticipating further tie ups for remaining trips. They had the entire coach to themselves and it was turned into a party venue with loud music and disco lights they were carrying.
They reached Manali on December 28 and did sight seeing, but the major fun was in being together and making a lot of noise in their hotel. None of them went to the industrial visit for which they had come to Manali. The hotel had to cancel their booking after second day due to frequent complaints from other guests. They refunded the amount and booked them into another hotel nearby which was totally empty.
The party on New Year’s Eve was one of the biggest ones they had ever seen in their life. The seniors had kept the bottles open for everyone – drinks were on them, as tradition goes. Swami tried to go to bed early to avoid the party – he knew drinking is compulsory for everyone. Alas, he wasn’t able to hide himself and was brought to the dance floor.
Some seniors mixed vodka in his soft drink and things started rolling. Swami began dancing – doing the funniest steps one would know as he grooved to the music. He came around and hugged everyone. He was high and was happy. For the first time, the gang had seen a lighter side of Swami; he wasn’t a robot like he behaved in the campus – he just wasn’t exposed enough to life. Niket loved the other side of Swami, he never could have imagined him to be so free spirited and happening in spite of sitting on the first bench.
As they went towards their rooms after the party, everyone was high and ecstatic. Swami joined the gang, singing songs on friendship. Suddenly, he began crying unexpectedly – It was then that he mentioned how much he admired them all but couldn’t stay friends with them as he had to focus on his marks and prepare for GRE exams. He was afraid they would spoil him. He also was sad by the fact he didn’t have any friends in college.
That fact changed within that moment, Abhinav hugged him mentioning he could always bank on them. Swami had tears in his eyes on knowing he was accepted by someone the way he was. That’s how he became a part of the gang in his own way. He never joined them in the last bench, but started hanging around with them in the canteen.
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