Zeit am IIT

a poem by Anagha Ramanujam

I sat down last night,
In the IIT lingo, “to put fight”
On a new kind of assignment, I was asked to give in
A lecture for my juniors, on how to manage time.

An expert I am not, in this field, I should tell you
And yet as I look back at the years too few
I’ve spent at IIT I’ve learnt things anew.

The story I am about to tell
Is of a fresher, who used to wonder,
If a day such will come, when he would be known-
By not just a number but a name to be told
For that was all that IIT had given him
After all the fame JEE had brought.

He’d sit in class, in rapt attention
Focus hard to forget issues I wouldn’t care to mention
This was IIT, the dream destination
For him and you and all God’s creation
“Life now is a cake walk” he was told,
Before he entered the portals so cold
No there’s no winter, no summer, no autumn, no spring-
‘Tis Summer alright but only a fresher could know
Of the freezing cold in an instructor’s eyes,
Who called for him as a mere number four?

This was how his destiny was shaped
To lose an identity and not just a name,
For a number is how he stood to be known
And the seeds of perspiration had already been sown.

August was fun,
He was always on the run.
Classes and workshops and theatre and dance
They had the powers of keeping him in a trance.
Until the D-Day came knocking at his door,
To announce quiz-I and scare him to the core,
His prep. was poor by JEE standards
And soon he was wary
Of the mundane classes,
The monotonous existence and the lull in hostel life.
Was this the IIT that’d made him forget?
Fun and happiness in an attempt to get
The coveted seat for which anyone would bet?

He had little time for anything but to cram,
He’d returned to the school-
From where he’d thought he’d ran.
Peers and Friends yearned for the quarter mark
Grades seemed to require anything but the spark,
Caught he was in the inescapable rut,
And could choose just one- books OPEN or SHUT!

To choose the former he’d have to be prepared,
To stick to work and never at midnight lurk-
In the fields or alleys or playgrounds or concerts,
To forget he was a boy with interests and wants.
For all he’d have would be books for company
And yet his grades might take a severe beating
As for the Prof, he would be in the next number list meeting!

If the latter he’d choose then life was a party
For books and classes weren’t for him smarty!
For then the world was another stage
With roles to enact and responsibilities to shoulder
Brochures and pamphlets and contacts would fill his folders
Late nights would be the order of the day
Lectures would mean a wake up call
A transport from his room to the lecture hall
There again asleep he could fall!
Assignments he could copy no issues there at all-
For quizzes and exams, the stud’s notes would be handy.
He’d probably get away with a decent grade
And look down at the stud for the effort he’d made
His failure in seeing the lighter side
Of existence in IIT, a matter of Pride

To wish for both it seemed a crime
And yet he stood there, waiting for the time
When happiness and success
Bailed him out of this mess!
To become a good engineer was a dream he cherished most
Yet an identity, a pride, and a smile he longed for
Alas! Outside the class all this had to be sought
The work load was heavy
He never found time
To shut his book and gaze at the sky
For each book would lead him to yet another
In the mere hope of being known by more than a number!
He soon exhausted the reserves from home he had brought
And cried and screamed for the happiness he had sought
Only to be in yet another submission caught!

As time went by, he began to learn-
That management was the key
If it was deep seas he wished to churn.
Hard it was, unachievable at times
But the success it brought was worth many lives.
To begin it was tough,
But some time he had to master this stuff-
For it held the key that’d open a lock
And unleash a future in which success would flock.
He planned his tasks, he organized his day,
And time he began to find for study and play
His grades soon did a summersault
And left his friends doing pole-vault.
They flocked to him to ask, to know
How he’d managed the results he’d shown
They asked him where he found the time,
To work and play and excel in all
To know the secret of his sunny smile
The force that powered his happy life
And shocked they were to hear the Prof.
Call him by a name and not the roll call!

I wonder if you here would like to try
The strategies he used to succeed and not cry,
They’ll work for you too, I can assure you
And then you can at this podium stand
And tell yet another batch
That in a year from now will land
How you managed to learn the art
Of juggling your work and recreation
Right at the START!