The Brave Engineers

It is human nature to start reminiscences when one is a little idle and when I go through my life the time in N.I.T.Rourkela seems the most surreal one. I or rather we did things that seem completely improbable now and depending on the way you look at it they were completely bizarre or just hilarious.

It was Holi. The campus was situated next to a tribal settlement. Suddenly the rumours started flying in campus that a student of second year has been drenched in colours against his will and then mildly beaten up in the settlement. It was enough to start a virtual war against the tribal settlement. The revenge had to be taken-the village had to be attacked.

And it was the fashionable thing to jump into such activities. It fetched you tremendous peer respect and favourable publicity. So here was I, 53 kgs of weight, thin and wearing a spectacles of negative 3.5 power and the only violence I had indulged in was killing mosquitoes. I was desperate to get the glamour and star appeal of the studs who could go to such villages and create some mayhem.

So a group of about two hundred students then marched with broken tree branches, hockey sticks, cricket bats, lots of bluster and bravado. I was there with a twig right in the front. We reached the village after a minor trek and suddenly discovered there was absolute silence and all doors were shut. The brave marching contingent halted –confused and looking for strategy.

Then suddenly an arrow flew from one of the houses. And panic and pandemonium broke loose. The students ran for their lives. I was there in the front and I still remember after almost twenty years my feelings that moment. When I looked back I saw everybody had disappeared or was running like a gazelle and I was the only one left within the boundaries of the village. It is somewhat akin to what an antelope would feel when it sees itself surrounded by a horde of lions in the African bushland. I think I ran though I do not remember where or how fast. In the process I remember outrunning stones, sticks and somehow surviving almost like Sunil Shetty does in the middle of a bullet storm. Bollywood is imaginative but everything they show is not fantasy.

The marauding engineers were that day exposed for their bravery.


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