The Story of Fiction


This is a story which is very close to my heart, owing to which I have accorded it a separate page. I believe that Fiction is one of the best things that happened to me. For those of whom who don't know what Fiction is about, I could tell you in two words. But I won't. I won't tell you because it doesn't matter. There are things in life that just feel right, things that feel as if they belong to you and are made for you, things you do simply because you want to. Fiction was one such thing. The story that follows is not the story of Fiction ( I think you would have bailed out by now because I keep saying nutsy stuff but just bear with me for a little while ) it is a different story altogether. The story of Fiction is byzantine and beautiful, fictitious and real. I may tell that some day. For now, here is a story of its namesake.

The Story of Mr. Fiction
Four Years at FET


All the characters appearing in this story are a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. 


The Azul wallpaper of Windows on the screen provided a soothing effect to my eyes. As I stared at the pine trees on the tranquil sea, it reminded me of something. Pine trees. Two in number. Emerald hues. Where had I seen it? Just then, déjà vu struck and the emblem of Jamia stood proudly in my mind, bringing with it a torrent of memories, an inundation of feelings and a wave of nostalgia.   
An imposing red brick building shaped like a minaret. Long neat pathways and lush verdant lawns. An aeroplane standing majestically, its wings in the direction of the wind, as if about to soar into the bright blue skies. My first impression of FET. I dashed down the memory lane and found myself entering the towering gates and a whole new world. The world of Jamia. Shaky and uncertain, I took my first steps into the university. I rushed past the guards, afraid of their steely faces. Then, I looked towards the gate. Outside, my father had reversed the car and gone. I was feeling like a nursery kid all over again, apprehensive and fidgety.
Struggling to act like an adult and striving to avoid the pangs of anxiety, I took some tentative steps up the building. As I climbed the stairs that were drowned in ghostly silence, I marveled at the vast distinction between my expectations and reality. Bollywood flicks like jaane tu… or student of the year… presented an extravagant and exaggerated view of college life…trendy students, high profile gadgets, stylish clothing and what not. However, the reality was staring me right in the face. Like the nearly-blank notice board and the bare walls. I sought my classroom, going by the timetable on the board. There was no teacher inside and the students sat in their seats, as if struck by a petrifying charm. The oft-talked about college atmosphere, with groups of guffawing students and gangs of giggling girls was missing. My heart sank as the sarcastic part of my mind mocked me for being admitted to a college which seemed so barren and unreasonably disciplined.
Days passed thus. Every day was a day of drudgery, rushing to college at 9 am and plodding home after 5:30 pm. It seemed no different from the coaching classes in XIIth standard.
One day, I mustered the courage to talk to a fellow classmate. His unsmiling demeanour discouraged interaction, however, I was determined to make friends. So, I kept on, asking him about his JMIEEE and AIEEE scores and making small talk. After a little probing, I discovered that he was planning to start GATE coaching from the coming year. In fact, some of our class fellows already had plans of taking CAT training and some even wanted to go for the civil services. I politely exited the conversation. They were clearly not my type. My spirits plunged ever lower. I felt as if the good old days were over. There was no more fun to be had and no more good things in life remained.
The coming days saw me scribbling furiously in my diary, lamenting my poor luck and envying the lives of those classmates of mine, who had landed themselves non technical courses in the colleges of DU. I, on the contrary, had not only fared crappy in my XII boards but also secured a 6 digit rank in AIEEE. JMIEEE had come as a blessing where I managed to scrape a waiting list rank and somehow cleared the interview. However, the blessing seemed to be quickly evaporating into a bane as the days went by.
It was a fine sunny morning when I stood outside the class, having arrived late (little did I know that this habit would not leave me for the coming four years). As I waited for the teacher to leave so I could attend the next class, a big hulkish boy came to me, panting, asking whose period was going on. I answered and the next thing I knew, we were walking towards the canteen. Bread pakoras and chai put a seal on our friendship. That was the day when I realized that friends come knocking at our door at unexpected moments. How and when they become our besties, we never notice.
As the days went by, two more newbies joined our ‘gang’ and soon, the ‘Sign of Four’ had become a common occurrence. Four guys could be seen in the last few rows of the class, either on their mobile phones or playing hangman, while teachers came and went. We were united by our indifference to the intensely studious atmosphere and people. It is said that the power of tragedy is unparalleled. Each of us had a common misfortune that tied us to each other- the mischance of having landed in Jamia.
Our subject was Computer Engineering and yet, Physics, Chemistry, Fluid Mechanics, Electrical, Electronics Theory, Civil Basics, Engineering Maths, English, Graphics and even Workshop had cluttered our timetable. We abhorred attending classes. Sitting idly, we noted the movement of the teachers, philosophized on useless topics and texted each other using our unlimited message packs.
Gradually, we found a way out. As they say, every question has its answer. The concept of proxy was not a new one. It has been employed in schools too. But we perfected the art of proxy. By recording our voices and bribing a few friends, we managed to garner a decent attendance. The first semester was the hardest and we used to attend all the classes possible. The workshop was strenuous, with our skin getting tanned with the heat of the anvil in blacksmithy; carpentry was no cakewalk either and I managed to earn a burn in the welding shop too. The easiest seemed to be foundry, playing with clay and sand or whatever it was. It was best if your partner was a girl. They would do the mixing stuff and you could play games on your cellphone. The foundry shop was also cooler. Nevertheless, workshop was the most tiring, even more than graphics, where frustration reigned supreme as the teacher’s voice never managed to reach us on the last benches. We somehow managed to avoid a backlog in the subject by copying the sheets and evading the teacher’s questions.
I picked up some excellent skills in my first year. For instance, answering viva questions by using phrases like 'basically', 'the fact of the matter is' and speaking constantly and unintelligibly about anything under the sun, using hand gestures; studying the day before the exam and paying undivided attention on the morning of the exam to the ‘intel’ people in the class who had prepared well.
We discovered a few essential rules about our college. We named them the three unforgivable curses.
1.      The Imperius Curse-
Cross the threshold of JMI and enter the gate. A gigantic flex would glare at you, loudly proclaiming ‘Ragging Not Allowed’, accompanied by a fiery cross over a black background. This is the first unforgivable curse- ‘Imperio’, to make someone do your bidding. The seniors dread this curse and those who have tried to make harmless use of it, have taken umpteen precautions to be far out of the JMI campus and stay off record.
2.      The Cruciatus Curse-
Crucio is the curse that inflicts unbelievably terrifying pain. Missing too many classes or falling below the 75% attendance threshold is the second unforgivable curse. The ones who perpetrate such a crime have to pay with suspension from the semester exams.
3.      Avada Kedavra-
The death curse is the most horrifying and the final unforgivable curse that can end one’s career. Smoking on campus and any such misconduct or indiscipline can land you in the Azkaban Prison alias the Proctor’s office.
We came to know about the curses after they had been used on our batchmates. Rumours of ragging on the soccer field and on bus stops reached our ears. There were a group of hostellers who never attended classes. In the end, they were seen running around the Dean’s office, submitting medical reports right before the semester exams. There were also whispers about a guy who had employed unfair means to cheat in the tests, landing him in the Proctor’s office. The news instilled fear in the entire batch especially in our group of four. Besides that, the semester exams witnessed a superior method of checking, with examinees being photographed along with their admit cards and a certain famed ‘Flying Squad’ comprising a select group of teachers performing thorough inspection.
Despite the regulations and the strictness, we always managed to bunk off classes. Our bunk ventures led us to some favourite haunts in and around FET:

1. The FET canteen- It is a lot like Hagrid’s den where there isn’t a variety of food but there is always something to eat even though one might have to scavenge a bit. Samosas, bread pakoras and momos are the standard menu. The rest of the stuff on board is “not for sale”.

2. The Hygienic Point- Remember Hogsmeade? Hygienic point is our own Madam Puddifoot’s. From juices, patties, momos, chips to flavored milk, it is the nearest eatery having chocolates. This place is not limited to a snack bar, it has a photostat venue as well as adjoining lawns where we often lounged discussing endless things, eating and passing time.     

3. The lawns – Needless to say, we have a plethora of lawns. There are two gardens flanking the gate. They are a trifle secluded but the ones right in front of the building are very popular for having homemade tiffin and hanging out. Cricket matches have often been played on these grounds between teachers and students. It is a spectacle to watch out for and it is certainly memorable to be a part of the cricket team. Interestingly, there is a tradition in JMI of bringing homemade food, at least in our case. Our mothers don’t trust McD or canteens and we enjoyed both varieties of food on a daily basis.

4. The Maggi Point- Our Honeydukes sweetshop lies in the Law department, where we often went for maggi and pastries. The 2-minute maggi ironically made us wait for at least 20 minutes.

5. Uth Café (Fx)- At The Three Broomsticks of JMI, a myriad of people can be found, some gossiping and gorging, some discussing important agendas and some simply loitering and whiling away time. This place offers a wider variety of food items than any other food stall in Jamia. Like all JMI buildings, this restro too is adorned with a grassy green garden.

6. Reading Room- Similar to the Gryffindor common room, this is a haven for the studious ones as well as the ones who are in the habit of doing last minute preps. Replete with charging points and air conditioners, it would have been the best place to hangout (watching movies on laptop and so on) had it not been for the guarding ghosts of Gryffindor tower or the Portrait of the Fat Lady whose role is done by our beloved guards, who deny entry without a password alias ID card.

7. Roof- What dungeons are to Hogwarts, roofs are to FET. We used to climb the stairs till the topmost floor or take a shortcut from the second floor staircase, right above the TPO (Training and Placement Office). Once we reached, we would enjoy the view up. I remember practicing a play on that roof on an off day. The sky looked forget-me-not blue and the lawns appeared to be a vast green sea and a mild breeze completed the scene.

8. Xerox Point- Then we come to our Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop- Xerox Point. A man of economics would term it as the best business of the millennium. This shop can never go out of business, even though there is only one person at the photocopy machine; despite the fact that the rest of the work is handled by a wizened old man, who takes half an hour to understand what the student needs to buy and another half hour to take the necessary material out. Students flock to this shop at all hours conceivable. It was a prevalent joke in our group that more than half of our pocket money gets used up at the Xerox Point.

9. Central Canteen- The central canteen could probably be tagged as The Hog’s Head. Although there are no shady goings-on taking place, there sure are a varied multitude of students and professors from various faculties coming to take a bite in this renowned place. As the name goes, this canteen is the heart of the campus, and one always finds it teeming with people.

10. Maktaba Stationery- Our own Quality Quidditch Supplies! This stationery shop near the Indian Bank is a wholesale stock of every book you would ever need throughout the four years of your engineering. With a puny opening and a limited standing space that can cause claustrophobia, this shop has two shopkeepers, one of whom is often seen bingeing around the Hygienic Point.

11. CC- The Diagon Alley of Jamia, Community Centre or NFC market or CC as it is fondly referred to by us, is the centre of all activity, shopping, eating, roaming and parties. CC is jam-packed all day with students from Jamia, be it FastTrax, Nirulas, Nathus, Dominoes, Subway, Pizza Hut or our favourite McDonalds. It often appears as if some kind of a contract exists between Jamia students and McDonalds. 90 percent of the JMI population ends up in McD. Cut a cake from OpenOven in McD, eat a Dominoes’ pizza in McD, have your homemade lunch in McD. Infact, just squat in McD, chat for a while and leave without making any purchase and you still won’t feel awkward!
For those who wish to avoid being seen with their clandestine halves, my tip is to steer clear of McD for the entire world of Jamia would be out there to spot you!
Every place boasts of its specialties. AlBake’s shawarma, Prince Paan’s Chocolate Paan, flavored soda from a local store are some specials to be tried in CC. However, its an endless list with everyone adding to it with their own unique experiences. There are some places in CC that the JMIites generally avoid owing to a student’s meagre budget. Places like Yum Yum Tree, Dawat Khaana, Retro and some such high rise restro bars are frequented only by the professionals of NFC.
A special CC attraction is Surya Hotel, where the food prices are exorbitant. The only role Surya plays in our lives is that it acts as a landmark and finds a place in every conversation going like “Surya ke aage mil...” or ”Surya mein party chahiye…” Although it is well understood on both the asker’s and the party-giver’s side that Surya is at a level that is unattainable and beyond reach, yet the phrase is used like an idiom.  
My days had suddenly become a shade brighter…what with friends, fun and frolic filling my days. Thus and thus, concluded the first semester.


The second semester brought with it an onslaught of societal activities. Our college like every other institution, prided itself on its variety of societies. There were debating, dramatic, dance, music, entrepreneur and many such clubs for the entire university. However, we FETians were involved with our own local societies.

1.      IEEE – The hub of electronic branch students, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers conducts an annual fest Encomium. It also has a sub society referred to as WIE (Women In Education) that annually organizes WIE week, where women participate as coordinators.

2.      ISTE – The centre of civil students, the Indian Society of Technical Education is a small but pertinacious group who organize their annual fest named Tripster during the odd semester as opposed to other fests, which are generally held in the even semesters.

3.      ASME and SAE– The nucleus of mechanical students, ASME alias the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and SAE, the Society of Automotive Engineers organize activities like roboraces, building eco cycles, car and auto rickshaw and are mostly involved with enterprises dealing with their own subjects.

4.      GDG and JMILUG– The Google geeks or GDG alias the Google Developer’s Group are obsessed with Google and are busy with seminars, workshops and tech talks. The open source enthusiasts or JMILUG or Linux User Group propagate the use of the open source software. If you hear of Linux Installation seminars, open source projects or compiling kernels, you are at a LUG event.

5.      Student Council – The Student Council is the combined force of all the branches. Constituted by the university professors and the brainchild of some final year students, its annual fest is termed as Tangelo Town and generally takes place in the month of January.  
6.      Anant – The drama and culture zealots have resulted in this cultural society to keep the flair of culture in the form of music, dance and drama alive.

7.      CSI – Finally, CSI alias the Computer Society of India, our own organization, labelled as the computer branch’s haunt is a three-letter word that brings warmth and brotherhood to our hearts. The annual festival of CSI, AlgoRhythm…the rhythm of the technogeeks is a rage in all of FET.

With teachers as directors, parents as producers and we as actors...
Lights Camera Action!
The movie 'College Life' unfolds...

In this fashion, our freshman year passed with visiting new places, catching early morning movies (the tickets came cheap), bunking classes (at times, just because we had ordered tea at the canteen and didn’t feel like climbing the stairs again), lying down on the grass and simply building castles in the air. 


Our sophomore year saw us into the Computer Department. By now, a deeper bond had developed among us. We had become all too familiar with each other, almost like brothers. One of us was from another city and stayed at the Jamia hostel. We often went to his room and chatted and spent time together. We had begun a trend of having LAN parties, which comprised gorging on pizzas and playing CounterStrike on our newly purchased laptops (a benefit of being in CS stream).
There were many who craved to avail the Jamia hostel facility. Inexpensive and with decent lodging, it was the best possible inn that a student could get. With table tennis facilities, a comely mess and students on all floors, it was the best place, apart from the reading room, to study right before an exam. Intense preparation would take place at every room and there would be an aura of sincerity all over the hostel, compelling even the worst and the least interested to open the book and enquire about the syllabus. However, there was a pitfall too associated with hostel life. If one person started playing a game, the rest would follow suit. There was an amusing fact about the hostel…here, news spread like wildfire, even faster than among girls. 
The middle of the third semester saw us befriending more people and soon, every face had become familiar. We garrulously talked to some and politely answered some. We discovered some unique personalities and found some similar-natured people.
The high point of the third semester was the fresher’s party. We welcomed our juniors in a Shakespearean style.

The Eight Ages of an Engineer
All the university’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being the eight ages. At first the school passout,
Basking in the glory of his entrance results;
And then the roistering fresher, with his spirit
Full of zest and zeal, ready to take on work
And challenges. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a nerd,
Full of project ideas, and academic initiatives,
Seeking reputation, yearning for grades in superlatives,
Enter the third year and emerges the wise student,
Observing patterns and knowing teachers, grows prudent.
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth sem shifts
Into strenuous and tiring times,
With spectacles on nose and eyes on laptop;
The heavy timetable wreaking havoc on the minds
The final year comes knocking with a tide
Of placements, exposing a world too wide
Tension builds up and fights nostalgia,
Big decisions loom ahead, time to do away with trivia.
Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history,
Is a farewell and goodbye, to this medley and mystery.
An engineer is born, ready to spread his wings
avec grit, avec guts, avec pluck, avec everything.
The fourth semester was a fest semester. After participating in a horde of events organized by the numerous societies, we decided to give the committee interviews a shot. All four of us sought to become a part of the CSI execomm. However, only two of us were chosen. As a part of our publicity tasks, we put up posters all over the campus, on every nook and cranny- from the washbasin to the tree bark to the notice boards to the canteen walls. We enthusiastically undertook all kinds of jobs from printing the posters to making announcements to organizing events.
This semester brought us to the much-celebrated fests and a heavy timetable.

We also had iftaar parties during the month-long fasting in Ramzan. Although I always made faces while shopping for groceries at home, during iftaar preparation, we used to get the edibles from Okhla mandi and give them to the canteen wallas to cook. The fruits were cut by girls and guys together, roohafza prepared in huge handis with large chunks of ice, large white sheets spread in the lab for the feast time and with everyone doing their bit to help out, it used to be a most amazing time.
By now, we had come to know each other through and through.  
All four of us had diverse inclinations. One of us was a geek. We called him Dexter. He rejoiced at the mention of a coding assignment while we winced. Dexter was a boon to us in our practicals though. The next one was named Popeye. He sought adventures and thrills and was a bit of a swashbuckler. He always dreamt of being in the navy. The third musketeer was a ladies’ man. He would often be found regaling the girls of our class with amusing tales and girls surprisingly enjoyed his company even though his jokes were often PJs. We christened him Johnny Bravo. The final group member could be seen scribbling and doodling away on the back of his notebooks. He fancied word puzzles, loved to blog and aspired to go for a more creative career. Owing to my imaginative character, they titled me Mr. Fiction.  
My poetic sensibilities had heightened during this phase. They peaked in times of stress and duress. My pals had grown accustomed to random notes written on margins and a novel in my lower desk, that I read with my head bowed, so as to give an impression of sleeping.
As we slouched on our desks one day going through some photocopied notes, Dexter suggested that I create a website to put up my writings. I blew away the idea as laughable since I was no writer.


The time for the fest was nearing and we were all called for a GBM (general body meeting). There was a feverish intensity in the air. A go-getter feeling. Rounds of brainstorming ensued. There was talk of a souvenir to be published, chronicling the festival and the events held therein.
Name, name, name…like bees around a hive, the question of what to name the magazine buzzed in our minds. 
‘Now this is something of your ilk. Go, Mr. Fiction’, said Johnny Bravo a little too loudly for my comfort and winked at me. 
‘I think Fiction would be a cool name’, one of the seniors suggested. 

Some more names came up but ‘fiction’ stuck, maybe because it sounded professional like convention or creation, or perhaps because it felt abstract and novel. After the nomenclature, I felt as if I had been baptized into the magazine. The way friendship of Dexter, Johnny and Popeye had claimed me, I became associated with the magazine quite naturally as if it was always meant to be.
The spate of Fiction meetings began. Ranging from snatches in the break to long stretches of squatting in the CSI room (the main lab was converted into the CSI room for the time being), a new kinship had sprung up. Editor bhaiyya had become bhai, my fellow teammates had graduated from aap to tum, Kumar bhai ki chai gained popularity and frequent consumption of chicken biryani had given rise to a sort of dilemma in the vegetarian’s minds. Like a radio broadcast, we used to go from class to class, announcing the call for submissions, writing the email and contact on blackboard and hoping for a positive response. Page by page, the magazine thickened. And finally, Fiction turned to reality.


The third year commenced with an unspoken silent acknowledgement in us of each other’s presence. I remember my school days, when we often greeted each other in the mornings. However here, there was no greeting required. Everyone talked about work or whatever was important to them. Yet, there was an unspoken understanding and an implicit acceptance of each other that did not require any words to express them. This could only have come with time. It felt as if we had been here for years, knowing each other for ages. Our class had people from very distinct backgrounds. Some were devout Jains and some were Muslims, some had doctor parents and some had businessmen dads, some had teacher moms and some had homemaker mothers, some traveled to college by car and some by bus, some were obsessed with technology and some by art and culture. However, all of us enjoyed an astonishing comfort level with each other. College had turned into a tribe now with the class as our family. Even the shy ones had opened up and the disagreements that ever existed, had taken the form of friendly squabbles.
Every class has a story. So did my class. There were groups and there was hostility, there was love and there was harmony. Such is the close-knit nature of a class, that nothing could suffice to express it.
This propinquity took a new turn when trip time arrived. It is almost a tradition in our faculty to go for an annual ‘educational’ trip in the third year of our course. 
Venue: Goa. Resort: fixed. Teachers: variable. Lady teachers: fuzzy elements.

So, the time came in our sixth semester when all we could talk about was “Go Goa”.
So, Goa we went. Blissful times. Scenic treat. Great bonding. We opened up to people we had never known well. Now there was hardly anything about anyone’s life that all of us did not know. We all had come closer and it was comforting.

The days that followed were hectic with exams, projects and fests and yet, a feeling of contentment had settled in our hearts.
After a year-long hiatus, Fiction resurfaced; as the sponsorship team started planning on the strategies to arrange for the precious lucre, it was time for a round of interviews to induct more people into the Fiction team, basically to scour the freshly arrived first year for talent. Like flowers in the spring, the newbies were bristling with ideas from innovative cover page designs to interview layouts. It was fun to conduct the selection process. All of a sudden, the younger ones would start asking you for tips, some would want a short cut to the team and some others would be so earnest that they would come well equipped with their CVs and other paraphernalia. Thus, the team grew in girth as well as in opinion.
Some noted publications had emerged as our gurus; we had taken fancy to India Today, Reader’s Digest, Smart Computing and so on. The first few meetings were idea sessions. What new stuff could we incorporate, what distinction could we bring about. Endless discussions. Delightful debates.
Interviewing people turned out to be the most coveted job. The journalistic longing to interview, ask questions and scribble on a scribbling pad like a pro, aroused excitement in the team members especially the recently subsumed ones. Be it going to Radio Mirchi for an amusing evening or preparing questions for the Vice Chancellor, there were more takers for these things than the arduous task of editing.
The day of the interview would be the most anticipated one. With the questions, recorder, camera and such accoutrements in place, dressed impeccably as if appearing for a job interview, we would go to the VC office and wait for hours in the plush waiting room with the ethnic sofas and well-decorated interiors. Waiting for the bell, we would sit straight, talk about sensible topics and be at our best behavior.  
Emails piled up, articles came in hordes, the days of the CSI room returned. Time to coax Imran bhai to allow us to enter the lab at odd times. He would have his own conditions for his sanctum sanctorum- no shoes and bags allowed inside, chairs and desks to be kept in proper order, machines to be switched off and so on and so forth. Dexter would take advantage of my association by retreating to a corner of the lab and downloading his geeky appurtenances. The nature of the articles made us realize that we had thinkers and savants in the budding engineers. A lot of indigenous writing prowess had come to light, which compelled us to include an indigenous section in the magazine. After all, what is a magazine without local flavor?
Towards the last few weeks before the fest, work took on a charged pace. Designing and printing and signing and certificates later, Fiction materialized yet again, in an all-new avatar. Our efforts, our memories, all packed inside.


Our final year had arrived and the race for placements had begun. The CAT aspirants had started their coaching and the GATE strivers had joined their respective institutes. Life had assumed a frenzied pace. It reminded me faintly of my XII standard when everyone was busy with IIT coaching and AIIMS preparation. The run for money had started. The college facebook group was spammed with aptitude preparation links. Some were studying Arun Sharma and some were hunting for minor project topics.
Companies came and went. The fear of recession prevailed. Effort and luck, competition and pluck, it seemed as if any factor could decide the fate of a student. Blocking policies were enforced. Some had more than one company on their hands and some were left waiting for an off-campus recruitment, while still others managed to get a decent placement.
The final semester crept on us, unnoticed. It had been a long time since we had those carefree outings of our first year. The eighth semester was even more crammed than the last one. We decided to put our best into the final festival of our college life. Along with the major project and innumerable assignments, it was an uphill task. But this time, we were the leaders, the bosses, the organizers. This conviction and the determination to make the best of our last semester at college made us do wonders.
Unbelievably and yet quite naturally, the onus of Fiction fell upon me. In the four years, we grow as individuals, faster than we grow in our twelve years of schooling. In the close-knit environment of our department, all of us had emerged as distinct individuals, with specific traits and characteristics, ready to try our fortunes in the world market. Fiction had become an indelible part of me in the past years. It was not just a magazine for me. It was about expression, innovation, inspiration, influence, motivation and awakening.
Fiction had graduated to a new level. With the increasing popularity of social networking sites, Fiction now had a facebook page as well as a youtube channel to itself. Dexter’s idea finally took shape in the form of a website, with a blog, a photo gallery and an archive.

It was my first meeting as the editor. As I occupied the mahogany chair with red cushions, I was filled with an incalculable happiness. It was barely three years ago when I had sat in a corner of the room, listening to the then editor. And now, it was I who was presiding over the meeting. That feeling of leadership and the capacity to bring about a change was phenomenal. It gladdened and scared me alike. A new responsible being had suddenly taken root in me. A feeling of belonging had developed. I had finally done justice to the title given to me by my friends. Fiction was I and I was Fiction...

The “fantastic four” got initiated into the Fiction team unofficially. With Dexter as the webmaster, Popeye and Johnny chipped in too, helping out with events and handling the logistics part. Our meetings now were not just confined to the CSI room, we would discuss ideas animatedly at an eating joint or between classes. I had started breathing Fiction. As the fest approached, my mind would be filled with a myriad of thoughts. Every morning, I would imagine what the logo should be like, while admiring some company’s logo on the large billboards in bus stops. I would browse the web for designs and fonts, for infographs and covers, for publications and printers. My crazed mind fastened like a limpet onto the universe of words, designs and magazines. I realized that being an editor was not just about writing. It was about a lot of other things. Understanding and listening to everyone’s ideas, having the courage to implement them, getting the requisite resources, taking crucial decisions, being responsible and accountable for a team, managing people and getting work done. Observing people over time, I found many variants of teammates. There would be the passionate ones, who would be bursting with exuberance and ideas ; and there would be the silent ones, who would need to be urged to speak up; and the ones with a brilliant sense of humour who would keep the group on their toes.
I wanted to create a magazine that would do deep, thoughtful articles on topics that really mattered. Then came the challenges. Working out the layout, making the designs, getting the designers to collaborate and executing the discussed ideas, it took days and nights, classes and breaks. Roaming Nehru place for printers, bargaining to get the best bet possible, weighing the trade offs between the number of colored pages and the page quality, debating on the borders, the texture of the image, the placing of the pictures, the cover page design…it was a most unique experience. Everyone had some kind of contribution to make. Some suggested a catchy heading while some pointed out punctuation errors. It was a wholesome experience- a movie which never ceased to enthrall us, a potpourri of obstacles and joys, a memoir which created new memories with every new page.
The magazine has proved successful, in more ways than I ever imagined. The biggest payoff, though, has always come in the form of feedback — from fellow students and readers who said that they love the magazine precisely because it is different, and because it has made them want to be better. What I know is that every time one life is changed, every time one person gets even a little bit happier, the lives of everybody around that person change. In some small way, the world changes. And for me, that’s what Fiction has always been about: changing ourselves for the better— one life, and one experience, at a time.
When the copy of Fiction finally came into my hands, I experienced a rush of joy as I had never felt before. Each page, each image, each line had been painstakingly worked upon and had a special meaning. It was like a seed we had nurtured that had grown into a tree replete with branches, leaves and fruits. The power of creation is unmatched. The exhilaration and ecstasy that comes with creation and the fulfilment of a dream is incomparable.

With exams and projects, this semester too slithered away and in no time, we stood at the end of our four-year-engineering course, wondering how it all happened so fast. Just a few days ago, I remembered cribbing about the college, the faculty and the droll surroundings. However, I never realized how much I had come to love my college, its people, its surroundings, all that it consisted of, all that it stood for.
The best part about this place was that there was nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide. I could be what I wished to be, with no one to judge me. I could be a loser, I could be a poet, I could be a winner, I could be a dancer, I could be a singer, I could be a geek. I could be abrupt and no one would think anything of it. That is the beauty of my college.
As I look back upon my college years, I wonder if it was all true or just a piece of fiction?
My college life was the time when I decided to rethink who I was and what I wanted for myself, when I dared to ask myself questions I hadn’t before, and to really listen to the answers. I never realized when I grew up. From a happy-go-lucky tenderfoot to a responsible individual, the transformation had crept unexpected upon me.
None of us can ever know the extended outcomes of all our choices, or how they’ll play out over time. One shouldn’t think about that too much or there would be a hullabaloo in the mind. What is important is this: somewhere inside each of us lies unexplored and undiscovered a world of fiction. And somewhere inside each of us lies both the desire and the strength to seek that world — if we choose.

That’s a power-packed “if,” because when we strive to harness even a portion of our innate capacity, our lives stand to be transformed in extraordinary directions. The gifts we are able to offer our loved ones and communities are dramatically magnified and multiplied.
The act of imagining is inherently transformative and empowering. And once we’ve gone through the process of imagining, once we’ve seen ourselves in a different light, some part of us is forever changed and expanded.
We invoke new futures. We let go of old habits. We call new friends and collaborators into our midst. We go in search of new information. We generate fresh motivation. Our old limits crumble and fall away to make room for new growth.
As the philosopher-poet Rilke put it : “I want to unfold. I don’t want to stay folded anywhere, because where I am folded, there I am a lie.”
We are not meant to live folded. But freeing ourselves and our lives from unnecessary constraints is not a one-time project. It’s a lifelong exploration — one fueled by our most central desires and shaped by our willingness to move beyond self-imposed limitations.
If each of us was living at the truest, healthiest, most expansive expression of ourselves, how might our lives be different? The process of considering that question unfolds us. Once unfolded, we begin taking all kinds of unpredictable, arching shapes. We never fit neatly back into our original packaging. And that is precisely as it should be.
We can continue to establish all kinds of “personal bests”. Strength comes at a price, after all.  And usually it involves pushing your limits at least a little. How far you push, and where, is entirely up to the individual.

A pop up on the screen brought me back to reality. An e-mail from JMI. From CSI. From the current editor of Fiction. She was writing to ask me about my experiences as an ex editor. A smile twitched around the corners of my mouth. All those years telescoped into one evanescent moment. Fiction…   

No comments: