The Nocturnals…

The boy’s hostel is a queer place. Come daylight and it slowly gets up to its feet, dragging itself to the new day, blinking at the stark sunlight that washes it. The more punctual inmates are rather with the times, early risers who have their daily habits tuned to clockwork precision. As the day grows and the Sun quickens its pace, those who are independent of time, find a reason suitable enough to drag themselves out of their beds and oblige the world by socializing.

As the morning freshness evaporates like dew on a blade of grass, the hostel slowly shakes off the hangovers of alcohol, unfinished sleep, movies and all night chats and partying. It finds its feet and quickens its pace, and the vitality in its action grows as the Sun wears down its everyday journey across directions and horizons. By the time the Sun is casting its last rays, checking and making sure that they reached every possible place that needed them, the hostel is finally coming to life, and lots of it.

Come twilight and the hostel is taking care of everyday business, the inmates are busy in their daily choirs, which means group meetings, discussions, or simply devoting much needed time and attention to keeping their bodies physically active. The morning freshness that had evaporated has condensed and settled on these souls. And they drink it like a sponge absorbs water.

Dinner’s over and for a time the hostel is somewhat deserted. Everybody is busy in the academic formalities that need to be completed, like the group meetings that take place where great projects are initiated, case studies are discussed and debated upon with great fervour and presentations are prepared. And as the in-time approaches, the creatures of the night finally head back to their playgrounds.

Now is the time the hostel is at full steam. The only rooms with lights switched off are of inmates who are unwell or who belong to that rare species who sleep at midnight and wake with the Sun, but then these are mere exceptions that are so necessary to prove a rule. There are some who work in stealth mode, watching movies in the darkness, or studying by the light of the table lamp. But bar these, the hostel is alive with corridor cricket, table tennis tournaments, birthday celebrations and midnight snacks.

Midnight snacks are  a cheese sandwich, a maggi , or a cup of tea, coffee or badaam milk at a student run cafeteria called “Binger’s Bliss”. There one will find the daily accounts of all happenings being consolidated, of anecdotes of stupid professors and hilarious incidents that carried the day. There do some of the real characters of the hostel get the latest information on the important events in the next 24 hours, and what preparations must be done in order to save their ass.

The special occasions in a hostel are important matches, races, TV news of extraordinary importance. Here the inmates are divided into camps, hooting for their favourite teams, mocking and insulting the rivals, going into a mad frenzy when a point, a goal is scored or a car is overtaken, and sulking when they are at the receiving end. The only time the whole hostel is united is when there’s a cricket match. But then, religions are meant to unite.

The boy’s hostel is blessed with perpetual energy and youth. It is a silent witness to many heartbreaks, timeless friendships, secret crushes and loves, wild desires and countless dreams. It stands like a caring parent, who gives one big hug to all his toddlers and keeps them together and yet gives them the freedom of individuality. And one things for sure, no matter how bright the world gets, or how stark cold white, this place will be the sanctum of the Nocturnals…



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