Ivanios was the first option that popped up when I googled “best college trivandrum english”. Sure, I’d heard about it before. But never to the point of wanting to go so much that I’d work especially hard to get in. All I wanted was a decent place to study English literature.
That google search led me to other things, though. Praises for the department. Pictures of the campus. Descriptions of Ivanofest.
And suddenly, I found myself very willing to get in.
Ivanios was my first option, but to be honest, I was never sure of getting in. My higher secondary marks were good- great, actually- but I wasn’t used to getting the things I want. I was prepared to be broken hearted.
Imagine my surprise when I got the acceptance email.
What followed was a rush- telling people about being accepted, the congratulatory gifts, new clothes shopping because damnit the students looked so cool, reading more books than ever because finally I could study the very things I love. Finally I had an excuse to read books right before exams. “But moooom, I’m a literature major. This is studying. Promise!”
I think we at the English department got the best end of the stick. Our department was in a corner away from the rest- A rather cute and dingy building with tiled roofs and the occasional pooping critter running over our heads.
Not to mention, we were pretty close to the canteen and the college supply store. Can we get an amen?
And so first year began. I was a foetus. People around me were so different, so accomplished, so difficult to get used to. Singers, dancers, artists and walking encyclopedias. My smugness at having gotten in solely through merit suddenly shrivelled up and died.
But those very people I saw as being above me became my friends. People I could be myself around. People who wont judge me for messing up. People who held all my secrets. People I loved.
I did not have a college life as they show in the movies. I did not join a band, my one try at romance was a complete and utter faliure and I didn’t go through a makeover and become the college idol overnight.
But I did change.
I’ve considered myself broken for a long time. Now I know that I’m more incomplete than damaged. I’m like a puzzle still searching for missing pieces. And Ivanios gave me quite a few of them. I’m more complete now than when I started out.
There’s this cliche dialogue floating around campus, about how Ivanios is more a feeling than a place, and I cannot agree more.
I cannot believe how stubbornly attached I am to that place. To the point of going there ‘just because’ when I don’t even have class. Staying behind almost till it gets dark, just so I can enjoy having the place mostly to myself. Because in Ivanios, memories were formed mostly outside class hours.
Time has gone by too fast. Three years. I cannot believe it has already been three years. At first year, I’d thought I had all the time in the world.
Cuddling close while sitting on a bench that is obviously too small because our group wants to sit together. Running to the canteen to buy sip-ups. The running gags. The dressing up. The dramas we authored and acted in. The science exhibition we took part in even though people ridiculed us. The heartbreak when our most anticipated literature fest was put to a stop. The puppy loves in class. The innocent crushes we enjoyed. Eyeing our seniors. The birthday celebrations where the gifts got weirder and weirder each year. The teasings. The college wide fests, and the preparations. Donning our first Sarees and playing at being adults.
And our wonderful, wonderful class teacher. The one we’d dismissed as strict and stotic, only to later realise the immensity of the love she held in her heart. All the tears she’d shed for us. She never flaunted her affection- that in itself made it even more true. The best teacher I’ve ever had.
Ivanios. You gave us the most beautiful memories. Even the sad times are bittersweet, because they helped change me as a person. And I firmly believe that I changed for the better.
It’s almost funny that I never realised that until it was time to say good bye.