“Yes! One day closer to recess week!” – the motivating voice that pushes us through week 7 reassures us. This week consumes our determination and will to survive, study and take tests. The sword of mid-terms sways over our heads ominously, threatening to strike at any second. The concourse is bustling with students in suits going to take on the world. You enter the library, looking for a place to study. Only if the lords of all the seven kingdoms bestow their choicest blessings on your pious soul, will you find a place to sit. You yearn to go home.
You pack your stuff and fly home. “Oh wow, I can totally smell the desh ki mitti, soil of my land”, you think. There is a big feast at home awaiting your arrival. The dishes you like the best are staring at you, expecting you to pounce on them. So you do. With your family by your side and all that appetizing food in your stomach, what else could you ask for, right? The feeling is pure bliss. The first day of recess week is spent in La La Land – overwhelmed by the freedom facing you. The next day, you unpack and look at the shabby condition of your clothes, with arms akimbo. Dart ‘em in the laundry! Quite easily done. The phone’s screen is flashing with incoming calls, your friends can’t wait to see you. The rest of the day is spent with family. On the third day, you meet your friends and enlighten them with stories from college. You get enlightened too, from their experiences at college. Discussions begin with everyday life and end with a story about your ex’s brother’s girlfriend, who is about to marry a rich brat. No stone is left unturned. Before you know it, the third day has passed merrily.
On the fourth day, it dawns on you that you have a university to go back to and that demands work (to be done). An hour later, you realize you haven’t gotten a single sheet of paper from your desk. “That was not even on my packing list”, you justify. Unfortunately, essays and assignments had been coalescing while you were relaxing. You placate your senses with a promise of starting from today. The presentation group mates wake up from their respective unconscious states of fun and schedule a meeting. You burn the midnight oil and get yourself sorted. Next day, the group meeting goes all well and instills a confidence of having things under control. The next morning, you groan because the time to leave home has almost come. Nevertheless, you get out of bed, with a list of things (that you have) to pack clouding your mind, followed by a few trips to the market to get everything that you wanted. Suddenly, you feel something amiss. “E-learn!” you reach for your laptop, gasping in horror. The red dot on the update alerts is sending you shock waves. Bam! You have two assignments due the next week. “Where in the world did those come from?” Then, like a flashback in a movie, everything appears before your eyes as you recall your professor talking about giving out work during recess week. The assignments are now like the chilly wind on a winter morning or, wait, like the scorching sun just over you (we’re in Singapore – I keep forgetting).
That last day is akin to a misplaced blot of ink on the a white sheet of paper – you work incessantly, trying not to fall below the belt. You knew that adopting the I-have-to-maintain-a-3.4-GPA spirit would be overwhelming, after all. Especially so when you are but a naïve and ingenuous first year student. Another day slips away as you curse the length of the assignments. Then, “last day” arrives and brings along emotional turmoil and a splitting headache. Sadness because saying goodbye to family is never easy, stress because last-minute packing always proves to be a challenge. But being at SMU has taught you how to deal with eleventh-hour jobs effectively, hasn’t it? Airport goodbyes are the worst of all. Your eyes are fixated on the spot mother and father once stood, glued to their diminishing figures as they leave and fade into the background.
Being back in Singapore brings an internal conflict. You are elated to see your friends yet tense with the burden of undone work. But again, life goes on. You are a student and procrastination is our religion. You are devoted to taking this legacy forward. And, so you will.