The university campus was near empty. Not even 6 pm. But it was winter, and it was getting dark.
Adhikari, the head of the humanities wing, was alone in the staff room. He pulled out the hefty file from below the mountain of documents and other papers. He hated paperwork. He hated office-work. Hell, he hated students.
He had barely opened the file when he found a boy standing in front of him. He jumped.
"Idiot! Knock first."
"Sorry, sir. The door was open, and..."
"Hmm. Department?" Adhikari growled and adjusted his glasses over his nose.
Adhikari looked up.
He didn't remember the guy's face, and of course - he didn't care.
"Sir..I've completed final year, I plan to do my PhD." The guy mumbled.
There was silence for a while. Adhikari pushed back his chair, rose to snap the light on behind him, and sat back again.
"So, what do you want to research? Quick. You see? I'm working."
And then he mumbled something about students not interested in studying, bunking, so on and so forth.
Adhikari didn't look up. "Parapsychology?"
"And what makes you think that it is a walk in the park to do research on the after-life, occult and the such?" He looked up at the guy in the eye now. The boy's lips quivered.
Adhikari continued. "You look like you'll faint, right now. Parapsychology indeed. You think it is all fun?"
"But what? You need to put it down on paper. Make a proposal. Stating your reasons to do research on this subject. You understand? And then we have to see if you're fit enough to do research. And, what is the purpose of this research etc. You don't walk in here, like you were asking pocket money from your father." Adhikari went back to his file.
"Sir, I've been wanting to do research on this subject for so long now. It's my passion, and now I have the resources too. So..."
"What resources, huh?" Adhikari was clearly annoyed now. "What resources? You think this is some kind of school homework you would do, after ...what do you kids say - yeah, googling it? Huh?"
"Sir, I'm Ravi Puranik."
Adhikari laughed. He didn't know whether to shout at this boy or pity him. "So? Are you connected to some political family? Stating your name, as if that is enough..."
Then he stopped suddenly and looked at the boy closely.
Puranik smiled, for the first time. A sad smile, but a smile nonetheless.
"Yes, sir. I see now that you remember."
(The Times, January 2000) Final year student of psychology jumps to his death from the 6th floor of department building
Adhikari wanted to swallow, but his throat had turned into this blocked tunnel of some sort, and everything else outside and inside of it had frozen.
And just then, the lights went out in the neighborhood. The staff room fell silent. Remained that way for a few moments.