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CHAPTER 1

Law school is a temple of accumulating knowledge. First years bring some in, final years take none out.
-  Anonymous

A bright future - That's what we all dream of. A life full of love, happiness, and stability - Hakuna Matata lasting forever. The very life that insurance ads aim to show, but offering only assurance instead of the insurance. However, the way to achieve this lifelong happiness is not that straightforward. The wheels of hope start churning in high school when we are fed the first spoon of reality sugar-coated with luxurious dreams.

"What?" I looked across my desk as my friend Rita woke me up from my mental dialogue.

She just nudged my arm and pointed to my class teacher who had her gaze pinned at me.

"Focus on getting good grades and choosing the right stream. It will decide your future. If you do well the next two years, you will reap the benefits later. I guarantee that your life is going to be set!" said Ms. Divya Joshi giving us the lesson of life as our board exam of class 10th was just around the corner.

But she never explained 'how' our life was going to be 'set'. I felt like Arjun, on the battlefield right before the war being told the ultimate truths by Lord Krishna but not being able to fully comprehend it. The only difference here was that this 'ultimate truth' was like an old syllabus that nobody had bothered to change over time. The same thing was repeated over, generation after generation as if it were an axiom.

So the dialogue 'do this and your life is going to be set' would come at every new phase in life. It is only when we pass each hurdle that we realize that there was a ditch at the end of the race, instead of the throne that we had all imagined.

"What are you opting for?" I asked Rita even though I knew her answer.

"PCM (Physics, Chemistry, and Math). I don't like Biology," she replied instantly. She had set her destination into stone. She had been enrolled in FIITJEE 4 year program and wanted to get into IIT Delhi following the footsteps of her elder brother.

"Great" I replied monotonously as I was feeling down. Unlike my friends, I had no idea about what I wanted to do in life. The feeling of uncertainty was ever-present.

"You should take science too, you've got the grades." She told me just like the rest of my relatives, teachers, and friends with whom I had discussed my ordeal.

 "But I don't know what I want to do in life. I don't know if it's the right path" I countered.

"Don't make it complex. Just imagine science as a magic wand that allows you to navigate to different realms, but if you choose another path, science would be a realm that would go unexplored forever. It's a realm which opens all doors, but it can be entered only by one gate." She said imitating Gandalf, her favorite character from the movie Lord of The Rings.

I couldn't help but laugh at her antics, but at the same time, she was right. If I took science and didn't like it, then I could always change my stream at the university level; on the other hand, if I opted for one of the other two streams then science would slip through my fingers.

"Don't you think we are just going by the stereotype?" I laughed

"What stereotype?"

"Science for the nerds, arts for the delinquents and commerce for all those who don't fit in either category"

"Of course we are! The race begins with the first step of choosing a stream. A stream that would decide our future, our job - everything. Choose wisely my dear hobbit, for that is the only advice this great wizard can give you" she winked before leaving me to my thoughts.

Unlike the ones who were clear about their future, I was perplexed by the whole ordeal of a 'career'. I chose science because I had no idea what I wanted in life. The fear of losing the 'unknown' option was far greater than choosing the right one.

Once decided, life was easy. Class 11th and 12th were the best time of my school life. I met Anushka, my other half in this ordeal. I had PCM with Economics while she had Biology, due to the paucity of students in both the subjects, we ended up in the same class.

The moment I saw her as I entered the class for the very first time, I ran to her side. The shock and the happiness were evident on her face. We had been in the same class from 6th to 8th grade but hadn't known each other too well. But that was still better than being in a place where everyone was a stranger.

"Bio or Economics?" I asked her

"Bio obviously and you?"

"Economics. I cannot imagine going through 'Animal Kingdom' once again. That was the last straw. Even in the computer practical exam, I had ended up making the website on that chapter just to memorize it all."

"I found it interesting though" she retaliated while laughing

"Did you take math too?" I wondered if she had been brave enough to take the most difficult combination of all time. She wasn't the stereotypical studious type.

"If you think I'm that hard-working, you are wrong. I took Physical Education." She said before we both burst out in a fit of laughter.

Our gang of two soon expanded to include Bhavya, Taruna, and Radhika.

Bhavya was the only one except me in our group who had Economics. What made her stand out in the group was her lack of humor as well as expression. Whenever Anushka and I were going bonkers, she would stare at us as if we were some animals in the zoo that she had fun observing.

No matter how much credit I would love to give us for being 'different', the teachers were at another level. They ranged from being indifferent to being the most dreaded ones.

Our class teacher, Mr. Sawan Mehta, considered every 'class teacher period' as a biology one. The strange part was that he never sat whenever he was in the classroom. He delivered his lectures leaning on the teacher's table, with his head resting on his hand, his hips protruding out and legs crossed in the middle.

"So, as you all must have studied in your previous classes, glucose is essential for our life process. The structural diagram of glucose is a carbon-carbon bond. Draw cyclohexane and then instead of hydrogen, add one –OH group and instead of one C atom, add an O…" he said while waving his hand as if the air was his canvas and we could miraculously see the diagram coming to life.

"What is he doing?" I whispered to Anushka as I leaned over to her side.

"If I understood any of that, I would have been taking notes" she replied, drawing my attention to the doodle she had made in her notebook.

"How can you even draw the diagrams like that?" I asked not taking my eyes off him.

"Can you see me drawing?" she asked sarcastically. The moment she said I snorted which caused her to laugh uncontrollably.

It was to our luck that he wasn't the serious type for the last thing we wanted was to get thrown out of the class and destroy our 'serious and studious kids' image that we had managed to create in the last few months.

"Excuse me for a moment," he said waving his hand over his mouth just like 'Swami Ji in the movie 'Oh My God' did before going out of the classroom.

"He's gay" announced Akash, causing everyone's head to snap and turn to look at him.

"You don't even know that, stop stereotyping," Radhika said while the guys snickered.

"Did you even see how he moves" someone shouted

"Yeah, doesn't mean he's gay, or maybe even if he is..so what? Don't tell me you are homophobic!" She countered

"Sawan Aaya Jhoom Ke" he replied causing everyone to burst out laughing.

"What's the joke about?" Sawan asked as he entered the class once again.

"Nothing sir, just some speculation we still don't know the answer to," I told him to let the matter slide.

"It's not speculation, it's the truth" Akash countered.

"Ok, Ok it doesn't matter, fight on it once I am done with you guys," He said, going back to drawing diagrams in the air.

Thinking the matter was done for, was wrong on my part.

"He said 'guys' and not 'children' or 'people' or anything else. Just 'guys' He is so gay" Akash whispered.

"You just have a dirty mind" Anushka tipped his chair causing Akash to fall forward along with his desk making the whole class erupt in laughter while the professor just shook his head.

"Out, all three of you," He said pointing to us causing Akash to snicker.

"He never said stand outside, we've got the permission to roam the corridor," He said as he made his way to the door while we followed him out without another word. If any of the subject teachers saw us, our hard-earned image would be ruined, or maybe I was just overthinking it. Lying was still an option.

But before we could implement our plan, the bell indicating the end of the period rang.

"Damn, there goes our free time. Let's go back before the next teacher comes in. Which class it is anyway?" cursed Akash.

"Naptime. It's Physics" laughed Anushka pointing towards our class in charge who was heading our way, too engrossed in some papers to see us.

Ms. Nidhi Bajaj, aka Jigglypuff our class in charge as well as Physics teacher was one of the sweetest teachers I knew. She had the voice of a Canary; her dark curls bouncing on her round face gave her a calming effect. Causing me, along with a few others to fall asleep the moment she started speaking.

Her first lecture had given me a direct insight into our future classes.

"You all must be familiar with vectors. The first chapter is fairly easy, I am taking that you must have read it. It's just an overview of what you might have learnt till now, so I'm leaving it for you to complete. Make sure you do all the exercises given at the end of the book." Ms. Nidhi had said. "So, let's start with something interesting. How fast do you think a rocket has to fly to escape the gravitational force of the earth?"

"It needs to have Escape Velocity at least if not faster than that" answered Gunjan, the class topper aka the girl who knew everything.

While the rest of the class nodded as if they had known it too. I looked at Anushka with a look that clearly said that "all this was going way over my head". She had the same confused expression as me.

The worst part of it all was the fact that her voice was like a lullaby making my eyes droop in every lecture. If this were a Pokémon world, she would be Jigglypuff, I would be Snorlax.

Like her, some professors put us to sleep while the rest woke the class up from a deep slumber. Harish sir, our chemistry professor was one of a kind. With his bulky frame and dark-rimmed glasses resting atop his round nose, the only thing he lacked was a blue hat with a bell to be a doppelganger of Noddy.

"Get out" he stated in between one of the lectures on atomic bonds. The whole class went on alert mode, not having any idea of who he was referring to.

"You, in last corner bench, get out" he pointed out this time.

The class was deadly silent, everyone else sighed in relief while Shantanu, the boy who had occupied the seat stood up.

"But sir, what did I do? I was just sitting quietly"

"You very well know your fault, so get moving." Harish sir said in a stricter voice that left no room for any argument.

Shantanu just sighed and got out of his seat. As he was moving down the row towards the door, Harish Sir called out. "Stop, I was just joking. You weren't misbehaving"

"What?" Shantanu was as perplexed as the rest of us

"I was just checking how much effort you would put in staying in the class. But, I guess you just see this as an opportunity to get a free lecture" Sir stated while laughing

"Go back to your seat." He continued. "This is what happens when you are in the higher classes, but if the same thing had happened when you were in the first grade, your reaction would have been completely different. No matter how much the teacher forced you, you would stand your ground. You would cry, even have snot running down your nose but you wouldn't go out unless the teacher threatened not to teach the whole class and ordered the monitor to throw you out. Even then you would hold on to every chair and desk while bawling your eyes out.

However, now, it's the complete opposite. The same is true for electrons. The farther they are from the nucleus the easier it is for them to leave their shells. Thus, the attraction in the 's' shell is the highest and weakest in the 'f' shell."

Every concept was laced with a pinch of drama that made us remember the concept thoroughly and ignited a profound love for chemistry.

Everything went smoothly till the exam time came in. The syllabus was complete in all the subjects except mathematics.

Then there was Ms. Shashi Yadav, our math teacher. She made sure that the students understood everything that was being taught and to ensure that, she repeated the same thing countless times if even one student had any doubt. Although we all loved that quality, it came to stab us in the back when our syllabus was behind by 1 whole chapter the day before the exam.

"Have you done this chapter?" I asked Bhavya

"Yeah, I completed it two weeks back in the coaching class. " She replied.

That was when the reality stuck. To stay afloat, I had to enroll myself in a coaching institute that would smoke up all of my time. My daily hockey practice stopped and commuting to and fro from school to tuition to home became the only form of outing. Even though I covered quite a distance each day, my net displacement along with the work done remained zero.

Two years into the labor made me 'realize' the field I wanted to pursue. 'Law' ruled my mind; garnishing the strength from 'suits' because I wanted to 'get away with murder' after learning from 'Judge Judy'.

All I wanted was some enigma to solve and I never got sick of mysteries so, what better than 'Law' to sate me. It was only after the first semester in university that I realized how wrong my reasoning had been. Obviously, I never stated the true reason to anyone who asked me "Why law?" – because I'm confused in my life and chose the career based on TV shows to which I was addicted to hoping my life would be like that after 5 years. No. Who does that? I chose law because I have always been interested in human rights. Things need to be set right in the world, which will not happen unless the present practices are challenged, and what better way of doing that than via law?

I got admitted to India Law School. The university building had a close resemblance to the Supreme Court, but instead of a house of justice, it was more of a military school.

With the campus stretching to just down to the corner, keeping a check on every student was a simple task for the hawk-eyed director. From what the rumors went by, the place was Pandora's box that I had just opened.

I had to complete the formalities for completing the entrance the day I entered the campus for the first time. With the large dome resting on the pillar-like legs spread around acting like jigsaw puzzles just like a spider's nest waiting for fresh ants to enter.

Dressed in lawyer's attire, white and black being the yin and yang of my internal conflict, signifying my battle with my inner ego, I took the first step inside the place that would be my home for the next 5 years.

The hall was decorated with fairy lights that blended away in the background with the sun dominating the core area. Unlike the cliché entry into a college, the world did not stop the moment I stepped in. No faces turned.

With everyone running from one end to the other, immersed in their documents and work, Who had the time to notice an average girl, dressed to blend in with the crowd?

With no clue as to where to go, I went to the most obvious counter - the one which had the longest queue; clueless that it would be the beginning of my fall and also of one of the greatest adventures of my life.

Immersed in my thoughts, I accidentally bumped into the person in front of me. He stood as high as a tower blocking my view of what was happening in the front row. With a height of 6 ft, towering over me by good 6 inches, an athletic body, clothed with a black shirt and a black coat. The only thing he lacked was a pair of sunglasses over his eyes and I would have branded him as a bodyguard. With a jawline as sharp as a knife, big brows shaping his face, and hazel eyes complementing his dark brown hair cut in military-style, he turned to face me with a questioning flair.

"Hi, excuse me, is this the line for the registration for the freshers," I asked the moment he looked back to hide the mishap.

 "Yes, Just arrange your documents in the order as given on the board on the top and be ready with two photographs and you would be good to go", he replied before falling back into ghostly silence.

The beating of the feet and the occasional yell here and there were the only sounds to be heard.

It was the clicking of heals that grabbed everyone's attention. That was when she entered, with a bright red lipstick adorning her lips, with shades covering her eyes and her black locks falling to the shoulders. Her body adorned with a stark blue suit had the figure which matched with that of a model.

Trotting with enough confidence to match Kim Jon Un, she branded it as an entry of one of the "popular kids". Each set of eyes in the room followed her every move till she came to a stop right behind me, ending the show with a flick of her hair.

"Is this the line for the registration?", she asked me, taking the goggles off. Unlike what the stereotype goes, she was polite instead of the brat that I thought she would turn out to be.

"yeah… Just arrange the documents in the order mentioned on the board and have two photographs ready and you should be good to go" I answered getting out of my stupor before getting dismissed with a nod while she immersed herself in her phone.

When I turned, I was met with the same set of hazel eyes with a raised eyebrow.

It was then I realized that I had just imitated him while answering the school's new diva. Embarrassment flushed through my face.

"I didn't know what else to say," I said putting a hand in my curly locks, avoiding eye contact.

His lips slowly turned upwards into a mischievous smile before he brought forward his hand for me to shake.

"I'm Piyush"

"Nova", I said shaking his hand.

 "So, I know you are here for Law but – BBA or BA"

"BBA, I can't take so much theory at once"

"BA, not sure if I can take in commerce, Learning theory would be easier I think." He countered

"Hmm... I'd rather not give way away the only bits of mathematics left in my life. I prefer that over public speaking. The only thing I am good at is hiding the fact that I am shaking. It is the only thing that helped me pass their interview" I said telling him one of my greatest fears. Stage fright.

"Relax, you are not the only one with that problem"

"So, were you always interested in Law? Why did you choose to pursue it?" I asked, wanting to know if I was the only clueless bird around.

"Ah, we are having a re-interview now huh"

"Yep, the only change is that you can state the truth this time" I replied causing him to laugh hysterically

"It was either engineering or law for me. I didn't get an IIT, so I came here. I am fascinated by the philosophies and the governance of our nation, and I would love to contribute in any manner possible. What about you?"

"You still have a valid reason for choosing it. As far as I am concerned, I was motivated by all the series that I watched. I had science too but realized that it wasn't something that I would want to pursue for the rest of my life, and I have always been interested in the Military and the police since the beginning. What better way of learning investigation than doing law, so here I am. But to tell you the truth, I haven't figured out what I want to do after this."

"Trust me, not many of us have figured out what we want after this. True, some might have, but I sure am not in the category. By the way, do you play any game?"

"I used to play hockey, but I don't think that they have a hockey team in the college here."

"Yeah, maybe not, but you can join some other game"

"I was thinking of doing just that. What about you? Do you play?"

"Yeah, I play volleyball"

"I saw the court in the images of the school. They must have a team"

"Yeah, I checked it too. Well, I hope to see you in the tournaments then. I don't want to lose contact with people who have the same interests as me."

"Definitely", I replied before we fell into a comfortable silence.

The whole administration process become stagnant after a while as the line moved at an extremely slow pace.

"Next, What's your name?" the administrative assistant called out.

"Nova Yadav"

"Your documents and 3 photographs"

He started to check whether the documents were complete as per the requirements or not. He glanced at the photograph and then looked back up and then analyzed the photograph again.

"Is that you?"

"Yes," I said sternly while laughing internally satisfying my raging soul. It was an amazing opportunity to get rid of all my horrendous pictures.

"Alright, whatever you say, just don't regret it later," He said smiling and probably even had an insight on the fact that my plan would backfire and the same picture would be graciously decorating my ID card.

Amid all the mismanagement, the system here could benefit by applying all the principles of management that the school taught. I was fasting and furious, the worst of all combinations. In the mid-summer, when we were stuck in the line with sweat pouring down our faces, our shirts wet, and the lack of water making my tolerance lower, the only pros of the whole situation was that I got an insight into the kind of crowd I would be dealing with in the upcoming years. Nerds-Nerds everywhere, not a drop of fun.

The only thing that was left for the completion of the basic formalities was meeting the director. His office was pretty laid back, nothing but a large apple PC, trophies, and a desk, chairs and a sofa occupied all then space, well, except for himself.

He was one of the most admired professors and probably the 'Front bone' of the institute - Prof (Dr) S K Bimbeshwar.  He was probably the sweetest person I had met in the whole day and everything that rolled off his tongue sounded so genuine that I believed whatever came out of his mouth.

"Welcome to India Law School, It's a pleasure to have you here, Do you like the campus? Is there anything that you would like to ask?"

"It's a beautiful place, sir. The only thing I wanted to know was whether I should opt for the hostel or not as the traveling time would be around 3 hours to and fro for me"

"When I was a student, I used to travel by metro all the time, I used to finish all my work in the metro so that I was always free at home. Why stay in the hostel when you can have the comfort of your home? In a few months, the metro will be there at the gate of the school and it would be easier for you to commute"

The proposal that he gave was filled with promises so how could I deny it. I was more than happy in being a day scholar.

But, before the classes begin, there had been an orientation program scheduled for 2 days. 2 days that I should've spent sleeping. But being the 'diligent' and 'afraid of authority' student, I had to attend those, in the fear of missing out on the guide to survival in the law school. It was only later that I realized that there is no point in being serious about it. It's the smart work that would fetch you the marks and not the hard work.

Orientation made the haunted house seem like a house of candy and we, like Hansel and Gretel pounced upon it.

"There are 10 societies including Moot Court, Moment Catchers, Dramatics, Mock Trial, etc for you to chose from if you wish to join any of them for extra-curricular or co-curricular activities…." The director kept going but I had lost interest. The overly air-conditioned was not helping me concentrate either.

With each society glorifying its achievements, it seemed hard to choose from. But, with the batch of over 300 students applying for just 12 seats each, the societies were choosing us and not the other way round.

Amid the sparkles, one of the societies showed us their first-hand work on the second day itself. The moment catchers society had caught most of the students sleeping in the large hall. That alone turned out to be our encouragement to pretend to listen to ensure that we didn't want to make a bigger fool of ourselves in front of the whole batch.

"Another thing that all of you mind is that marks are not important…" He stated

I couldn't help myself but be both astonished and panglossian about the statement, but my happiness was short-lived.

"They are very important" he finished his sentence after that long drag.

"After every 3 semesters, if your grades are not greater than 4 CGPA, you will be debarred from the course. As far as the attendance is concerned, 75% is mandatory. Even 74.9% will not be entertained. Medical and other necessary leaves are to be covered under the 25% itself. If not maintained, you will get a TNG i.e Term not granted and you will not be able to give the final exams for the semester. You will have to give it in the next semester along with the exams of that semester"

The hall was absolutely still, absorbing the after-effects of the bomb that he dropped on us.

"That was overall attendance. The same needs to be maintained in each course, otherwise, you won't be able to give the exam of that particular course. This is Course Not Granted or more commonly known as CNG." He laughed while the rest of us were filled with dread.

With each passing moment, the dreams of college built by Bollywood came crashing down. It felt more of a military school with overly strict rules and regulations.

"Relax, CNG will not be applicable for your batch. But, there's another thing that you must all follow from now onwards. We believe in our profession, we need to stay ahead of time. So, we have everything scheduled accordingly. We don't function by Indian Standard time. We follow SST ie School standard time which is 3 minutes ahead of IST. So, if your class is scheduled at 9:15, then make sure you are inside by 9:12 otherwise you will be considered too early for the next class" He joked.

It seemed to be going from worse to something that I can't even describe. The happiness from the fact that we didn't have CNG was slaughtered by SST. It was culpable homicide amounting to murder.

"Any question?" He said with a smile to match the devil for that is what he seemed to me.

"Yes, Ms. Sehgal" he pointed out in the audience.

"Sir, I am really keen to understand how the legal world functions. I am thrilled to be here. I have a plethora of books that my room looks like a library. However, I don't know from where I should begin. Could you please recommend to me a book from which I should start exploring?" The girl asked enthusiastically unaware of the deathly glares of being thrown her way by the rest of the audience waiting to be freed.

"Ms. Sehgal, You will have plenty of time to explore in the upcoming years. You all will be given the books in the coming days, there are plenty of books available in the library as well, just let the classes begin and then you can figure out yourself which one is the most suitable for you. If not, then you can approach me and I will guide you through it." He said successfully dodging the question.

It was then, I realized that orientation, was also a ticket to fame. You could just raise your hand to ask a question and do a whole SWOT analysis of yourself at the same time.

"I guess I come between you and your breaks quite often, but please forgive for the intrusion." He said lowering the mike and was about to leave the podium

"Sir, I have a doubt too," asked someone in the crowd causing me and my grumbling stomach to curse him right there and then.

"Yes, Mr. Arora. Well students, Mr. Arora here plays guitar really well and also is a national kickboxer. I am hoping to listen to you play soon" The director stated again.

"Definitely sir, Also, as a matter of fact, my name is the only one that has no vowel. As far as my doubt is concerned, I want to know if the sports cell also has kickboxing for I would like to continue the same." Lynx replied cheekily.

At that time, all I wanted was to shout that he was wrong, there's 'Rhythm', 'Gwyn', 'Ng', and various other names that were formed without vowels. He seemed like a snob. Perfect material for Mr. Popular.

"That's an amazing fact, Mr. Arora. But, you also need to keep in mind the usage of the words. What you have is not a doubt but a question. Please keep that in mind. As far as your query is concerned, you will have to consult the sports committee head for the same. As far as I am aware, Kickboxing is not there in the school, but you are very much welcome to start the same. Well then, as all the questions have been addressed, we should break for lunch. I will see you all in another 45 minutes." Dr. Bimbeshwar said finally leaving the room for the rest of us to rush out to gobble up the free food.

Lynx, the guy who played guitar; Ragini (The second diva) who always hung out with Lynx – Orientation was how they gained their popularity. Every time they would raise their hand, they would put in facts about their parents and their life, which none of us would be bothered about otherwise. Those who wanted to be in the famous group had already started to suck up to them. I was content in being in the shadows. It was not something that I had not seen before.

If what you have defines who you are and what you have is lost, then who are you? The fire soon dies and the fame soon loses its luster. Only time would tell the story.

However, the best part of the ordeal was the lunch. The whole batch would turn from humans to pigs without shame. Who would want to end up eating just the sandwiches as the food vanished in the blink of an eye if you were not fast enough? There was no chance of a second service. You had to put everything in one go. Survival of the 'fastest'.

Lunch break was also the only time to approach new people and to expand my people base. The first task was to identify who would be the ideal target. Ones already in a group were always least interested in talking to a new individual. So, I had to look for the lone wolves.

Amidst the newly formed pigs was one human that I could approach. Taking a deep breath and letting go of my social anxiety, it was time for me to brace up and make some friends. I had always wondered why people always spoke in English when approaching someone new. Be it a colleague, a new friend, or even a neighbor.

Following the cut-out norm, I made my way to the girl in the red shirt. She was eating alone in one corner of the room, her plate almost empty now. With hairs tied back in a perfect bun, she seemed to be quite studious, the perfect candidate.

"Hi, I'm Nova," I said smiling and waving my hand.

"Aditi" She replied shortly

"So, where are you from?" I asked

"Meerut"

"Great, I'm from Delhi. So, are you staying in the hostel?"

"No, in a PG nearby. The director told me that there was no point in taking the hostel so I didn't apply, then my cousin told me that it gets too hectic to commute daily. Then by the time I applied, the hostel rooms were already full."

"I commute from home. So, do you know anyone here?"

"No, just my cousin, who is currently in his third year. You are the first person I have talked to in the whole day." She said giving me a soft smile.

"Great, we can just sit together once the orientation starts again."

That was the beginning of our friendship, little did I know I had already met my future roommate, having an exactly opposite personality and one that would help me survive this wilderness. The lunch ended soon and we made our way back to the torture chamber. 7 hours each day was not easy to handle. But, this time I was not alone.

"Don't do Drugs and Drinking; Ragging is strictly off-limits, and don't listen to the Baba's and the Mata's commonly known as 'seniors'. They just scare you from new experiences. You should make your own rather than listen to someone else's and make a perception." the director warned, with his high bass and confident stature that it seemed like the real "ultimate truth". However, I was wrong again.

Not asking the seniors for advice was something I should have discarded as soon as I heard it. But it was hard to when it was given by Dr. Bimbeshwar. It was only later that I realized the hypocritical nature of the whole situation. It was a cycle that was repeated each year. Just the fact that he chose different words each year didn't make him any different from Virus in Three Idiots.

It was only later that semester when the test papers of Jurisprudence were returned and I got marks lower than the class average that I realized my grave error.

I, being an overly obedient student applied the 'baba' and 'mata' rule like everything depended on it. Why would I ask my seniors to help me in my projects, what's the use of asking them for their previous submissions when they had the exact same topics and why would I want to know what a professor wanted in their submissions? It was all 'unnecessary work' to waste time upon.

I had left my common sense behind. That was the first time I realized a quote written in one of the books while I was preparing for CLAT. "Law school is a temple of accumulating knowledge. First years bring some in, final years take none out."

It felt as if I had already begun to apply the same in my time at ILS. My brain went on auto sleep when it was needed. So I came up with my personal rule book. The first one was pretty simple. Don't trust the Director's words; It is advisable to do the opposite of what he said. Do your research before making any decision.

"Why the long face?" asked Piyush while I was immersed in my thoughts lying on the grass cursing myself for taking the words of the director so seriously.

"Almost failed the Jurisprudence submission. I got 2 out of 5 i.e 40% the minimum requirement for passing. Only If I had asked a senior for help, I should have known better."

"It's alright, it's a lesson well learnt. You've not failed, the total internal marks will be considered. Just work harder in the tests and cover up. You anyway make notes in the class in which I sleep, it's commendable."

"Did the notes even come to any use?"

"You worry too much. The total marks are going to count and not the individual assessment"

"But still"

"Don't take papa's advice so seriously" He scolded

"Papa?"

"Ironically, the director is popularly known as Papa among all the students. In the first year, Bimbeshwar is like a father who loves his kids in every manner possible. In the second year, he becomes your step-dad. He loves you but doesn't show affection any longer. He will be there for you only if you are a good kid. By the time you are in the third year, the father in him dies. He would see only your flaws, point out the errors and you would be damned if you came in his bad books then" He said causing me to roll on the ground laughing.

"Now that sounds like the real truth," I said finally smiling.

Irrespective of what we said, like all fathers, he was the backbone of our institute. He was the perfect diplomat who had connections all around the world. He himself had studied in Germany, London, worked with people from various nationalities. His roots ran so deep that one or the other great personalities of the legal world was there every Sunday to deliver a lecture on some topic.

It was only during his reign that I think that we were all able to flourish. We had to learn his ways- his perfect memory could beat Sherlock Holmes and with the perfect qualities of an ombudsman and a lawyer, he was the perfect role model to look up to if you wanted to survive in this cunning world.

In this whole quest to find the 'ultimate truth', I never realized I already knew the answer to it. Ramesses II, one of the greatest Pharaohs of Egypt had asked his courtesans to study all wisdom and literature of the world and to bring the summary of the same to his perusal. He was handed over a volume of books, which he asked to further reduce to one. Finding the same to be too long, he asked them to reduce it to one page, then one paragraph, and then finally to one line. The knowledge that was bestowed upon him was "No lunch in this world is free". There is a price for everything. 

Staring at the setting sun, I realized that probably Aristotle was right when he said that all knowledge was inside us. We did know the answer to everything but are just too ignorant to know it.

Although the starting days didn't end with a bang, they did leave behind anticipation for the coming tomorrow. A tomorrow that would change our lives forever.