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Naysa Yadav

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CHAPTER 2

Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.
– Murphy's Law

I was late. First, I couldn't sleep, and then I couldn't wake up. Anxiety does that to you, and then, it seemed I was running against time.

"What do I do, I will be late for the first class. It's already 6:50" I was screaming while frantically trying to find the right of my clothes to wear.

"Your cab is about to come. Hurry up. You are not going to the school without a bath on your first day" My mother shouted from the kitchen, busy cooking lunch.

"I definitely don't have the time for it" I mumbled to myself although I knew that I would not win the fight against her. But the best part is nobody knows what happens behind closed doors.

Closing all the doors, I turned the shower on, wet the towel, washed my face with it, quickly changed my clothes, and ran back outside.

"Did you even take the bath?"

"Of course, check the towel if you wish."

"If you have forgotten, I am your mother. You have been doing this since you were 5. Just get up on time tomorrow." My mother said with a resigned look on her face.

"I've got the perfume ma, nobody will ever find out unless I tell them," I said with a laugh.
"Your cab just left. It's 7:30" my father said bringing me back to reality.

"What!, It hasn't even been 10 minutes since I woke up. I'm taking the car. I will not miss the first lecture on the first day." I said grabbing the car keys and rushing out to get in the car. If I drove, I would still make it with a few minutes to spare.

But with luck by my side, nothing could go straight now, could it?  With an approaching thunderstorm, there was no one in sight.  With each dreaded minute, I could feel myself being sucked into a never-ending loop of stress.

The rain fell like needles clouding the screen, preventing me to have a clear view of the road ahead.

The last thing I wanted was to make an everlasting impression on the director that couldn't be undone. He was a strict disciplinarian who knew everyone's names, what they did – when, where, and how they did it. Who would want him to know that you missed your first class because you put your alarm on snooze!

I hated Murphy and his stupid law for making my life more dreadful. I ran out of gas when the school was just 1 km ahead.

'What do I do now?' I asked myself.

I checked my phone to see if I could get an Uber, but no cabs were available. I decided to call my father, but there was a constant static buzzing in the background.

"Papa, I can't hear you but if you can hear me then I'm stuck h.." I lost my voice as lighting stuck right in front of the car leaving a hole in the ground.

If only I had taken the day off, I wouldn't have been in trouble. The whole situation was so overwhelming that I didn't know what to do.

Usually, it's the best option to keep sitting inside as the outer layer of the car would take the impact and keep me safe inside. Moreover, it is dangerous to step out of a charged car because if you don't jump and land on both your feet together, you will turn into grilled meat within seconds.

Taking Science was not that bad after all if it helped me survive. Or not because the storm suddenly turned into a hurricane, the tree next to the car uprooted and fell on the roof of my car. I was lucky enough not to be crushed inside.

I got out and ran as fast as I could. Ignoring the fast-falling needles, I ran to save my life, but my legs seemed to have a mind of their own. They felt heavy and didn't seem to be working well enough to get me out of the storm's way.

"Help me" I shouted to no one in particular.

There seemed to be an eerie silence around me except for the pattering of rain and the roar of the approaching storm.

That was when I heard a familiar voice, but I was too disoriented to recognize it. I turned around to find that Bimbeshwar was standing a few feet away, giving me a deadly smile. 

"Nova, you will not survive this storm," he said irritated and amused at the same time.

"Sorry?" I shouted, not quite sure what his problem was.

 "Nova," he said louder, but this time he sounded like my father.

"What?" I stopped and asked. It was hard to hear as his voice drowned in the thunder and the pouring rain.

"-ke up"

"What?"

"Wake up or you'll be late"

My eyes shot open and I woke up in an instant causing my head to spin just to find my father standing with a glass of water. It was just a nightmare, nothing else.

"I'm up," I said before gulping it all down running out to get ready.

It's strange how motivation comes from the most unexpected places. The fact that the dream was still fresh in my mind, I was ready and out waiting for the cab to arrive in no time. I was not going to take the car – not because of the dream, but we had already paid for the cab to pick and drop me every day, so no point in driving to college anymore.

"Hey Nova", Parul asked me as I spun around. We lived in the same society and had been friends since I was 10 years old. Even though we had a 3yr age gap, she never addressed me as her senior. With her tall and thin frame, she ran towards me. However, it looked more like she would be blown away by the wind before she even reached me.

"Hey Parul, all ready for school?", I asked as she flung herself on me.

"Yeah, but why are you wearing a uniform? Aren't you in college now?" She said gazing at my attire.

"Well, surprise!! When you think of college, the first thing that comes to your mind is – casuals, free periods, and mass bunks. Simply put – a thug life. Bollywood is the only one to be blamed for that. But, that's not the reality. You have to wear uniforms there too."

"Shut up, my sister goes to college in casuals"

"Yeah, well, that's Delhi University for you. Mine is run by an Indian Hitler. I have to abide by the rules. I don't get the logic either. "

"Sucks! Why did you even choose to go there?"

"I guess, you can say I had momentarily lost my sanity and in the heat of the moment thought it was the coolest thing to do," I replied sarcastically.

'India Law School', one of the prominent 'private' law schools in India. Maybe my getting there was pure serendipity or my lack of efforts to try for something else. I was told by my mentor in the coaching center that if I didn't get the top NLU's, then ILS was my best option. 

 "Well, you reap what you sow. I'd better get going before I get late. You'd better reach on time if it's a military school, the first day holds the maximum significance, it's the day when you make the first impression among your peers and professors." She laughed while walking away to catch the can waiting for her to get her to school. I sat by the gate waiting for my cab to arrive to take me to mine.

"It's late Papa, please call him," I asked my father when the driver failed to arrive.

"He'll come, just keep waiting."

"For how long. It's already 7:15, he is already 30 minutes late. I will never reach on time if this goes on,"

"Then just skip the first class," he said laughing.

I was growing agitated by each second, looking at every cab in anticipation. Traveling by cab was far more convenient as compared to metro as it saved my time. Driving to school, wasn't an option yet. I had recently received my learner's license but still lacked the skill to drive on Indian roads.

Slowly clouds started settling in, and the wind grew harsh. It carried more dust than air. With the way things were going, I could see my nightmare turning into reality.

"I think he's here", said my dad as he looked at the single white van coming our way. My heart skipped a beat knowing the fact that I might actually reach on time.  However, the happiness was short-lived. It died the moment the van passed without pulling its breaks.

"Or not, it's 7:30 already. I am the first one that gets picked up. If he needs to pick up more, I don't think we will reach in time" was all I could say as I paced back and forth waiting for him to arrive.

"Everything is an experience. In such situations, you must remember the serenity prayer – 'God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.' So just sit back and enjoy." My father said.

"What did he say when you called him?" I asked taking a deep breath and calming myself down.

"Ten minutes ago, he said he would be here in two minutes," he said laughing. He was enjoying this way too much to my liking. So I resigned myself to my thoughts.

Anger slowly turned into despair followed by imagination. Kindness may win the hearts of people but fear rules the heart of men. If I were the master, I would put a fine on everyone who came late, kill anyone who committed rape, corruption would not be tolerated. I was busy devising punishments in my realm when a car horn got me back to the world of mortals.

Finally.

I quickly picked up my bag and waited for the cab to stop.

"You are late Salman Bhaiya" was all I said before getting in.

"Sorry, I got assigned to two more students in Paschim Vihar," he said while nodding his head with curly brown hairs covering his face, it was hard to miss the devious smile that was probably his only resemblance with Mr. Khan.

The ride was silent with everyone busy on their phones. Life is a movie only when you choose to make it. However, in this case, nobody seemed interested in life outside the virtual world.

Just as soon as we had started, we stopped again.

"What happened?" I asked him

"Need to pick up a student" was all he said before taking out his phone from the pocket then dialing a number.

"Hello, Bhola, I'm at the gate, nobody is there tell her to come quickly." He said before cutting the call even before he could get a reply from the other side. How Mr. Bhola would know which student he was referring to and our location was beyond me. The lack of proper communication in daily life was actually worth noticing.

"At this rate, we are going to get late." Said the guy next to me frowning as he looked out of the window.

"Don't worry, I'll make sure you reach on time. I've been doing it for 3 years, never has anyone been late." Salman Bhaiya replied looking outside his window in search of the girl who was supposed to have been waiting outside.

"It's already 7:50. The class starts at 9:12. How can we possibly reach in time when it takes 1.5 hrs to get there?"

To me, it was a million-dollar question to which I wish I never learnt the answer.

"Don't worry I know all the short routes. I can cut down the minutes." That was all he said as we continued waiting for the student.

The guy sitting next to me was panicking while the other girl, who was probably our senior looked serene and content as she scrolled through her Instagram profile ignoring the rest of us. 

"Hi, I'm Nova. Is it your first day too?" I asked the boy who was sweating porously in his seat with his hair oiled and groomed to perfection.

"Yeah. I can't believe we are going to be late on our first day. I've heard that the director waits for the first years who get late on their first day. He loves to grill them if he catches them.  The result is never good." He replied, his eyes glistening with tears.

While he said that all I could imagine was a butcher waiting to catch the chickens that had failed to go back into their coop on his whistle.

We were interrupted by the door opening and a flustered-looking girl entering the car.

"Sorry, my mother wouldn't let me go without eating the curd," She apologized - Definitely in the first year too.

I was about to strike a conversation when the car picked up speed, the sudden jerk making me fall back in my seat.

He jumped lanes after lanes, overtaking every car in the way, took the wrong side and the service lane till we landed on the highway. That was when I was at a loss for words.

All I could do was pray that we get there in one piece. Reaching on time was not my concern any longer. I was happy to leave the first class as long as I reached alive.

No wonder the seniors did not complain.

The pace at which he drove the car, he should have been hired as a driver in Fast and Furious. I wouldn't be surprised if someday he landed behind the bars for a hit and run case.

After a lot of shortcuts, almost killing 8 people, going the wrong way on a highway, we reached school at 9:10 am. The guards took pity on us and didn't ask for our ID cards as I ran like there were hounds on my trail.

Ignoring all the notices, jumping upon the pots, the feeling of dread was setting in. There was no one in sight, and as soon as I entered the foyer to take the stairs, I saw him.

The foyer was a panopticon giving a perfect view of each corridor. He was right there in the middle with his head held high wearing shiny green Kurta with Chinese collars. He walked like an aristocrat, back straighter than a pole and face holding enough confidence to make his opponent crumble before him.

Suddenly I was conscious of my clothes and surrounding. It was like magic and everyone else who had been running beside me seemed to have disappeared.

Not wanting to be a defaulter in more than one way, I sneaked a glance to ensure my shoes were formal too and I out of habit had not worn my sneakers.

That was when he flashed a smile and said 'aren't you a little early for the next class Ms. Yadav?'. That one hypocritical question I got to hate in the five years of my law school.

I had no answer for him. With sweat pouring down my face, I could just stare at him. The only good thing was that I wasn't alone. The rest of the 'cab crew' joined me in the shameful stance.

"Ms. Iyyer, Ms. Yadav, and Mr. Jaiswal, because it's your first day, I will let you go to your class, but if this happens again, you will be sitting in the library with the rest of them." He said pointing to the seniors who were coming leisurely down the corridor already heading towards the library without even sparing a glance in our direction.

"Is that understood?" He said in a sickly calm voice that caused a shiver to run down my spine.

"Yes sir," we said simultaneously. I resisted my urge to salute him as well and made my way to the class.

"What's your division?" I asked Iyyer, not knowing her full name.

"A, what about you?"

"Same. Ours is room 101 I guess," I said running towards the room.

"I am Nova By the way"

"Shruti" She replied before opening the door to our class.

We were met with an eerie silence and the professor staring right at us as if waiting for us to enter. Her hair was in a bob cut, she stood 6 ft tall with a suit having heavy shiny embroidery adorning her just as heavy body.

"I knew there had to be some first years who would continue the tradition of being late on the first day, for the first class. Welcome. We have been waiting for you" She seethed as we sat in the last available seat – Front Bench right in front of her.