This article has been submitted by Jasmine Kaur for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.
“Beta, college kaisa hai ? khaana achha milta hai?”
“Haanji Daadi, khaana toh achha milta hai.”
“Chalo ji, bachha settle ho gaya.”
That about sums up the significance of a college for most of my extended family. Their primary concern, and sometimes perhaps the only one, is that I should be duly fed and taken care of. More of a crèche than a college, really. Food attains a position of great importance in a Punjabi family; unparalleled in almost all other cultures.
I remember this one time when I got stuck in an elevator with my parents. It was in the wee hours of the morning, and I had a flight to catch. I was returning to college after Christmas. It had been a brief but an extremely productive visit (read “I got loads of food and cash”). Anyhow, it was time to go and my parents were coming to drop me to the airport (it gave us “an extra hour of jhappis” as my mom put it). Everything was nicely planned and we all got ready on time (!). Once my mom was done stuffing the gaping orifice in my face with cake and giving me travel-safety instructions for only about the billionth time in my life, we finally stepped out of the house and into the elevator.
We’d gone down only till the 11th floor when all of a sudden the elevator’s engine just coughed, sputtered and died. It took about 5 seconds for our minds to register the gravity of the situation. Here it was: all three of us were in the elevator, and there was no-one else at home that we could call out to. It was 4:00 in the morning, which meant that any attempts to call out for help would be futile, since all the residents of my building are over 65 years, and wouldn’t wake up even if you tried to break down their door. None of us received any signal on our mobiles, so we couldn’t reach out to any other member of civilization. We tried ringing the alarm bell for a while in the hope that the security guard would hear, but the bugger seemed to be asleep too, because nobody answered for about 10 minutes.
By then, my mom’s expression had transformed to spell one word – doomed. My father simply stood there, arms akimbo, looking at the floor with a furrowed brow; sporadically ringing the alarm bell. There really wasn’t much else we could do. I could see my mother was beginning to get claustrophobic, though she maintained a façade of calmness. Me being me, I simply sat there completely unperturbed by it all, smiling up at the two of them.
Finally my dad stopped ringing the alarm bell and turned towards us. “Here it comes”, I could see my mom thinking. “He’s going to admit his despair. He’s going to admit that we’re stuck. Forever. Nobody’s coming. Omigawd. We’re going to die.” And then my dad says “chalo, atleast laddoo toh hai bag mein. We’ll survive. Jasmine, zara ek laddoo nikalna bag mein se.” My mom’s expression after that was one that cannot be accurately described within the limitations of the English language.
See, I think that’s some kind of supreme guiding principle in the Punjabi parent rule book; “in times of crisis, food is always the solution.”
Jasmine Kaur is an eighteen-year-old from Bombay, who, as an impressionable teenager had very lofty ideas about the law, courtesy some gritty “lawyer-films”. She was a science student and started preparing for CLAT just a few months before the exam, last year. Owing to the fact that she was writing numerous different kinds exams, however (law, management, mass media, science), she was unable to focus on the CLAT, winding up with an unfortunate 1050 rank. Although this punctured her NLU dream, she learnt a lot on the way. Today, she is a first-year student at IIM-Indore, doing the Integrated Program in Management, and she’s having the time of her life. She still nurses a side-interest in all things legal; keeping herself updated about recent developments in the law, and watching more gritty “lawyer films”.