Sometimes your past hunts you down and stares at you. A few days back, it was exactly that and so much more. I have always felt a kind of bohemianism in me, never wanting to be tied down and even if I was neck deep in the day to day drudgery, I would like to believe that I was as free as the eagle, high up on the sky. Nothing could tie me down. Ever. Along all these years, if there has been one thing that had completely dominated my existence for more than a year, it was a college magazine and since then I have considered it my nemesis.
I have this habit of researching into the past. I guess I would have made a good historian or an archaeologist, maybe not as handsome as Nicholas Cage, but then a good one. Anyway, when I took over the magazine, I researched on it. I went back as far in time as I could, which unfortunately could only be till 1991. So, from 1991 to 2003 I knew everything that happened with the magazine. I found out how the magazine changed, evolved and retraced its step again and again. As I graduated out of BITS, I knew my romance with the magazine would come to an end. And then, finally the boy I had seen step into my room as I was preparing to graduate sent me the magazine he edited and then I knew that I had to finally move on. Like most of us, I grew older. Things changed. Times changed. And the magazine changed. Again.
The old order demanded that the Editor is never associated with any future magazines. It was one of those old, romanticized ideas which of course were trashed without mercy later, perhaps rightly so. I walked out of the magazine but I couldn’t let go so easily and thus I became The Chronicler and carried within me, umpteen stories, of dreams, heartbreaks, friendship, jealousy and sleepless nights, safe and secure so that till I die at least someone knows the stories.
I think I am lucky to be able to let go of power and position completely anytime in life. (OK, I am no great soul. It's just that I have hated interfering when my juniors have taken over. So it is not like I am some reincarnation of Buddha. Like most Indians, I have imagined myself to have power rather than have it I guess :) ) I have seen people cling on to their past associations and past glories, never realizing that it was time to move on. Yet, these might not be the ones most passionate about the task at hand.
For two years, life went on as usual till one day I stared back at myself, years into the future. In front of me was the Editor of the same magazine 8 years down the line, holding out for me a magazine 7 years past my days.
Have you ever smelled a new book? I find the smell intoxicating. I lost myself that night in its pages. I may have grown older but some things remain constant. Authors of articles in college magazines still write in English that is found only in dictionaries. The proverbial twist in the tale can always be anticipated. Writers faced with lack of new themes re interpret classics and epics. And like always it speaks about the mood of the students.
And I knew, I was The Chronicler, even if for one last year.
This is something I wrote in early 2003 as the opening page of the first ever (and the last till date) E-edition of our magazine. The first line will be enough proof to show you what I meant by English found only in dictionaries.
There are times in every student's life when he feels the urge to express himself, realizes the need to make his voice felt above the babble of trite existence. For BITSians, respite comes in the form of CACTUS FLOWER, the annual magazine that is truly of the students, by the students and for the students. Perhaps it is one of those very few college magazines in the world that has its Editorial Board comprised solely of students drawn from all the years. They owe allegiance to none, for a CF team member has to maintain the highest levels of impartiality and independence. Exactly when and how it came into existence is now lost in the memories of the past but over the years it has become an institution in itself, surpassed in grandeur and importance only perhaps by the Clock Tower.