Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Old anecdote from college hostel

Ever since I started my blog at infy long ago, I had wanted to jot down small anecdotes of different people I had met in different stages of my life and one person who I always wanted to write about before she disappeared from my memory forever was our engineering college hostel and its warden (Nighty Thalla).

Hajira Bivi was one person who you couldn't forget easily. She was almost always dressed in a night gown with a shawl covering her part of her hair..and falling lazily around her rake thin shoulders, haunting the stairs and corridors of the hostel with a sour expression most of the time.The name was coined by would be romeos stalking the hostel who invariably got her at her angriest sour faced expressions.

In all the time that I studied for engineering , Cochin University never had hostels for BTech students , and we were all left to the mercy of private hostel owners who charged exorbitant rates for jam packed rooms and meager meals.But with its apartment converted structure and sweet talking owner, the suburban hostel had seemed like one of the better evils of the lot at first glance.

The initial honey moon period soon ran out and soon I began to find that vegetarian food just meant no non vegetarian (albeit the occasional bug in the food) and not necessarily any of nutritious stuff that we were supposed to get. Hajira warden who was super sweet initially started finding fault with us for no reason and soon , she would start stalking the staircases at night to catch people who were awake late night and report them to the hostel owner. Soon , we found that people who got along well with her seldom got reported while people who got her ire , got reported for minor matters like reaching 2 mins late after the 6:00 PM curfew. At 6:00 PM , she would wait at the hostel gates to see who were late and woe betide anyone who got caught.

During this time , somehow she started telling a few of us about herself, how this job was the only way she could support her family and this endeared her to us in-spite of all her faults. After all those were part of her job.But then some strange things began to happen. Things began to disappear. Small things like audio cassette tapes at first, but then things like watches , even money.These missing things were seldom heard of afterwards , until some one saw all of them in a bag in her room. Sometimes, long after something disappeared, she would return the things to its rightful owner citing that she found it somewhere. Many of the hostelites secretly thought that she might be a kleptomaniac who takes things and then returns them  after months.But she was sweet in many ways , and on one occasion , even let me and three of my friends in at 6:30 pm when we had a true emergency.

Soon afterwards, she was removed from her warden post supposedly for some misappropriation and we had a new dragon of a warden. We thought that was the last that we would hear about her , but that was not the case.During that time, yours truly and some of her friends decided to move into a rented house and almost paid the advance , but for some reason, the house owners backed off from giving us the apartment at the last minute. Later we found that a character assassination had been made and by none other than our Nighty Thalla..which prevented the house owners from renting it to us. She was very much there in the neighborhood and was hoping that we would join the new hostel that she had just started .

Then the story of the egg black magic or "Motta matnthravadam" happened. and it seemed to me at that time one of the funniest stories of the time. One evening , our new warden came running to our room and said , "You know , I 've known it all along. This place is jinxed". We thought she was being a bit too silly , but were eager to hear the story. "I went to the church priest and he confirmed ." She continued. It seemed that the from the day she joined for the new post , she was having a head ache and illnesses. When she finally had it checked by a priest, he told her that she had been a victim of ,hmm what else other than "motta manthravadam" by the old warden.. The idea of our Biwi casting a spell on the new warden was so funny that it was the topic of hostel dinners for weeks.But black magic or not , she could do nothing much to influence many people to join her hostel and soon I heard that she had left for her home town permanently.

Some times, I have wondered what became of her, and though we have cursed her a good many times while we were at the hostel, in my heart of hearts , I wish her well.

1 comment:

  1. loved Nighty Thalla's story...keep writing..would love to read more