DR KEDAR PADTE
When Timidita’s parents were transferred out of town she had a shudder going down her spine. She had to move to the college hostel.
The comfort of home and her mother were too much to leave behind. Her mother’s wakeup call in the morning, delicious breakfast, clean clothes, clearing the mess in the room, and even arranging the books on her shelf were comforts she had taken for granted.
That reassuring hug and a soft kiss at bedtime were going to be missed the most.
Timidita moved into a 60-room hostel that had many comforts and 60 co-ed students from various years of the college. The thought of being alone was intimidating but that the front door of the hostel was locked at 9 p.m. was reassuring. Anyone entering later would need the warden’s permission.
The seniors, though supportive, would laugh at her and often rag her. She thought they were beasts. Her classmates were very supportive. For the first few days Kindlica from the next room offered to stay with her. Falling asleep was a problem and she always feared someone would walk into her room at night.
“Our room is locked,” reassured Kindlica.
“What if someone has a master key?,” grumbled Timidita.
In less than a week her nightmare came true. Someone would knock on her door at midnight. She also noticed Roughlino the bully stalking her.
The girls approached Talkerato, the hostel warden, who reassured them. However, when the warden warned Roughlino he silently growled and let out a deep breath with bulging eyes like a fuming dragon.
Even Talkerato was shaken. The knocks on the doors continued, but as there was always some company, Roughlino dared not enter the room.
One night Timidita’s room was silent early. The lights were off and there were no giggles.
Roughlino decided to enter her room. He knocked but it was silent. When he knocked again Timidita let out a squeal ‘mummy’. Roughlino entered the room with a master key. The room was dark but Timidita’s terrified face could be seen due to the light of her cellphone screen. He knew where the light switch was. Boldly, he turned on the lights.
‘Welcome bully’ was a roar he heard. Twenty cell phone cameras were flashing and clicking the horror on his face.
All of Timidita’s friends crawled out from below the desk and bed and surrounded Roughlino.
When he turned to run Talkerato stood at the door like a rhinoceros and said: “This will never happen again Roughlino.”
Roughlino let out his steam and rushed past Talkerato.
“He should be punished and rusticated,” said the students.
Timidita intervened “No, let’s not ruin his career. Collect all the pictures you have on yours cells and post them on the hostel notice board for a week.”
Roughlino posted a sincere apology and was forgiven.
Timidita and her hostel mates were closer after the incident. She found the food more delicious and a hug from Kindlica would soothe her. Talkerato was a fatherly presence, and daily chores (though not so perfect as mom’s) were easier to handle.
The hostile hostel had slowly turned into a home…
(The columnist is a well-known gynaecologist practising in Panaji. Send in your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org)