As our days pass on with us in our self-quarantine, our minds have began travelling to long lost memories and the longing to go back in time is on an all time high in most of us. The students in India, especially, who have been witnessing hysterical times since months feel like it has been ages since normalcy was around. It almost seems like we’ve been abandoned very blatantly and the prophecy jokes about having online valedictory ceremony might as well become a reality.
Jamia has been particularly torn into pieces after having to witness probably the most heart-wrenching times since its inception. It is almost like we’re living in a war as the collateral damage of the state-created tensions in a country always on the edge of sectarian atrocities. There has been a growing sense of insecurity in all of us about the semester that wasn’t and the talks of graduating does not take as much space in our conversations as returning to a stable campus does. We certainly are nowhere as ambushed as a place like Kashmir and comparing our status with theirs would be outright incorrect but life since December 12 has been nothing short of similar anxieties and war fear.
The question is that is it really fair in the eye of the administration that we must go on to give our final semester exams without having attended even a month of proper classroom lectures at all? It is all talks of solidarity and sympathy until it comes down to what next, where do we go now? What next after the lock down is over, where are we standing as the final year students? Do we prepare for semester exams or do we prepare for the upcoming entrances or do we complete these assignments being asked to be submitted online as if we have been taught enough to write assignments about topics.
Besides it all, it is clear that all those nerve-wrecking compulsions on affidavits we are asked to put our signs on have been nothing but a facade since this whole time has been nothing but of uncalled notices to vacate the hostels every time the campus fell into despair and it seems questionable how the authorities kept giving up on their capabilities to protect its students and its general sanctity, easily getting away with their moral responsibility to stand with us and facilitate us with required help in such troubling times.
There is a horrid sense of uncertainty about all the power talks, of peace and of religion. It has all eventually boiled down to no gains at all as if nature just decided to tell us that nothing indeed really matters, neither conflicts nor our sense of superiority over each other.
Artists since ages have kept asking us to look to the other side, to think of human vulnerabilities and here we are at the cusp of killing each other hoarding things for this vacation – like quarantine. Yoko Ono and Lennon had kept insisting us to imagine. That idea they had projected long ago as an idea of life has become a living reality now as we head on to breathe better air, rest a little more, think as humans more and less as sectarian vultures.
Students all over the world have been showing growing resentment with the establishment and the wider question is what are we studying all of these for after all when clearly the theories have replaced contempt and destruction of people’s lives and the planet. The need for another wave of desperate reformation is very much here. We need to ask them, what are the wars being fought for when eventually a virus has chased us all into isolation and religions are just functioning as sanctuaries of sanity against a demented era of propaganda states, angry policemen and online graduations.
It all sums up to the need of the counterculture to tackle the rise of self-destructive ideas of blood-shedding political ideologies, anti-poor economic policies, brutal capitalism and consumerism, of incomplete college semesters and scarred mental health of the youth of a country. And at this point of history textbook times, the narrative has been set. We only need to begin acting on it. This is our narrative – the meaningless conflicts, calamities and a dying civilization. What we study, how we think, what we consume and who we vote for should be all re-decided albeit the consequences have us end up into a time we have only seen in the sci-fi works of the begone decades.
Shruty Yadav is a student pursuing English Honors from Jamia Millia Islamia.