As a student at RMIT, living in the suburbs, I can safely say that I have done enough travelling to and fro city for a lifetime. 4 days a week, sometimes 5, bus and train drivers as well as ticket officers would know me by name now. The mundane task of dragging myself to get dressed and attend lectures now seem exciting to me as I near the end of my Bachelor days. I used to assume that one needs friends for the whole university experience to be unforgettable. Listening to my parents’ and older brother Khalid’s stories of hostel life and adventures or silly pranks that they used to get into, I set my foot into university in 2012, promising myself that I would make it one of those memorable experiences worthy enough to relate to my kids.
First semester was going really quiet and I wondered if I would graduate as a nobody when suddenly in my Scientific Skills class, another hijabi, Ayesha, came and said hi to me. Now one thing you must know about me is that I come across as shy when you first meet me but once you make the wonderful mistake of approaching me and getting to know me, I emerge from my multiple layers of shyness and blast you with my philosophical depth. By the end of class, we had exchanged phone numbers and details about ourselves and interestingly enough we had a lot in common so we hit it at the start. Since I was still on a Nokia, we exchanged Facebook details to chat and exchange memes and gifs. I don’t think whatsapp wasn’t even a thing back in 2012. A few weeks later, my mum got a call from Aisha’s mum and we were invited to dinner at her place where we got to know each other a bit more. Both mums sighed in relief when they realised that their daughters were studying the same course and would be looking out for each other against the big bad world. Inwardly I was mighty glad as well since I wouldn’t be stuck outside class or in practicals, wishing for someone to pick me to be their partner. As days rolled into months, I got to know every little itty bitty detail about Ayesha so much so that we were inseparable at university and at home (constantly chatting away). Other friends in my group circle would even laugh when they would spy either one of us without the other and ask how we were even alive without the other half.
Alas those days were to end. Ayesha was engaged to be wed and had to finish off a semester during a vacation. I, with no such plans as of yet, am still trudging to university these days to complete my degree. While everyone believed that I would go into bouts of depression from which I would never regain to continue uni, I proved them wrong by still attending lectures and practicals dutifully. I won’t lie, I hated the first day. I felt abandoned and desolate among the chaotic chatter of excited first year students. As days passed, I realised that there was a whole different level of adventure awaiting me to explore on my own. I got more independent and organized as there was no one to remind me of due dates. I could decide whether or not the lecture was worth attending to without someone riddling me with guilt. I could leave the uni straight after the long hour pracs without having to wait for someone to get rejuvenated by a cup of tea from the cafeteria (I don’t drink tea, I watch people drink tea (well not watch, wait) ). I could be of free will and decide on plans without someone debunking them because they had other plans or simply weren’t up to it. I could just sleep in as long as I wanted to and get to uni 5 minutes before lectures/practicals without someone waiting for me hours earlier. I can now explore the city and travel in any direction I wish to without someone complaining of tired feet. I feel anonymous and obscure and I relish that feeling as well.
People assume that just because a certain someone has walked away, that life will never be the same. And that’s true. It will never be the same. It will be different. Sometimes that difference is what makes you realise you can still be you without needing someone. You are a whole. And while I will have many funny anecdotes of me and Ayesha to relate to my kids, I shall also have loads of nostalgic memories of my university experienced first-hand by me. No recommendations, no suggestions. Just me and the city.
*** All images are from Google Search.