It was once again the same day at the hostel, I got up at 7 pm and went straight to the common washroom. As always I had to wait for my chance to brush my teeth. The washbasin was at the centre of the bathroom, it had just 4 sinks, a long rectangular mirror in front of the washbasins and almost 10 bathrooms bathroom surrounding the basins in an oval shape.
I was just awake, trying to recover from the sleep. There were boys everywhere around me, few were waiting for their chance to brush, few were banging the doors of the bathroom by one hand, trying to hold their towel and garments by the other hand, screaming and using foul words to make the boys inside the bathroom come out fast. There was chit-chat everywhere, and I wondered how can anyone talk so much early in the morning.
A guy was brushing his teeth and I was behind him, I could see his face through the mirror, he had a very unique face, his both eyebrows were joined, dark-skinned and he wash brushing with a pink toothbrush.
He raised his eyebrows in a gesture to greet me. I greeted him back by saying ‘ka…..ka…Kaisa hai Bhai?’. He tilted his head in a gesture with a smile. And without avoiding any further small talk I said in a sarcastic way that ‘Puri toothpaste aa…aaj he khatam kkkk…karega kya saale, jaldi brush kar.’ He had a big smile after that.
Finally, I got my chance, I started brushing with my right hand and trying to set my hair with my left hair. The boys behind me were more worried about what will they get for breakfast, and I was always more nervous about how will I answer my roll call during lectures. Trying to be mindful and divert my attention from all such worries, I tried to listen to what others were talking about.
After my brush, I had to once again wait for my turn for a bath. After my bath, deciding the attire my another challenging task, since being new to college life even I needed to look smart in front of others. I choose my favourite shirt with blue and white cheeks along with dark blue jeans and white coloured Bata sports shoes.
I reached the hostel canteen, got a plate from the table kept just a few steps away from the entrance of the canteen. Once again I had to get in line and get for my turn for my breakfast to be served. From the serving table, you could see the dining area. The dining area had huge tables and there were eight tables, on one table at least 15 people could sit to have their food.
Kanda-Pooha (A traditional breakfast dish in all Maharashtrian households) was been served, I got my few servings and started searching for a seat on the canteen tables. I got a seat with a few seniors of the third year, they were talking about their internship practices. I ate my first bite of breakfast and soon remembered the tasty kando-pooha I enjoyed at my home. I finished it as fast as I could, it was too dry.
The college was a walking distance from my hostel, it was a straight road and had a lot of trees on one side. It was just like a countryside path, full of greenery and dry leaves fallen on the road. I enjoyed that road to college. On another side of the road, there was a garden, it had a stone structure, which was not understandable to me, but one of my friends who was excellent at drawing and painting used to admire the stone structure. I reached my classroom, and I was 10 minutes early for my first lecture. I decided to sit on the first bench on the extreme right since that bench was nearly two meters away from the podium. The professors would stand near the podium while taking attendance.
I would not mind stammering in front of my friends, but I got very nervous in front of my professors. One day I was very excited while talking with my friends, and one of my professors was just behind me and I was not aware of him. During submissions, once I was late for my final record submission, and that same professor asked for an explanation from me, I was nervous and struggled a lot while speaking. He asked – ‘Are you faking your stammering?, I heard you speak fluently in front of your friends a few days ago’, I was speechless on his question. I don’t blame him, even I did not understand my stammering back then.
Our world has all kinds of people – good and bad, even in my hostel there were boys who would enjoy drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes and I got into a bad company. Even I became addicted to drinking and smoking, I felt so energetic after being drunk and it was so easy to express myself in that state. But soon I understood that this energy is not good for me, before I could take myself out of this addiction I was caught red-handed while smoking by the warden. My father was summoned and he had to come all the way from Nagpur to Mumbai, I will never forget that day – I was presented in front of the dean along with my father. The dean scolded me a lot and I was looking at my father’s face, he was hearth broken to hear all my bad deeds. I was the most well-mannered child in my family and I know I have broken his trust.
I detached myself from the bad company of my friends, fought my addictions and I overcame it. But from this bad phase, I learned that I love expressing myself. Placements session very just 8 months away, I know that if I secured a good job my father will feel proud of me. I decided to learn new skillsets and focus on my studies. I left the hostel and was living with other friends from the hostel in PG. We were six boys living together in that flat, there I meet a guy who was tall, thin and had brownish skin tone. He always had a big smile on his face and was always ready for mischievous acts. He helped me a lot to learn new skills, I did not have my own laptop he would lend me his own laptop and this is how I taught myself python programming language. He both were getting along with each other very well and even today we are very good friends.
Placements had already begun in my college and each company had three rounds – aptitude round, group discussion and personal interview. Aptitude was not a big barrier for me, but I feared a lot about group discussion round and I even underestimated yself a lot. Finally, after failing again and again I got a job in Mumbai itself. My parents were very happy about it and I had finally proved it to my father that I am back on track.
I completed my degree and started my job, all was going well but only one thing was missing – I found it very difficult to express myself. After 11 months I got another job in Mumbai itself, I wondered I stammered so much during the interview but still I got the job. My family says that ‘If the time and place is right, your subconscious tells you about it and if the place is not right for you, your subconscious warns you.’ I felt something was not right, still, I resigned from my previous company and after joining the new company within a few days I understood that they have appointed me for a job for which I was over-qualified. I complained a lot to the hiring department, but they ignored me. I kept complaining about how the interviewer have fooled me that I have got an engineering job and I am being told to do the data entry job, for which only the basic requirement is of HSC passed. Then one day they were really irritated by my constant complaints and one of the hiring managers screamed at me saying – ‘You can’t even speak fluently, it’s so difficult for us to understand you and how do u expect that we give you a job where you have to coordinate and manage people every day?’, after hearing it I could not feel my legs for a moment. For a few days I was trying my best to control myself and soon it began to affect my mental health. During those days I was alone in my flat it was really a difficult time. Finally, with my family support, I resigned from the job.
After resigning from such a toxic environment, good things started to happen. I came to know about TISA, I became a part of it. It was so beautiful to be among the PWS and I also enjoyed going to the SHG meetings. At Mumbai SHG I meet Nikhil Iyer and Dhruv Gupta, I have learnt a lot from them.
I decided to explore myself in the IT domain, I joined a local institute for data science. I was enjoying my time there, after completing the 8-month course when our placements were expected to start, COVID came into our country and lockdown was imposed. It was very hard for me to find a job in the IT domain since I was from a chemical background. I was jobless for almost one and a half-year but I was very active on TISA activities like stranger calling and hangout sessions because of which I was getting good at expressing myself.
The day was 22nd July (Monday), I was called for an interview the interviewer was very happy with the way I was expressing myself using the pausing technique, and I got the job.
After looking back I did understand that TISA has helped me a lot, once I was being screamed at for my poor communication and a few months ago I was being praised for my communication.
I was not able to enjoy college life just because of my stammering mindset, four years of college life I was always scared to face presentations in college, viva or to even speak to my professors.
I want to relive my college life, for which I should score good grades in my entrance exam for higher education, I know I can contribute a lot to my country and my society, I know that I can express any idea/ thought which is crystal clear to me and motivate people around me.
In future, if I am being caught in my stammering mindset, I know TISA is always there to back me.