The Story called inSCIgnis: The Final chapter


73rd post

So, fast forward to October 2019, and it’s time for the discussions. Two of our friends propose a small gathering to begin the discussions for the next inSCIgnis. Here wo go!

I still have fresh memories from that first gathering. Maybe around 20-30 of us had gathered in a room that we had ‘stolen’ for some time and was soon going to be occupied by someone else. We did not have much time to wait for others. All of us sat on the floor, with two of us stading up to raise the issues. We had to accept the reality that only a few of us would be working for this inSCIgnis, as it always happens for any event being organised. We proposed various themes for this edition of inSCIgnis, and trust me, it was fun trying to come up not the theme, but the logic behind the proposed themes. All of us had a say or two about the different perspectives each of us had brought on the table. It reminded me of my school days, when I used to sit on the school playground with my friends during recess or off periods. With “Environment” decided to be the top priority, we winded up the talk by noting down the inputs to be forwarded to our other batchmates and seniors.

And yet, I was not ready for this inSCIgnis. A lot had happened in the months following the 2019 inSCIgnis. All those things had made me considerably weak mentally and scared to work together. It’s not that I had not faced such things in my past; but facing these things again reminded me of my mistakes and the reasons behind the ethics I had developed.

Scratching off old wounds weakens even the strongest of the warriors.

Old wounds and memories don’t disapper that easily, and it takes only the smallest of scratches to renew their existence. Trust me, it gets worse.

As the month of October went on, talks began in my group as to who would take up the responsibilities. My group had two main responsibilities in focus – the department representative and the general event coordinator. Our candidate for the general event coordinator was fixed rather quickly; I remained silent for the fact that I had no freaking idea as to what to do this time. I just wanted to not speak at all. I just wanted to help at the time of need. I had no inputs to give after all, given my inexperience.

I can’t remember if I am correct, but suddenly I thought I should stand up for the responsibility. And to my surprise, none in my group had any objection or denial to it. Also, hopelessly, I gave the argument that I hadn’t interacted much with my juniors so far save one or two, and I could bring a compulsion due to them seeing me as an unfamiliar face. It worked, to my dismay. I was up for the Department Representative.

If only then I had known what was coming in the future.

Fate had already decided to screw me up for good, like the old days

I could see some surprised and perplexed faces when I officially became the department representative, but that led to the beginning of some new conversations. Some seniors with whom I had no acquaintance with now had a reason to at least start a conversation with me, or correcting myself, I had a reason to talk to them. They started advising me about the things I could do and I could not. I had a talk with the previous department coordinator to officially begin my work for that responsibility.

I realized that I needed to bring back my old work ethic for this responsibility. I knew how exactly my juniors would feel, and how they would behave in their worst. So, I decided on a few things.

The thing I decided in the first place was to stop “pointlessly” long meetings. I planned to fix the duration, time and place for each meeting, at least 3 days before the actual time. Also, I thought that I will keep the meetings as less as possible.

Second, I decided to start keeping a log record of whatever happened in my presence. I realized right after inSCIgnis 2019 that I had never read about inSCIgnis in the first place before entering Tezpur University; if only someone had written about it in some detail, maybe I would have got more interest and a ready reference in the first place. Also, the thing which troubled me the most in the first place was that I was still unfamiliar with a lot of things related to this fest.

Third, I decided to be a “backstage leader”; I never took the centre stage as the leader of a certain team until either I fought for someone or either I officially retired. I always love the silence and peace that follows after being a part of a successfully conducted event. I hate basking in the glory as a team leader because, most don’t realize the fact that there is always a team behind a team leader. Everyone in this team is equally responsible for the success. My philosophy is also that it is the leader who does the least work in the whole team, mainly because he serves as a link to all the other members.

The most important priority of a leader is to bring his team members together…

… because once he accomplishes that, he practically does not have to do work anymore.

I tried to make things more official by choosing the mode of virtual communication to be emails and phone calls, but it turned out later that emails are only good for administrative authorities and not for people like us. Even after being soundly prompted against WhatsApp, I had to rely on that damn social messenger app again. The reason was simple: Many more others preferred it.

So, by the end of October, things had become partially official and I somehow started a talk between my group and my juniors on a certain evening. What I did was let my group introduce to them about the idea of inSCIgnis, and I just added a pinch of salt here and there. This is way before the first general meeting, which was later on held in the month of November… second/third week perhaps.

I am not going to reverify the dates by looking at my log record anyway.

You don’t realise how tough it got later on to maintain and finalize the record. I don’t want to see its face for the next few months!

Things were going well with the meetings and our planning had begun right after the first meeting happened. Thank God I asked all of my people to finish planning by the end of this year, because what followed the month of November was something I had never thought to be an obstacle for this fest: a national crisis. Yes, December and January were perhaps the most stressful months of my life as a degree student. As my state went under an internet shutdown for several days, I had to resort back to calling up all of my teammates to take all the update and to continuously encourage them to finish their planning up before the beginning of the next semester. During the holidays, I also helped in the phase 1 publicity in my hometown.

My grades turned out low in that semester. I realized that I have to be extra careful in the this semester. This semester was truly epic in the levels of hectic-ness. This semester made me busy from the get go. I had decided to participate in the annual march past for my hostel. And the way it was going, I was sure that I would be having tight muscles everywhere in my body. The senior who was training us for this annual march past, also happened to be someone I have played basketball with in my intial degree days. I knew what I had signed up for, and I regret it, not because I hated the training regime or the senior, but because I had injured midway due to my own folly. I was battling an injury during a training regime, and amidst this, I fortunately had less work to do as the department representative. In fact, we were ready to execute our plans, until that dreaded day…

The fact that this thing happened still baffles me.

And I hate impromptu work and responsibilities.

Let’s just say that the last week of January was the week I have unexpected the most this semester. Impressed by the way I was keeping record of the activity in my presence, the assistant coordinator in essence, made me the publicity coordinator also, which began with the request to only draft a list of students and schools and divide them into groups and to be sent out for publicity on various days. It took me around 2 weeks to find out that I was now the 2nd publicity coordinator with immediate effect. I do not want to reveal the frustration, tension, fatigue and sleep deprivation I had to endure and much more during those 2 weeks. That nightmare is up for another day.

Due to my added responsibilities and my ethics, my health started getting weaker. I had started to get fever and body pain on a daily basis. I was starting to miss certain classes, and this was not good at the beginning of the semester itself. It had only been two to three weeks in the semester and I was already missing classes due to my weak health. Things got pretty bad when the professors noticed that I was continuously getting absent in certain classes, so much that some of the professors started mocking whether I had decided to leave the courses. Some of them mocked my dedication for inSCIgnis, with their argument being pretty much right that I should be instead focusing on my studies and classes. There was also the issue of maintaining a 75% attendance throughout the semester, and I did not want to jeopardize that aspect by becoming too much absent in the first place.

Trust me, there are only a few like me who have been through this particular obstacle, somehow.

The key word is “somehow”, literally.

Things started to get pretty scary for me by the end of the second week of February. I somehow had cleared all the way to the final platoon of the march past group, hence the training regime got even harder. The 1st sessional test also had begun. I was struggling to finish my job as the publicity coordinator, my responsibilities as the department coordinator had resurfaced due to certain difficulties and my leg injury had started to really bug me. It got worse to that point that I couldn’t even stand up and walk anymore. I was fearing a permanent injury, and seeing how I was faring, I had to give up and step out from the final platoon altogether. This, coupled with the responsibilities as the publicity coordinator, were eating me alive. I liteally had to miss one certain class just because some important work had popped up as I was going for the classes. Only after 15 February I had been able to sleep properly, with a final fever to accompany. That fever happened because I had overworked myself and also had fucked up in the end. That shock alone gave me that fever.

Only my roommate knows the totality of the scenario I was experiencing.

He did predict several things way earlier than somone could even think of. Those things should remain a secret between him and me.

As the department representative, I had one more thing to take care of, and that was the expenditure notebook. In the beginning, I was totally confused about how to write in the notebook and maintain an expenditure notebook. It took me about 3 explanations to understand the procedure completely. I also decided to maintain an additional copy as an excel workbook, alongside my log record excel worksheets. By the time the expenditure began, I also had started to recover from my leg injury. The annual events had wrapped up and I was now able to completely focus on the responsibilities as the department representative. Publicity had successfully been dealt with and we had started executing our plans a week before inSCIgnis. Although I had desired for the plans to be executed by all of us sharing the work and being in the comfort of our hostel rooms, the tradtion of doing inSCIgnis preparations in the department still occured. I was seeing the comfort while others were seeing, perhaps, quick completion of their work.

Whether there was rain or empty stomachs, the juniors did an exceptional work everyday in the department.

I am lucky in the aspect that perhaps, I could make up for the moments I had missed with them in the department freshers and general freshers. I have in my treasure some moments recorded during those nights they worked and had fun in between. I don’t know why, but I decided to stay with them throughout the time they worked. Seeing their dedication, I was reminded of my school days and my team of student instrumentalists with whom I had worked with for 7 years. It had been 4 years since I officially parted from that team. I was also embarassed seeing them realizing how I had lost my enthusiasm for such work, when I had so much experience in work like this.

I also got to participate in the outreach programme also. I forgot to mention this in my earlier story, that in 2019 also, I had gone for the outreach programme and had created some amazing memories. This time also, I volunteered for this programme. This time, I didn’t speak much, because the juniors I was overseeing had handled the situation well. Two of my batchmates took the lead this time in explaining the idea of inSCIgnis and interacting with the children. Wearing a blazer made me feel… older than my batchmates, although the fact is that I am older than most of my batchmates in the first place. I decided that to carry on this sense of feeling a bit older and smarter, I will wear a suit. It also had been a while since I had last worn my suit, and by “a while”, I mean… 4 long years. I asked my father to send me the suit that was isolated in a wardrobe all this time. I knew that many might think why I am not wearing the inSCIgnis T-shirt, but wearing a suit after all the chaos that I steered through felt more satisfying. You might have felt that feeling too some day or the other, so don’t try blaming me.

But, I did wear the inSCIgnis T-shirt.

It’s your fault if you didn’t see me wearing it.

So, 27 February had finally arrived. We managed to cancel our classes that were scheduled on that day to finish our preparations for inSCIgnis. Even the juniors also managed to cancel their classes so that they could also lend a hand. That was also the day when I saw the whole of the junior batch in its completeness. Imagine how I felt when I thought how someone like me, who was so not active in its last editition, had managed to bring all of the juniors and my people together, and that too by never taking the front seat. I guess, it was possible due to accepting the fact that I cannot know every single detail and that I have to depend on others also. I guess, acceptance and the mindset of letting everyone speak out did help me out this time, like it had done in my school days.

For three days, I wore the same suit, with the identity card given to me. During the day, I wore the suit, and in night, I wore the inSCIgnis T-shirt that had arrived just 2 days before the fest.

As far as the events were concerned, I am particularly proud of my people, with the top being “Conspiracy Tab”. I remember how that junior of mine had excitedly placed her idea to me right after the first meeting, and how she slowly took the lead completely for her event. In fact, there came a time when I was the one who was following her orders. I was the one who was calling her up for any help she needed. Many people, including professors, applauded her event, and I bore witness to it.

And there are two people to which I am extremely grateful for, because those particular two managed to organise perhaps the most improbable workshop, on isolation of bacterial genomic DNA. It was seeming impossible to conduct it until 4 days before inSCIgnis. I was even adamant to call it quits before they somehow managed all things together. People involved in this workshop along with me know how scared we got when we faced a disaster just a day before it was to be conducted.

I am also grateful to my other batchmates and my seniors who somehow put it up with someone like me, who had pretty much no idea about inSCIgnis in the first place. To all those seniors who started believing in me way before I had a belief in myself that I could do what I did.

As soon as the third day ended, I realized that everyone would now be going for the movie screening and forget the fact that the decoration in the department was to be taken down. While everyone else was busy in the final event of that day, which was in fact, our event, “Treasure Hunt”, I took it upon myself to take down all of the decoration this time. I was very tired by the time it was over, and I just wanted to get some sleep. Just like last year, I decided to skip that movie screening this time too. Later on, I did get to know that it was rather a smart decision.

But I couldn’t sleep that evening. I was missing basketball, you know.

inSCIgnis also let me make some new acquaintances. Right after the workshop was done with and I was trying to go out for a quick tea session, I was informed by my MSc seniors that some people had come to see our department. Turns out, they were from Meghalaya and were pursuing Biotech. I greeted them and tried to show them a closed department with no professors. It had to get awkward after all. But I managed to somehow have a conversation with them and make them smile. I hope that they come next time also.

For everyone else, inSCIgnis 2020 ended on 29 February 2020. For me though, it went on for another month. I still had to finish up the log records, finalize the expenditures and the publicity database. Thanks to the lockdown, I could finish up the work and create some kind of a reference and report for the juniors next year… if they do manage to organize inSCIgnis of some sort after this pandemic.

The reason I am wrapping the inSCIgnis story up here is for two things: first, I want the next 4th semester to be aware of what they are going to do so that we don’t have to interfere at every level next time onwards. The reason I say this is because I have faced such interference (also oppression) in my school days. I hate that and I want my juniors to take the command completely, so that we can fully see their potential. The second is, that I still have no idea as to whether or not I will be there in the next inSCIgnis or not. Not yet.

This is my story, The Story called inSCIgnis…

Up to you now, juniors. Show your full poential!

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