This is a work of fiction.
It was one of those nights. The festivities were over and so were the sweets. The weekend was over and now He was bored. Plain and simple. He got out of bed. Walked over to T’s room to make a random conversation.
“I don’t get it man, What’s the deal with firecrackers?”
“What’s wrong?” asked T, without looking up from his laptop.
“I mean they are loud, too bright, flammable and dangerous. They can potentially blind, or worse, kill a man.”
“You do know that you just listed out why I like these crackers, don’t you?” replied T, grinning.
Giving up, He turned his attention towards a bunch of boxes with sticks sticking out of them.
“What are those? Rockets?”
“Yup, those are the ones that are left behind from the celebrations.“
He walked over to the boxes for a closer examination. “How far do you think they go?”
“I don’t know man. Not too far I guess.” said T, sounding a little tired.
“Hey, you alright? You sound beat.” He was concerned about his friend. T looked like shit. “Is this because of the elections?”
T knew his friend was right. The past week had been more hectic than he had imagined. He wondered how he had got caught up with so much work. There was the cricket tournament, the auditions, the assignments and then of course the campaign. T looked up from the laptop “Yea, I guess so man. Campaigning is tougher that how I imagined. And so is cracking hostel #7 because it’s filled with….”
He noticed T’s voice break off. T was staring into thin air. He saw a wave of sheer brilliance pass across T’s face. Then, in very swift moments, T stood up and said. “Tu chal mere saath (Come along with me)”.
Soon a crew of six that seemed all excited for war had been mobilised. Two of the six were juniors who had simply ended up in the wrong hostel. Within about 10 minutes the crew were on their way to the main ground, or The Oval, as it was called.
The crew snuck past tired stray dogs who pretended to be asleep and guards who were asleep for real. It was past midnight. The night was dark and there was no wind in the trees around the Oval. The grass trampled under the feet of 6 boys who slowly inched into the Oval. After much searching in the dark, they found a spot that seemed fairly flat and would suffice. With the aid of stones, empty beer bottles and card board pieces that they had carried along with them from the dorm rooms, the crew silently built the launchpads that would fire rockets at T’s target, namely
Hostel #7. The girls hostel.
“Ok guys, anytime now” saying so, T ran away from the launchpad after lighting the fuse of the first rocket. In the silence, everyone counted down. 5…4…3…2…1. With a swish, T’s rocket launched into the air and zoomed ahead. However, the rocket missed the target. He tried next. This time it was a direct hit. or at least He thought so. He was uncertain.
“I think I hit a bird.“
“No problem. As long as you didn’t hit a girl’s face, we’re good.”
Just then, they heard someone clapping. Could it be an applause, they wondered. Unsure of what to do next, the crew fired another rocket. This time it hit something hard. Strange voices followed and then silence.
Then all of a sudden, a whistle, piercing through the silence, was heard from the girls hostel. What followed were cheers and claps. Surprised at the response, the launch crew happily went into over drive launching rockets faster than ever before, to more whistles. Rockets for whistles, in the dead of the night. Six boys were having one of the weirdest conversations with all the girls in the university.
Rockets were being launched in quick succession. Only a few more remained, when sounds of barks and whistles filled the air. The crew froze. The guards were awake and they were angry. The launch crew was in trouble.
He dropped everything in his hand and ran. Everyone did. He ran for his life, for his degree and for the fear of getting caught past midnight, with a junior, destroying university property. Much to his surprise, He raced dogs and jumped over walls. After what seemed like a couple of kilometers, but actually was a short sprint, He and T reached a puja pandal where religious rituals were taking place. Not waiting to understand the logic behind midnight pujas, they hopped in line behind an elderly couple and pretended to pray with ardent devotion. Little did they realise that a Head of Department had been observing them. Recognising T as one of his students, he walked over.
After a couple of questions, the HOD left T scott free who accompanied Him back to the dorm rooms. Both wondered about the rest of the launch crew, the unused rockets lying on the Oval ground and the state of the ladies in the girls hostel. As they neared their dorm rooms, the boys stopped to think.
What if they had been caught? They could be suspended. They would’ve been screwed. This could not happen again. Ever.
Over the next few days, there were talks of a team of experts who dared to launch rockets in the dead of the night at the girls hostel. No casualties reported. There were many who took responsibility for the events of the previous night but each story was different from the other. The matron of the girls hostel brushed it off as a one-time thing.
Legend has it, that on a pitch dark night of Kali Pujo, when the grass is not too moist and there is no wind in the trees, inhabitants of Hostel #7, look out of their windows hoping to see rockets in the air.
And they are never disappointed.