3rd January was a difficult day. I was as usual unprepared for an important exam. It was my computer exam for the third semester. Peter sir, one of the few gems that I discovered in NRAI was not around. He was in Mumbai living up his Mumbai dreams editing the Indian Idol episodes. Teachers have always been a support I like to lean on; especially their presence during exams gives me a boost to score well despite the lack of preparation. A new teacher who did not really appreciate all the effort I had put for the qualifying assignment did not help the situation too much. The snide remarks of rival class-mates added to the chill in the air. So basically I was miserable and totally unprepared for the call that was to change my life.
During the recess between the theory and the practical sessions of the exam, I saw the name Sabiha Farhat flash on the cell phone LCD. Now this was not a call I was expecting at all. I had spoken to her on 1st to wish her new year plus to clear a few doubts regarding the paper she had taught that semester. Let me make clarifications here itself. I had doubts not because I was not attentive in her class. The fact is I hardly attended any of her classes. In hindsight it is a decision that I regret deeply. There was so much more she could have taught me had I just been there.
Her call was simple.
“Priyanka there is a project where I need an assistant director. It is a Naxalite area. Will you come along?” was all she said.
My first reaction was, “Yes Ma’am!”
She was cool as a cucumber. “Ask your mom. If she gives you the permission then we will talk further.”
“Ma’am is this, an internship?” I had asked hopefully. I was so elated at the thought of going for a real shoot after all the theory I had read (and wrongly had assumed that I was completely prepared. Once on the shoot, I realized that no amount of theory can prepare you for the real thing)
The recess was over. I had to go to give the remaining part of the exam. I informed ma’am and the conversation ended.
The excitement was so much for me to bear. I think I was the quietest around Gurneet for the first time that day since we had met. Keeping it all in was a task for me. But my wise senses advised me to tell anyone only after I had made up my mind and my mom had no problem (to be read as ‘and managed to convince my mom').
I do not remember anything else from the day’s happening.
In the evening I told my mom with the characteristic enthusiasm that’s typical of me. She listened to me. Gave me an ok, but only if I cleared a few things with Sabiha Ma’am before going.
3rd January 2006 was one of the sleepless nights of my life that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I had made a decision to go ahead. Would call up Ma’sm as soon as possible.