• Quirk NLS

Reflections of a Soon-to-be-Alumnus

This piece was written by Spadika Jayaraj (Batch of 2016).

In Class XI, I chanced upon the blockbuster self-help book ‘The Secret’. The book made grand claims that the Universe wanted to grant each one of us all our wishes, as long as we visualized our wishes specifically enough. As a 16 year old with (somewhat) big dreams, I began iterating what I wanted from the Universe in a little notebook everyday. Every night, I would scribble down my wish specific enough for the Universe to understand: I wanted to get All India Rank 20 in CLAT and study in NLSIU. Funnily enough, the Universe ended up giving me almost exactly what I wanted- I came to NLS with AIR 21.[1]

In July 2011, I was one of the 80-odd bright-eyed, starstruck first years who entered the hallowed halls of Law School. Having been the typical ‘big fish in a small pond’ back in school, my most visceral memories from first trimester involve feeling heavy pangs of inadequacy and awe at the same time. I remember staring in amazement at a post on the 19(1)(a) Board, in which a senior had casually used the word ‘fungible’. I had perhaps been the only one among my peers in school to have read To Kill A Mockingbird; here, everyone had not only read it but also analysed it from multiple viewpoints to discuss in Legal Methods class. Some batchmates ran NGOs. Many had already traveled the world.

Everything about Law School had me amazed. The fact that library orientations and project writing classes happened at midnight. The fact that we would be writing four 5,000 word papers in which we displayed our analysis. That we could vote for decisions that our Committees made. And that many of these amazing people were now my friends. Many say that first year is the worst time because of how stressful and scary it is. Perhaps my view is tinted by graduation goggles, but I remember it as being an exhilarating time where we learned so many things about life, about the law and about ourselves- all by merely existing.

In second year, I was probably even more excited than Raag himself when Law School won Jessup. One of my most memorable terrace ‘party’ sessions was where my friends and I got into a heated discussion about farmer subsidies- something we had studied in class earlier that day. I would cherish mess-table conversations where we would discuss the upcoming assembly elections one day and our favourite Harry Potter fan-fiction the next. My excitement and upbeatness about Law School even spilled over to the (overhyped) third year, where I found the thought of not having midterms, and the thought of finally being an actual senior quite exciting.

Over the years, Law School has a way of numbing your feelings. Excitement makes way for fatigue and enthusiasm makes way for cynicism. By fourth year, I could barely muster the willpower to hit ‘Like’ on the SBA Facebook Page when someone achieved something. I didn’t even bother taking a notebook to class. Perhaps it’s all a function of being in the same space as 400-odd students, all of whom going through the same grind, but somewhere along the road it becomes easy to distrust other people’s intentions, and I probably distrusted my own more than once. Getting to spend 6 months abroad was a godsend at this time (SBA, I implore you to lobby to give fourth years the chance to go on exchange; nobody needs it more than them).

Looking back, I realize that it does not need to be that way. It’s genuinely possible to be cheerful in Law School. Yes, you are stuck in Nagarbhavi with this assortment of people who are always in your face. On the other hand, it’s the only opportunity you will ever get in life to spend five years in a cozy campus with other young people, where your only job is to look out for yourself and have a good time. When else can you take an afternoon nap and wake up just in time to attend a talk by a photojournalist who works in Chhattisgarh? When else can you turn up for a practice debate sweaty after inter-batch football? When else in life will ‘bonfire and chill’ with fifty-odd like minded souls be just a question of shooting an email to the VC?

It’s not just the good things about Law School that makes it all worth it in the end. A lot of the problems we face are huge problems only because we tend to take everything (including ourselves) a tad too seriously. Yes, it sucks to be stuck in class from 8:50 AM to 1:30 PM every day. But the read books on my Kindle and the scribbles in my notebooks are testament to the fact that boring classes only means you get to spend a few hours doing what you want, quietly. I spent all the boring hours over one trimester in third year making anagrams of the names of every single person in class as well as all our teachers (Vishnu Prasad: Sun-Sharp Diva). Back in first year, Ashrutha and I wrote a story and a poem about Cakes going on strike, called ‘Cakewalk’ (parodying Slut Walk, which was in the news a lot at the time). Looking back, being stuck in class for a few hours everyday almost seems like a gift. And yes, mess food sucks. But when else in life are you going to get three (mostly) nutritious meals taken care of for you while you go about your day? I am quite sure that in the near future, there will be a time when I return from work at night, open my fridge to find just a banana and ice-cubes in it, and miss the watery dal that the mess served on Thursday nights.

This is not to say that we must condone the institutional failures that we witness everyday. We must strive to make Law School a better place. I believe it is possible to be enraged at things that deserve anger, but at the same time, see the humour in the minor misfortunes we face in the little bubble we live in. In first year I was convinced that the Universe was truly watching out for me by sending me to such an amazing place. By fifth year it had started to seem more like punishment. But in hindsight, I wouldn’t have it any other way than coming here. To borrow a line from a recent Presidential hopeful- Let’s Make Law School Happy Again. All it takes is a little humour, optimism, enthusiasm, and keeping the first year in you alive.

[1] Those who want to verify this information can contact me, I still have the notebook as evidence.

#FirstYear #graduation #spadikajayaraj