It was 2 am on a slightly wet Sunday. I was on top of the library dome as I had been on several occassions. I had returned from one of my midnight strolls around the campus. Those familiar routes that I took during the day always seemed so different, so warm and welcoming when the lights had faded.
Like more often than never, the slope was deserted at that hour. I climbed up top and stared at the horizon. The lights from the green houses far east reflected in the sky making it look golden even at that hour of night. Many students of science still ensured that the EWI and 3ME facades shone brighter than the stars. A bunch of clouds heading from the south-west were setting out to blanket the few constellations that were visible from up there. The grass was as soft as ever and the night couldn’t be more silent. I loved it, as always. I laid down on that amazingly well manicured grass. Perfect time and place to let out my thoughts and get some answers from the cosmos.
|That one friendly slope..|
But as I lay on the green bed of solitude, peace and unspoken acquaintance, I realized that it was probably the last time, in a while atleast, that I was going to be up there. Earlier that week, I defended my thesis and hibernated for two straight days. I had crossed the finish line, something that was just a dream and a doubt for a long time and it hadn’t even sunk in yet. It had been a long, incredible journey. A tiresome one, in more than one way. Unlike most, I had a lot more to account myself for than just exams and grades. Just about 45 days short of a 3 year stint in this resplendent country was coming to an end. And what an experience it had been!
Many vivid memories, good, bad and the ugly ones flashed by. Those rebellions, the countless arguments, that unmeasured amounts of blood, sweat and tears that had been shed in the past 4 years were all coming back. And as if to compensate, there was the pure joy when I realized I was finally doing what I wanted to. The brilliant opportunities I got, the fantastic friends that I made, the wonderous sights I saw, the incredible lessons I learnt both in and outside class, those many experiments-some that succeeded and most which failed...Wow! It was in this country that I learned what life was all about.. A place where I felt more like an engineer...A place where I could break from the shackles of blind theism that had only lead me downhill.. Most importantly this is where I made peace with my inner self and I cannot do justice in describing that one feeling here.
As these thoughts gathered, I saw a satellite cross above me. I loved following them as long as my gaze could hold. That globe of dark clouds was engulfing a lot quicker and the satellite prompltly disappeared behind it. My thoughts went back to all the places I‘d miss around there. Through out my studies, I often heard complaints from people about Delft. Facts like it is very small and uneventful compared to bigger cities of Holland cannot be disgraced. Nevertheless, it remains a beautiful little city especially once you know it well. Some spots of this historic city would always remain with me for the sheer support it lent with its beauty. The Oostport, the library rooftop, the canals that ran throughout the city are all sublime designs to calm a rampant mind. It would be impossible to forget the destressing late night walks and the jogs around these places, especially after hectic lab hours during the last few months.
I was shaken from this riviera by Holland’s trademark drizzle. Enough to send your lazy bottom in search of a roof but not enough that you’d have to change into warmer clothes! I smiled realizing it had stopped bothering me over the years and in fact, I slightly enjoyed it. I sat up straight and just soaked in that scene for a while longer. I did not want to get down that slope that night. TU Delft’s library (by the way, ranked as the 4th coolest library in the world ;)) had been a friend of sorts to me. It had played host to a lot of birthdays, coffees, exam preparations, a few beers, sun-sets, star gazing, philosophical and scientific debates, heart-to-heart conversations, snow-fights, yoga and meditation on warm mornings and so much more! It had seen me blunder, heard my musings, responded to my ruminations in ways I can’t describe and at the end always elevated my senses! I’d miss that place most of all.
I eventually headed downward letting gravity do most of the work. TU Delft logo caught my eye from across the street and I realized how incredibly lucky I was to have been under that umbrella. I wouldn’t choose another place for studying! I wished I had only done my bachelors there as well. Time and again I have envied those who have been able to finish their entire studies in Delft. That night was no different. I remembered the remarkably awe-inspiring minds I met there, things I learnt from them, the ideas I exchanged all of which transformed me into something I wished for when I left home. I had gotten what I asked for- An experience of a lifetime and knowledge transcending mere coursework. And I wished I could have stuck around for longer but then it reminded me of something I read a while ago- If you begin to get too comfortable with a place, you know its time to move. It was better to do so while I still could. As I had learnt in Holland, life is very short and the world is too damn big and exciting for a human to be holding on to one impression.
Holland had shown its varied facets to me over these years. For an oddball that somehow managed to hop out of the well, it had been kind sometimes and not so much the others. But each time, it only made me stronger. And for that I will be ever grateful. And now, even as I type this sitting about a few hours away from the place that had become my second home, I cannot help but feel distant and desolated.
I kept postponing this article because I wanted to give this series a grand ending but nothing seems to harmonize with the spirit inward from a long time. Evincing a myriad of emotions pertaining to this journey has been harder than I thought and I do not want to conclude this series. I shall pause for now.. May be there is another life here... May be there is more, or may be some day I will unearth that psyche unknown who can verbalize better...
For now dear Holland, Tot Ziens!