Photograph by Vishal Koul

“Your lips move but I can’t hear what you are saying”

What would I have done without Pink Floyd then…Those days in college, eager to soak it all in, but felled by the language. Words flew thick and fast, with all lectures in English, and, I, seated in the first row, kept sinking lower. I couldn’t even answer questions. The number of times I got thrown out for not answering! 

I was 15, the youngest in the class. Oh! The embarrassment that washes over you, the first time that happens. It’s funny how quickly I transitioned from the first bench to the last. Then, out of the class altogether. I knew I had to get my act together. The professors were saying the same in as much words. It didn’t matter what my age was, the past was forgotten. I kept thinking I was the class topper. How did I get so low? What happened to me? It was so alienating, not having anyone to talk to. I didn’t have many friends who could help me get out of the abyss. The Delhi snobs, who only spoke in English, were not an option. It was such a nightmare. I couldn’t go home, and staying on depressed me more. 

expose yourself to your depest fear, after that you are freeThat’s when I found Pink Floyd, Jim Morrison, U2 and Coldplay. Where the streets have no name… 

Bono’s I want to run/I want to hide/I want to tear the walls that hold me inside…the words still resonate. In them, I found the unlikeliest of teachers. I started picking up English in an effort to understand the songs. I would learn the lyrics, playing them back in my head in a loop. 

The colonial language was always my Achilles heel. I was 13 when I finished school. I had a full year before I could sit for the engineering entrance exams. But I was still so nervous. All the entrance exams were in English and I was from a Hindi-medium school. Could I crack it? I kept oscillating between hope and despair. 

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