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Bloom In The Gloom

Daylight wears out to eventide. Still a good number of students are hanging around corridors of the college. It is the season of great significance for students. Corporates are visiting the campus to choose students for their interns during the coming summer. Two days of the week are already over. Jaya is still waiting for call for the next round of selection. Since morning she had been participating in the process.

After clearing written test, group discussion, group task and one round of interview, she still has to appear for the last round. In her formal dress and shoes it is already more than eight hours she is on her toes. Being weary, she decides to rest on the chair in the waiting hall. It appears hollowed out around her. It is difficult to be in uninterrupted cessation. Will the long wait result in moment of favourable outcome? With conjecture and impetuosity she inspected the entrance of the hall and back to her watch several times. It is about 10 o’ clock in the night now. After a while one executive of the visiting firm walked towards the group with a paper in hand and read out the names for the final round for the day. Jaya did not make it to the concluding round. In the midst of sparks of light around her, everything appeared dim. The day long exercise turned futile. It belied her aspirations.

Exhausted and frustrated Jaya somehow composed herself and silently advanced towards the hostel. All the while her shoulders drooped and eyes looked to the ground. She could not look ahead. She was traversing with her friends on the same path. All along uneasy silence carried her forward. After reaching her room she became more restless. Leaning on the edge of the bed she tried to introspect. Many questions puzzled her mind. She did all her best but she ended unsuccessful again. “What are they looking for? Is it performance or appearance in the final round?” She qualified written test, dominated in group exercises and answered all questions in the interview to her satisfaction. Where did it all go wrong? She did not know how to improve for the next day. Her mind was filled with anxiety. Nightfall deepened her perplexity.

She knelt on her bed and recollected a verse from the Scripture- “The Lord says, I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. ” She silently claimed the promise and cast all her weariness and burdens upon Him. She experienced calmness over the struggles within her. The next day she got up early and poured her heart to the Lord. She surrendered her desires to the will of God. After devoting a few hours of preparation she hurried to attend presentation of a company visiting the campus for the first time.

Presentation followed by multiple rounds of selection. At the end of the day she was relaxing in a corner of the common room. Placement-in-Charge walked to her and broke the news of her selection for the new company with a good stipend. That evening she exuberantly shared about her great Friend and Shepherd with her hostel mates.

The semester ended. Assignments, group exercises, case studies and seminars occupied Jaya in her busy schedules. An end term exam was round the corner. Along with day-to-day academic activities everyone was seriously bracing up for terminal tests. All of a sudden plague broke out in the town. Many were admitted to the hospital with an unknown disease. Soon Covid-19 virus spread far and wide. Casualties were also reported. The college postponed the exams twice. Panic gripped the students. However students thought they would be able to complete the academic year before proceeding for the internship stint. Final assessment was about to commence. Abruptly test was postponed and students were notified to vacate the hostel as early as possible. Epidemic left the students in the lurch. Uncertainty hung around them. Epidemic assumed the proportion of pandemic. While Jaya was in the bewilderment, placement committee informed her about withdrawal of her internship offer by the company. Reason was shortage of their fund for the project. She was totally shattered. It was a bolt from the blue. Her ambition dashed into pieces. How will she be able to complete her studies without undergoing internship and submitting the project report? She was left high and dry. She was feeling denigrated before her friends. It is very difficult to make alternative arrangements in a short time. Many sympathized with her while she groped into an unsecure future. She did not have a wink of sleep that night. She contacted faculties, seniors and all whom she knew to help her out of the deplorable condition. She decided to call up her mother and inform her predicament and asking the parents to seek help from some corner to bail her out of the situation. She started sobbing as she spoke on the mobile. Her mother encouraged and consoled her with the words: “God who has begun a good work in you will complete it till the end.” Whatever God has allowed, it is for her good. She need not be worried. A better assignment is on the way. Jaya believed God would make the way where there seemed to be no way. She trusted in Him and prayed for a miraculous opening as slowly faith welled up in her. She was persuaded that she would not be put to shame. After two days a series of online interviews followed and an offer of internship was extended to her afresh from another firm. It was just in the nick of the moment. At least she had an offer in hand before untimely session closing. Soon Jaya was forced to vacate the hostel. It was a hurdle again to shell out an exorbitant fare and undergo untold hassles to reach home. On her way home her heart was filled with gratitude as she worshipped “You are here working in this place. . . I worship you. . . Way-maker, Miracle worker and Promise-keeper, light in the darkness. . . When I do not see it you are working, even when I do not feel it working, you never stop working” God is always on time.

It was not a smooth journey for Jaya as the time for internship drew near. A sudden lockdown was declared throughout the country, some companies cancelled final placement offer for her seniors in the college. Hundreds of hopeful youths faced an unpredictable future. Jaya received bad news from her friends. Summer internships were refused for many of her friends as the units are closed and no work was available in the market due to complete lockdown. Jaya was discouraged and apprehended as to what was in store for her. Her work site was located hundreds of miles away. Confusion and uncertainty rocked her again. She was in deep troubles. She was helpless and undone in this unstable situation. During the hopeless circumstances she cried out to God again casting all her cares upon Him for He cares for her. It was a bit long shot. Due to abnormal surge of nCovid-19 cases, the company permitted Jaya to work from home during the internship period. She was to visit worksite as soon as normalcy was restored. Jaya started her internship, worked on the assigned project and completed the same. But she lost the opportunity of gaining on the ground experience. By God’s grace she could submit the report to the college in time. In the meanwhile lockdown curbs were lifted. Un-lockdown ensued in phases. Socio-economic activities opened up. But colleges remained shut.

While it is time for students for the next academic session, a great controversy arose with the holding of final exams which was withheld a few months back. Due to stress and strains, some of the students could not pick up their books while vacating the hostel. Students requested college authorities to evaluate end term exams on the basis of class tests and assignments. But the decision of conducting exams prevailed. Jaya and their classmates joined together and helped each other for accessing textbooks and note books. Finally end term exams were conducted online under overall digital vigilance.

The academic year completed with twists and turns. But the shock of the pandemic still continues. It is the new normal now for scholars. Jaya is adapting to confinement at home and the long haul of online classes alone with strained eyes. She is still missing life on the college campus and learning environment. The invisible enemy has devoured her days and months. Her future appears to have been eclipsed by the plague. During economic recession, her final placement is an insurmountable challenge. The pandemic has snatched away careers, job prospects, the present and the future. Gloominess veiled her all around. She went out to gasp for fresh air. Dark clouds were hovering over the sky. Storm swept through the horizon. As winds and rain subsided she looked up. A beautiful rainbow has painted the opposite sky. She is convinced God will turn her battles into blessings. After every storm, there is a rainbow.

Scripture Ref: Psa. 32:8, I Peter 5: 7,Phil 1:6 ;Song Ref: Album“ Way Maker” (Sinach)

Dr. Nanda Dulal works as Group Director in a Government organisation and lives with his wife Geetanjali in Bangalore.

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