Students who seek to further their career prospects by enrolling in higher education courses offered by educational institutions outside the state are buffeted by the twin challenges of culture shock and mental stress.
The recent spate of student suicides falling prey to stress recalled to mind the experience of a college roommate from my sophomore days in Bengaluru. Though hailing from schools where the medium of instruction was our mother tongue, we were in tandem initially successful trough our strenuous efforts to pull abreast of those who were able to fluently articulate in English.
But things began to deteriorate after she, who had cleared plus two examinations with high marks, failed in a particular subject during a semester in the second year. We noticed a gradual change in her. Though she would turn up in college both classmates and teachers began to complain on her abstaining from classes. The solicitous department head of sociology who was concerned on spotting her sitting without company in the college tried to understand from us on the reason for her solitary state. On seeing the till then energetic student starting her slow descent into depression, we alerted her father to the situation. At first, he did not take us seriously.
Saying that someone was stalking her, one day she papered over the windows, which she then jammed shut. Apprehending that the stalker meant her harm, she took to locking herself into the room. By this time she had come to know that her father had come to the conclusion that these actions were triggered by the setback she had in the examination. This turned her against us. She started looking on us as enemies. She shifted to a different hostel.
She failed in multiple subjects in that semester. As her attendance dipped below the stipulated minimum college officials summoned her parents. Ultimately, at the end of the second year, she abandoned studies. Her father took her back home. What gave us a glimmer of hope were the later tidings that she, whom we friends feared was lost to us, was pursuing a different course in a college back in Kerala.
(The original in Malayalam was published in the edit page of Mathrubhumi daily dated November 17, 2019. The writer is an alumna of Christ College, Bengaluru and journalist trainee with Mathrubhumi)