Chronicles of a Tamil Freshman – Part 1

Written by: Thagsana Rangarajan

With one swift strike, she hit the snooze button on her rusty Sony alarm clock and once again the room was silent. Her room was small with cream coloured walls, a twin bed, a wooden desk scattered with registration papers and to-do lists, a sliding closet opposite the bed, three labeled suitcases stacked in the corner, and a bulky Persian rug that gave the space a retirement-home feel.

Fifteen minutes passed, and the alarm jangled again. Tanya opened one eye and peeked at the clock. “Ten more minutes”, she mumbled, whacking the snooze button once more. She closed her eyes, and exhaled deeply. She had a big day ahead, and was in no hurry to let it begin. The comfort, however, was short-lived.

It was then, that she heard it.

“TANYA?!” her mom hollered from downstairs, wearing an old-fashioned, brightly coloured Tamil nightie.

Tanya knew how angry her mother became if, god forbid, her morning tea ran cold. Eyes wide, she channeled her inner Vijay and lunged out of bed. She showered, brushed her teeth and carried on with her usual morning routine. She brushed her short, wavy, black hair and clipped it back with one-too-many bobby pins. She slid open her closet and put on a red sweater and dark jeans that complemented her slender figure and olive skin tone. Feelings of fear and excitement welled up inside of her, as she knew she’d be moving into her college dorm room in just a few hours.

“What if my roommates don’t like me? What if they smell? What if they think I smell?!” she wondered, as she wheeled her suitcases out of her room. The last thing she wanted was to be given the nickname, “Tamil Tandoori”, on her first day.

And, with that thought, she was greeted by a mist of masala mix as she entered the kitchen downstairs. Her mom was making her infamous chicken biryani, packing it in a large container that would serve as lunch and dinner for the next few days. Her dad, broadly built with a slim moustache, and receding hairline, drank his coffee while watching a rerun of solvathellam unmai. Tanya’s mom placed a cup of tea down in front of her, and tucked the container into one of her black suitcases. She could see a tear flowing down her mother’s round cheeks.

“Amma, I’ll be back before you know it. At least now you can finally have some quality time with Appa, right?” she said, with a cartoon-like wink. Her mom scoffed, and pulled her in for a goodbye hug. “Just don’t do anything stupid”, her mom said as she let go.  Her dad threw on his leather jacket and headed out towards the car. Tanya followed closely behind him and waved goodbye to her mom, as she stared from the doorway of their home.

After placing her luggage into the trunk of her car, she stared out the window of the passenger seat, and her dad began to pull out of their small home in Scarborough, Ontario. She was experiencing a world of emotions. Fear, anxiety, loneliness, and pressure were just a few on the list.

“You can do this. You got this”, she muttered to herself, exhaling deeply. Being an only child, she had always been extremely attached to her parents, and had never been away from them for more than a day or two. The thought of being completely on her own, sharing a room with two random people, and essentially, starting one of the largest chapters of her life was beginning to eat away at her sanity.

She felt the car come to a final halt, and that’s when she knew they’d arrived at their destination. They stepped out of the car, and onto the coarse pavement of the parking lot, where they were soon greeted by a jolly student in a bright orange jumpsuit. He was jiggling around, as if he had just inhaled 10 boondi ladoos.

“Well hello there, freshman! My name’s Peter, and I’ll be getting you all set up today! We’re happy to have you here at King’s University! Come along, and follow me, I’ll take you right up to your dorm room suite!” he said exuberantly, while handing her a bright orange t-shirt. Tanya’s dad patted her on the back, and gently pushed her in Peter’s direction, “Don’t do anything stupid”, he said as he headed back towards the car. The phrase was familiar to her for a number of reasons, as Tanya had a tendency to do ‘stupid’ things.

She followed Peter, and was quickly mesmerized by the University’s Campus. The campus was beautiful; the tall ponderosa pines and blue spruce made the crisp September air smell clean and fresh. Groups of freshmen followed other brightly-coloured-jumpsuit-wearing students and the campus was consumed in a sea of colours: purple, orange, blue, green, yellow. She assumed there was a colour for each respective residence. Peter and Tanya headed into a large, castle-like building, and wheeled Tanya’s luggage into the elevator.

“You’re on the 3rd floor, in room 303! Your roommates have already moved in, so the door should be unlocked. Just give it a knock, and say hello! I’ll be back to check on you in a little bit! Have a blast!” Peter said, just as the elevator doors closed.

Tanya wheeled her luggage a few feet before she was confronted with the door she had been seeking. There it was, room 303. Tanya prepared to enter the room, but before she could knock, it opened.

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. 



Thagsana Rangarajan is in her final year of a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering at McMaster University. In her free time, she enjoys writing short stories and hopes to publish a novel in the future. 

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