By Sucheta Chatterji
Cotton College, Guwahati like every aspiring student in Assam, my dream was to study in Cotton College, the most prestigious institution in our days in North East India. After doing reasonably well in my 1974 HSLC examinations, I made it to the PreUniversity science course of this hallowed college! Although I was a science student, the English classes are taken by Nabakanta Barua, Tabu Taid and Deben Dutta ( he wrote those famous letters to the editor in Assam Tribune) excited me the most! The first few days in college were a nightmare as we as freshmen would suffer endless rounds of ragging by seniors. Being a bit on the plump side my classmate RM and I were invariably greeted by a music called ‘ baby elephants walk’, very popular those days! Cotton College had a sprawling campus in Pan bazaar, in central Guwahati with lovely old Assam Type buildings along with a delightful, old-fashioned library. Nearby we had the District Library, museum and the beautiful water tank, Dighali pukhuri.
Next to the college were numerous book stores, my favorite was Western and Modern book stores, where one could spend hours browsing and buying a book when they could afford it. And there was a music shop called Bharali Brothers where one could happily listen to the latest in the music world, and buy recorded music. Pan bazaar was famous for its sweet shops like Gauhati Dairy, Kalyani and Kalpana where we would throng for an occasional samosa or chop. This was always preferred over the college canteen, whenever we could afford it. Then there was Madumita, that had wonderful moghlai parathas and was frequented by handsome young Engineering students, a point of interest for young girls. There were two other restaurants too Piccadely and Ashoka but they weren’t as popular. Between attending classes and studies, I had my first brush with romance those days. The romance was a long-drawn affair then, and lasted months! First, there would be those sideways glances, then getting introduced to the object of your affection followed by a love letter delivered invariably by a well-meaning friend. And it was at this last stage I would develop cold feet and back out from fear of everyone knowing and being reported to at home. The mighty Brahmaputra river was very near the college, and I loved watching the sun rays on the water and river porpoise playing while sipping water from a raw coconut those days, sitting on the steps of Kachari ghat. Those were beautiful days, full of hope and happiness…..we all were so young then! ‘Those were the days my friend, we thought never would end……….’ As the famous song goes.