A regular looking day on college campus, except in the middle of the cycling road on his bike, was an alien. It was the notorious actor named Balaji who belonged to the theatre club. Balaji called himself Bobby Day. The name Bobby, part of his screen name, came from Millie Bobby Brown, the actor from the famous show called ‘Stranger Things’. The people on campus added the last name “Day”, as Bobby, originally Balaji, claimed to be a method actor. Earlier, when we spoke of him as the alien riding down the campus road, it was in no manner used as a slur. He actually was dressed as an alien for the college play. Since that man was the campus’ own Daniel Day Lewis, he chose to come to college in character. Hence we were blessed with the spectacle of a boy dressed in a yellow suit with a green shirt, riding on a bicycle donning an animated portrayal of his interpretation of an interstellar creature.
Meanwhile from the other end approached two of his closest friends, Vikram and Vini.
They walked towards Method-Actor-Bobby-Day as he pedalled on towards them.
“Bobby help!”, Vini screamed.
“No you guys need to help me!”Bobby screamed back, breaking character immediately which was not very true to his method acting approach.
Vini managed to calm Bobby down and figured out that his problem was not as big as the one Vikram and she had encountered. Bobby had lost his matching yellow hat and Dia Gupta, the head of the Theatre club, who was also called the dragon by the club members, was on the lookout for Method-Actor-Bobby-Day.
Vikram then showed the letter they had found on the road to Bobby which read:
“I tried to come to terms, but this never felt like home. No one understands me here and this world will always seem foreign to me. I only gave love and got none in return. I am leaving this world now on the 30th of January. Farewell.”
“Vikram found this note in the morning Bobby, it says someone is attempting to end their life in three days! We need to find them !”, Vini yelled in hysteric panic.
Bobby, still immersed in the words, had been trying to decode some information for a steady five minutes.
“I got nothing”, he said , which was followed by a thunderous punch on the shoulder from Vini on account of the wasted five minutes.
“Calm down”, Bobby said, still in shock, “I know a guy”. Vikram looked at them as if he was wondering if the punch had really worked. No one had ever gotten physical before that, but now it was a matter of life and death, which made him hope Bobby’s plan was good.
A few minutes later, the Dean Of Student Affairs, or DOSA found in his waiting room, a boy clad in yellow, a girl who would not blink and another boy who sat there staring at a letter as if he was trying to recall something.
People from the waiting room went in one after the other and the Dean had only an umbrellaanswer which was “Leave a letter on my table and we’ll get it done”.
A girl would say, ”Sir we need more funds for the festival”.
“Leave a letter on my table and we’ll get it done.”
A man would say, “My son is having trouble catching up” “Leave a letter on my table and we’ll get it done”.
Vini had gotten her turn and she explained about the worrisome letter.
“Leave a letter on my table and we’ll get it done”.
Bobby tried to explain the urgency of the matter at hand.
“I told you to leave a letter on my table and we’ll get it done!”
By then Vikram was suspicious and decided to test if the Dean had been paying attention at all.
So, he began chucking an assortment of pop culture lines at the Dean.
“I think we got to get to the chopper, Sir!”
“Leave a letter on my table and we’ll get it done”
“Also can we find out who let the dogs out?”
“leave a letter on my assistant and we’ll get it done”
Now even the unconscious state of the dean sensed that something was peculiar and he began to listen.
“Can we skip four assignments sir?”
Then came the wrath of the Dean. The trio was kicked out of the premises and Vini found it astonishing that the dean would call the letter “a tad bit too dramatic”. She wondered how he could criticise the tone of a letter despite it having such a serious subject. Just then Bobby pointed out about how Vini too had taken the liberty of correcting the grammar of that letter. “I did not want someone to be misunderstood at such a time” as she smiled wryly.
They sat in the stairwell for a brief amount of time which was needed to come up with the next new plan. They had to manually search and compare the handwriting of suspects from a suspect list.
There were around 12 members of the calligraphy club who could write with that precision, and after an hour long search, it was down to one pending name on the list. Since Bobby and Vini had successfully eliminated their quota of 4 names each and it was down to Vikram to meddle with one of the most feared people on campus. Apart from being in the calligraphy club, Myra was also the captain of the Kabaddi club, and hers was the final name on the list. She, on a daily basis, was the most blissful, considerate and caring woman until someone breached her boundaries of respect or personal space. She loved the reputation she had built and she never failed to live up to it.
Worryingly, what was happening now was definitely one of the cases which would bring out the bad side of her. As Bobby and Vini kept watch at the door, Vikram tried to compare her handwriting using her book which was lying on her desk. Only until he had opened, he had not realised that this notebook contained some scattered journal work.
He tried to skim through quickly and when he was convinced of the sample not being a match, he looked up in relief only to see Myra staring him down. He looked at the door to notice his former comrades abandon the post and more importantly abandon him.
Vikram knew the drill as he often found himself on her bad side just through misfortune and his lack of common sense. So his anticipation helped him co-operate. He had to apologise, buy her lunch and do some of her assignments, which he gladly accepted.
He walked to his friends who were hiding in the nook of the corridor, with Myra’s assignment books in his hand. Vini tried to cheer him up, ironically by poking fun at him and teaching him a lesson about being more thoughtful and aware.
After Vikram had settled, Bobby Day switched to Method-Actor-Bobby-Day.
He walked to a notice board nearby and began to point at things and inquire like an alien would do on another planet.
“What are these markings on this monolith? What art thee,squire?” , he said, pointing at the notice board.
That’s when it had dawned on the others. The board had some of the prettiest handwriting they had ever seen and it belonged to a professor. Although it was not a match to their letter, it had made them realise that this letter could have been written by someone who is not a student.
This new discovery led to the birth of a much broader plan. The plan involved going back to the DOSA office again. The three of them picked different spots on the corridor, while one of them spoke on the phone, the other looked at the notice board in front of the office. Bobby was standing a little further down. This plan began with him. He stopped the peon Bhaskar who was supposed to bring the dean his snack.
Bobby interrupted the peon and bribed the man to lead the Dean out. Bobby took the Dean’s snack for himself even though that was not a part of the plan, the samosas made him hungry. The peon told the Dean that the Press Relations Room was printing posters and that the Dean’s supervision was called upon. The Dean marched out of his room, eager to find out how he looked on the banners. The plan had worked so far. The next step was to slip into his room before the electronic door locked itself. On the table in front of them was the key weapon for their plan, the announcement microphone.
Vikram sat himself down in the Dean’s chair. Vini kept watch, while Bobby ate samosas, the Dean’s samosas. Heroes on a righteous quest deserved a snack and this fact was obvious to him.
Vikram turned the microphone on and began to speak about the letter. The whole campus stood still. Well, except for the dean who was now on his 5 minute walk back to his office that was now usurped. Vikram addressed the issue with all the care he could use and in the end decided to read the letter.
“…..Do not worry friends, it is alright to feel this way, and you know what, we should bring this to the attention of the Management. We will write and appeal for a mental health and counselling department in the college. All will be taken care of. No one will have to feel this way again.” And he began to read the letter.
“I tried to come to terms , but this never felt like home. No one understands me here and this world will always seem foreign to me. I only gave love and got none in return. I am leaving this world now on the 30th of January. Farewell. “
And that’s when the three of them heard a thunderous knock on the door. It was not the dean, but it was Dia, the head of the theatre club.
“You Idiots! The letter belongs to me!”, she yelled.
Vikram and Bobby noticed in the CCTV screens that the crowd which had been listening keenly until the letter was read was now nonchalant.
“Follow me!”, Dia said and dragged them to the auditorium.
In the auditorium a scene was being rehearsed. As soon as Dia and the party entered the room, Dia yelled “Skip to farewell!”.
And a character dressed on stage just like the clothes Method-Actor-Bobby-Day was wearing, was reading the letter that Vikram held in his hand.
All three of them looked at Dia clueless and dumbstruck.
“It was a prop you, idiots! That is the letter the alien princess was supposed to write to the earthling that ignored her love!” Dia ran out of breath.
Well it turned out that it was the prop that was accidentally left behind in Bobby’s costume pocket. Method-Actor-Bobby-Day who was supposed to play the alien princess’ spaceship chauffeur had no clue about the script. In fact he had no lines in the play either.
The play was a hit,regardless of the incident. The Dean punished the three of them with notice board cleaning and poster removal duties of the campus for three weeks.
Although not all of it went in vain though. The next evening a junior boy had approached the DOSA office to inquire about a Mental health and well-being department and expressed his very real problem to the Dean. Soon the college established infrastructure to look after students’ mental health care.
Rumour has it that a black and white photograph of Method-Actor-Bobby-Day scraping posters off the campus walls dressed as a Viking is printed on the back of the college brochure to add a touch of humour.