PSIFI X Closing Ceremony
Rainy night accompanied by a Gale? Not the best weather to host the closing ceremony of PsiFi X right? Moreover, the flooding of the setup in the ground forcing everything to be shifted to the Law School Examination Hall, it had all the ingredients needed for a perfect disaster. Nevertheless, an overly-ambitious Faaiz, dressed formally in a suit and a matching tie, ran from the ‘IN-Gate’ towards the Law School, with his clothes getting drenched by the fitful rain. His mind recalling the speech he earlier memorized, grateful that he came earlier that day, met his stage partner Mahnoor Ashraf, noting down all the important things needed to be decided before stepping onstage behind the podium. Meanwhile, I got a call from Ayesha Haq, a very good friend, who was opening the closing ceremony alongside Dawar, that even she just reached the university and we both headed to the venue together.
Casually stepping out of the elevators to the second floor, trust me what was in front of us was unexpected and uncharacteristic of SPADES. IT WAS A MESS! Every man for himself as everyone was trying their best to change the daunting examination hall into something less frightening. Personally, I have given 5 exams at that particular venue and 3 of them went miserably. Nevertheless, I quickly found my partner who was busy decorating the place alongside her friends. After exchanging a few words of greetings she said, “Mainay abhi jana hay tayar honay lekin Asma wanted to see you”. This statement was unwelcoming mainly because not only was the opening ceremony meant to begin within twenty minutes but also Asma was the person responsible for our speeches and the affairs of the ceremony. I will admit, for a person who seems fairly composed and calm, she was an exact opposite of her usual self as people surrounded her like a swarm of bees, constantly asking for her approval for tasks to be done. She saw me, walking towards me and what followed was “Disaster number 1” on that particular day. As she started jotting down new points on a blank piece of paper, I was trying my best just to understand what she was trying to say. The general high noise level accompanied by the constant interruption as someone with a ‘super important task’ would arrive and rudely interrupt her, making it like one of those Maths classes where you would zone out for ten minutes and play catch up for the remaining forty minutes. Still, I believe she realized that I am clueless as to what she was saying and concluded by saying, “Find Mahnoor and write a new speech now”.
Like an old ‘Pentium 4’ computer, it took me time to realize what just happened. When reality hit me, I began scampering to and fro looking for my stage partner only to be disappointed as she was nowhere to be found. Luckily, I met Momina, a person I knew as Mahnoor’s friend because earlier in the day she came to the Khooka when we were collectively writing our speeches. She told me that she has gone to get ready for the speech. Immediately, I realized that I am destined to always find stage partners who are slightly late when it comes to arriving on time to events (Reference: A-Level). Panic-stricken, I was lost and letting the pressure get the better of me. Nevertheless, I sat on the floor and tried making sense of the complications the General Secretary earlier scribbled onto the pages, disheartened as I was puzzled. For a Freshman student, acting as a team member in the Registrations Department, it was nothing less than a nightmare trying to figure out the hierarchical system of one of the largest society at LUMS. Discouraged with the situation, I picked my things and without informing anyone, headed outside the Auditorium, and began descending the flight of stairs to the floor below the Auditorium which was deserted.
In such times, I believe isolation is the ideal solution as the fresh air, silence, and the ability to concentrate on yourself help you in such situations. Pen in one hand, pages in another, pretty sure I gave away the vibes of a depressed rejected boy. Was tempted to think a cigarette would make this situation look even better but Nah! As I was busy trying to gather my fragmented thoughts, I heard someone coming down the stairs. From the distance, I managed to outline a boy and Ayesha-who instantly left after pointing in my direction to the boy alongside him. Since it was raining and I had removed my glasses, I was having trouble with my vision but as the person completed descending the stairs, I instantly recognized the figure coming towards me.
“Yar deekho tension nahi leni main hoon na”, assured the kind-hearted Muneef Rizvi as he asked me to get the act together. After inspiring me with renewed hope and cursing the EC for over-burdening ‘apnay bachay’ (he was Director of Registrations Department and always treated us as little kiddos). With that being said, the Sophomore from Cedar Karachi, constantly saying “Abbay”, guided me to a nearby Discussion Room. After initially serving me water followed by breathing exercises, it was time for ‘Munni Bhai’ to show why I consider him one of the most helpful and resourceful people. He instantly drew a chart, explaining to me the hierarchy of society while editing my speech accordingly. Within a mere ten minutes, that lad not only helped me regain my confidence after it was brutally shattered but also acted as the person who corrected my whole speech. With five minutes left before eight (the time allocated for the ceremony to commence), Muneef wished me luck and said, “I believe in you and remember I will be sitting there so you need not worry”. Pretty sure that felt like Jim Gordon putting a coat on young Bruce Wayne, telling him his world hasn’t finished yet. Rejuvenated, I called the elevators, intending to join the others.
Well, my heroics had to wait as the EC announced that the ceremony had been delayed for an hour. While initially I was disappointed at this, I later realized everything happens for a reason and leads to something better as after ten minutes, I got a phone call from one of my closest friends Umar Cheema that he arrived for the ceremony. I couldn’t believe it! For a person who looks least concerned about your achievements and important occasions, he did make it. While an hour ago he called me to inform me that he is going to Fahar’s house with two other schoolmates also there, I was 100% convinced he will ditch my event in favor of the other plan. But no? I will admit, till this very day, I am grateful for what he ended up doing. However, since this event was only for the participants and members of Spades, getting him entered was a tricky situation. Running down to the first floor, I eventually saw a member of Security stopping Umar who had no idea what to do. “Faaiz tumahin Muneef upar bula raha hay. Aur aap is ka SPADES tag deekh lo yeh, Faaiz Gilani hay yeh Regi ka. I had his card as he forgot it”, were the lies I instantly cooked and narrated to the member of the Security Department. Poor lad, outdone by the gleaming confidence, let him go without checking anything and a perplexed Umar Cheema followed me up the stairs while murmuring, “Waisay mainay deekha hay aap baray taiz ho gayay ho”.
It was time for my closest friend from school to meet one of my closest friends from University and what followed was slightly unexpected. The remaining half an hour was spent on banter sessions with me the undisputed subject as jokes from school met jokes from the university. I was planning on mocking Umar as Ayesha’s first impression of Umar was that he perceived to by flirty but nope, the alliance against me was too strong. Meanwhile, Mahnoor also arrived and we went outside to practice our new speeches and determining the order. It wasn’t hard to tell that even she came in a hurry as Aleena quickly pointed out the tag of Mahnoor’s shirt still intact. Next, it was finally time, to begin with, Aiman and Sahim arriving with a file labeled as “Rising Stars” and clearly instructed that no one should open them. However, we were tempted to peak as the awards were related to us. “Want a gift from me before the ceremony?” Ayesha curiously asked. I knew what she was referring to and I nodded in approval as we both grabbed the folder and went to a dark corner and stealthily opened it, looking for the “Registration Department”. She was skimming through departments and instantly closed the folder at a particular point and murmured, “Bahir Chalo”, while leaving the folder on the desk. Once outside, she screamed “TUM JEET GAYAY HO AWARD!!!!” and we ended up dancing in joy for the next three minutes before remembering we had duties to fulfill.
Since the first half had to be covered by Dawar and Ayesha, I comfortably took a front seat alongside Umar, telling him about the people and how lucky I am to be in this particular society. Meanwhile, we also ensured to shoot videos and photos of our friend onstage and half an hour later, it was my turn to take over the podium. Surprisingly, it was very smooth and easy as we were addressing our own friends as the participants were busy celebrating their awards (awarded in the first half of the ceremony). To help keep my focus, I kept staring at Umar as his face wasn’t intimidating and eventually Mahnoor announced, “Rising Star for Spades Department is Faaiz Gilani!” I swiftly turned, walked towards the people giving the awards, and felt blissful that my own friend, Saad Rashid is the one to hand over the award. Getting an award from a stranger with a high post doesn’t feel that special but having a friend and mentor as the one to receive you at your highest point is an indescribable emotion. Later, Hamza Ather came towards the stage and kept mocking me of how I am “smiling with all my 28 teeth being shown” and “acting as I have won an Oscar”. When I protested that it means a lot to me, with a sly smile replied, “aagay kay liyay train kar raha hoon, abhi aagay bohat jana hay”. Honestly, at that moment I laughed at his statement and believed he is just mocking me but two years into the future, the EC isn’t that far away with the advice of seniors proving to be pivotal. Will miss Saad Rashid and Hamza Ather at LUMS since they are now graduated.
However, the biggest concern for me at that moment was “Khaana”. Since it was served while I was delivering my speech, a part inside me feared I wouldn’t even get anything to eat and the “Mufta” dinner was quite an attraction. Despite Hamza promising that I can have it with the EC, I didn’t want to eat in front of them, being judged as I drank two Coca Cola at a time (Hi Fahar!). With the ceremony completed, I literally ran towards the buffet, with disappointment to follow as they were out of sodas and I had to settle for one bottle from the EC’s table. At 1 a.m., we left the Law School and were headed toward Khooka. Midway, I saw Muneef from the corner of my eye and within an instant I raced towards the real hero of the day, embracing him with a wholesome hug, thanking him for being who he is! With my mood suddenly changed, I proposed going to Jamin Java to eat something, and my friend from Islamabad obliged by paying the bill for the three of us. Sometimes I get ashamed looking at Umar’s generosity.
This day was one of the most memorable ones from Freshmen Year, with its own highs and lows. Be it the initial shock of getting speeches changed to the intervention of Muneef to the unimagined arrival of Umar, the kindness of Ayesha, and the joy of winning the award of best performer of the department, it had everything. Since now I am a ‘Rising Junior’, I always try to emulate what Muneef, Saad and Hamza (Abdullah & Malik Ali) did for their juniors, hoping that maybe my one act can make someone’s day.