"I'm sorry!" Advay shouted at the lean figure that was swiftly moving away. But the boy did not acknowledge his apology. He ran even faster in an escape.
Well, so be it. It wasn't very possible that they would meet again anyway. So it was useless to waste his conscience on the matter.
After the long journey he was finally in front of the university. He paid the cab driver a little reluctantly. Seeing the man giving him a thankful look, he smiled stiffly.
The gates of the university were closed and they looked rather royal. He could see an inner building which also looked majestic. He was filled with exhilaration. He walked to the security guard and introduced himself as a new student. After a quick phone call, the security guard guided him with some directions. And he proceeded further.
The pleasant weather as he walked along the wide roads with his huge luggage bag thrown over his right shoulder is something that would be engraved in his mind. Old trees lined up the road on two sides and their green leaves rustled gently in the soft wind. Years down the lane this scenery would be so nostalgic to him.
He stopped in front of a smaller building, but it still looked magnificent. It was the Administrative building that the security guard had told him about. He tugged his bag off his shoulder and he carried it along with him as he walked in.
An elegantly dressed lady was waiting for Advay. She looked at him and then looked into some papers in her hands. She looked young but as he walked forward he realized she was older.
"Hi, you can call me Miyazaki," she said to him politely.
"Hello. I'm Advay Srnuta, new student."
"Yes, I will take you to complete some paperwork." She then led him into one of the inner rooms.
"Sir, Mr. Advay has arrived." She then retreated with a polite smile leaving him with an old man in a well furnished room. The man soon asked him to take a seat after some perfunctory greetings. Then he was given a pen and a few papers to fill his details.
"Alright, everything looks good. So, Advay, for two and half years from now, you are a student here. Do make sure not to get involved with the government. You can go to Miyazaki for anything you need to get done from outside."
"Sure, thank you."
"This country does not allow free flow in and out. We are a prestigious university so we hold certain power and are able to offer programs to people all over the world. But considering you come from the Force, the government here is bound to have some attention on you. Should you need to go out of the country, let the university arrange your travel."
Advay was feeling a little unsettled. It was not that he did not know why they were being careful. He was someone the Force sent here. The East has always been a bit of a problematic country. But this time, he was not here on a mission. It was pretty much a vacation in his opinion. No training, no drills, no need to awake at dawn, and most importantly, no risky missions.
Of course, he would never admit these words out loud but as much discipline and loyalty he has for the Force, life in the Militia felt boring. He would still keep up his fitness but all else he has to do is study. He was absolutely looking forward to this life. Warnings such as these had always been there. Well, he definitely believed these two and half years were going to be the most peaceful time of his teenage years.
After Miyazaki took Advay to meet the Head of the College of Administration and Diplomacy, she took him to the boy's dormitory within the university. On the other side of the road, across the dormitory was the canteen.
She gave him a card, "You will have to show this every time you take meals in the canteen. It covers most food items available. But if you want special delicacies, you will have to pay. Don't lose it." As they stood in between the dormitory and the canteen, Advay observed all the students rushing in and out. They were in small groups or just alone. Almost everyone looked so purposeful and seemed to mind their own business. Very few looked leisurely.
At the gates of the dormitory, she told him where his room was, “Yours is the second room on the third floor. Students’ names are stuck to the beds and their tables. You’ll be able to find yours.” Soon after, she bade him farewell and he went into the dormitory. His room only had three more guys. When he was in the Militia, almost fifteen people used to share space together. This really must be heaven, he thought.
The two boys he met after he entered were seniors to him. They exchanged a very brief greeting when they saw Advay and left the room. They seemed to be in a hurry. Another guy who was his age was yet to arrive.
That day it was a Thursday. He had come early. His college program would start on Monday. He was given a study table with a chair and a lower portion of a bunk bed. He had a couple of shelves for his own use in the room. The bathrooms were all located on one place on every floor and so they had none in their rooms.
He opened his luggage and arranged his stuff, as he liked, neatly within his space. He made his bed and now all he needed was a shower. He was a little fatigued after the long journey. He quickly went to the bathrooms taking necessary toiletries to freshen up.
Finally, back in his room, he got into his bed and caught some sleep. He had woken up at 4 A.M. that day. From the Force he had gone home a week ago. So he had come to this country by water all the way from the Central. So it took almost six hours on the ship. Then he got fooled for another three hour road journey. If someone from the Militia heard this he would lose all of his reputation and he’d be laughed at so badly.
He had slept at 4 P.M. He had eaten whatever food he carried with him for this journey in the ship itself. So at 5 P.M. his hunger woke him up.
He saw the two boys whom he had met earlier in the room. They were sitting at a table. One of them had dragged his chair over to the other. One was a blonde with his hair reaching his neck. He was well built. The other guy was a little taller but he was lean. He had short hair. So these two were his seniors. At the Militia, the seniors were greatly respected by their juniors. Sometimes one’s loyalties would be with their senior more than the Force as such.
He politely spoke to his seniors and found them to be very friendly. The buff one between the two, Eshin, spoke to him first and they exchanged some details about themselves. Slowly, Eshin started speaking on and on. Advay is also someone talkative. They soon hit it off. The other senior was much calmer. He was writing, perhaps some college assignment, but he didn't mind the two talking at all.
Advay soon came to know his name was Tevy and he belonged to the College of Literature. Eshin was a student of Mathematics College. Perhaps it was due to Eshin’s personality or perhaps not, but Advay did not particularly feel these two boys to be on the same level as Aris. Maybe that feeling also had to do with the fact that there was a good age gap between Aris and himself. Eshin and Tevy looked more like his peers. After all, they were just a year older than him.
The three went to the canteen together to grab a snack. He also had dinner with them.
The next day he called his home and spoke to his mother and father for a while. Then he called his younger, Ansh. He lived in the North Country. After speaking with him for a good 20 minutes, he finally felt satisfied. He followed Eshin, who took him to explore the whole university.
The exploration went on for the next two days, i.e. until Monday. Then came his first day attending the classes. He merely had two introductory classes. Soon he found his other room mate who had arrived earlier that day. His name was Yang Chen. He was a short guy who looked fair and had silky hair.
Yang was an introvert and he was not as talkative as Advay or Eshin. Another day of exploration continued. Yang joined the two guys. It was a repeat for Advay while Eshin would just find plenty of new topics to chat about along the way. So this time Advay showed Yang around the place. Yang was also from Eshin's college.
The whole first week went by leisurely. Advay would hang out with Yang and Eshin most of the time. Rarely, Tevy would join them. They four would eat together most of the time. But when the seniors sat with their colleagues, it would leave him in Yang’s company. Yang was a decent conversationalist but it was hard to really understand him. Advay knew he was an open book to others so he was quick to admire Yang’s personality.
It was Thursday and ten days had passed by. Only then did Yang say to his roommates, "I... Please call me Chen." He had noticed that all friends here referred to each other by their given names. Perhaps they thought Yang was his given name. The ordering of given name and last name differed from country to country.
Soon, Tevy spoke. "Are you from the North?"
"Yes," said Chen.
Tevy had not really known each of them on a personal level yet because he had no time for it. "I and Eshin are from the West country." When he had dined with Advay before, he did not give any attention to the ever talkative Eshin and the equally talkative new guy. To keep himself from being irritated with them, he would simply study each grain of his rice.
He continued, "You Advay? From the Garden?"
Names pretty much told about ethnicity and region of origin.
"What Garden? I am not a flower! I am from the Central Gardenia," Advay stressed, somehow not liking his country being called a garden. It was much, much more than a garden. Eshin stood by the side and made an attempt to hide his laughter.
"Gardenia means garden, moreover, flowers would feel bad if they heard you" Tevy gave a kind of sinister smirk as if to taunt the other.
"Well, fine..." Advay had to give in. There was some truth in what the other guy said. He noted, the lesser Tevy spoke, the better. He was thankful that this guy wasn't a talkative person. So did Chen. And Eshin was not new to this side of Tevy.
"Right, are there many gardens in your country?" Tevy continued.
"In fact, there are," Advay gave him a right smile. That was a widely known fact. What was this guy doing exactly, acting like he was new to the information? Advay didn’t like to think further.
"Alright, Tevy don't say anything anymore." Eshin cut in.
And Tevy did not say anymore.
The Provincial University is the only university that accepts students from other countries. It also offered programs in almost all fields, except computers or cryptography. And given the quality of education of several institutions of the East country, international students flocked to this university.
This however, definitely did not assure that the differences of origin did not show or that everyone got along well and accommodated each other in harmony. It would probably take a conscious effort to not get into fights for no better reasons.