Eleven months after pandemic paralysed the strife-battered campus life in Kashmir, the disrupted classroom ecosystem got revived on Monday after lockdown-weary students felt a breath of fresh air with their college comeback.
By Malik Huda
SRINAGAR: Afzaa Gojwari, 20, was getting impatient for her campus visit since Monday morning itself.
She had a quick breakfast, slung her bagful of books on her shoulders and headed to her college on MA Road, Srinagar quite early and eagerly.
Her outing was the much-awaited moment for the ‘good old’ traditional learning for her and clearly, a desperate break from the successive lockdowns and exhausted online classes for her tribe.
The sophomore felt a new lease of life after re-sharing freshly-mopped benches with her cheerful classmates.
“It has been one freaking time away from my classroom,” Afzaa told Kashmir Observer inside her campus.
“There’s no substitution for offline classes. No matter how hard a person pays attention in online classes, the essence of class is lost.”
Like others, she mostly spoke her heart out to her classmates and talked about the things which somehow became new normal for Kashmiri students in lockdown.
Afzaa had last attended her college on 11 March 2020, when all the universities and colleges in Kashmir valley were closed due to Covid pandemic after briefly reopening, post the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.
Almost a year later, Kashmiri students were delighted with their college reopening.
“I’m thrilled to be back to classroom, meet my friends and classmates,” Hafsa Mushtaq, another college-goer, told Kashmir Observer. “Although half of our degree is over and we didn’t get to learn much due to the successive lockdowns, but returning to campus feels very uplifting.”
On the first day, most of the masked students were seen roaming around the campus and sharing laughter and light moments.
The college management was regulating the student and staff entry with temperature monitoring devices and sanitizers.
The campus revival had put the additional footfall on the streets with traffic police diverting the vehicular movement through alternate ways.
But amid all this, smiling faces of students dominated the scenes on the day one of college restitution in the valley.
“We students passed through a really tough time,” said Bisma, a student from Government Medical College, Srinagar.
“We suffered a lot and there was so much of pressure on us. Now I hope that everything remains normal and we get to spend much time in college and learn as much as we can.”
This long overdue college rendezvous also acted as a vent for many students bereft of proper outing since abrogation of J&K’s semiautonomous status.
“Honestly, it feels like a refreshing visit,” said Shakir Andrabi, a final year student of the historic SP College, Srinagar.
“Last many months felt like a prison, where communication crisis and online learning only took toll on us.”
Like Shakir, Zubair Ali also wants to make most of this renewed educational phase now.
“Long-drawn-out tough time at home made me realise the importance of a campus life,” Zubair said.
“College is not only a classroom engagement, but the overall personality development phase in one’s life. It leaves a lasting impression in one’s life. I’m looking forward to make most of it now.”
As part of college life, the social hangouts and sports engagement also got restored with the campus revival.
“There’s a huge difference between online and offline learning,” Zubair Ali continued.
“While the screen tutorial is based on the ‘all work and no play’ rule, the offline learning strikes a right balance between play and work. And that’s what I missed the most about my college life all these months.”
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