Published: 21st July 2021
This anthology of stories by IIM-A alums is the shot of college nostalgia you need
An institute that has managed to produce some well-known writers, has always had a culture of writing. An anthology manages to bring the most delicate of stories out to represent the institution
Siddhartha Bhasker admits that the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad is a “study-heavy” campus and students don’t have the time to partake in the kind of political controversies that other central universities grapple with. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t always something interesting brewing in the lives of the students there.
Whispering Bricks, by Fingerprint Publishing is an anthology of 15 stories written by IIM-A students on their lives on campus. “The idea for the book first struck me in 2013. I was speaking with a friend on how there are many grand stories of success from the institution, how it has produced a gamut of writers. But we thought the daily stories of the students here are just as important. And we wanted to tell that tale,” says Siddhartha, who is now a professor of Economics at Jindal University, Delhi.
The book is a collection of everyday stories from students of IIM-A | (Pic: Fingerprint Publishing)
And so emails were circulated, asking interested students to pen their stories, and the responses came pouring in.
“We were looking for day-to-day stories, and we were happy to find that quite a lot of people were interested in writing stories. Writing was a desire, and we were happy to provide that platform," says the author. Siddhartha was pursuing his PhD from the institute at the time, and it took two years for him to compile the book, which he finally finished in 2015.
However, tough times were ahead of him personally, as he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. After battling it for five long years, during which he also managed to finish his PhD in 2017, Siddhartha finally was able to publish it this month, after another year's delay due to the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Eventually, 15 stories were selected, and they all carry a healthy balance of emotion, humour, nostalgia, and poignance. From The Last Flight to Chennai which follows the tale of Ashwin Ravichandran being forced into choosing between flying to Chennai to see his grandfather for the last time, or writing his all-important exams. Ultimately, he chooses the latter, justifying his choice by thinking that his grandfather wouldn’t have wanted him to jeopardise his career.
Alumni have written to him, saying they will go back to the book every time they miss their alma mater, because it manages to capture the essence of their time there.
While other college stories would involve the glorious days of protest or how they stuck it to the 'man', these stories tend to remain a bit more academically wild.
“The course structure is too heavy for the students to be involved in anything “controversial” like other universities in India. So we have stories on surprise quizzes and placement conundrums, but there aren’t any controversial stories,” says Siddhartha.
However, even in a study-heavy campus, as he calls it, there is space for romance, and there are a few stories that delve into it. “Funnily enough, a good number of IIM-A students have found their life partners at the campus. Finding their partner is also a part of their lives here, in a way,” believes Siddhartha.