Well, so my undergraduate sojourn has officially ended.
Strangely though, as with thesis submission earlier, there is neither boisterous fanfare nor any impulse to indulge in proverbial retrospective ‘meaning-making’, otherwise known as sentimentalizing. I do not feel compelled to weep inwardly, in reverent silence, at years gone by; nor wax poetic about my Odyssean feat and how I steered between the twin colossi of Literature and Philosophy in four years (and suffered for it in ways I wish to forget). Neither is there poignant regret or remorse at things left unachieved, dreams left unattended and unfulfilled. I have done all I have set out to accomplish, and I highly doubt it would’ve gone any other way. Except maybe—if I could—I would’ve gone for SEP instead of slogging at my second major, which in my future employer’s eyes, seems almost worthless.
That moment was a nonchalant calm; this weatherbeaten vessel, having served its dues, glided airily across that last stretch of placid lake, parking itself almost gingerly by the jetty. Just a soft knock of sea-salted timber against timber, like a rap on the door. We’re home.
But there was relief, certainly—calculated or muted. As we stepped on shore, we made sure to hold our footing; it’d been awhile since our sore feet—sore from the spray of the mercurial sea—felt firm ground. They pressed almost ecstatically against the soft, cold sand—familiar in its moist amorphousness, yet in every way reminding us that we have finally disembarked. It was raining then, as I left the exam hall (MPSH6), almost too confident because I’d literally just transcribed two prepared essays onto my question paper (it was open-book, and you know how I wrestle open-book exams into submission—yes, by gross over-preparation: six self-sufficient essays written a day before). I’m terrible with spontaneous writing (and thinking and… anything spontaneous really). So I tend to compensate by fixating on any window of time in order to maximize preparedness, or what I call pseudo-spontaneity; I appear spontaneous sometimes because I have my arguments memorised. Okay it isn’t as hopeless as it sounds, not now anyway. My efforts to naturalize class participation and speaking up over the past few semesters have truly paid off. If I feel even the most atomic vibration of a desire to voice an opinion, I force myself to seize it—like the last light of an expiring star—and project it outward, stretching that beam out as far into the darkness as my energy can afford. Sometimes speaking becomes an almost out-of-body experience; I speak and forget. Then I slump back into my chair, like a meteor that has run out of starfire—a muffled ember. But I have spoken, and that is all that matters.
I actually feel obliged to etch out a ponderous post-undergrad reflection, but really, my mind is presently incapacitated because of the sheer amount of mental inertia sustained from suddenly stopping a blazing comet—blazing for four full years. A perfect deceleration to zero. Can you imagine? But I promise (myself, at least), that I would count my stars and blessings, when the thrill of end time has plateaued—when I realise that this terminus is one massive delusion, and that very soon, I’d be thrust, like the phosphorescent rapture of a solar flare, into the Great Beyond.