Reviewed by Lakshminarasimhan.
In the pleasant morning breeze I was sitting next to Shantanu in a remote corner of our college. Every now and then our privacy was disturbed by some morning walker/jogger. I was telling him about the chitchat which we had the previous night.
He accused us of wasting time, by speaking about someone uselessly. He suggested that we shall speak about reputed people or successful women like Pepsi Co. Indranooyi or Biocon’s Masumdar Shaw. I frowned, asking him to stop speaking like my dad.
I was perfectly annoyed, when he said Sundari was a good girl. I wouldn’t have bothered, if he had admired a 1000 other girls or ogled at other girls a million times, but I couldn’t tolerate him speaking good about her for three reasons.
One, Sundari cheated guys with her made up beauty, so I hated her. Two, she believed that a lot of guys were crazy about her, so, again I hated her. Thirdly, she considered herself as the loveliest girl at college, which again was a reason, why I hated her. So, I never wanted anyone to speak in praise of her, and definitely not Shantanu.
Seeing my eyes turn red at the mention of ‘Sundari is a good girl’, Shantanu backed off from his opinion. He managed that he never noticed her much, and with the little knowledge he had about her he couldn’t make a proper opinion about her.
It was then Shantanu’s turn. He told me that his cousin is asking him to come over to Hyderabad for the semester holidays. As he had work related to our college symposium he decided to stay back in college, and he said ‘sorry’ to his cousin. His mom and sister had planned to visit his grand parents’ home in the city for his sister’s Christmas holidays.
I recalled being called a sister by him. I couldn’t contain my curiosity anymore. I interrupted him, and asked him whether he remembered the incident at our NSS camp, when he fought with 3 guys for teasing me. He flirted, saying that he remember every second he spent with me.
I asked him whether he remembered addressing me as ‘sister’. He was annoyed and confused. I repeated his line, “I love you like my own sister.” He laughed aloud and explained that his sister was the person whom he loved the most, and he wanted to tell me that his love for me was as sincere and intense like his love for his sister.
I cursed myself for the misunderstanding. I said that I was so worried and annoyed about that. He laughed louder at me, and I bent my head down blushing.
After some time of usual beautiful silence, I continued my beautiful boredom. I wondered whether he considered it as beautiful or just boredom. Anyways, I still continued to tell him more about the chitchat.
I enlightened him on the latest gossips. I told him about Prasad anna and his love for Sylvia akka. I kept on blabbering more about such topics. He listened to me silently, whether or not he was interested. Finally I ran out of things to tell him in just half an hour. If only he had responded to the gossips this conversation would have extended to hours, like the chitchat we had the previous night in our room.
I also told him about the communal talk, and me being a half Brahmin. No one knew of it except for my close friends at hostel. I thought it was time I told him about my parents.
I told him all about it briefly, as this story itself can be written as a novel. My dad and mom were doing their Bachelors of Commerce in a reputed institute in dad’s city. They fell in love with each other.
After graduation, dad left to Delhi for his IAS training and mom worked in some petty job in her home town in spite of being the university gold medalist. Mom is from a very orthodox family, and gramps forbid her from working far away from home in the city. Mom would still say, how hard she battled with all her family to let her study beyond school in the city.
Mom used to recall that, it was a horrible long gap. Those days, there were neither mobile phones nor the internet. Dad couldn’t even write to her office address as gramps family was very influential, and they had eyes and ears everywhere in that district.
So, dad wrote to mom’s friend, and she passed on the letter to mom. Just like in the movie Mission Impossible, mom would burn the letter just after reading. She always felt sad about being unable to keep her love letters safe with her, but she was such a memory maniac that she still remembers the letters word by word. Dad used to complain that only because of mom’s memory power, she had pushed him down to the second place in college she being the topper.
The way they got married is one hell of a story. Dad completed his IAS training in par with his family tradition of being one of the best pass-outs like his dad and uncle. With gramps’ influence he was appointed the joint secretary for the state’s Education department. He told gramps about his love.
Gramps rejected the request flat. Dad, who always went by what he felt was right, ignored gramps warning, and went to Mom’s home to ask for their marriage. Mom who knew pretty well about her family, strongly believed that dad will never be able to step out of the place alive, suggested dad to fly with her somewhere, or to better forget her than asking her dad about the marriage.
Dad devised a plan according to which he asked for a transfer to Bihar or north east, which was one undeniable request as none wished to be transferred to those places. Meanwhile mom got engaged with another big-shot’s son from her own community.
Just a couple weeks before marriage, mom and dad flew to Assam and got married there. As both gramps had powers limited to the state then, they couldn’t stop them. Dad wanted mom to study more. She studied CA. Not to disturb her academics they postponed child birth.
After 5 years of married life Dad got transferred to Kerala as a District Collector for his second term. I was born in Kerala six years after marriage. Dad and mom seldom spoke to their families, especially their fathers.
Shantanu sat there awe struck. I was as froze, when I first knew of all these. I kept bugging mom to tell me why things were strange in our family. She always kept ignoring me, or giving some vague answers. Finally she gave in to my bugging and told everything when both of us where sitting bored in our home, when I was waiting to join college.
Shantanu after taking some time to digest the matter said that we will not be having any problem with my family regarding love. I was not sure because dads don’t consider their off springs as intellectual to make the right decision.
Shantanu, though was from a middle class family, his family was more orthodox than mom’s. Just because Shantanu’s cousin loved a guy, his dad distanced himself from his own sister’s family. Shantanu himself had some favoritism towards his community.
But Shantanu assured me that his dad loved him so much that he always got Shantanu whatever he asked for, even beyond his dad’s financial capability. So he believed that he would be able to convince his dad. He also added that his mom would love me.
For the first time we talked about getting married. The reality was much more complicated than it appeared. My rational mind analyzed all possible arguments to be placed before my dad and worse was the case when it came to convincing Shantanu’s kins, whom I never knew.
I tried to concentrate on the semester exams, and I didn’t want this thought about marriage affect my CGPA.
How many types of friends are there?
5 days ago