“Diyan, you should do something.”
“Ok. When are they planning to come?”
“Coming Sunday may be. Dad told me that his family also may come. So they might fix everything the same day.”
“Ok Priya. So what am I supposed to do now?”
The answer was a cold stare. I couldn’t stand her moist eyes.
“Leave it Priya. I understood. I can manage.”
From Priya, I tried to study the different apprehensions her father will be having in his preconceived notion. The foremost one will be the caste difference for sure as Priya belongs to an upper caste compared to mine. If I could devise an idea to counter that particular concern, then I am sure of winning his heart and can put forward my card on his desk. I Googled up a lot of articles and quotes which will make me competent to deal with his questions. Finally I worked out solutions for a bunch of questions and situations through which I need to walk that day.
But everything went in vain.
Her father almost shattered my night long hard work by giving me a warm welcome and offered me a seat in the living room. He introduced himself as Reghunathan Nair, a school teacher who has got one more year for retirement. He was a tall, lean, neatly shaved figure who put himself in a neatly-ironed pair of black pants and white shirt. He kept a warm smile on his face and asked his wife to give me something to eat alongside tea. I felt a little awkward to receive that kind of affection and got baffled by the thought of speaking to him regarding the purpose of my visit. Soon my eyes glued to something hanging on the wall, a framed photo of Prakash, the elder brother of Priya, who is actually responsible for me sitting in that leather-coated sofa placed in that living room in front of Mr. Reghunthan Nair.
I started recollecting everything which acted as a catalyst in escalating my distress. It was a few years ago, and I was going through a sad phase of my life. The girl I loved and trusted more than anything ditched me and I became a comic character in front of my friends and associates. I started spending a lot of time alone and was feeling weary and uncertain about my future. I really felt the need of a girl in my life.
And that is when I happened to hear about Priya, a friend of my friend Freeda. From Freeda, I understood that Priya is a timid bookworm who has got no other friends except Freeda. On the first day of my meeting with Priya, I proposed to her, lying that I was behind her for months without her knowledge, and has now reached a point where I cannot think of any other girl. The knowledge I gained from Freeda really helped me a lot in impressing her on my first meeting, but that was not enough to attain the expected reply from her.
It took me a few more months of hard work to get into a relationship with her. But for me, Priya was just a source to forget my past by masturbating on the fancy thoughts of her well-toned seductive body. She often presents herself to me with lustrous looks but I never cared much for her face. As the dusks breathed light, I slowly began to drop my interest in her and I trim down a quantum of time which I usually spend with her.
Every ‘seems to be’ normal thing became an abnormal one with the addition of an external wind and the same wind bruised the flow of events in my life as well.
That was a shocking piece of news to me, “Priya’s brother died out of fever”.
She once told me about her brother but I never asked her anything more in detail but I was unaware of anything which can lead to his sudden death. Just to satisfy my social morale I thought of attending his funeral. But I never even imagined that my visit is going to change the whole picture. I reached her home late and the funeral was over by then. There were a few of her relatives sitting there discussing inaudibly the cause of death. I tried to listen to them and what I heard really put me on my toes. Priya’s brother Prakash got paralyzed and became wheelchair bound at the age of 2 because of some unknown disease. His parents spent a lot of money for his recovery but all went in vain. Unfortunately he got that disease soon after the birth of Priya and that in-turn resulted in a talk that this bad fortune to her brother was an outcome of Priya’s horoscope. So from the birth itself Priya was considered to be a person who will bring bad fortune to her brother and her family.
At the age of twelve, the doctor insisted Prakash not to go outside and he was restricted to his bed within that single room. He only has one companion to play and share his feelings, his most loved sister Priya. He shares all his concerns and secrets to Priya who always find time for him. His body was vulnerable and needed to be treated with utmost care even for cold.
He stayed isolated for the last few days and didn’t tell anyone about his fever. By the time his parents identified his breathing problem, it was too late and the doctors at city hospital could have nothing else to do than saying a sorry.
I felt that the story was incomplete. But I didn’t have the fortitude to ask the qualms to anyone there. I walked into Priya’s room unsure of how to face her. She was in her room, alone, standing near the window. She sensed someone coming near to her and turned around to see my puzzled face. Her eyes were tired of crying and the untied hair rested disoriented on her face. She tried to bring up an unsettling smile on her face. I wanted to console her but the words failed me.
“They didn’t burn him but buried in the ground beside the mango tree as his parents are alive. I was not given permission to see him buried over there. Now he is lying there alone. Can you take me there Diyan? I want to spend a few minutes with them.” Priya asked with a deep snuffle.
Her question really crushed my tear buds. I caught her cold hands gently and spoke to her looking straight into her sob stricken eyes.
“Come. I will take you there.”
She gazed at my face with reverent faith and that in turn gave me the audacity to walk through the staring eyes of people around me, holding the hand of the girl who is one of the major topics of discussion at that moment.
We both stood beside his grave silently. I gazed at the frowned face of Priya. Her snarled hair was waving continuously over the pliable evening breeze. The yellowish sunlight snuggles up on her soggy face which enriches her glossy skin to reflect the light beam which resulted in a GOD like aura. I felt like I was standing in front of the most attractive girl in the world. Priya looked into my eyes. Her serene eyes which were carving ordeal were fetching enticement from the ambience prevailing there. I saw her lips trembling and I tried to listen to her whisper.
“I told him everything. About me and you. Everything. He replied nothing and so I ignored the tears in his eyes. I thought he didn’t like you. I ignored him every time after that. But I forgot that he had no one other than me to hear him. He had no one to tell his concerns. He was sick and in pain. And I ignored him all the time.”
Priya came closer to my face. She took my hands and placed her face in my paw. Her tears started dousing my hands and Priya crumpled enunciating her last sentence in her monologue.
“Diyan, it was me who is responsible for his death. I killed him. I killed him through ignoring him.”
A cold flicker ran through my nerve. I could grasp with clarity on my part in this catastrophe and my conscience already placed myself in the shoes of the culprit. I ignored everything. The goofing wind, the staring eyes around me, the bizarre sounds, everything. What I could see then was her despairing eyes. I clasped her so close to me and kissed on her forehead. I felt sanctified and my heart was longing for that moment to be eternal.
The dreary eyes of Priya started haunting my dreams. I sheltered myself in my room and was sure that it was time for retrospection. I could hear the suffocation captivated in my drowned morale. I never have seen Prakash and yet he has become one of the disturbing facts in my life. The role played by Prakash in Priya’s life can never be replaced. And I can never wipe out the guilt bubbled out in her conscience. I have emerged out as a total disgrace in my hindsight and I even avoided my mirror image for days. I had no other option other than to love her. I assured myself that I will love Priya that much that she will never even get a chance to recollect the guilt which is smouldering her from inside.
“You don’t like cupcakes?”
That question from Priya’s mother looking at the unscathed cupcakes, which she placed in front of me, bought me back from my memories. I hate cupcakes yet that smile ornamented face of Priya’s mother persuaded me to take a bite from it. Mr. Reghunathan was searching something inside his drawer and he came back and sat in front of me. His eyes radiated glistening vibes which helped me to foresee that Reghunathan is holding something of lofty value. But I could see nothing other than an old 200 page book in his hand. Reghunathan handed over that book to me. Before I could open that book, Reghunathan caught my hand and told with a sarcastic smile on his face,
“You may not realize the value of his book. For you, this is a simple 200 page book with some pictures glued to it. But for me this is my dream. My life.”
I opened the book and got amused to see newspaper cuttings having pictures of Priya collecting certificates from some eminent personalities at various ages. The book almost has 50 plus such pages each mentioning the date and year at which she has received those honours. Reghunathan continued, this time with his fierce dominating the sarcasm,
“You may not see any of her pictures marking recent years. You know why?”
I sat there perplexed. I am sure that Reghu himself will answer it though it was routed to me and so I waited for him to resume.
“She is losing her competence. She has other priorities now. She is in love now.”
Reghu’s voice became more rigid and I felt like I was scolded indirectly. So I kept quiet and listened to Reghu as he continued.
“I wanted her to be a renowned scientist. I have been crafting that dream for the last 26 years. And you are standing in between me and my dreams. So my question to you is, why should I dethrone my ambition just for a graduate who didn’t have the potential to even dream marrying a girl so well educated and highly talented like her?
You really think that you deserve a girl like Priya?”
I have prepared answers for a lot of questions regarding caste structure and concerns regarding caste gradation. But I never had prepared and even thought of getting confronted to such a situation and so I have no other choice but to mumble. The velocity of blood in my vessels rose and I started sweating hard. Reghu seems to be ignoring that and continues to gash me with his spearhead words.
“She is my only child now. She always took the correct decision for her, except this case. So as a father it is my duty to correct her so that she never regrets and curses me in future. So please take it if you need one more cupcake and vanish from here and from the life of my daughter. Please do a retrospection before thinking yourself eligible for such an alliance. And I hope you know where the door is”
The most charming fact is that across all these voice modulations, he kept a dashing smile on his face which will confuse us on the content he has delivered. I took one more cupcake which I started to have a soft spot by then and prepared to leave. I saw Priya standing beside the door with moist eyes. I tried to pass on a weary smile but failed miserably. I went close to her and whispered,
“You never understood your father. So start anew.”
I am sure that Reghu was looking at me, with the same smile on his face, when I walked away after closing the gate.
Name : Vishnulal Sudha
Company : ENVESTNET,Trivandrum