Political Stories by Volga

Political Stories-12

What is to be done? (Part – 1)

          Deeply engaged in her writing, Santha was distracted by the sound of someone approaching and lifted her head.

          Finding that it was Mohan, a research officer she had hired to help with her work, she was annoyed. It had been about four months since she had joined the research institute in Hyderabad. During this time, she hadn’t been able to strike a friendship with anyone; nor did her acquaintance with Mohan get past superficial formalities.

          Hiring Mohan might have been a mistake. She had come to realize that he was neither bright nor hard working. Gossiping appeared to be his hobby. He wasted her time with silly questions and worthless discussions.

          Undeterred by the annoyance on Santa’s face, Mohan pulled a chair and sat next to her and talked for half an hour about what he had accomplished. Not a word about their work. Santha listened to him patiently.

          he was finally out of words, but showed no signs of leaving

          He He appeared determined to somehow engage her ha conversation.

          Not quite knowing how to get rid of him, Santha ordered an attendant to bring tea for them both.

          “What Is your native place?” he asked, evidently just to while

          away the time.

          Santha felt like laughing at Mohan’s demeanor as he asked the question. He looked like a sixty-year-old, although he was probably no more than thirty-five. “Guntar,” she replied, “Guntur. My in laws live there,” he said, again like an old man. “Is that so?” Santha acknowledged the news with a toss of her head.

          “My wife had her education in Guntur. Women’s College.

          Gold medalist in B.Sc.” he said as if it were his own ac-complishment.

          Santha was curious. “What’s your wife’s name?”

          “Sobha. Sobha Devi.”

          “Sobhal You’re Sobha’s husband?” Santha couldn’t believe

          “You mean…. you know Sobha?”

          “Know her! We were good friends. I came to your wedding also. Sorry I didn’t recognize you, but then I saw you only in the groom’s costume. How is Sobha?”

          “Fine…She is doing well. We have two boys. I had a house built with all the amenities.”

          “It has been a long time since I saw Sobha, ten-twelve years maybe, I haven’t seen her after your wedding.”

          if that’s the case, tomorrow is Sunday… please come to our place, come for lunch,” he invited Santha.


          .. I will definitely come. It will be nice to see Sobha

          after all this time.”

          Mohan felt proud at this sudden revelation that Santha was a friend of his wife. In his newfound joy, he left for home early much to Santha’s relief.

          Santha fele funny thinking of the prospect of meeting Sobha again. Once they were bosom friends. They separated after Sobha’s wedding. They no longer kept in touch with each other. Santha always blamed herself for it.

          Now looking back, she recognized that if she had not behaved so rashly that day she wouldn’t have lost Sobha’s friendship. Santha wondered:

Will Sobha really talk to me now?

Will she talk to me as happily and affectionately as before?

Will she smile when she sees me?

How beautiful her smile was!

Will she forget what I had said then and smile at me?

Why had I spoken like that knowing full well how Sobha was?

          What a nice person Sobha was! She never hurt anyone, never said a harsh word to anybody. Why did I talk to her as if I was cursing her? Why didn’t I restrain myself?

          Santha reminisced about their college days. The places she and Sobha wandered – the paths around the campus, the verandas, and the rooms – passed before her eyes. The stone slab under the peepul tree, the Madhavelata spread over the trees, and the guava tree in the backyard of Sobha; house – she remembered them all Santha didn’t know that at the very same moment Sobba too was reminiscing about their college days. Mohan had come home and told her that the officer he had been telling her about was none other than her friend, Santha.

          Without each other’s knowledge the two old friends recollected their college experiences.

* * *

          Sobha, did you sign up for the debating competition or not?” On her way out of the classroom, the Telugu lecturer Ms. Swarajyalakshmi stopped briefly to ask Sobha.

          “No, madam,” Sobha stood up to reply.

          “No! Why not?”

          Though Ms. Swarajyalakshmi was surprised and wanted to inquire about the reasons, there was no time. The physics lecturer Ms. Vijayalakshmi, who was about to lecture in the same room, had already arrived.

          Though Ms. Swarajyalakshmi left the room wondering, Santha, who was sitting next to Sobha, couldn’t remain quiet.

          While Ms. Vijayalakshmi took the attendance, Santha kept murmuring. “Why didn’t you sign up? I already did. Didn’t we decide we were going to be a team? Didn’t you say yesterday that you would sign up?”

          Soba asked her gently to be quiet. She would explain after the class.

          The two friends gathered under the Madhaveelala canops after the class.

          Tell me now. Didn’t we agree to participate as a team?

          You are dropping out because you think I am not as good as you,” Santha taunted.

          “Cha. Why do you say things like that? My parents said,

          No,” said Sobha, quite casually.

          “But why? What is the reason?”

          “I don’t know?” Soba remained mute for a second and then explained. “The competition will be conducted in Hindu College and it looks like the students there are nothing but rowdies. The competition starts at six in the evening and by the time it is over, it will be at least nine of ten in the night.

          “How will you come home at that hour from that college?” they asked. They didn’t want me to sign up.” Sobha was a bit embarrassed about it.

          “Why did you tell them all that stuff? Do you have to tell them where the competition is, what time it will be held and all that? You shouldn’t even tell them you are partici-pating.”

          “How can I not tell them? Didn’t you tell your folks?”

          “Oh, please! Why tell them? If they are people who will say, It goes on till ten! Don’t worry, I’ll come pick you up then it makes sense to tell them. Folks who want you to drop out the moment you tell them… what’s the point of telling them?”

          Soba was annoyed. “If we don’t tell them and go home late at night, won’t they say anything?”

          “They will. But we don’t have to take it. So many things happen at the college. Sometimes it can get late. Can’t we

          argue with them? Or do we need permission for that also»

          Santha asked spiritedly.

          I don’t know: I never do anything without telling my parents. I’ll never do anything they don’t like.” Sobha said that heartily, peacefully and with deep conviction. Santha remained staring at Sobha. What a nice girl. She’s intelligent and she thinks wisely, thought Santha.

          It wasn’t just Santha, nearly everybody thought of Sobha like that. It was a joy to look at her. Not because she was pretty: She had a smiling face that one would want to see again and again. Sobha would never do anything that would blot the smile off her lips. A very wise girl.

          She would never do anything that irritated others. She was always moderate in everything and never said a word more than necessary or did anything that shouldn’t be done. Santha would occasionally get irritated with her. Wasn’t it ridiculous not to skip classes and go to a movie at least once a year? Sobha would never do that, but neither would she object to her friends going to the movies. In fact, she would be friendly with them, help them in whatever way she could, but she wouldn’t join them. However, she wasn’t selfish enough to go alone and sit in the class; she would just go home to her mother. “They all went to a movie. I’m sure the madam won’t take the class today, so I came home,” she would tell her. The next day she would eagerly listen to the friends talking about the previous day’s adventure and enjoy it heartily.

          She would congratulate Rajasti for teasing the boys in the front row of the classroom, but would not regret not participating in it herself.

          Santha didn’t know how to be upset with a friend like that.

          Sobha used to spend endless hours helping Santha with phys-is and math. When they participated in debates and other competitions, Soba went to the library to research and collect all the information they both needed. Even with all that help, Santha occasionally had problems doing her part.

          Sobha would calmly make up for her friend’s inadequacy and argue their point convincingly enough that in the end they would win as a team.

          Santha used to be anxious to be better than Sobha in something or the other, but could never do it. At the same time neither she nor any other classmate was ever jealous of Sobha. Sobha never behaved in a way that would arouse jealousy. Though she was ahead of her friends in all her endeavors, she was always dearly friendly with them and nobody ever had a reason to be angry with her.


(To be Continued-)


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