Part 1) This link is for the first part of the Story which you can read by clicking HERE!
Part 2) This story is the continuation of part 1 which you can read by clicking HERE!
‘Banke Ji, we specially request you to please come. Please. 7 pm. ok? Without fail.’ One of the seniors said.
I nodded my head in affirmation.
It was quite late at night when I returned to my room after attending the fresher’s party at the residence organized by the seniors.
I unbuttoned my shirt quickly, turned on the fan and threw myself on the bed, and buried my face in the pillow. There was as if something choking inside my heart and I was unable to breathe. The session was so much more than just a welcome! Not only I but many of my classmates were tested on parameters of our resilience when we were subjected to subtle humiliation. It was a little extra for me though! They made fun of my accent, of my dressing style & of course of my name! We were offered to eat raw Karela as a welcome sweet to DU!
Recalling the events of the evening, I could not stop my tears. Maa was all I could think of. She would make so many recipes of Karela because she knew I loved it. Bharwa Karela, Karela fry, Karela ka bharta or sometimes she would make thin layered crispy Karela chips coated with cornflour! I missed homemade food made by Maa! I never valued it till I was in Lucknow! But today, I just wanted to bury my face in her lap and cry. She would put her hands in my hair and without asking anything would say ” Bhagwan pe bharosa Rakh beta, Sab theek ho jayega. ” I wanted to hear those words.
I missed Papa a little too. He would often wear an old ganji with tiny pores in it at home. I often scolded him for this! But he would just smile and say ” Ek din jab Baap banega na, tab samajh ayegi baat tujhe !” How many sacrifices had he really given in life to say this? I missed that smile today.
I missed my friends who would consider me as their uncontested leader and would cheer for me at any given time. I missed everything back home! A man should not cry is what they say. But why? Are we not human beings? I cried. I cried my heart out.
The most bitter food, Karela ( bitter gourd ) had made me recollect the fondest, sweetest memories of my life. I was able to see life, a little better today !.
“Do I just pack my bag and leave! No. I can not. What about my dream of joining the London School of Economics! I can not go back now !”
I wiped my tears and took my phone out and dialed Maa.
” Hello Maa”, I said slowly as she picked up the call.
“Kya hua beta, sab think he ? Tabiyat theek hai ? “
I tried hard to keep my calm and answered. ” Maa, is bar ghar aunga to mere liye Karela banana . khoob sara. “
Maa paused for a while. Probably she too was composing herself. Then she responded, “Tu jo bolega , bana dungi . Chutti milte hi ajana ghar, Beta !”
“Han Maa. Jaldi aunga .” I answered and kept the phone.
I could breathe again.
The next day in college, when the professor asked the question about the concept of opportunity cost, it seemed only two hands went up. One was mine and the other was that of Lipsa . She was in the second row and I in the last row.
Both of us answered correctly but mine was favored by the teacher as I added a real-life example saying if I have time and decide to watch a movie, then the cost that I would pay is missing out on the opportunity to study a book!
The whole class looked at me in awe when the professor praised me.
The class ended and while I walked out of the class, I heard someone call out my name.
Mohan !! Mohan !!
I turned back to see Lipsa come running to me.
She stood near me and as always, looked beautiful. And today, she looked ethereal.
She wore a glazing white salwar kameez with a silver border and had worn big silver earrings that kept dancing in the air every time she nodded her head. Her hair was tied up in a high pony and her dupatta had tiny little mirrors lined across its border reflecting the light in all directions. She had applied wine-red lipstick that made her face all the more attractive. As soon as I saw her face, a kind of sensation traveled in my body and my eyes met hers. I was lost for a second.
She questioned me. “Kal kyun nahi ruke event ke baad ? Maine tumhe bina dinner kiye gate see nikalte dekha !Kal jo hua ,galat hua .I feel bad too.”
“And why are you telling me all this? Just because I answered the question better na?You too enjoyed my humiliation on the first day. Lucknow mein hote na ek ek ko kantaap lagate jo log kal hamara mazak bana rahe the . Sabki akal thikane laga dete .Par wo kya he hume koi scene nahi chahiye. Tum bhi starbucks wale category mein ati ho. Bas aur kuch nahi kehna hume ab .” I was fuming with anger as I said all this in one go.
“Oh my God. Mr. angry young man!! Calm down and what category !! Hello … I hate Starbucks. I am desi at heart. I love tea. Chai. Kulhad wali. Do you get it? Khane mein Karela ! Samjhe. I had liked your simplicity from day one. “
“What !! Karela? Are you serious? That is my favorite too. What a coincidence!”
She smiled and put her hand out for a handshake.
“Dost banoge mere ? Chai piloege canteen mein?”
I could not believe what was happening today. I thought, probably it was my mom who had prayed for me last night after the call. Otherwise, Lipsa stretching out her hand for friendship was nothing less than a miracle for me.
I shook her hand with a big smile and felt as if an electric current traveled through my whole body.
“Acha suno, tumhe Karela pasand he isliye tumhara ye neon green bagpack bhi karela jaisa he kya? “I teased her in an attempt to lighten the moment which was making me very nervous.
“Hey !!” She revolted and with her tiny hands punched my gigantic arms.
Nothing broke but for sure my heart melted. I scratched the back of my head and just could not stop smiling. She was smiling too!
We both walked together towards the College Canteen.
(The End )