An Eye Opener
An Eye Opener
“Hey Reetu, where are you? It is getting late for work. I need to go to the office early today as there is some inspection coming up in another three days.” "Just coming, your breakfast is ready Anika,” said Reetu, Anika’s childhood friend. “Here are two crisp dosas, your favourite onion sambar and chutney.” “Why did you not make Egg dosai, I have taken a special liking for this dosa these days. I also like omelette, scrambled egg etc,” continued Anika.
Looking up, Reetu saw Anika who was now all dressed to leave for her workplace. Her tight jeans and bright orange waist length T-shirt, short hair and almond-like complexion made Anika look a real modern beauty.” Oh, my gosh, Anika! I just cannot imagine how you have changed so much and I am dumbfounded on seeing the recent changes in your dressing manner, eating habits and behavior.”
Reetu’s remarks are absolutely true. Reetu and Anika hail from a small village in Maharashtra and are neighbours as well. As such both of them are quite close to each other and exchange each and every bit of information amongst them. Both their fathers are teachers in Government schools are both are Dad’s little girls as well. Anika is a pure vegetarian whereas Reetu comes from a hardcore non-vegetarian family. Reetu always saw to it that her friend had some good vegetarian dish when she visited her home as even eggs and garlic were a strict no in Anika’s house.
Reetu is not that intelligent when compared to Anika. Anika is not only good at studies but also shines well in several other activities including dance, music, painting etc. As such she is admired by each and every family in the village and is a role model for the children of that village. Even though Anika is a bright girl, by nature she is reserved and hardly mixes with the opposite sex. The whole village is proud of Anika when she turns out to be the State first ranker in Plus 2. Having secured admission to a good engineering college, Anika lands in a plum job during one of the campus interviews. This job takes her to Pune. Her parents and especially her Dad is not in favour of his child leaving home and he feels that the vacuum created by her absence would be too much for him to take on. Her mother, though equally sad, on the other hand is more practical and wishes her well wherever she is.
Reetu being a mediocre student completes her B.Com and joins the finance department in the same office as Anika. At first, both of them join a women’s hostel and Anika keeps to herself with just attending her office and coming to the room and staying there during the evenings, reading books and watching TV. After six months, Reetu and Anika rent out a small apartment near the office. It is now that Reetu sees the gradual change in Anika. The quiet village girl starts going wild over the newfound freedom and goes about like a directionless kite. Anika confides in Reetu about her taking to drinking alcohol in small quantities, smoking a few cigars occasionally and going out freely with boys, even though she maintains her distance from them.
Both of them lost in their own thoughts are suddenly pulled back by the ‘Jai Ho’ ringing tone of Anika’s cell. Reetu hands over the cell to Anika, “Hey Anika, it’s your dad’. “You better talk to him and tell him that I am busy with some project and that I will call home late in the evening.” Reetu is a bit hesitant to pass on this message, but Anika pushes her to talk and Reetu is left with no option. “Hai Uncle, how are you and aunty? “ “Good Beta, is Anika there?” “Uncle she is busy completing some project and will call you in the night.” “Okay Reetu, how are you and your parents? “ Good Uncle”. “Anika’s Mom wants to talk to you Reetu. “Hello Beta. I would like to ask you something as you are very close to Anika and are like a daughter to us. We constantly worry about Anika as she is quite far away from us and we are unable to meet her as often as we would like to. Moreover, I cannot come there as Anika’s Dad is still in service and has some health issues as well and is forever thinking about Anika. She is not very communicative these days and her tone does not sound very enthusiastic as it used to be. Is she alright? We are getting good alliances now and if she is agreeable we can finalize some good guy for her. You please do take care of her Beta. Being here we are unable to do anything.” “Okay aunty. She’ll call you tonight.”
Anika could guess part of the conversation and said in an irritated manner, “What again? My wedding? Why can’t my Mom and Dad leave me on my own?” Reetu, angry on hearing this, “Keep in mind that they are your parents and not any Tom, Dick and Harry. You are the apple of their eyes and your dad’s little girl. I am also not happy with your ways Anika. “What’s happening to you now?” “Reetu continued in the same tone, “I know that you have changed quite a bit but did not expect this from you.” “What?” “I hear that you are going to Mahabaleswar with Raghav today.”Yes, so what? I know to take good care of myself. Don’t you worry. “
“I know that you are capable of taking care of yourself but he may create circumstances which may work against you. Quite likely it may start raining or his bike might develop some problem and he may suggest that both of you wait in a nearby hotel room till it gets repaired. Knowing you well, he might not directly advance towards you but mix something in a drink and offer you. Oh! The very thought is frightening!”
“Common Reetu, this thinking of yours is because of your seeing several movies, in which all these things are common. Rain and now when it is the peak of summer! Assuming that some such thing happens, keep in mind that I am a good ‘karate kid’! “
Continued Reetu, “Our friend Nishantha told me that this guy’s character is questionable. His family has several connections in the political circle and if anything goes wrong, his position is strong but we are helpless. Listen to me,” pleaded Reetu.
“You know something? Raghav himself has told me about Nishantha. His good looks and high connections draw several girls towards him. This Nishantha had high hopes of marrying this guy and when he refused, she has started spreading a malicious rumour about him. He is yet to find his girl and I feel that he is interested in me and has called me out to express his willingness to marry me. Anyhow, I am not going with any preconceived idea or notion. My parents deprived me of the city pleasures and now you are trying to do this. Goodbye, see you in the evening!” Waving happily Anika left the room and walked towards the meeting point where Raghav was supposed to wait for her.
“Hai Ani “called out Raghav when he saw her walk towards him. He was sitting on his bike all set to start the bike. “Hai Raghav, shall we go?” “Yes, of course,” The bike zoomed its way towards Mahabaleshwar with Anika holding on tightly to Raghav, feeling on top of the world. All of a sudden the bike stopped and Raghav, “Oh my God! What’s this? I did fill petrol today morning. It sure must be some mechanical defect? “Yeh Raghav, I see a small mechanic shop right there. Can you see? Go there and find out the problem and I shall wait here. “Things are turning out the way Reetu envisaged!” thought Anika. “Anika, looks like it will take another couple of hours to repair the bike as the mechanic has just gone out and will be in after about an hour. Good that there is a restaurant cum lodge close by and we can walk up there and wait till the job gets done.
“No Raghav, I am not coming to any lodge. Sorry.” “Who wants you to come to any lodge now, we will just go to the restaurant and order some samosas, tea or ice cream or whatever and talk for some time. That’s it”. Anika felt ashamed on blurting out and thought “he is not the type as told by Reetu. No harm in going for a cup of coffee.” They both walked into the restaurant and sat at a table and ordered some items. Continued Raghav, “Look, Anika, I like you a lot and at the same time I am not willing to tie the knot immediately and jump into marriage as I wish to spend some time with you and find out our compatibility. Yes, I want to have a live-in relationship with you and will not get entangled in marriage commitments immediately. If things work out we will marry if not part ways as friends.
What do you say?” On hearing this, Anika’s blood started to boil. “Do you think I am that cheap, you idiot?” thought she. “Look Raghav, I am not the type of girl. Had you told me before I would have not consented to come with you.” Raghav’s face turned crimson but immediately he became normal and continued, “Live-in relationship is a modern trend and hence I suggested this. If you are not willing, just leave it. Just wait for the ice cream which we have ordered and then we will leave. “
Just then the waiter entered carrying two cups of ice cream. Suddenly the waiter tripped and the ice cream bowl fell on Anika’s lap. Raghav turned red with anger and slapped the waiter. “Sorry Sir, sorry Madam,” said the young waiter in a sobbing tone. “Mam, there is a guest room very close by. You may go in and freshen yourself.” The waiter led the way to the room and Anika followed him.
The waiter looked up at Anika and was shocked to see her. “Anika Didi, is it you?” Anika had a confused look on her face, “Who are you?” “Didi, I am from your village and your father’s student as well. You may not know me but you are an inspiration to all of us in our village Didi. Why did you come here with him? He allures several girls and promises to marry them. After satisfying his carnal appetite, he just dumps them and blackmails them. If the girls do not give in to his false promises, he brings them to this hotel, which is run by his father, a man with powerful political connections. If the girls evince interest in consuming alcohol or any other drink he mixes some sedatives and then rapes them. On the other hand, if the girl refuses the drink, he rapes them forcibly and captures the scenes in his cell and blackmails them.” He continued, “As I happened to be your table waiter today I was instructed to drop ice cream on you. I was shocked when I heard this and asked other waiters about this and this is what I learnt from them. Had it been some other Didi also, I would have told her the same. Didi, I am resigning from this job today. Can you please get me a good job? “Anika was overwhelmed and handed over her business card to him. “Sure my dear brother, I will forever be grateful to you for having saved my honour.”
Soon Anika walked towards the exit and saw Raghav walking towards her.” Why Anika, is the room not comfortable? No hurry, I shall wait for you. Go to another guest room if you want and tidy up yourself.”
Looking at her face, Raghav could sense that she had come to know of his plans. “Hey, don’t pretend to be a very good and chaste girl. I know that you drink whiskey and smoke cigars. Come let’s go to the room,” said Raghav trying to grab her. She immediately showed her karate skills and sent him rolling down the steps of the hotel and walked fast towards the road to see if she could get a bus to take her back to Pune.
She heard her cell ringing - yes it was her Dad in an emotionally laden tone, “Beta, Reetu said that you will call us in the evening. I miss you a lot and so does Amma. I can’t wait to see you my darling. Your mom wants to hear your voice as it is now a couple of days since we heard from you.” Tears started streaming down Anika’s cheeks. “Papa, my dearest, tell Mom I am coming home to see you both this weekend. I am now on my way to the railway station to book my tickets for this weekend. See you very soon”
So saying she hung up and got into the bus going towards Pune which just then arrived at the spot where she was waiting. Her mind was clear of cobwebs now and she looked forward anxiously to the weekend, longing more than ever to see her Admiral - dearest Dad and her loving mother.