Thy Name Is Woman
Thy Name Is Woman
It was bitterly cold morning of January in North India! Zoraver was on his way to his college! The registrations for second year were to begin today! The train was late by four hours already. His head was throbbing due to the 24hr journey and he still didn't know how long it would take for him to reach his college. He was excited, because from now on they'll be studying the subjects they had opted for. The first year was all basic and boring. He hated the labs of mechanical engineering and chemical engineering. But he was now done with them and had passed his first year with flying colors. He had his work planned and his goal defined. He had inherited his dad's ability to stay focused! He always looked upto him. He was his role model. A perfect man, a perfect father who always was around to look over his tiniest of needs. He never missed his mom. He hated her. She was the face of womanhood for him. He hated them all. He had decided to never get married because the women were selfish souls.
While he was struggling with his thoughts, the train came to a halt. He had reached his destination. He got hold of his luggage and got down. While he was struggling climbing up the staircase, he noticed a thin girl struggling with her luggage. He couldn't see her face nicely as it was covered with her hair hanging loose. With two large suitcases and a bag to handle she couldn't push her hair away and was having trouble seeing the path ahead with her eyes partially covered by them.
Stupid, he thought looking at her. Why do these girls have to be so dumb. He thought he should help her but he could barely manage his own luggage. He called for a coolie. One approached him. He pointed out the girl.
"Usko zarurat hai tumhari!"
He moved forward and climbed the stairs. When he reached the overhead bridge, he was glad to see the girl had handed over her luggage to the coolie and she had tied her hair and looked nice. He wondered if she had read his thoughts. He moved on.
He got done with the registration. It took two days to settle the things down in the new hostel. He had managed to get a room with his best friend Dilbaag. It was always great to have him around because they were like two sides of a coin. Dilbaag was never interested in studies, it was photography that took his breath away. He had gone on Himalayan expedition in the winter break and the way he made those snow-covered peaks and roads look, made them look nothing less than heavenly! He had pasted the pictures all over the walls of their new room. That looked like an art gallery now! But he had no complaints.
The classes started from Monday. There was a lot of reshuffling as the same branch students were to come together. He was always punctual and reached the class before time. He took a seat in the second row. Within the next five minutes the entire classroom was packed. And just like a bollywood movie, the girl from the station walked in. She sat in the front row. He thought to himself, must be a padhaaku!!!
The professor walked in and the roll call started. Almost the entire class was done but her name had not yet been called. The roll numbers were in alphabetical order of the first name. He was wondering what a girls name could be starting with U V W X Y or Z. And suddenly the professor called 'Vaidehi Bharucha' and she got up! He liked the sound of Vaidehi but Bharucha was too loud! But then why was he even bothered.
He ignored her and got occupied with the introductory lecture. The classes got started in full swing from the word go. The timetable was tightly packed. He was excited as the subjects were interesting. The next two months went by in a jiffy. He was never the one interested in any extracurricular activities so he always kept to himself. Dilbaag was his only friend. He was from a different branch so they never discussed studies. Whenever both of them were free, they would go out and try new eating joints in the town because both of them were foodies and the mess food sucked!
The exams were nearing and he knew how important the grades were. He wanted to have the best grades to make his entry into the best of MNCs in the world smooth! He had worked hard. Before the exams were to begin, some of his batchmates would come to him for their doubts and queries and he happily obliged them all. He believed there was no better way of learning than teaching. And he was never insecure that anyone would score more than him.
The exams went smoothly. The holidays had begun but he stayed back for a week to check the marks and answersheets. To his surprise he was happy with the marks he had got. He talked to his batchmates and he sensed that he had the highest marks. A sense of pride sneaked in. He shared it with his dad. His dad said
"Never celebrate too early, Let's wait for the results. And mind you I'm proud of you, irrespective of your rank!"
The result was finally declared and he had an A+ in all subjects. He was eager to reach his college to check the rankings. When he eventually got to know he was second in the class by only 2marks, he couldn't believe it. He searched for the name of the topper "Vaidehi Bharucha".
He felt so annoyed! How could a girl score more than him?
Anyways the next session began. The first day he searched for her. He couldn't see her in the class. The second day when he entered the class, she was sitting in the front bench. Just as he was about to cross her, she got up and said "Congratulations Zoraver, it was quite close!"
"Congratulations to you, you are the topper!" He couldn't hide his bitterness.
He could see the disbelief in her eyes but he ignored it and moved on.
"What a snob!" He heard her say that but he had already moved away.
The year went by and he never saw her in her eye. The final exams were about to begin and he was busy preparing. One day he received a call. It was an unknown number.
He took the call
"Hi" a female voice said from the other side
He tried to recollect as it sounded familiar but he couldn't
"This is Vaidehi! I needed some help. Can I see you, I promise I wouldn't take too long!"
"This was about C plus, I can tell you if we can meet up"
Though he didn't like her much but C plus wasn't his forte. Maybe when he discusses it with her, he may benefit in the process
"Sure, I can see you in the reading room"
"I'll be there in 30 minutes!"
"Ok, I'll make it in that time"
They met in the reading room and discussed it out. He felt good about himself because he could judge his grip on the subject was more than hers.
When they were about to wrap up, he asked her "Why did you come to me, You could have done that with any of the seniors!"
"Kamlesh sir said no one knows C plus better than you. I don't go for anyone but the best." she said almost authoritatively.
"Hmmm! I'll remember that, Bye!"
He was impressed with her approach. She meant business and she let go of her ego to learn. That's the quality very few have. He saw a very bright future for her and lost all his hatred he had for her. Sometimes your rivals command respect and she surely did! The fact that she was a woman didn't take anything away from her prowess. It didn't.
The exams went by smoothly. He went home to his dad. His dad had planned a vacation for them and they had a great time together.
One of the evenings, his dad asked him
"Any girlfriends buddy?"
"No dad, I hate girls! You know that"
His dad was taken aback. Though he knew that his wife had left a huge void in his life, but that generalised hatred scared him. It was painful to see his son scarred so irreparably.
"Why should you hate girls? They are the very basis of our existence!"
"The first one I ever met, let me down so bad, I've not been able to overcome her as yet!"
"Now that sounds interesting! Who was she?"
His dad was taken aback!
"Zoraver, my son! One bad experience doesn't mean everyone else is bad too. And when your mother left us, you were too young to know the circumstances she left us in. So you wouldn't know her side of the story to judge her."
"She left me, for whatever it may be, that's what counts! That's what I remember and that's what I carry in my heart and mind. You attended my PTMs, you were the one who made my tiffins, she was never there!"
"I know how you feel, but you need to give your life a chance!"
"I've not thought about it dad. I'll let you know whenever I find someone" Zoraver didn't feel like having to pursuit the topic further with his dad.
"Hmmm! When are you expecting your results?"
"Let me know, we'll celebrate!"
"How can you be so sure it will be worth celebrating?"
"That's because as long as I've my son with me, the celebrations should go on!"
He hugged his dad. He loved him every bit.
The results were declared and he didn't bother calling any of his friends to ask them for their marks. He was though itching to know Vaidehi Bharucha's marks. But he didn't know how to enquire for that. He decided to wait till he could get back to the college.
He reached the college for the registration. While he was waiting for his turn, he noticed Vaidehi had completed the formalities. She saw him and waived at him. He felt a little awkward because he never had talked to any girl in the college till that day. Anyhow he waived back at her. She walked upto him. She put her hand forward.
He shook her hand
"Thank you!" He didn't want to sound ignorant by asking what she was congratulating him for.
"I lost to you by good 10 marks, but well deserved! Mind you, I'm going to make it tougher for you this year."
"Thanks you!" He felt stupid at his own reaction because it didn't make any sense
"Bye" She said smilingly
He liked the way she challenged him. He wasn't mentally prepared for such a confrontation and felt how ridiculous he must have sounded. She was some woman, he admitted to himself.
The classes started on Monday. He had taken his seat. Vaidehi walked in, and approached him. He felt a bit awkward seeing her walk towards him. She came right upto him
"Can I sit with you if you don't mind!"
"Yeah sure!" He said reflexly. He felt a bit uneasy but settled down over the next few minutes.
Over the next couple of months they became good friends. Dilbaag said once "I envy her!"
Zoraver retorted back "Why should you envy her?"
"How can you have another friend besides me?"
"I'm not married to you!"
"Do you plan to marry her?"
"I could sense you were driving to this point! She's a friend, that's that. I've no plans of marrying ever and by the way you are free to get married to any girl you choose as long as she doesn't ask you to alienate me!
Both of them laughed. It was funny how friends can be so insecure and possessive. When you treasure someone, you want the whole of them, you are scared someone may steal them from you, someone may capture their time from your share. This insecurity is an indispensable part of any relationship. He wondered why his dad didn't feel insecure about him and instead wanted him to have a girlfriend and get married.
All these years he was happy to have Dilbaag as his friend because he didn't feel like discussing studies after coming back to hostel. He always thought its good to compartmentalise as the energy remains focused. Now with Vaidehi he didn't mind discussing the subjects even after the college was over. They would sit together in the reading room. She had a vision about things that always made him think beyond books. She was always making him think how to apply the bookish things into practicality.
It was Sunday noon and he was lazing around in his room listening to some music and tidying up his clothes. His phone rang.
It was Vaidehi
"I need to talk to you urgently, can you come to the canteen right now"
He got worried. She had never sounded so tense. He was wondering what must have happened. He quickly locked the room, took on his bicycle and headed towards the canteen.
Vaidehi was already there. She didn't look sad. That was some relief.
"Pranjal just proposed to me!"
He kept waiting for her to say more but she was looking at him waiting for him to say something
"So what Vaidehi? What do you want of me?"
"Should I say yes or no?"
"How would I know that? He looks like a decent guy but I've never noticed him to be among the rankers! Its your decision, afterall, it's your life!"
"Is being among the toppers the only thing that matters to you?"
"When did I say that?"
"I'm sorry, I misinterpreted what you said!"
"Zoraver, I like him, he was part of my dance group last fest."
"Good then go ahead and say yes!"
"Are you sure?"
"Vaidehi, if you think you can be happy with him, you go ahead. I'm a little foolish in these matters"
The next day, Vaidehi sat with Pranjal and that became a routine. Gradually the time of their discussions stopped. He missed her. She seemed to be always happy and giggling and that made him happy.
He remembered her challenge at the beginning of the year and studied hard. Her guidance and directions during the discussions gave him newer horizons to explore. He spent all his time mastering coding.
The mid sem exams got over and he went home to his dad.
His dad had taken leave from his office to spend time with him. He was home for less than a week. His dad wanted to make the most of it.
"Dad, you took a leave?"
"I want you to learn cooking! in a year's time, you'll move out of your hostel, God knows to where in the world. Unless you know how to cook what you like you wouldn't be able to get it made from anyone."
"Dad there's something I wanted to talk to you about!"
"Yeah sure! Go ahead!"
"There's this girl in my college!"
He saw that naughty smile flash across his dad's face.
"Dad please stop hallucinating!"
"Did I say anything, go on, I'm listening!"
"She is very bright, brighter than me. We used to discuss things together, and I always found her inquisitiveness uplifting and challenging."
"Yes used to! A not so intelligent guy proposed to her and she is all into him"
He saw his dad's face suddenly look pale.
"Oh! why didn't you propose to her before him?"
"That's not the point dad!"
"Then what is?"
"I find her weird."
"Yeh, how can she be so foolish to ignore her studies at such crucial juncture for a boy who doesn't dream as big as her?"
His dad put his arm over his shoulder and made him move to the sofa and sit there.
"That's what love does to you. Yes she may look foolish and maybe she's foolish to be fooling around with a foolish guy but these feelings are important to experience."
"I don't understand you dad?"
"Zoraver do you love me?"
"You think I love you?"
"Definitely, more than anything else!"
"Why did I take a leave from work do you know?"
"Because you wanted to teach me how to cook!"
"Yes of course, I wanted to teach you that but there's something more to it!"
"What is it dad?"
"We work all our lives and we dedicate most of it in accomplishing our goals. But its equally important to feel and share your time with people, those who love you and those who know you! I've an important project nearing completion but I know its more important to spend time with you. You'll be gone farther in a year's time and will get busy with your life. I wouldn't get time to spend with you as often as we do now. Work is important, relationships are more important. Whatever you achieve in life you would fail at times and to share them both you need a partner. I'll always be there with you but the camaraderie you can share with someone your age is unparalleled and a woman who is in love with you and respects you can give directions to your life no one else can. I wasn't lucky, doesn't mean you will not be lucky as well. It's absolutely Ok for Vaidehi to opt for a guy who proposed to her. I'm sure if you had, she would have said yes to you. Sometimes people are in vulnerable states, that's when they need a shoulder to lean on!"
"But I was a good friend of hers"
"She needed a man and not just a friend!"
"Don't worry, you'll find someone else!"
"I'm not looking for anyone dad!"
"Let time decide that"
His dad was glad knowing that Vaidehi had helped Zoraver loose some of his vengeance he held so strongly for women. He was more hopeful than ever that he'll find a girl he would love and settle down in life.