But, perhaps, today he had called her here to discuss about something radically different. Actually, that was her genuine expectation. It was the issue that both of them had never discussed among themselves in spite of meeting here several times so far. Therefore, ever since Vijay sought to meet her here in the park, she had become eager to meet him in the garden. That is why she had reached the garden a lot of time before the appointed hour. She glanced at her wristwatch. It was 5:30 PM in the evening which means she had arrived there at least half an hour before time, assuming he would arrive there in time. Of course, he was quite disciplined to keep the appointments. Now Priya glanced in all angles through the length and breadth of the garden thinking over how to while away the remaining time. First she had a small stroll throughout the garden. Everywhere, couples madly fallen in love were sitting. Priya recalled that both, Rajesh and Vijay would laugh sarcastically looking at such couples sitting in the garden because they always felt that ‘love’ was a kind of a mental and emotional weakness. Although, Priya never expressed herself over this, she never appreciated this sarcastic laughter because she always believed ‘love’ to be an emotion worth respecting. But she was aware that both of them will realize how sacred this emotion of ‘love’ is only when both of them would fall in love with somebody. And perhaps today, after a long passage of time, Vijay had sensed the serenity of that emotion thus inducing him to invite Priya at this garden. She once again scanned through the garden. Now scores of changes seemed to have taken place in the garden compared to what it before was. Earlier where there was lot of green lawn had now got converted into a barren piece of land. Perhaps the new gardener was not taking adequate care of the garden. Or perhaps even her outlook had changed over such a long period of time. How pleasant was her life like a park filled abundantly with trees of flowers and fruits when Vijay and Rajesh were studying with her during college and how barren had the life become now under the burden of the duties and responsibilities life had in stock for her like a monotonously running machine?. While delving deep into the thoughts Priya was lost in the past memories…..
It was the very first of Priya in that town and in the college located therein. Since her father was transferred in his service, she was forced to relocate in this little town from Mumbai. She had had all her education till 11th standard in Mumbai itself but now further education she had sought to take an admission in this new college. New town, new college and company of new students, almost everything was now new to her.
When she stepped into her classroom she became an instant object of curious eyes of all her class. Not only because she too was a new member of their class but also because knowing well that she has arrived from a metro city like Mumbai was sufficient a reason for the class to be curious about her. Besides that a girl in a modern outlook of bob-cut hairstyle was something totally new for those students of that little town. Compared to Mumbai, this town was definitely backward to a large extent. Priya even sensed a radical difference in the overall behaviour of the boys there. The boys in Mumbai were far too dashing and confident whereas the boys here appeared far too shy and introvert. These boys always maintained a distance between them and the girls in the class. Although Priya found these things worth laughing at, slowly she learnt that these rural boys were an equal match to their Mumbai counterparts in terms of academic intelligence but they were under the impact of the rural surrounding atmosphere for which even they were not to be blamed.
It being an important academic year of HSC, the regular classes had begun taking place right since the first day itself and almost all the teachers were conducting a revision of their respective subjects in order to take a stock of how much of the knowledge imparted in the previous had been retained by their students and how much had they forgotten during the long summer vacation. After a brief spell of two or three lectures one glaring feature of that class dawned upon Priya soon was that if all the students in her class would fail to answer a given question, the teachers then would turn to a boy student called Vijay sitting in the third desk of the middle rows who would promptly reply with a correct answer. His answers were so sharply precise that even Priya was impressed by his intelligent precision. She was charmed not only by his glittering intelligence but also because of his polite mannerism and his plain smile. It was not that Priya had never any bright students during her stay in Mumbai but she found Vijay far too different than what she had so far come across. Finally, she could no more curb her curiosity, and sought to know from her fellow girl-student who that impressive student was?.
‘Who is he?’, Priya asked.
‘He is the most intelligent student from our class’, came the reply.
‘I know that already, but what is his name?’, she impatiently asked.
‘Vijay’, came a quick reply.
‘I know even that since the beginning of the class……but what is his Sir-Name?’, Priya maintained her patience.
‘Sawant’, came an equally quick reply.
Priya once again turned and looked at him.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Girish Katre (GirishKatre@gmail.com)