Vijay, Rajesh and Priya had, by now, started spending time for studies intensely because there were hardly eight days remaining for the examinations to begin. Through these last eight days doing one last revision was necessary and above all doing it properly was extremely important. Examination started after the eight days passed. Everyday they were supposed to appear for one paper. Now all of them started studying independently at their respective homes since each and every moment was important. Everyday the examination was scheduled at 10 o’clock in the morning and after finishing it at 1 o’clock in the noon, they would return home for lunch and take-up the preparations for the next day’s subject. After each examination, the only brief time they would stay together to enquire, ‘how was the examination for that respective subject?’, and then separate for going home on bicycle together.
Almost all the examinations were through now, as per the schedule of per day one subject, except the last today. The subjects that were significant for shaping their future were already over and today was the last examination of the language paper. It was only a formality remaining to be completed for ending the schedule of examinations. After that paper was over all the students started coming out of the examination hall. Everybody’s face was flooded overwhelmingly with joy at last as though the faces that were appearing grim and tense under the fear of examinations had now suddenly changed into a blossom of joy and happiness. A huge crowd of students gathered outside the examination hall and everybody was craving to talk such that the scene was appearing funny because there was no one to listen except that everybody was talking. All of them started toward their respective homes holding their bicycles in hand and even though it was a time for lunch no one seemed eager for it or even appeared to burning with hunger. After the discussion pertaining to how each of the went through each of the examinations, the focal point of overall discussion now turned to how they were to celebrate the thrill of having finished with the examinations. Not with much debate all the groups of students unanimously passed a resolution that they should go and watch a movie after first having finished with lunch. It was impossible to attend the 3 o’clock cinema show since none of them could sense that it was already 2:30 pm while being thoroughly engrossed with chatting and therefore they decided to gather outside the Sandeep talkies at 6 o’clock in the evening. It was only then all of them paced toward their individual homes.
Right since 5 o’clock the groups of boys and girls of HSC started gathering in the lounge of the cinema theatre. Although there was a lot of time yet for the next show to begin, the queue for the tickets was already increasing because the movie was recently launched. All the groups of students appointed a leader of them and handed over necessary amount of money to him or her asking them to stand in the queue so that the remaining of them would be free to continue chatting.
While the flow of their chat was on, one of the boys, paid a clandestine glance at the group of girls and said, ‘How aged are the girls from our class appearing to be?’.
‘What do you mean by ‘Aged’?’, another of them intentionally rounded him with a cross-question.
‘What I mean by ‘aged’ is that till yesterday all of these girls were appearing to be like children in frocks and blouses and now all of a sudden look how grown-up they are looking!’, the first chap tried to save himself.
‘All of their tiny frocks and blouses are a part of a history long ago!, Where do you keep paying your attention man?’, another chap among them replied.
‘Throughout so many days when did he any time left to look at girls after paying all his attention to the books?’, another boy among them taunted.
‘Is that the reason why now he is looking at them like a hungry dog since he has got ample time?’, the first boy pinched.
‘Hey! You rascal!’, the first felt mischievously angry and all of them laughed.
Rajesh, Vijay and Priya with few other boys were chatting in another corner and yet another group of students started a round of discussion about them there.
‘Why do this girl continuously keeps herself in the company of Vijay instead of mingling with the group of those girls there?’, one of them asked.
‘My dear friend, she has arrived here from Mumbai!’, another replied.
‘So what? If she is from Mumbai!. Are all the girls from Mumbai behave this way?’, the third boy remarked.
‘That Vijay too is a shrewd guy!. Under the pretext of studying he entered her home and now……!’, one more of them contributed.
‘Now what?’, one of them asked.
‘What? You don’t know anything?’, the second boy replied in surprise.
‘No! Not at all!’, again came the same reply.
‘Not just now! I will tell you some other time!’, the second boy calmly said.
On the other hand there was a different discussion going on in the group of Vijay and his friends standing in a corner.
‘The movie appears to be a good one!’, Priya said, looking at the different posters placed in the showcases and hanging on the walls there.
‘Nothing can be told about a film going by what is displayed on posters!’, Vijay replied.
‘The movie has been launched just yesterday otherwise by now we would have easily come to know about how good or bad it is!’, another boy remarked.
‘Our neighbour Ram was telling that it is not so really good but only slightly better than the one on display at the Subhash talkies!’, the second boy contributed.
‘That means we don’t have any other alternative!’, Rajesh said.
‘Why not? We do have another alternative!’, Vijay replied.
‘What is that?’, Priya curiously asked.
‘Wait for the right movie to arrive and watch it only when it is approved by others!’, Vijay remarked.
‘What rubbish! Will it ever happen that the examination got over today and we should not watch a movie immediately thereafter!’, Rajesh reacted.
‘That is the precise mistake we often do!’, Vijay said.
Right at the same moment the first bell rang.
One more queue was shaped outside the entrance of the cinema hall. All the boys who had stood in the queue to buy tickets came and handed over the tickets to their friends and then they too joined the queue to enter the hall.
Exactly at 9:30 PM the cinema was over and all the boys and girls started coming out of the theatre with their confused faces. Their expressions alone were sufficiently proving that the film was not any good worth watching.
‘The whole of our nice time was utterly wasted!’, Rajesh said irritatingly after coming out of the theatre.
‘How can you say it was wasted!. Even from this bad experience we have learnt a good lesson indeed!’, Vijay replied.
‘Great! Great! You are truly a philosopher!’, Rajesh admitted holding his both palms like a Namaskar in front of Vijay.
‘I remember a joke now, but not now! I will tell you sometime later!’, !’, Rajesh said after glancing at Priya coming from behind both of them.
‘Why not now?’, Vijay asked.
‘You fool! It is not worth telling in the presence of girls!’, Rajesh whispered into Vijay’s ears with appropriate expressions on his face.
Once again while returning from the theatre the students were chatting among themselves overwhelmingly except for the fact that the topic of discussion was revolving not around the examination but about the film they had watched.
‘What a boring film it was!’, one of them said.
‘There was hardly any story for the film!’, another of them said.
‘But the heroine was showed beautifully from all angles!’, another boy mischievously said.
‘It is only because of these rascals the films such as this one that lay all its focus on body exposing even with a bullshit story run well on the theatres!’, another guy remarked sharply.
‘What is bullshit about it? And body-exposure is also an excellent art!’, the same boy argued in self-defense.
‘What nonsense art are you talking about?’, another guy remarked.
‘Of course it is an art!. Reaching an exact balance between an actress’s body fully covered with clothes and the one exposed with all her feminine beauty is not an easy task to achieve. This is so because when a body gets covered more and more the film turns boring and when it is exposed beyond a limit then the film becomes very nauseating. Making a film that does not appear to be boring and yet not even nauseating is indeed one of the definitions of art itself!’.
‘Wow! What an excellent analysis! You deserve to be a great analyst!’, another boy complemented.
‘Yes! Quite right! He is excellent at making an analysis……of bullshit concepts!’, the same critic opened his mouth again.
After cutting some distance from the cinema hall, the big group got split into smaller ones while approaching their homes.
With the passage of time passing swiftly nobody even realized how the examination approached and was even finished. After the examination got over all of them spread from their village to all their relatives to enjoy the holidays. The day of examination being over was a day of full joys and overwhelming happiness because they were feeling to have finally broken their chains and freed themselves to taste the spirit of independence. Now there was no tension and no worries at all. They were now completely free to do anything except studies. Not only had they been freed from the awesome responsibility of studies but anybody who continues to do the studies even after the exam was over should necessarily be deemed as a fool only. But the human nature is also a very weird phenomenon. After finishing the examinations all of these boys and girls tried venturing into all forms of entertainment such as chatting, playing, watching films and simply relaxing or loitering here and there but soon they realized what limitations each of these methods had or perhaps because all their money to be spent for enjoyment too was exhausted by now. Sometimes they were even feeling that the times of studies were at least better because they were not feeling stressed to think of what to do next anytime. The mind that was constantly busy in studies was now feeling absolutely free and therefore sad too. An individual who is constantly overburdened with work if let free absolutely then he does enjoy the freedom but only temporarily because later, especially after the first stroke of joy is over, a mysterious sadness grips his or her mind. That is the precise reason why each of them were quite literally running away from their village to variety of their relatives either under the pretext of holidays or even under the trivial excuses like a wedding etc. Even Priya went to meet her grandfather and Rajesh too went to meet his sister. But Vijay had no such options and there was also a problem of money. Therefore he stopped at his home only and started spending time at the library. During this phase of his life his reading habit flourished and he read biographies of many prominent people. He also read the fiction stories written by prominent freedom fighter Sane, the veteran teacher. And while reading the stories of his mother, tears often came into the eyes of Vijay because he got a glimpse of different side of the life, that narrate the bonds between a mother and her son. Later he also read the humorous literature of renowned leaders like P.K. Atre or distinguished authors like P.L. Deshpande. Slowly, Vijay was enjoying the company of books and above all what was more important that the books were successfully keeping him sufficiently occupied also.
But when the date of the result started approaching near and near, all the students who had gone out started returning back. Now none of them was facing the problem of spending time because now most of their time was being spent in thinking about the probable result. Finally that very day that was to decide their fate dawned soon.
Priya, Vijay and Rajesh were sitting on the steps of the college looking at their mark-sheet.
‘Now I don’t see much of a problem for both of us to secure an admission in a single medical college!’, Priya said enthusiastically looking at her result sheet.
‘You both can dream of going for the medical but what the hell is my future?’, Rajesh angrily got up and reacted sharply.
‘Why do you bother so much? Even you will get an admission at some good college!’, Vijay tried to pacify him.
‘Finally the same fate I have!’, Rajesh annoyingly said, ‘to become a teacher!’ and he started going away from there.
‘Listen! Wait for a moment!’, Priya got up and tried going behind him.
But Vijay signaled her indicating that let Rajesh go from there alone. Priya stopped but after returning back to Vijay she curiously asked him, ‘Vijay! He is our friend!. He needs our company utmost today at such a grim moment of his life and you are stopping me from consoling him?’.
‘No! At this point of time, he does not need us but he needs to be alone with himself in seclusion! And certain problems or calamities in life can be solved, not by using any other medicine but only after allowing the wounds to heal naturally after a passage of time and that is what Rajesh needs most at this point of time in his life!’, Vijay calmly replied.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Girish Katre (GirishKatre@gmail.com)