An article about this novel in an international journal - The Criterion
College was over. A big flood of bicycles and motorcycles started coming out together. The faces of some of the students were brightly glowing with the feeling of college being over while those of few others were bearing the expressions of being utterly tired and burning with hunger. Generally the last lecture of Vijay would always be of chemistry, biology or physics laboratory practical only. In the morning, started for college after a sufficient breakfast, first few lectures of different subjects would take place followed by a short recess. Then during the second session, generally, languages lectures would get over again followed by a recess. Finally in the third session at the end when all the students would be usually tired, they would be engaged with the chemistry, physics or biology laboratory works. Thus the students of the science stream would hardly get a moment of leisure whereas the students of arts and commerce streams would truly relish the charm of living the college life. If there is any mood to attend the classes they would go for the lectures or would straightaway while away time chatting either in the college canteen or while sitting on the compound walls of the college premises. Just like the science students were occupied even their professors would be equally busy with work. After completing the lectures in the college till the afternoon, they would be required to begin their personal tuitions immediately after the lunch which would continue right up to 10 pm at night. Some of them even would not spare an opportunity of conducting single hour tuition between 6 am to 7 am i.e. before the college would begin. The professors of the arts and commerce stream were, however, very lucky as far as the busy schedule of conducting lectures at college and followed by the tuitions. What it means is that, for the teachers staff of the arts and commerce faculties, the classes in college would take place only if the students would be interested to attend them and there would not be any activity of tuitions after the college getting over. At times, then, the professors of these two faculties would bored not to conduct lectures at college and then they would develop a sharp desire to conduct one lecture but after visiting the classroom if they would find it empty, they would summon a peon and dispatch him straightaway at the college canteen to fetch the students. During such times whatever a few number of students they would find in the canteen would be forced to attend a lecture irrespective of their will.
Therefore, the students whose faces would appear to be utterly tired and exhausted would be belonging to the science stream and the others whose faces would be full of joy and cheer would be of the commerce and arts faculties, sent to college forcibly by their parents. Another reason why these arts and commerce students would be so joyous was never the college being over, at least for the day, but it was the opportune time for them, to see the beautiful girls of the science faculty, appearing to be more and more charming, thanks to the strain they would have endured during their college schedule. Vijay and Rajesh found their way through that outpouring flood of students and started pedaling their bicycles toward home through the main street of their town. Usually while going home they would hardly talk with each other for being tired and exhausted, they would be very eager to reach home fast and eat lunch before commencing the next equally stressful schedule of attending the tuitions. The science students were thus were deprived of looking at the beautiful girls, not because they were disinclined for it but because they would hardly have any time to while away like this. After joining the main street, both, Rajesh and Vijay peddled their bicycles hard as fast as they could and at one turning their roads would bifurcate.
‘Ok! Bye for now! See you soon at the tuitions!’, Rajesh said to Vijay.
‘Bye! Bye!’, Vijay replied without even looking at Rajesh and started riding ahead.
After covering some more distance, a turn to the road would lead Vijay to his home. While taking a turn, Vijay suddenly felt that somebody was coming from behind him. If it was somebody from his college itself, he would have easily ignored but he also sensed that it was some beautiful girl, perhaps he knew her, and therefore he turned back to have a look at her only to realize that it was Priya. Her home too was in the same direction but Vijay knew that she could never follow him since he and Rajesh would rush ahead fast after moving out of the college premises with burning hunger in their bellies. Vijay realized that since she has followed him today necessarily means she too had driven her bicycle equally fast today, perhaps because she too had some necessity to reach home faster. But, while engrossed in these thoughts, Vijay observed that not only had his speed reduced but immediately thereafter Priya too had reduced the speed of her bicycle. This created a doubt in his mind whether she was following him intentionally.
While Vijay was engrossed in this thinking process, suddenly he heard a call from Priya,
For the first time Vijay sensed that he had heard his name being pronounced by a girl of his age, whom he liked, and that too with sincere intensity. He sensed that his heartbeats had increased suddenly and he reduced the speed of his bicycle further. By this time, even Priya had reached up to him and was riding parallel to him. Vijay was confused about what he should talk and so for a moment he stared at her but instantly, as though, he was looking straight at sun, he turned his eyes back to the road ahead.
‘Wasn’t today’s chemistry lecture slightly difficult?’, finally Priya herself took the initiative to talk.
‘Difficult?, Yah! It was difficult’, Vijay replied.
‘Of course, you must be finding it very easy!’, Priya said.
‘No, no, nothing of that sort!’, Vijay blushed to hear that flattery.
‘No! What I mean is’, Priya replied, ‘Usually I find it difficult to comprehend the chemical reactions of the Chemistry-2 and even if I understand them, I tend to forget them 2 or 3 days later’.
‘Yes, you are right! And that is why perhaps Chemistry-2 is called as ‘Volatile’, Vijay funnily replied.
‘Volatile?, yes, you are right! It indeed deserves to be called that’, Priya laughed heartily.
Vijay was seeing her from such a close distance laughing so heartily and his sight could not escape from looking at the twist appearing on her cheeks and those equally beautiful white teeth glittering like white pearls.
‘But in order to being able to remember the reactions one must first be able to understand them. Isn’t it?’, Priya asked.
‘Yes! You are perfectly right!’, Vijay replied.
‘Then have you understood all the reactions taught so far in the class?’, Priya sought to know.
‘Yes!’, Vijay replied.
‘I have been able to understand some of them and the rest are not understood. Will you be able to explain to me those which I have not grasped?’, Priya asked.
‘Of course! Yes! I will!’, Vijay replied affirmatively.
‘Ok then, Bye for now! I will ask them from you some other day!’, Priya thanked him and turned toward home since the road to her home had arrived.
‘Bye’, Vijay replied.
She had gone and he had realized that he had stopped his bicycle on that turn and he was looking at her till such time she went beyond his sight. Even she was smiling at him.
Now Vijay shook head as though he was discarding something and he started toward his home.
‘No! No ! This must not happen! My goal is of supreme importance!’, he warned himself to achieve that first and only then think of the rest.
Deeply involved in these thoughts he was moving toward his house but even then he was feeling better for the barely few moments he had spent with her.
Again he warned himself to control his emotions and must let this happen again. Deeply engrossed in these conflicting thoughts, he did not even realize when he reached at his home.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Girish Katre (GirishKatre@gmail.com)