i was a timid boy then (i still am). Lean, thin, and studious! Used to get 6th or 7th position in my class exams (well, we were a class of 45 odd students & getting 6th or 7th position in exams was not that easy!) Boys far outnumbered girls in my class. If i remember correctly, there were around 10 girls in our class. And, it was a girl only who used to top us all in exam results. (courtesy: Google images)
Priyanka. Yup! Her name was Priyanka. And, she was damn intelligent. Always getting the top slot in exams. Always first. Always. She once also gave a speech in our annual programme. And, what a speech that was! Everybody clapped. And, then came my number (yes, i too booked myself for a speech). i appeared on stage and started with my speech. All eyes were staring me. And this was the first time, i found out that i’ve a stage-phobia. My legs trembled… my throat dried… my heart suddenly started pumping at a speed of Bajaj Pulsar… i broke down only after three or four lines. My class teacher had to come on stage (putting an end to my speech) and ask all to clap. Nobody clapped. She had to yell again. Only then, few hands made movements to come together and make the sounds. i could see some of my classmates smiling… giggling… laughing.
I don’t know how (and why), i developed a crush on her. I don’t how, i started liking her. And i don’t how, i told all this to my friend (who was one class senior to me). Vivek was the name. And, he used to live near to our house.
As far as i could remember, it was he who suggested me, writing a Love Letter to her. Yes, we thought of writing a LOVE LETTER when i was in class Vth (and he was in VI).
I was telling him my emotions and he was putting them into words. After half an hour of hard-work, the letter came to its end. The letter was ready to be handed over to its true recipient. I put my signature at the end of the letter (else how would she know that i’ve written this?)
I went into her gali (street). Found a kid playing there. “प्रियंका का घर पता है” i asked. ‘वहां पर है ‘, he replied. I handed over the letter to him (with a toffee) and instructed him to throw the letter in her house (God! i was so stupid!). I came back home. Ate my food and went to the bed (only if i knew what is going to come next day, i would have swallowed 20-25 pills of poison!).
It was probably the 3rd period when a voice blared out from a speaker (mounted on our class wall). It was our Principal. Krishna Mam.
‘Ashok Kumar…Class Vth A…please, come to principal’s office!’ … Krishna mam was a horrible creature, really horrible. We all used to tremble like leaves whenever she would visit our class. I had no idea as to why she wants to see me in her office. But, i had to go. So, i stood on my trembling legs and started moving towards the office. Our class room was on the second floor, so it took me 5 minutes to reach the office at the ground floor.
The moment i entered the office room, i could see that huge creature (Krishna mam), sitting on her office chair. There was one more woman in the office who was sitting on the visitor’s seat, right in-front-of Krishna mam. Her back was facing me, so i couldn’t see her face.
‘Ashok… tell me one thing. Have you ever written a letter?’ asked my principal. ‘No mam’, i replied. ‘i mean, have you written a letter to your daadi or naani?’ ‘No mam, i don’t write letters’, i again replied. ‘Okay, may be, you wrote one to your mom or dad, sometime back?’ she again inquired. ‘No mam’, i answered with more firmness (without thinking about my past actions… the past that was as close as yesterday evening). ‘Then, what is this?‘ she shot a sheet of paper in the air (towards my face).
Oh my the dogs! It was the LOVE LETTER. Which my friend wrote for me and which i had handed over to that boy to throw in Priyanka’s house. I was motionless… bloodless… lifeless… with a sinking heart, pumping at a speed of Maruti Santro!
When i regained my senses, i tried to put all blame on my friend (who was studying in the same school and was one class senior to me). ‘Mam!मैंने नहीं लिखा है, विवेक ने लिखा है. i retorted. ‘Bring him here’ shouted my principal. Before i could leave, the woman on the visitor’s seat turned towards me. It was Priyanka’s mom.
Next 10 minutes passed. We (i and Vivek) were both in the principal’s room, accusing each other. ‘Mam! इसने कहा था लिखने के लिए ‘ Vivek cried. ‘नहीं इसने खुद लिखा था’,’ i sobbed. Principal called the peon and sent us both back to our classes. And, it all ended (well, well, well! if you are thinking that it all ended just like this…let me assure you that it didn’t end, at least in the school… more was yet to come). Now, kindly take your eye balls down to find out what happened when i (actually we both) reached home.
Dad was standing in-front-of the house… with some sort of strange smile on his face (may be, he was feeling proud of the fact that his kid has just created a kind of record). But, how did he know? Must be that stupid peon (Krishna mam का चेला!).
The moment my dad found me in his reach, he grabbed me (no, actually, he grabbed my hair). After that i couldn’t see anything. Hands, legs, feet, fists, metal rods, and what not. I took them all… on my 12-13 year old body. But, i was not alone, my friend, Vivek was with me. It feels good when you’ve your friends with you in these times:) Yes, my father beat him up as well. After thrashing me (and him as well), he pushed us in the kitchen and locked the door from outside.
“जो होगा देखा जायेगा ” i shouted to my friend (saying this, i felt like a romantic film hero who’s been stopped by stupid society people for loving someone).
You shouldn’t trust all your friends. i realized this the very moment i told these lines ‘जो होगा देखा जायेगा ‘ to Vivek. Becoz the moment i told him these words with all my vigor, he tapped hard on the kitchen door and yelled to my dad, ‘Uncle, uncle, ये कह रहा है, जो होगा देखा जायेगा’ ‘) I was in a shock. He betrayed me.
(courtesy: Google images)
But, before i could respond to his betrayal, a hand came in that dark kitchen room (it was of my dad). He dragged me outside and thrashed me once more and then, threw me back in the kitchen).
Night time. Clock on our room wall said that it’s 9 pm. I was lying on my bed. All blue and black. My mom patted me on my back to awaken me. Even her tender patting pained my body. “बाबा बुला रहे हैं ‘ mom said. (Baba was Vivek’s father). I came out of my room and went to their place (without wearing anything on my body, but the essentials).
They were all on the CHATT (terrace). Yes, they all. My dad… Vivek’s dad (with a police wala dandaa in his hand)… Vivek himself (in the Murgaa position…i believe you remember, how our teachers used to make us Murgaa, outside the class!), and lots of neighbours. Yes, these dad fellows called the neighbours as well (as if we two were supposed to receive some kinds of TROPHIES!) Baba didn’t utter any words. Just told me to join Vivek. I too became Murgaa (with my back portion, high in the air). I tried to stay in the position, but, soon, started feeling pain in my ankles (and in my back as well). I tried to relax my position, bringing my back portion downwards.
The moment my back portion lowered, Baba stood up furiously and started practicing the dandaa-strength… on me! First he targeted my right leg… then left thigh… then my back… and then, i stopped remembering and counting. Dad didn’t try to stop him. Mom couldn’t intervene.
In between, Vivek kept on with this backportion-high-in-air Murgaa position (but, i could see that his legs had already started trembling hard, seeing me beaten up so badly). He didn’t lower his back-portion. Tough guy. Vivek escaped the Dandaa-strength testing. And, i got them all! (partiality, partiality, partiality!)
I don’t remember much of what happened, after that day (and that night). I never looked on that girl. And, sometimes when we met while crossing each other’s ways, we never looked at each other (at least, she never looked).
One question still lingers on my heart (and on my mind as well): Did she ever come to know that someone had written a LOVE LETTER to her? Did her mom, in all those years, ever tell that someone was actually beaten up all day, all night, because he dared to write a LOVE LETTER to her? Only God knows!
(Please note that this story is a figment of my imagination. Though some names and people do exist, they hardly have anything to do with this fictional story…)
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