Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Friday, May 4, 2007

What is Freedom of expression if you can't express your love?In 1960s and before love was considered a bad word.Inspite of the close watch by the parents some girls dared to fall in love. Either the affair was discovered in time to avoid a disaster or the couple ran away to a distant place putting the girl's parents to shame.Usually it is the "others" who discover these things.They have the intuition for this. The father is the last person to come to know-the mother the last but one.Some times the affairs were just imagined by the neighbours who loved weaving such stories about people not liked by them.There were also elders who would pretend that their girl was moving with a boy in a friendly manner or with brotherly affection hoping in the back of their mind that they could get the girl tied(err married) to the boy with a handsome salary without dowry.In 1962 I entered the University.There were too many girls in my class and students from other sections and higher classes used to pass through the verandah to have a look at the 'beauties' in my class.(At that age every girl looked beautiful!)We were all proud that our class had the large number of "sights"(girls) .We boasted about this in the hostel and other places. Sight seeing (or sight beating!) was considered the legitimate and rightful activity for a college boy.Most of the girls would be shy to look back.If a girl responded by looking back- well, it was the talk of the town. The boy who thought that the girl looked only at him would brag about it. (ava ennaithan paarthaa).There would be counter claims.The matter would be resolved based on majority opinion.The winner would be given exclusive 'rights' to "sight beat" the girl and runners (literally!) would accept the winner as their annan(elder brother) .Naturally the girl would be referred to as anni(elder brother's wife). Then annan would start writing poems in his rough notebook. He would take bath twice a day(earlier it was once aweek!),apply more soap,creams and powder ,keep the hair tidy with one or two curls dangling on the fore head.He would visit the temple or library more often to impress his 'sight'.Frankly speaking,I was not good in the art of" sight beating". I was from a village and if any one looked at a girl (vayasup ponnu) more than once the matter would be a gossip.Boy's father would warn him and say unpalatable things.I was groomed a good boy. Good boys had nothing to do with girls. I studied in a co-ed school.As I was academically bright the teachers would put me in charge of the class . I had to inform the class about home work or submission of records. Some girls would seek some clarification andI had to turn to their side and 'explain'-repeat what I said earlier! . The girl would 'understand' the explanation.I did not feel any "thrill" as my class mates alleged . In fact I had a fear that the teacher would mistake me.When I joined the University I found that many boys had changed in the 2 months of May June. "Good boys" would talk about sights in their absence and not venture "sights beating". I did not change and was shy type as I used to be in the school.It appeared that among the majority of girls not daring to look at boys , one or two were of the view that looking at the "good" boys was not wrong.This minority group would scan the class surruptitiously to see who were all the boys looking at the lecturer and not the girls' benches. Among the good boys they would zero in on the too good a boy and try to steal his glances.One day when I was seriously looking at the demonstration of a chemical reaction by the lecturer, my next seater nudged me and whispered."She is looking at you". "Who". He mentioned the name of the girl who was voted No 2 in the class in looks by the Sight seeing "general body". I said," No kidding". "She is looking at you all the time. You see for yourself". I did not have the courage to see. It was not uncommon for boys to flatter their friends telling such things for kicks. So I left it. But next day I sat in a corner and browsed the girls benches.I saw this girl (ranked No 2) carefully passing a glance at the bench where I used to sit.Then she rolled her eyes to the left, right and finally back to see me direct in the eyes. Obviously she did not expect to see me in the back bench.With in few weeks the love bug (or bugs?)started biting me. Unlike others who used to boast about being looked at by a girl I was not showing it and denying when some one pointed out the same.But as the days passed I could not help looking at her more frequently and for longer period .My friends in the class branded her as Raja's girl and spread the news to other classes so others refrained from sight beating her.There was a change in my personality and my looks, talks and behaviour changed. There were boys ready to backbite and i was afraid matter might reach home. I was just 16 and knew not how to proceed. My room mates suggested that I should talk to her. I agreed. But the question was what to talk. When I crossed her at close range iI became nervous and I could also feel that she used breath rapidly and felt like running away from the place. So I could not venture nearing her. It was comfortable, pleasant and peaceful to look at each other when the lecturer was not looking.My heart became heavier day by day and I could sense her position was no different.
However much I try, I am unable to describe my position during those days when I fell in what people called love. I was not sure( even now I am not) if the mutual feelings we had for each other could be called love. For want of a better word I concede it was love. It was not love at first sight. Every day as we continued to look at each other we found that we were probing each others mind , finding pleasure in doing so. It appeared to be a feeling never experienced before and never known to exist before. Friends(?) could not keep away from such a situatio0n. They used to discuss with concern, genuine and few with jealousy with me and among themselves. For them it appeared to be a stalemate. Honestly I did not know what to do . Something in the back of my mind was telling me that what she and I were doing was not the right thing for that age. But it seemed very natural and correct. I have read that the next step was to talk.But I was afraid.She seemed content with just looking at me. She might have had her own reasons or reservations not to initiate a talk. Things continued like this for what appeared to be ages.One evening after the classes were over, I found her by the side of the staircase landing.It appeared she was waiting there, knowing I would come that way.It also appeared that she had made up her mind to talk.She seemed anxious and restless. When I sensed that she wanted to say something I became nervous. May be I was wrong about her inclination towards me. May be it was the perception of an immature boy. I stopped at the last step. I could feel tightening of my stomach and brathing became difficult.I just stared at her, immobilised where I was. " Raja" she said; I wanted to say 'what' but I could not speak anything. She continued,"inimael ennai paakkaathinga" (Dont look at me any more). I stood there motionless not knowing what to say or do. All my rehearsals did not help me to face the situation. Not expecting any reply from me she just turned and ran from the spot. I stood there like an idiot having missed the golden opportunity of initiating a conversation. Come to think of it, she was not ready for a conversation either. I returned to hostel like a king who lost the war. I felt like a child from whose hands a doll was seized suddenly by someone like her mother. I wanted to cry but could not. It was not manly. I could not pretend to be normal and as I enered my room, my room mates found in me a beaten soldier. I didn't reply to their queries. I skipped the dinner and went to the terrace. I just lay on the floor looking at the stars. The sky was dark like my mind. I wanted to know why she said, what she said. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that she owed me an explanation. Then I decided I would confront her the next day. I spent the rest of the night half awake. The next day was sunday-holiday. I had to wait for another 24 hours . I cursed the day while everyone seemed to enjoy the holiday. At about 10 amthere were few students running from room to room asking everyone to start. " We should go to the hospital", someone said. "No use going to the hospital; we will go to her house".I had a premonition that some thing had happened to her. Some one came to me and said " What you said to the girl? she has commited suicide." My first reaction was to hit him and rush to the hospital. I was not aware where her house was . Then it struck me like lightning-the meaning of what and why she said. She was sure that she was not going to live the next day.She wanted me not to see her dead face and closed eyes. That was why she said not to look at her any more .I would cherish her image- smiling face with expressive eyes. So I did not go to hospital or her home. I knew she would understand.It was a month after her death it came to be known that she committed suicide because her mother asked her whether she was going to college to study or to spend time with boys.I can not forget her innocent face . I never talked to her nor I touched her. She spoke to me volumes with her eyes and touched my heart. If I was guilty I knew she would forgive.
The above was the original text of the post made about an year back in another blog.Then some one who knew the story as it happened asked me why i made her die in my blog while actually she pursued her education and changed her likings. It was also a sad ending as far as I was concerned.When I made a dramatic ending it is more appropriate this post finds a place in this blog created to record my dreams .