Saturday, November 1, 2008

...And She Smiled.

She isn't brilliant beyond normal, but loves to swoon with innocent thoughts like "Why can't landless farmers in Singur employed to same factories to be setup there?", if I can recall correctly -- from a debate we had in the session. Slim, calm, with that tenth-grader looks -- N now speaks with a deliberate care of someone who has recently realized that her voice can really matter.

But it wasn't so a certain time earlier, the way I had known N of thenadays. When she spoke there was that typical bashfulness in the way she chose her words --with which you would easily jump to stereotype any such a girl --girls of slummy dwellings, with a muted eloquence, a lot less-privileged, belonging to the lesser god, perfectly deprived of all smugness and breathing space any of your child-next-door normally has.

N carries the same frivolity, but appears quite a less shiftless now. She couldn't have matured a little --at least for the way she doesn't hide her smiles from us :) --if it not were for the efforts of her and S --her personal mentor for now. Hmm but I would prefer to talk here about certain things of more importance than say ten smarmy lines for some consummate efforts.

It's a bit indisputable, but just at the tip when you start reconciling that it's okh for you to expect a little good out of the benevolence you've caused to someone, out there everything fall off in a thud. As if you were trying to 'build up' some-thing (-body) that never imagined itself facing even a breeze. And so all the time when N has been responding keenly to some patient efforts; all the time she wouldn't not follow the surge of positive thoughts she has been exposed to; all the time she wouldn't show any gasp of indifference, any inkling of intolerance...all the time some faiths could have been restored.

...Until the time it appeared that apparently N was to be engaged (and maybe married soon) at such a tender age of hers. It wasn't anything like child marriage I must mention, instead N had a secret puppy-love affair with a neighborhood suitor for quite some time --and her drunkard dad and hapless mom saw marriage as a 'viable' way out to dispense with her. That S sussed it out all and that N couldn't stay irritatingly elusive on this any more, seemed to have happened for the good, but who knows for sure. Who knows when to succor when you have never been solicited to "intervene" in someone else's little world. Who knows it's actually not just about helping-out, if understood in the right spirits.

"Would it be okh for you if we can visit N now..." with a concerned precipitation, S called me up, the night when N "might have been" committed for engagement (the boys kins were to turn up then). In a rush we decided to visit N's slum, after having called her and her mom didn't seem to have shaken things up much. N's fuzzy innocence about all this, about all that was just about her and her only - did make her a little less trustworthy, and I could see that on S's careworn face, as we chatted on our way to the place. S has that spark and the rare simple sense of importance and that dominates her youthful demeanor, but it couldn't easily obscure the urgency in her words.

We made our way through the narrow aisles in the pale night light, taking economical steps in this a-thousand-times shrunk space, as N and her chirpy little sister escorted us. The place appeared exactly the way you, in your complete senses, would like to imagine a slummy ghetto --filling it full with all wearisome clichés you could find for such dwellers of the wretched. N's home, all in all one nicely packed room, was equally lit and dark, as if you could choose what things to sight and what to ignore. Wonder if it was big enough even to properly contain the car that drove us there.

In the middle, we were also accompanied by the social worker for 'the place'; and one of N's class teacher, R --a twenty-something girl with a curious vigor, who's accent clearly defied the kind of work she's into now, full-time --after quitting her earlier plush job, and all corporate pop.

N's Mamma made us hospitable as we settled on the 'cozy' floor-bed, while her sister quite swiftly moved our footwear to inside of the room, for it maybe stolen being out --which seemed a rather precocious sensibility by her age. Maybe she's been used to it. The Mamma, with her learned helplessness, tried well to skirt away from the whole issue and still gain some close feelings, but remained sensible enough to listen to our spurs of not to commit N for any marriage, for now.


"...N must herself decide what's best for her, but you need to provide the necessary emotional support ..." together we constantly kept exhorting Mamma, of course in Hindi.
"Hmm What do you call 'Emotional' in Hindi?" we wondered at each other for the correct version at times, while N's Mom hid her cluelessness from us :)

And then it was N's turn to be grilled from every corner; sought to speak her heart out again and again, as if you are querying some invisible wind around you whether it can stay still or will drift out soon.

S asserted: "The boy won't let you study and earn on your own. It's clear. And you don't know you are maybe the luckiest girl in this community to have all of us talking this much to you."

"Can you control yourself when the Boy continues to keep bothering you." said R.

Imagine me remarking "You really don't know boys and how most of them think like. And what they are upto...at this age. Trust me." Ufff. Sigh.


N's dad, completely sozzled up outside, occasionally kept howling in public at his fate, for having a girl like N. The scene might seem like a soap-opera type melodrama in the language here. Hmm no dissociate any romanticism visible here...It was all so silent and normal there. Don't know why. Maybe some-things (-people) around can make you feel calm...just by the close affinity.

Still a little restless, we then also summoned the Boy and his Mamma...to peep into things from the otherside of the window. No offense meant, but to my surprise, it was quite funny to see an 'ardent lover' pretending as a servile momma-boy. "I'll ask Ma if N can study while with me or not." If I am not overplaying my thoughts, is somebody supposed to enact like that in love...You tell me. I am inexperienced :) Boy's Mom, nonetheless, turned out most sensible and forthright of the lot there, and we made sure she won't consent to the words of N's dad on everything.

Moving out I wondered --what S had rightly acknowledged --whether we've done some disservice in being so vehement in N's affair...maybe the Boy was Mr Perfect for N...maybe N's parents are the best provident for her future, in all of theirs gnawingly cocooned world, just as our parents remain correct for us most of the times...maybe we should leave alone - all the Ns (we deal with) and their idiosyncrasies and their fate --with themselves, and become ideal smug fatalists. Maybe.

Hmm but N herself might want to contend this now, willingly. "Don't hide it, you look equally beautiful." --we realized her when she spoke, in her most girlish smile --as we all sat and sipped at the Barista, far from the slum outskirts. 11 at night.

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