Continued from "Ramaiya Becomes Vegetable" University Memoir VI
University Memoirs VII
It’s a universal law of life. It’s been articulated a number of times before. Everyone perceives the world in her or his own image. Even God created man in his own image. Man, in turn, creates God in his own image. The dress, hairstyle, manner of wearing clothes and expression of our deities have changed drastically over the past fifty years or so. I remember the deities of my ‘nani’. The goddesses, their method of putting sari, the head gear, the looks, the setting - everything has changed. Man casts even God in his own image. So, it’s rather natural that it’s difficult for people to believe that there can be people different from them.
I don’t know why ‘difference’ is so completely inconceivable. People do not accept anyone who is different from them. Everyone has to be greedy, dishonest, mediocre, and double-tongued. If someone asks you a question and if you answer it simply, honestly, and truly; his first reaction would be not to believe you. He would think that you are playing some trick. His basic logic would be, ‘nobody can be so simple.’ I speak this with personal experience.
What is a human being? Nothing but a bunch of fragile self-conceits, little bit of ego, nothing more, nothing less. It’s not so difficult to wreck the boat.
The existence of this lady, Sudhi Raman in my university, was something totally impractical, even impossible. She did not fit into the frame of the varsity. She wouldn’t lie. She wouldn’t butter and please others. She wouldn’t mix up much. She wouldn’t gossip. She would work. Imagine, a permanent university teacher, actually interested in studies, teaching and research! It was impossible. How anyone such as Sudhi could be allowed to exist. She defied rules. Her crimes were innumerable. She had no caste bandwagon. She had no godfather. This was simply unpardonable – working in a university teaching department without a godfather. Remember, what Pujo had written that the world was so bad that besides a father, you needed a godfather. But the foolish, rigid, self-respecting idiot didn’t understand the basic rules of existence. She would suffer. She would suffer. Nobody could save the pain that was coming her way. The inevitable had to happen. She was the target of everyone. How can anyone live in a varsity where everyone else targets ‘that anyone’. Sudhi was ‘that anyone’. She was the center of everyone’s wrath. She was alone.
But destiny, you know, is strange. I was destined to help her. I, the useless fellow, was destined to stand by her side and support not only Sudhi but her family as well. Why did I help her? I couldn’t help helping her. The sentences haunted me, ‘Leave her alone, you bastards. Just leave her alone. Let her be.’
But, first things first. Let me go logically. In my rush to tell the tale, I sometimes flout the rule of chronology. The chronology is, perhaps, the best way to narrate tales. It’s simple. It doesn’t put extra pressure on the reader’s mind. If the story-teller has the honest intention of conveying her or his tale, I think, the rule of chronology comes handy.
So, let’s begin. Sudhi Raman was a married lady. She was a lecturer. She had two children, one son and one daughter. Her husband was a financial service expert. The family lived in subdued colors. They were a family where there was no place for too much verbosity or too many expressions or exaggerated, rigid stands. They simply lived together. They blended perfectly. They were a happy family. But the Indian in me revolts when I declare someone to be happy, fearing that the evil eye of others may not destroy that happy state. I do not know about you, dear reader, but my personal experience tells that people don’t like others to be happy. Most of the people are unhappy because someone else is happy. Or at least, that was the case in my varsity. The tendency to get into the life of others was intense. The male teachers, I exclude myself from them for this generalization; the male teachers nurtured a deep grudge against female teachers for being DIG (double income group).
When a woman works, she works for the butter of her family. When a man works, he always works for the bread. This is the fundamental difference. No one should forget it. Women-professors usually come from Kolkata, Lucknow, Bhopal and men-professors usually come from Songarhi, Jatpuri or Ratanpur. Women professors are sophisticated; men professors are rustic. Of course, all these generalizations come from Indian heartland and are subject to exceptions. So, among colleagues, women always have better financial and social strata. The male professors are sore about it. They’re not generous about it. They want to avenge the situation. They want to prove that the buffalos at home are better than this glitzy, well-to-do, attractive lot at the work place. Finally, revenge against a woman goes to one place. The logic is simple, ‘Use her and finish her. Love her and ruin her.’ Have you ever heard of love as a tool of revenge? If not, you should have come to my varsity.
It was not that Sudhi had not tried to mix with people. She had invited people to her place and had also visited places of other people. She had attended marriages, Upanayana, or birth ceremonies. She had given her ‘vyavahar’, her token Rs 101 or 501 or at times even 1001. She had worked with colleagues in committees, attended meetings, and gone to colleges for inspection. She had done it all. But the beauty of it was that at the end of each encounter, there emerged a motive. The other person, of course, wanted to ‘love’ her. That topped the chart of motives. Sudhi desperately searched for a boss or a colleague or a neighbor who would not want to ‘love’ her, who would not pass ugly looks, who would not try to touch, and who would not comment in a vulgar manner. Her quest, naturally, had to remain unfulfilled. The other motives were spoiling her children, letting down her husband, using her money and receiving favors like tutoring children of other people free of cost. Every second day, somebody would come and say, ‘My daughter can come and sit with you for some time. Please speak in English to her!’ or ‘Correct the project report of my brother. There are only some typographical errors!’ There were even instances when Sudhi, for the sake of others’ greed, sat and corrected voluminous texts.
There would be more work the next day! Her growing children would be taken away and told that they need not study much as both of their parents were earning and a joyful future awaited them. Someone would show an objectionable CD or someone would inquire as to what happened at their home, how their parents quarreled or who washed the dishes. This was a strange world for Sudhi. She was one and it was getting difficult for her to keep the fight on.
People go gaga over rural India, home-made ghee, cow’s pure milk, thick bajara chapattis, fresh vegetables, unpolluted air and so on. But that semi-urban setting of my varsity was taking its toll on Sudhi’s mind as well as family. People were simply uneducated. A university full of uneducated people! Does that sound ironical? Visit any university of the heartland and decide for yourself. Universities are full of vicious, barbaric, and cunning professors. They know how to use their mind and energy in destroying others.
Gradually, Sudhi started seeing the side-effects of socializing. People harm others in the name of socializing. Sudhi loved humanity but didn’t like human beings. Examples of children having been spoiled by socializing started emerging for her. Etiquettes were not designed for that place. Sudhi saw the life course of Raji and her endless list of lovers! Professors with un-academic, at times even scandalous background had come to the varsity with the grace of one powerful local politician or the other. These professors got their most appropriate replies from their own children. Our children are our best watchers. Daughters developing friends, sons developing alcohol-related problems by the time they reached ninth standard in school; overall children bearing the brunt of mindless upbringing! There were examples all around. The scenario scared Sudhi.
Slowly but surely, the pattern emerged for her. She would not socialize. She would be good to everyone. She would do her job to perfection, would read, write, teach, research but not socialize. Slowly but surely, her world grew small, and smaller; her concerns became focused and her activities limited. This is what society did to Sudhi Raman. She played her role to the hilt. She stopped criticizing others, stopped being judgmental. She always spoke as though in a court of law. She would speak only what she could speak and accept publicly. Her life became exemplary. She started a new cult, a new style of doing university service. People would call her too clever, too cunning, too wise and so on.
It was a strange thing to happen that social pressure and scrutiny completely cleansed her life. Generally you would expect anyone to succumb to the pressure and fall in line. But somehow that didn’t happen in Sudhi’s case. She changed tracks. She kept changing the tracks. She used to write very well. So, one VC made her write the university newspaper. People came chasing her. They wanted their name as editor. They would connive for Sudhi to work and then take away the credit by printing the names of various fools who had done nothing for the publication. So, Sudhi would quietly leave everything. Sudhi used to speak brilliantly. She did her homework before an occasion. She at one established a chord with the audience. Again, people would come chasing her. They would remove her name from the list of speakers; push the matter with the boss. They simply felt insulted that a thin woman could do what all of them could not do together. Sudhi would simply slip into a seat among the audience and smile.
At times, she even sympathized with the restless souls, out to compete with her. Competition was no problem. The problem was that there was no competition. Sudhi used to organize mammoth functions, seminars, workshops very successfully all by herself until of course, they came chasing, thirsty for her blood. That became a pattern. She would do things, set examples and then, move on to other projects, other territories. Interestingly, she was always busy. She had something to do, always. All the Herculean efforts could not prevent her from doing something good and wonderful all the time. That was very frustrating for the whole lot. Spies were set up. Everybody anticipated as to what would be her next move. Everybody wanted to know everything about Sudhi. There were people who would immediately contradict her point at every meeting, every encounter. Contradicting what Sudhi Raman said became their dharma. They wouldn’t use their brain. If Sudhi had said something, it had to be contradicted.
K understood the situation and knew the aspirations of the people. He would do what others had failed to do to Sudhi – ruin her, completely, artistically, beautifully. He internalized the frustrations of the majority of the varsity folks regarding Sudhi. She was not one of them and the fact stared at the face. Calamities don’t come from outside; they best hit you when they come from within you. Weaken a person, shake a person from within and you’ve won the battle. Demolish the support structure for an individual and you’ve won the battle. What is a human being? Nothing but a bunch of fragile self-conceits, little bit of ego, nothing more, nothing less. It’s not so difficult to wreck the boat. And K specialized in wrecking the boats.
So, K started methodically with regard to Sudhi. He realized the phenomenon immediately; the malady of such deep goodness could never escape his eyes. Sudhi was substantive meat for K and K was confident of chewing it finally. He had not seen defeats. He was not accustomed to failures. He understood that Sudhi’s world was different. Her expressions, her terminology, her meanings, her connotations, her references – her entire world was different from the world of those who surrounded her. He could not accept the fact that someone could be so superior to him. He decided to cultivate himself as Sudhi; thereby improve himself. He also decided to devour Sudhi; thereby degrading herself. For the purpose, he needed information. Anything and everything about Sudhi Raman was of importance to him. He could not understand how people missed the importance of information. The habits, the small weaknesses, eating preferences, friend circle, contacts, and relatives – this treasure trove of information had to be dug and redeemed from Sudhi. He needed a girl companion for Sudhi, whom Sudhi would trust and with whom she would feel free to talk and share secrets. K loved secrets.
Once K conceived a plan, he wasted no time. He was a man of action. He believed in translating ideas into action without wasting any time. A trained girl was sought for the purpose. Her name was Neha Khanna. She was quite experienced in the art of luring, alluring, talking about men, giggling, joking about men, being coquettish, and all those erotic areas. She was appointed Assistant Researcher in Sudhi’s project. Sudhi smelled something fishy at the very first appearance of Neha. But VC was VC. You don’t go against the wishes of your boss, especially if the boss is as dangerous as K. A proper interview was held. Many candidates came. All the worthy ones were turned down. The ‘chalak lomri’, the clever fox was appointed.
Months of research, data collection, storing information and analysis started. The information leak of those months would haunt Sudhi in the coming years. K had a detailed plan in place for her. All her friends, acquaintances, and well-wishers would turn hostile towards her. The experts from Varanasi, friends from Nainital, Sudhi’s own research scholars – all would be taken away systematically. She would practically be rendered helpless. And then, K would appear as an avatar and help her. That was the plan. Even decades later, these months would resonate to Sudhi in the form of someone asking her to meet a professor she had praised before Neha or someone talking about a street in Hyderabad which she had mentioned to Neha once. Even a middle-aged Sudhi would be lovingly rebuked by her children about being secretive, ‘Mamma, why on earth are you so secretive about our holiday dates or our future plans? What can others do?’ And Sudhi would put both her hands on her eras and say, ‘Good deeds reveal themselves. We need not trumpet them. The devil’s always around’.
The devil’s always around. That was the lesson Sudhi had absorbed. She became so very cut off from society. She became totally safe. Nobody knew as to what she was up to. Her research papers, her books, her holidays, her interactions – everything about Sudhi would slowly percolate days and weeks and months after the actual happening. Reporting in the past tense became her habit. Her first hand experience with the devil had taught her that lesson and she was one person who learnt her lessons very seriously. Sudhi Raman would never repeat mistakes. No one would ever be close to her. She is not to be blamed. The consequences of her naturalness, and spontaneity were so heavy and catastrophic that anyone would react the way Sudhi had done.
So, I think, dear reader, you can easily see that Sudhi was trapped. In a nutshell, she was at a place where talent and hard work were not to be recognized. Just to give you an example, Sudhi was the only research guide in my varsity who had undergone a full examination for becoming a research guide. All the ancient caste warriors, all Ravan-vanshis, and all Lalas came together and the Dean wrote that the research work of the aspiring guide needs to be examined. Naval Nakul Das of Allahabad University and Monu Chaterjee of Calcutta University checked the research papers of Sudhi Raman. Naval Nakul Das even hinted in his report at the uselessness of the exercise with such an erudite researcher as Sudhi. But with such an elaborate examination process, unheard of in Indian universities, Sudhi was granted guide ship.
Mean people were out to take revenge on Sudhi for being different from them. At such an opportune time, the monster called Kamrogi arrived on the scene. He was a better planner than the rest of them. He became the chief of the army that was burning in jealousy for Sudhi. There were many who just wanted that woman to be down at least for once. They wanted to see her hurt, humiliated, and wounded at least for once.
K stayed in our varsity for three and half years. First two years, he tried to win Sudhi’s heart. Having failed, last one and half years, he tried to take revenge directly. There were many strategies in place. The first one was to project Dabba’s wife as future head of Sudhi’s department. That meant that Sudhi would realize that if she would not mend her ways, she would be denied her due and legitimate promotion. Not only that the stinking, sexy wife of Dabba from a third grade college would be brought to the varsity but would also be made to sit at Sudhi’s head till her retirement and torture her. Sudhi was told in no uncertain terms that Mrs Dabba is close to Babba. Babba was one of the innumerable nicknames of K. It’s easy to narrate the story in some sentences but to realize the minute by minute torture, the continuous references, the large looming tragedy, the fear of coming fearful days - all that was not easy for Sudhi. A person as sensitive as Sudhi, she could feel her breath being stifled by continuous presence of Mrs Dabba, her nominations in all important committees of the varsity, her peeping cliff, her lovely neck, his hungry eyes. K was the personification of ‘aasakti’ (indulgence of senses) – red, swollen, drowned in scents, sitting, lying on soft cushions, playing with soft stuff, searching for more and more meat… For Sudhi, it grew more and more nauseating. Women, girls, K… women, girls, K… women, girls, K… The naughty smiles, the mischievous glances, the double meaning sentences, the various ways to show off flesh, the witty, tickling remarks… Oh, God, it was repulsive.
Every moment questions haunted Sudhi ‘Is this the noble profession that I joined? Was this the dream of my parents who proudly made me a university professor?’ Sudhi felt nauseated by the environment created by K’s presence. She for the first time in her life understood the meaning of aura and also negative aura. She always remembered what Mephistopheles had said to Dr Faustus, that he carried hell with him wherever he went. K was a living hell. Only God knows as to from where Sudhi got the strength to withstand the pressure. Accepting K’s conditions was never an option. Sudhi had entered K’s cellphone number in her cell in the name ‘Faustus’, in the memory of the German man who had sold his soul to the devil in lieu of ruling the world for some time. K looked like Dr. Faustus to Sudhi.
I watched Sudhi during those days. I often grew fearful of the fact that my own daughter was growing. I don’t know how I grew so silly as to think of my own daughter whenever I saw Sudhi. Tears welled up in my eyes. ‘I must be growing old’, I thought. But my varsity was a place where men would jeer at a woman till the very last. I was only fifty-eight! It might have been some malady of mind. I never jeered at Sudhi or at any woman for that matter. Sundry ideas like India being one of the most unsafe places for women and girls, reasons why girls were murdered in the womb itself, and several other things kept springing up in my mind. As for Sudhi, I felt, I genuinely felt that the girl should be left alone. Sudhi should not be hounded. The feeling firmly established within me. But who was I? I was just one person. They were so many. I used to count ‘them’ and then, I used to count ‘us’. They were so many; we, even if Sudhi’s and my family members would be counted, came to a very small number. I didn’t realize then but I had already started preparing for the war.
There’s something within us which tells us to be ready for future. That sense was working actively within me. There’s so much within man and it dies unexplored. In most of the cases, the individual does not even get an idea of what he is. The clock ticks within each one of us. We all know what’s going to happen; only if we focus on that. I had started focusing little bit on that area. Something within me told me that it couldn’t have gone like that. Something was wrong. Something would happen. Something would change permanently. I clearly saw two forces, both not ready to surrender. One solution was to ignore all that, shut my eyes, close all my faculties, look at my concerns myopically and let the world go to hell. But that was not to be. It was not destined that way. I was destined to be on Sudhi’s side, stand up for her, fight with others for her and her family. You must be sure now that I’m a fool. But I’m not. I don’t regret taking sides. I don’t regret helping Sudhi. It was the best decision of my life. I did something worth doing. I substantially helped someone and I did that for no selfish reason. It made me feel good. It still makes me feel great. That’s why I’m writing about it. But, dear reader, you’ll definitely despise me for the methods I used to help Sudhi. But poison finishes poison. Plus and minus becomes minus. Only minus and minus become plus. I will not offer any apology for the methods. I did what I could do. We gathered all our energy and fought back with all possible force we could muster, without bothering about right or wrong. We had to defeat them; that was all. What they did to us was dirty and cheap and wrong. Then, why we should have bothered about morality. But at that time, all these things never crossed our minds. We fought. We just fought.
The second plan to destroy Sudhi was to send wrong signals to project as though K was close to Sudhi. K left no opportunity to show how close he was to Sudhi. His methods were complicated. Whenever Sudhi was around, K would simply lower his eyes, be silent, look longingly towards her, never refute what she was saying and so on. Poor Sudhi, she was helpless. She could nothing to stop those mannerisms of K. He was trained in the art. He was going by a plan. She was going by her instinct. It was a show of nauseating, obnoxious, sheer lechery on his part. For hours together K would sit with his cronies and talk about women, their curves, style, manners, speech and so on and finally come to Sudhi to say that she was indeed the best piece he had ever seen. Every woman, every single female would become all mass and material, without spirit, sense or soul. It is amazing to note how perception changes people. K looked at women only as body, nothing less, nothing more. He didn’t want women to have brains, or power. He was horrified at the idea of a capable and independent woman who was not controlled by any man. Women needed anchoring and men like K were those anchors. You just could not let loose of those women in the university system. They would run amok. The system would go wild. The rule was that women would please and men would be pleased. Women must tickle men. How could there be a woman personally known to K whom he could not jilt or humiliate or not look at with curved eyes, telling her that he knew her; he had seen her all; he knew everything about her. Every woman must be laughed at.
So as per the second plan, K kept sending wrong signals. He planted his dogs and bitches (in the form of humans, of course) everywhere. K could conceive of women only as bitches. All women were bitchy. They could never be trusted. Women could never digest any information while men (the superior beings) could digest any big or small, important or otherwise. Every woman must use her feminine charms to get things done. There was no other way. If you’re a woman, you’re bitchy. Use sex effectively with multiple partners and go ahead. The only way up for women was the way down. K was literally scared of the idea of a pure woman. It was inconceivable for him. It sounded like doom to him.
A story went around in K’s native village at Neemsar that K’s uncle was a ‘sanyasi’. K’s mother was a voluptuous, strong, hungry woman. K’s father was a weak, sickly man. The elder, ‘sanyasi’ brother stayed at K’s house for months and ‘did his duty’. K’s mother gave birth to four sons and two daughters; all of whom resembled their uncle a lot. K was especially close to his uncle who himself told him how sweet his mother was. Not only that he also gave K his ‘khadau’, the wooden footwear and authorized K to carry forward the traditions of the family. K saw his own mother in every woman and thought of himself as ‘sanyasi’. Books of Psychology say that the mother is the pivotal building block of one’s mentality. So it was with K. Every woman had to be like his mother; any other image of a woman was unnatural.
The point is that sending wrong signals about Sudhi was very important. Social perception plays a very important part in ruining a person. The acts of a person generally decide his or her image in the society. But if we go in the reverse order and ruin a person’s image in advance, then the person involved sees no point in being good. You get no recognition for being good. That’s the reason, Sudhi always repeated one line all her life, especially for her children, ‘Goodness is its own reward.’ She understood that most of the people behave uprightly because they want to be perceived as good by the society at large. If someone comes and ruins your name in the immediate society, you’ll lose all incentive to be good. K wanted to snatch away that incentive from Sudhi. The test was hard for Sudhi and only God knows how the girl won it. My admiration for Sudhi goes up manifold whenever I think of the difficult, hidden challenges she faced and came out unfazed. It was not that she was not pained. She thought she would fall apart. But then, something held her together. I don’t know the name of that ‘something’. Some people may like to call it ‘God’.
So, let’s please remember that wrong signals were to be sent. K always said that one should not only increase one’s line but also decrease the line of others. By decreasing the line of others, you increase your line. Just try and try and erase the line of others and your stature would automatically grow. Therefore, wrong signals were to be sent, from all possible directions. From every possible nook and corners wrong reports, wrong signals were to hit Sudhi like missiles. She would, he thought, collapse in the process. How wrong was he?
K was one and only person of his kind. His biggest pass-time was to waste others’ time. Keep others busy in fruitless activities, gossips, lechery, unnecessary travel, phone talk, internet surfing etc
Divert others to unofficial recognition. Government machinery and its fruits were for K only; unofficial kudos, verbal applauds, honor at some ashram etc - these things were for others. Like devil, confuse a person, divert attention, de-focus a focused person. Lengthen your own line but don’t forget to erase the line of others- K’s mantra – ‘Sam, Dam, Bhaya, Bhed’.
The best angle to hit Sudhi came from the husband’s side. Her family was her strength. She prided herself in her family. The professional circle of her husband must be abuzz with her alleged closeness to K. No Indian husband can withstand this kind of an attack. He would weaken and by inference, she would weaken. People started coming to her husband’s office with strange squint in their eyes, asking him to get some work done at the university, keeping his wife’s closeness to the honorable Vice-Chancellor in mind. As expected, Sudhi’s husband got confused. It fell hard on him as to how people‘s perception regarding him had changed. From Sudhi’s proud husband, he was slowly becoming her ‘poor’ husband. Men are men and would always be men - weak, childish, insecure. As the treatment Sudhi received from her husband changed, there came perceptible difference in her level of confidence, and happiness. The boat was about to sink. I was still in dilemma regarding helping her. I didn’t want to get into the mess. But what made me jump into the mess was the implementation of the third plan of K. The third plan was to send anonymous letters to academic community linking Sudhi to K.
It was phenomenal, indeed - the cell-pool bath for the academic profession. Anonymous letters started appearing everywhere and nobody could know from where. There were letters from nowhere to everywhere. The faculty members, the employees, officers, affiliated colleges - everywhere, there were neatly typed anonymous letters, describing the curves of several lady teachers, their fancied sexual encounters with the high and the powerful. It was pornography at its lowest. The campus always fancied those smooth-skinned, plump, richly clad, car-driven women-professors in their original glory. The campus got hysterical with thrill and excitement when that well-known, well-envied lot was graphically pictured in bed with fellow male professors, bosses and other powerful people. You could see the power of the word.
‘Shabd Bramh Asti’, the word is God - Indian scriptures say so. There’s nothing more potent than the word. It began with Sudhi. In fact, she was the first and the only target. The message was, ‘Be good but your goodness will not be recognized. You’ll be branded cheap, loose-character. Your near and dear ones will be taken away from you. Be good in your own vacuum or come to us. Succumb. Yield. Widen the hidden treasure. Open it for public use.’ These are indeed very mild words for the brazen thought process of the Indian machismo. When the learned, the enlightened, the noble professionals would sit, they would voice many views, the words of which and the joy of which can only be experienced in like-minded company amidst hard and loud laughter. Such were the moments of bliss in my varsity.
I immediately stepped in. It was a question of my life or death. Worldly-wise people usually do not get into affairs of others. If something is not directly affecting them, they prefer to stay aloof. This is a good strategy. But that time when the innocent creature was being attacked for being good; when she was being called immoral for being moral; when she was being branded cheap for being noble; all my worldly wisdom, all my logic vanished. Men can be silly. I was being silly, if you like. But my silliness did what nothing else could have done. My silliness gave results. My silliness ensured that there would be no excreta bath in my university ever. What did I do?
I went to Sudhi’s house in the evening. The scene was touching. Sudhi was her narrating the story of Sita to her small kids when a commoner in Ayodhya had cast expulsions on her character, how the lovely Sita, the pure Sita, the devoted Sita, the single-minded Sita, the ideal woman had to undergo ordeals, had to give birth to her children in exile and live away from her sole lord, Ram. In the garden, Sudhi was sitting in a chair, her children huddled around her, deep in her pain and loneliness, she was narrating the story to her children with blank, sad eyes. I entered. I was determined. I would not be misunderstood. I would not be intimidated. I would explain. I would give Ramans a plan. I would persuade them to work on the plan with me. We would be a team. We would defeat the demon and his people. I was crystal clear in my mind. Perhaps, that was the reason why it was not so difficult to convince the Ramans.
That very night, cocooned around my laptop, I, Mr. Raman, and Sudhi drafted our first pornographic piece. Amidst full seriousness, we crafted the words, ‘sex’, ‘orgasm’, ‘breasts’, ‘buttocks’, ‘hardness’ and so on. We placed men and women of the varsity in our tales. We tried to be true in our narration. We discussed sexual encounters of known couples, somebody’s wife with somebody’s husband, somebody’s daughter with some teacher, and it went on and on. Deep into the night, exhausted after completing a task, we had never anticipated our job would require that kind of activity from us. We sat for our cup of coffee. Envelops, stamps, pasted, sealed; I volunteered to post the letters at a remote post office.
There was a strange kind of glitter in our eyes. We were uniquely gratified. We knew the storm was coming. We were bringing the storm this time. We had gone about our job in a clinical manner. We had chosen effective words. We didn’t bother as to who would be affected, whose daughter, whose wife would not be able to show her face in public. We were calm. We just did what was required to be done. If being a woman is a weakness, then every house has that weakness. If a woman’s life can be ruined by false allegations, then, every female’s life in the campus would be ruined. We were proud of our creation. It was a powerful piece of cheap pornography. It revealed many an affairs in the campus.
To give you an idea, here’s an excerpt: ‘Raji held Mhato’s hard rod in her hands. She giggled. She quivered. Her tight breasts like two hillocks rubbed against each other. Mahato even in his natural beauty looked like a philosopher. He pressed Raji’s triangle with his hands and said, ‘Fire, fire’. Who can extinguish this fire? Certainly, no one. I don’t blame your dear husband for not being able to quench your thirst. How he fiddles with your lovely body, Raji? Tell me. ‘Oh, don’t talk about that mouse, Sirji. Even a small green chili is bigger than his organ, Siiiirrrrr! Giggle. I love your rod, Siiiiirrrr! Mahato had this habit of getting aroused by listening to tales of husbands’ impotence from their wives. He loved naked, beautiful wives of others, telling him tales of their unquenched thirst. After all, he was there to quench their thirst.’
Such were the classic pieces that we composed. We knew that our pieces were by far superior to the drab narrations written by those idiots. Everything requires talent, even pornography. We were proud of our creations. We were amazed at the detached, clinical and empirical style of our functioning. Mr. Raman was the fiercest, the most ferocious, and the most deadly writer amongst us. After all, he was the insulted man. His wife, his family, his name was under attack. He gave full vent to his pent up anger at the injustice meted out to his purest of the pure wife. He no longer felt helpless. We had discovered our weapon.
The letters started arriving like missiles from unknown destinations. All of us received letters. The clerks of the varsity had the best feast of their lives. They were not involved. The excreta bath was among the learned professors and their presentable wives and daughters. The wives and daughters of clerks were yet in the old mode. They were not spoiled by over exposure. They said wisely, ‘See, this is what happens when you give freedom to women. Our shastras are not wrong. Women must be kept under the rule of men or else they bring shame to the family.’ They laughed hilariously imagining different lady professors in their natural beauty, wildly pursuing demands of the body with the likes of K, Mistri, Rameshji, SDP and others.
The victory of patriarchy was complete. Every woman was reduced to being just a ‘woman’; nothing else. Everything else was ruined. Only patriarchy had won. The patriarchal mindset had won. Everyone’s thinking was cast in those parameters. Each house was counted on the strength of its male members and the weakness of its female members. Being a female became a symbol of shame. The ‘tandava’ of patriarchy worked its havoc in my varsity.
Anyway, for us the larger picture might have gone to the hell at that point. We were focused on our safety. Our strategy proved to be fabulous. No one had any answer to what was happening then. Sudhi had a reason to smile. Her point was driven home. The bastards could not target an innocent person and get away. They paid a heavy price. The reputation of the varsity sunk. People thought that the varsity was like a sex ashram. People thought of the varsity as a place where free sex prevailed. The lady professors were conjured up as sex symbols. The eyes of the people changed perceptibly. The lurking wolf came to the forefront. People got freer. Everybody became modern. Talking, discussing sex slowly became a normal practice. Shamelessness crept in. The shyness of the eyes went away. First, the lady professors tried to cover up. Later, they became more and more shameless about their sexual escapades. ‘I’m like this; what will you do?’ this sort of thinking developed. Shameless women repulse me. I don’t know about you, dear reader but I’m certainly put off by women who openly flirt. The varsity was into another league then. A new kind of public diction was being written. A more brazen breed of women was being created. Wrong-doing done is something entirely different from wrong-doing exposed. As most of our stuff was based on real events, the impact was enormous.
It was time for Sudhi to resurrect herself and her family. She cocooned herself into her own nest. She often realized a growing inner consciousness within herself. The traumatic experiences of her immediate past had made her whole being more profound. People often felt her to be an elevated person. Her simple formula was to occupy her mind with good thoughts. No gossiping, no harming others, no lying, no cheating; she tried to rearrange her life on a still better model. But to be very honest, she did realize that it was ‘tit for tat’ that had brought her back from the brink of disaster. You have to answer in the same coin in worldly affairs. Sainthood does not work.
So, there was a clear cut two-fronted policy for her, not to think ill of someone who had not harmed her but to answer with full blow, full might, full force if someone dare raise his eyes towards her or her family. Sudhi was into another phase of her evolution as a human being. She remembered the Don in ‘The God Father’ saying that while returning from Italy, if even wind would harm his son, he would destroy other dynasties. She also liked the sentence that said that if the Don harmed, that person would not know from where the blow came and he would be ruined. That book became her inspiration in dealing with the crooked. She was being transformed into a strong woman. She was child-like, simple and pure in her general dealing but when it came to the bastards, she would use her ‘other’ instincts. She had learnt her lessons the hard way. The value of family in a person’s life was her biggest lesson.
When the battle was leveled, when all sides had a taste of the same medicine, one day Sudhi sat beside her husband. They, as a couple had been bruised and that too for no fault of theirs. The determined Sudhi, the royal Sudhi, the compassionate Sudhi, the romantic Sudhi sat beside her husband and cupped his face in her palms. ‘Now, Mister, what’s up?’ He looked at his beautiful wife. She planted a soft kiss on his lips and said, ‘I’m the same Sudhi for you. What about you?’ Tears welled in their eyes. They hugged and cried. He murmured, ‘I’ll always be same for you.’ Intertwined, entangled, they loved each other till doom. They sensed the strength of their bonding. The smell of their unified bodies intoxicated them. They renewed their love. Their lives were repaired. They were resurrected.
It won’t be wrong to say that Sudhi did develop very strong ideas, un-compromisable attitudes, idolizing of great characters like Gandhi, Sita, Joan of Arc and so on. Her world was iron-cast. She was certain that she would not meet a deadlier person than K all her life. The contours of her mental horizons were set. Often, she would reiterate the power of saying, ‘no’. Freedom became a new word for her. Freedom did not just mean getting wild; it also meant exercising restraint. She felt that she was growing each day. All natural phenomena, social practices, movies, politics - everything seemed to reinforce her view-point. It was as though she received confirmation report for her ideas from all directions. She started writing research papers, articles and books that emanated directly from her convictions. She became highly creative. Whatever she spoke or wrote became significant. There was life in her words. This was how Sudhi became. Life became her own reflection. Her convictions became her breath. She lived life on her own terms. She wrote many pioneering papers comparing Joan of Arc, Rani Laxmi Bai, Mother Sita and Mother Mary.
Life and values were intertwined for Sudhi. Often, she would argue and pursue and teach,
‘If drink, food and sex are the culmination of all human endeavors, it implies that life on this planet is meaningless. I refuse to accept that life is so small, so cheap, so meaningless. I cannot demean my existence. So, let’s live with a purpose. Let’s keep dreaming. Let’s keep building lives. Every day, let’s wake up to an aim; it can be a small aim or it can be a big aim. But an aim we must have. All those who are living should have something to do, something to live for. When life becomes purposeless, it becomes an infectious disease. An idle, negative person will only perpetuate negativity, unhappiness. What’s happiness? Happiness is being positively busy. Look at a person deep into her/his studies, or experimentation or any constructive activity and that involvement is the highest form of human cultivation. The highest form of human evolvement is that self-loss in work.’
Such were her words. She was always sought for. If you ask me, ‘Have you seen a good human being?’, the first person to come to my mind would be Sudhi Raman. This was her achievement.
Continued to Daughters of The Nation are Becoming Doctors
NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real situation/s, institution/s or individual/s is a coincidence.