‘Man is mortal’. The proverb confused Sheba. She was so serious about her class lectures. But the proverb distracted her attention. The class was waiting for her explanation.
‘You all listen to me’ − this proverb is not true. Man and woman – both are mortal.
One student stood up and wanted to protest and two raised their hands to tell something as a plea. ‘Ma’am, man is used in the sense of mankind.’
Sheba retorted, ‘It could begin with woman also. Woman is mortal. But that is not here’.
The logical intensity was more effective than the loud voice of Sheba which spread all over the classroom. Woman is also mortal. But this was not so in Sheba’s own life. She got a little nostalgic and left the class five minutes before the scheduled time.
Sheba sat alone in the staffroom and ordered a cup of tea to the register giving boy who was newly appointed. The boy nodded and brought for her the cup of tea. ‘Sugar, liquor, milk, all ok – madam? The newly appointed Ganesh wanted to earn a good name from the early days of his joining. These are casual staff and they are very sincere in their duties. This sincerity is not there in the permanent staff. Sheba thanked the young man. His face had newly sprouted beard lines.
Anything that we get easily seems to be devalued. This is how the man who came to Sheba’s life underestimated her. Night after night she chatted with him on the lappy. How many times he wanted to immortalize her.
Sheba recalled one night chat.
‘You are my goddess!’
‘Meaningless hyperbole this one!
He sent a sticker of love. Sheba kept silent.
‘I will paint a series of pictures like Michael Angelo’
Sheba took no interest and started preparing her paper for a journal. She would have to submit it next week.
The man continued posting this and that.
But one post was unavoidable. The man crosses limit. Sheba re-read the post. It was as she expects from all middle aged men.
‘Just give me one kiss three hugs and four close embraces, you will become younger. He promised Sheba youth. You will become young. Just love me fast. All these in one night as you would do it in one whole year.
Sheba didn’t reply to this texting. She felt so low. Never before she dreamt of a man can behave like that. Yes, some men at midnight are like hungry dogs. But she did not think of this new friend. She felt disgusted. She could not even hate that man. But she did not turn of the chat option off. She wanted to see how far he can go. Facebook gives various options of interactions.
The man again posted a message: You are so slow in love!
She logged out
Life is so boring for her. She could not bear it any more.
Love is so elusive.
What a lovely day she passes in her school. She did not want to be a teacher of school. She could not clear NET this year too. The third paper was so tough. The questions are quite confusing.
Sheba recalled few of the ever confusing NET questions.
1. Which of the following features are present in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment?
d. christian symbolism
2. The correct combination according to d code s
a and b are correct
a and d are correct
c and d are correct
a and c are correct
3. By the end of In Memoriam the speaker
a. re-embraces a Christian vision of after life
b. re-asserts religious doubts and scientific skepticism
c. reiterates the Darwinian view of social life
d. reaffirms his faith in universal brotherhood.
4. Lexis refers to
a. all word forms having meaning or grammatical functions
b. the history of words
c. study of select word forms
d. the selection of words
5. Assertion (A) one of Flaubert’s main motivations in writing the novel Madam Bovary was his antipathy for the bourgeoisie. Reason (R) Flaubert strongly believed that bourgeoisie are those who think, feel and act in terms of utilitarianism and who reject the humanity and uniqueness of the individual person.
a. both A and R are true and R is the correct explanation of a
b. both A and R are true but R is not the correct explanation
c. A is true but R is false
d. A is false but R is true.
Any option is correct. Sheba again mused on life. Any option is correct provided you opt for it. There are five clear options in life. You can go without marriage and remain a spinster. The second option is, you can marry and live as a happy or unhappy married woman. Third, you can marry and later get a divorce. Four, you can love a man and continue without marrying him (which is a tough choice for an Indian woman). Five, a woman can be a Feminist and being a woman herself she does not fully understand the distinction between Women studies and feminism. The fifth option is not understood by her and it is like a NET /SLET question.
Sixth option seems better than this. You can hate menfolk. There is a term for a man hating women and it is misogynist. But the world of men has not invented any term for a woman hating men. Man-Eater is there in Jim Corbett’s Man-Eaters of Kumaon. But there is no term called Man-hater. English language is so poor. Other languages might have such term. English language has some special words. For example, I is always written in Capital. No other language in the world has this privilege. I and God are always in capital. Probably Man is made in God’s image.
Sheba will again teach the students proverbs tomorrow and that same proverb will come blazing before her eyes. Man is mortal. But man in late night chat wants to make women immortal. Openly and even publicly, men insult women, rape women, abuse women, deceive women, curse women. Women are born to be ideal wives like Shaw’s Candida. Women themselves love to be Candida. Of late, Sheba attended a seminar where the feminist speaker from the US beautifully describes how feminism means freedom of nature. If you find trees, they are nature. But if you make a table out of the tree trunk, then you destroy nature and dominate nature. In the US doctors do not prefer cesarean baby, natural delivery is that she herself wanted for her own child. Sheba liked this argument. Yes, she wants freedom.
Her father argued with her. Marriage is not domination. It gives a woman freedom. But Sheba knew that marriage will only make her own father free from the burden of responsibility of having a marriageable daughter at home. He has retired. For every retired father, an unmarried daughter is a burden. So she wanted to get a boy of her dream. A man of her choice. A prince for her coronation. A hero for her heroine look.
Sheba is exceedingly beautiful. The realistic writers like Ibsen or Galsworthy would not have taken her for their characters. She is unacceptable for an art film where beauty is not considered important.
Sheba felt ignored, avoided, humiliated. No option is very much welcome to her. She had better not been born. Romance, love, emotions and feelings – who invented these words. Where is true love found. In the sky, in the clouds, in the flowers, in the meadows, where, where, where.
Next day at school she got good news. Schools will be closed for the Panchayat elections. An unexpected period of no work. Her paper was accepted for a seminar in North Eastern Hill University. She wrote the paper for the seminar with so much arduous labor. No vacation or leave was granted for attending the seminar. But suddenly, the rains came as if from no clouds.
Sheba reached NEHU and attended the conference. Many young teachers from all over India participated. The secretary of the Reception committee was a middle aged man. He spoke so highly of Sheba’s paper. One teacher from Kashmir University could tell jokes all the time. They all enjoyed. Sheba’s day for return came and she was coming to the Police Bazar for taking a sharing cab for going to Guwahati. It was raining. Shillong is a hill city of rains. Clouds touch you and melt in the warmth of your body as rain drops. The co-passengers were all unknown people. Sheba was a bit uncomfortable among so many unknown passengers. One woman occupied the front seat beside the driver. Total four will be taken. But Sheba and the two others and so one more is required. The man beside her insisted on sitting near the window. One passenger more was required to sit in the middle. A long wait. At last the man came as if it were rain of Shillong from no clouds.
‘Hi’- the young professor of Kashmir was vibrant.
Sheba blushed. The driver was worried. ‘Will you sit in the middle sir?’
‘O, why not? There is only one seat nah?’
The driver and the man who occupied the right side window seat in the back were more than happy. Sheba? Was she happy with the young professor sitting beside her all the way down the hill? Some feeling she had now. She never felt before. Coincidence never happens in life for bringing happy moments. Happiness, said Hardy is an occasional episode in the general drama of pain. The car sped through the hills. Rains started and the car glasses were closed up. Sheba felt some warmth inside the car. The young man started talking jokes and Sheba felt something different which she never had felt earlier. The journey down the hill from Shillong PB market to Guwahati was pleasant. Sheba wanted the pleasant journey to continue unending for all her life. Suddenly, the rains came almost from no clouds and the windows lost outside visibility leaving a rare chance to the passengers to enjoy a cozy warmth of being close and silent to the inside passengers on the hilly, monsoon-drenched metaled road of Shillong.