Yes Indeed. This is the unedited zone where I will put no markups on my thaughts and views. As a writer I am very careful with my words but this is purely the uncut version of what I think. You will probably find mistakes in every article, paragraph and sentence I have written and I am aware. I allow myself to make mistakes and don't worry about them here. This is my escape from a perfectly edited, cautioned, proofed world of documents that I live with everyday. Hence..."Unedited".
Gulab and Santram come back to the hostel. While entering the hostel, Santram's eye catches the big yellow board with red writing that says - "Saritaben LADEES Hostel". He obviously pays more emphasis on the word LADEES. Never ever in his life, Santram has lived with any LADEES.
"This night will be the first and the last in this ladees hostel. I will go back tomorrow, no matter what and also take Gulab with me. Ahh..Good idea, how can she leave her father and stay behind in the hostel, if I put up a good show, she must go with me." And Santram is quietly stationed in the Guard's room that is setup for his stay as all the other rooms are shared by the ladies and there is no spare room where Saritaben could adjust him. Also because all the rooms are upstairs and Santram could not really walk to the first floor.
Meanwhile, Gulab is guarding every step of Satnram like a shadow. She helps him lay on the bed and puts a couple of cushions under his right arm. "Baba, here is water and your medicines. Just ring this bell if you need anything, someone will come to help you. This room is Kuran Singh's room, he is our guard. He must have gone for dinner and will come back around 11 pm." She is obviously very worried about her father's condition right now, but in her heart, she has started to dream again of the beauty parlour advertisement that she saw the other day. Waxing..Threading...Facial...It did not take more than 5 seconds after she turns her back on Santram to step out of Kuran Sing's room, she starts to drift towards her imaginary Chic world again while walking out.
Gulab keeps on walking towards her room on the first floor. With every step on the staircase, her anklets sound louder and louder. She is transitioning into her fantasy world and is going through all of those imaginary scenes in the biscope of her mind. She walks without looking left and right and enters straight into her room and throws herself on the bed. "What a day it was...! I thought Baba is not going to leave me here..and the destiny made this happen...Thank you Sarita Ben". She closes her eyes with a sigh of relief and goes to sleep with a satisfaction and peaceful smile on her face.
Santram is in a different world of pain right now. It is not the physical pain which is making him numb, it is the feeling of helplessness and being sheltered like a stray dog in a house at the mercy of the owners. On top of that, he is boxed together with Kuran Singh. "What sort of a name is this? Kuran is not a hindu name, but Singh is not a muslim sir name. Hey Ram, now I have to wait to find out when he comes. I hope that only his name is Kuran and he is not seriously into Kuran."
Women's hostel, Kuran sign and one more thing was bothering Sanrtam. The creepy crawly lizard on the Wall right in front of his bed. This third room mate was no where peaceful as it was her time for the hunt. "Uff SaritaBen is such a tight ass, she cannot even get a mosquito repellant, she's kept her sisters to get rid of them".
Enters Kuran Singh, who is a 70 year old man, lean skinny fellow with a few hair left on his scalp just for the sake of it. He wears a khaki uniform like a police man and is holding a small stick in this hand. "Assalam Walekum Janaab" Santram holds his heart with the hand that works "Hey Ram, He is really a Kuran man, anyway I am going to go tomorrow". "Namaste" he replied in a very rude tone and closes his eyes.
"Is she here, I knew its her time, this weird Lizard keeps on jumping all night. She comes out when everyones sleeping and dances like Zombie on all the walls. I got this stick to send her back to her hole". He taps his stick on the wall a few times which unsettles SaritaBen's sister and she quietly goes back into her hole which is the gap between the roof and the wall crack.
This makes one less thing to worry about while trying to sleep. Sanrtam thanks Kuran Singh and goes to sleep. But Kuran Singh is too excited to see a man in the hostel and wants to know everything about it. Never in the 15 years of history of this hostel, a man has been allowed to stay in the hostel. "I have seen so many people come here and requesting to stay overnight but SaritaBen never ever allowed anyone. What have you done my brother? Are you her husband? The one who ran away with a dancer?" As curious as a cat, he waddles closer to Santram's bed and holds his broken hand.
"What is wrong with you? How dare you touch me? There is nothing that you need to know. I came here to take my daughter home. I have an accident and I got hurt. And that is why Saritaben gave me shelter for the night. I will go as soon as I can." He vomits out all this information in a single breath and then breathes with the last word! Uffff..."Now will you let me sleep?" He shrugs his shoulder and tries to sleep again.
Kuran Singh has been working here too long to know how this "accident" would have happened? How did he have an accident? He came to take his daughter home? Who is the daughter? Why did Saritaben let a man in the hostel? But he needs to do some investigation. As an ex-policeman, he has this habit of turning into a self appointed investigation officer whenever something out-of-the-norm happens around him. He goes back to his cot slowly thinking about the entire matter and doses off in a second.
There is this amazing quality we have as all living beings -
the ability to understand something without even saying a word. The
communications that happen without saying the actual words are the ones that
you understand the best and most accurately. This is because, in my opinion,
you skip the process of actually thinking about what to say, bringing the words
to your lips, the other person listening and then the brain processing the
information the ears have received. You
respond directly and instantly through your body language, eyes, smile, eye
contact…it is so powerful that no words are needed to validate the feeling.
Most of the times, your second brain, which is your GUT is true. They call it
GUT feeling for nothing…
When Gulab and Sarita Ben looked at each other, the same
unsaid communication made it very obvious that Gulab does not want to go and
neither does Sarita Ben want her to go? They became a team, partners and
friends the very moment without signing a pact, shaking hands or sending a
Santram, who almost broke down seeling his daughter change
sides, comes two steps closer and grabs Gulab’s delicate wrist firmly.
“That’s it, lets go”.
This short sentence was enough for Gulab to scream on top of
her lungs and crying “Father, please...do not take me with you, please please
please..I beg of you”.
Sarita Ben was still in shock, as she did not really expect
Santram to show such aggression, she was frozen to her place. As Santram was
treading outside with full force and literally dragging Gulab with him, he
looked back and said, “Thank you Sarita Ben, you did a great job”. And sealed
the final blow with a sarcastic grin on his face.
Gulab stopped dragging herself and yelled, “Baabaaa…my chappal
got out of my feet, let me get it back...this floor is so rough…I am bleeding.”
As he looked back and down on the floor, there was a brown rubber thong, lying
in the middle of the corridor and a trail of blood leading up to Gulab’s feet.
“Go Get it Quickly, I will get an Auto Rikshaw to get to the
station”.He keeps walking through the
corridor and suddenly Gulab hears a loud thud…the sound of something heavy
falling on the ground. She rushes out to find Santram lying flat on the ground
with his ass up and face smashed into the dirt.
“What happened Babaaaa, OMG! You stepped on the welcome
earthern lamps full of oil and that’s why you slipped, you should have been
careful Babaaa” .
“Gulaaab… Oh god…Oh..I cant move, my arm..I. fell on my
right arm, it is not moving…take me to the doctor please, call hakeem sahib”.
The earthern lamp or the Diya is usually put on the first
step of the door, but who put the diya during the day, it is not even
Diwali…Gulab looked around just darting her eyes around the whole hostel and
there she saw a can of “Kachi Ghani Mustard oil” hidden behind the Lady Bird
bike which is secured with a rusty chain and Harrison lock.
“Come on girls, we
have no time to waste, I want two girls here to take Sanram Ji to the
hospital”. She flicks her long black plat and there goes the side glance with a
mischievous smile, swinging past like a Diva that she is.
Roopa and Sahili come down rushing from the first floor of
the hostel and support Santram to stand up so that he could get to the auto rickshaw
that was going to take him into the hospital.
Around 10 pm, the same noisy auto rickshaw that sounds more
like a tractor stops in front of the hostel gate and Santram with Gulab steps
outside with a cast on his right arm from the tip of the finger to the point on
the neck that could strangulate him if it were one mm further towards the neck.
He could hardly walk and had a bandage on his ankle covering his entire foot.
For the first time in his entire life he was going to spend
night with so many women around him. He is not allowed to travel or move around
a lot until his cast is taken out, which would be around 6 weeks. Although, he
is a Eunuch, but has never stayed with other women, he always conducted himself
as a man with dignity and pride!
It has taken two years to get in touch with Gulab again. Long time!!! Is she still the same? Or has she taken a different route to fulfilling her dreams. So many questions just keep popping up in my mind. I was curious to see her after such a long time. So I made an appointment with her and tried to connect with her once again. She was still there somewhere, in the background of so many things. She had just taken a backseat. So here I go back again and see where she is after her father appeared suddenly to take her back to the village.
The village, that had never seen a daughter before, the village that did not know what a woman looked like in ages, the village that didn't seem to agree that there is a world outside where man and women live a life alike.
Santram - Gulab's father is at the hostel gate, and Sarita ben has packed Gulab's luggage and she's is just coming out of the room to be sent back to the village once again.
"Now that I have made peace with what you wanted me to do, now that I was feeling like a woman, now that I started dreaming, you are here again". Dare she say these words to her father, but she murmured with a dead silence in her eyes, staring towards the flower vase with no flowers on the old wrecked centre piece in the waiting room.
"Beta, lets go home my child, I have missed you so much" said Santram with all the compassion and love he had that poured down his eyes.
"Father, I have missed you too, but..."
"what my dear, I promise I won't send you anywhere else..."
"Father, you know I am happy here" she went close to her father and held his hand and looked into his eyes with the hope that her smile will send him back
"But I thought, you were struggling here, been away from home, in this alien world, how come you are so happy"? Santram asked as he looked so surprised
"Father, you don't know that this world is just so beautiful, I feel so at peace here, this is where I belong, I can be myself, I don't have to hide from anyone ...no one will rape me here because I am not a new thing for them, men and women live as equals"..her pitch raised and suddenly she felt more confident..she went on...
"see these women, they can dress up like they want to, they can be beautiful, they can do whatever they want, I want to be one of them Father, please let me be here".
Santram was not really surprised, somewhere deep down, he knew that Gulab would love this freedom. She would be happier here. He approached Sarita Ben who was standing outside the waiting room and listening to everything that father and daughter had to say to each other.
"Sarita Ben, come inside please, no need to hide, I know you are standing outside, your plat is too long and its just hanging below your knees, next time, when you want to hide behind a curtain, please tie your long hair in a bun.."
Sarita Ben comes inside with a smile on her face and a little guilt of being caught eves dropping.
As she steps inside the room, Gulab rushes towards her and tries to hide behind her as if a little kitten has found a new box to hide inside. Feeling safe, secure and hoping that Sarita Ben will save her from her father taking her back home.
Santram watches his daughter rushing to Sarita Ben in front of his eyes. He was shocked, confused and a little in awe of what this place has done to his little daughter. He knew the freedom can change Gulab, but he did not have an idea that he is going to have to deal with this situation. A situation where he could see someone else taking his place in his daughter's life.
Santram almost cried...clearing his throat and his eyes assuming no one saw him, he said "was..well done my love...you have become so brave and independent that you are not even caring about how your father feels, I have been thinking that I have done no good by uprooting you from the village and throwing you into a new environment, but you seem happy". He pauses and looks around the waiting room, the unpainted walls, the cob webs, the age old furniture and the cemented floor with uneven surface that could challenge astronauts to walk over...
This place is not as good as I thought..our little home is much better and cleaner than this shit hole. I will not stop you from chasing a better life, but you will not stay here, I will shift you to a better hostel.
Gulab and Sarita Ben look at each other and some wordless communication happens where they both seemed to have thought of something common..."How do we convince this man"?