When Saurav came to meet Anirudh the next morning, at Roy Chowdhury mansion, he found Anirudh raging in his study, muttering obscenities and pacing around the room, a highly enraged look on his face. “Hey! What’s wrong? Who’s on the receiving end of your anger? Who’s doom days are ahead?”, Saurav asked light-heartedly.
Anirudh whirled around to look at him, his lips set in a thin line. Saurav held up his hands in surrender. “I did nothing”, he said, shaking his head. His friend could be quite brash, when angry.
Anirudh stood silent for several moments, taking deep breaths, apparently trying hard to control his wrath. Forcing a smile at Saurav, he asked, “So… How are you, my friend? What’s up?”.
Saurav frowned. So now his friend was faking a good mood in front of him?
“Anirudh, you tell me about yourself. And first tell me, what made you so angry? I mean… I know, you don’t require a big issue to get terribly angry. But… Still. What’s wrong? You can tell me”.
Anirudh sighed and sat heavily on his study room’s sofa and motioned for Saurav to sit beside him. As soon as he did, he unlocked his phone, scrolled for something and passed it to Saurav. He looked at the screen. It had a news update, which said that a woman was fired from her job after her maternity leave got over. And the employer stated that hiring a male employee, who wouldn’t be on long breaks, would be more preferable for him.
“Do you see that?! See that?! THE DISCRIMINATION THAT’S HAPPENING! ARE THESE NOT MODERN TIMES?! We are in the 21st Century and yet… There’s still this prejudice! WHY?! THIS IS WRONG! ABSOLUTELY WRONG! WHEN’S THE REAL CHANGE GOING TO COME?!”, Anirudh yelled, banging his hand on the desk.
Saurav sighed. This was typical Anirudh behaviour when he came to know about injustice towards ANYONE. But he was right. This was not right. It was unfair. Development and modernization were at their peaks. But, these prejudices and discriminations still prevailed. Admittedly on a lower scale. But it was still happening.
Saurav looked at Anirudh as he ranted and raged. He knew that Anirudh couldn’t do this in front of anyone else. They didn’t understand his revolutionary thoughts. Even Saurav never completely understood them. But he would always be there for his friend.
“As if the woman had gone on a holiday for so many months!”, Anirudh snorted.
Keeping a hand on his shoulder, Saurav said, “Calm down. We can’t change the society’s mindset. But we can…”
“Why can’t we?”, Anirudh asked, cutting him off.
“Because it’s not possible to change everyone’s thinking”.
“But we can try. If we change one person’s mindset, they can change another one’s mindset. Then the other person can change another one’s and so on! Change is the only constant, Saurav! But changes are not sudden. Most changes are gradual and eventual. They come slowly. Not out of the blue!”, he said. And Saurav couldn’t agree more. Anirudh’s fitoor was always justified, after all.
“Are you SURE you’re alright Bondita? You look so pale. Had you even ate and slept properly since yesterday?”, Kusum asked Bondita in a worried voice, as she sat beside her, preparing her research material for homework. Bondita sat curled up on a chair, uncharacteristically quiet.
She just nodded in answer to Kusum’s question. Bondita looked around herself, only to find Kusum and the other girl in her dormitory, Kajal, giving her occasional glances, when they thought she wasn’t looking. Releasing a breath, she got up and slowly walked out of the room. She couldn’t stay there with the other occupants giving her those weird glances.
She straightaway made her way to her favourite spot. The exit gate area.
The sun was overhead and it was almost time for lunch. Bondita was really regretting missing out on breakfast. She’d have to visit the nearest canteen soon. She couldn’t tolerate hunger. As for now, she merely settled herself comfortably against the wall, trying hard to ignore how hungry she was. It came as a slight shock when she felt a tap on her shoulder. Was Shikshak Babu back?!
She hurriedly turned around, but to her surprise, she saw Mimi standing there, peering at her in concern.
“What are you doing here?”, Mimi questioned.
“What are YOU doing here?”, Bondita asked back.
Mimi tutted disapprovingly. “It’s not good to deflect a sensible question by asking an insensible question, Bondita. But anyways, I won’t do that. I’m here, because I wanted to talk to you”.
“About what?”, Bondita asked, looking totally disinterested.
“We’ll talk later. As for now,”, Mimi said briskly. “Come with me”.
“Where to?”, Bondita asked, her brows furrowing in question. But she didn’t get answer. Mimi just held her hand and made her stand. And then proceeded to outright drag Bondita with herself.
“What are you doing?! Where exactly are we going?”, Bondita groaned.
“You’ll see”, Mimi said shortly.
“Crazy girl!”, muttered Bondita.
Mimi dragged Bondita into the canteen. When she entered, she wasn’t too surprised to find David waiting for them, sitting on the bench. Mimi went to sit beside David and both of them looked at Bondita, as she sat on the bench facing them.
“How’re you feeling?”, David asked.
“Fine”, Bondita replied stiffly.
“Oh, come on! Don’t lie”, Mimi said, highly exasperated. “You’re not even looking at me and David”.
“It’s you two, who aren’t looking at me! Just because I’ve been tired and unresponsive!”, Bondita retorted.
“Maybe we take turns to look at each other and keep missing each other? I mean, one is looking when the other isn’t”, David suggested, trying to lighten the mood.
Mimi laughed lightly and Bondita looked at them grouchily, puffing out her cheeks. Her friends had already lightened her mood and broken the tension.
Saurav, Sampoorna and Anirudh sat at the balcony of Sampoorna’s house, each sipping their own preference of coffee. Anirudh had initially denied going to her house with Saurav. He didn’t want to interfere between his friend and his friend’s girlfriend. But now that he came, he discovered that Sampoorna was a nice girl and he found himself enjoying Saurav and Sampoorna’s combined company.
However he had a notion, that Sampoorna’s parents, especially her mother, didn’t quite appreciate his and Saurav’s presence, judging by their sceptical and displeased looks. Sampoorna’s aunt Sumati, however exuded a motherly vibe and was warm and welcoming.
From what he gathered, Sumati was a widowed mother, and stayed in the care of her brother. Her daughter; Sampoorna’s cousin sister was a hostel student.
By now, it had been around an hour of him, Saurav and Sampoorna chatting and laughing. There was still a kind of restlessness gnawing at his heart. But, he tried to ignore it, and concentrate on the current conversation.
“Anirudh and I have a huge playlist full of old classical songs”, Saurav was telling Sampoorna.
Sampoorna gasped mockingly and covering her mouth with both hands; widening her eyes dramatically, she said, “Oh! You are sooo old-fashioned and boring!”, in an exaggerated fake accent.
Anirudh stared at her, blinking rapidly. Saurav laughed and waved his hand in front of him.
“Don’t take it seriously, okay? She’s joking”.
“Yes. I was taking a jab at those stupid teenagers these days, who have no sense of music whatsoever and listen to crappy songs, thinking they’re cool”, Sampoorna said, rolling her eyes.
Anirudh laughed. “Yeah I know. Few days ago I came across a boy listening to some music. I asked him what he was listening to, and he’s like, ‘Oh! It’s an English song. Heat waves’, and that too, in a highly irritating English accent, which he must have thought, was cool. I bet, if I asked him the lyrics of that song he was listening to, he would’ve made a run for it. Seriously!”.
“Yeah. I mean, yes. Most songs these days are stupid. Basically revolving around girls, alcohol and money etc. But there ARE few good songs too, you know”, Sampoorna commented.
“Honestly! Our country’s movie industry and music industry needs a revolution! When are they going to understand the deep impact these movies and songs are having on people’s minds? Especially young minds? There should be quality content. Not these… This rubbish that they are creating. People get influenced badly, for God’s sake!”, Anirudh ranted.
“I’m glad my sister’s not like that. Must be my influence”, Sampoorna said, laughing.
“Judging by your description and the fact that she’s YOUR sister, I guess Bondita must be a good girl”, Saurav smiled.
“Wait. Wait just a second! Did you say Bondita?”, Anirudh asked, bewildered.
“Yes. That’s my little sister. Why? You know her?”
“Oh yes! She’s a student at the hostel where I teach”, Anirudh said, mildly surprised by the fact.
“Really?!”, Sampoorna squealed excitedly. “That’s great! I’ll send Roshogullas for her, with you!”.
Anirudh chuckled. Well, this was an interesting piece of information.