As they gathered the food with happiness lit up on their faces,An ora kann paarvai(a glance from the corner of the eye )from her said it all !!In a flash they all left . I could hear their joyous singing as they walked away but something was closing in my heart!!
A tap on my shoulder, I realised my friends,were waiting to shut the door and go back to hostel.Everywhere it was congrats for me :Chinna Pannai What a function you conducted,Never has the hostel seen one like this..But nothing registered.That glance from her was going thru my mind again&again..
Wondering if an oppurtunity to meet her again would come I passed the days!One day my a classmate of mine, active in social service league, said he needed help in conducting an evening coaching class for students from 6pm to 9 pm.This was generally for children of hostel cooks,attendants and likewise.Almost 300 students from class 1 to 10!!Reluctantly I accepted and was alloted class 9 and the subject was History and Geography and I was supposed to be good in Maths.Dimly lit classroom had about 20 students and as I started taking the class I saw a movement outside the room.I went out and to my utter disbelief there she was standing ,listening and taking notes on a piece of paper.
I blurted :what are you doing here
She replied :listening to what you are teaching,I love history and geography..I am planning to write privately and complete school.
I could see the glow in her eyes or was it determination.She refused to come in and sit,perhaps knowing she might not be accepted in.The paper she was writing must have been picked up as a rag ..
From that day for the next 8 weeks I was a regular teacher always selecting History and geography as my subject!!and she was my pupil outside the class !!But by the moment I completed my class she would have vanished..
My annual Exams ended and for once I was reluctant to return home for the two months holidays seemed to be years.I wanted to tell her bye but she was nowhere to be seen.Even if I saw her on the street I wondered if I would be able to talk to her..The social pressure was obvious..I wanted to tell her Good Luck for her results,but i didnt know if she had written the exams too!!
The appointed day,bag baggage and all I sat in the train compartment and there she was walking down the platform, with all colourful malas and beads for sale.As she came near me, the train started moving .When our eyes met, that anxious & bewildered look in her eyes said a thousand words which perhaps would stay with me for the next 2 months or longer.
My entry in the village is always colourful,and this time too it was the same.My only sister Malarkodi,father and mother ensured that I was choked with pampering.My sister noticed the change in me and was pulling my leg as often as she could.I was restless.That ,oratthu paarvai from the corner of her eyes was too bewitching!!.I was desperate to see her.But How ? Rushed to the university,Railway station and every other place where I thought she might be,but nowhere to be seen.
A major festival,all of us including my Father visited the templetown.Crowds everywhere and suddenly she appeared just a few feet away selling Beads to the pilgrims.I was excited trying to catch her eye and when the eyes met,I thought it became misty for both of us.I realised Malarkodi had also caught the scene !!The jostling crowd seperated us and she was gone.
I realised couple of things,I was in love with her.Something also told me that I must make her succesful in Acadamics too...Why that feel.God only knows and Perhaps time would answer..Was I mad ?Was it possible? I have to make it possible..but then how?how will the family take it?especially my Father..Can I face the pressure from the society?A million questions crossed..but then I realised She would also face the same questions?I felt small,that I didnt think of her problems..Again was she interested in me ?Was it crush,infatuation or mere stupidity..another set of zillion questions..I decided I want to make it happen,come what may!!
Evening returned back to our native place.After dinner,as was the custom Father was sitting on his easy chair and I was massaging his legs.Malarkodi was sitting across and mother standing behind father.He opened the topic.The zamindar of Namalaipatti,who were many times richer than us ,wanted Malarkodi to become his daughter in law ..and at the same time wanted to know if I would marry his only girl Thenmozhi. I reacted as if I was hit by a thunderbolt,and Malarkodi did not fail to see my reaction..
Fathers booming voice continued..Enna sollareenga Selvaraju Thambi..(What do you feel about it Selvaraju )
The only thought which flashed in my mind was to buy time somehow.
Father : Enna selvaraju thambi,Badhil kaanom (Why no reply selvaraju )
Me : Thangachi ku 18 vayasu kuda aagale,naanum mel padippu padikkalaamunu ninaikkiren.Aana, Mudivu,eppovum pole neenga solrapadi than (Sister is not even 18 and I was thinking of studying more.However decision is yours )
Father : ille thambi,Neenga solvadhileyum Gyaayam irukkudhu.Unga mudivule enakku abaara nambikkai undu,Nalla yosicchhu than solluveenga.Sari ,avanga kitte solli paakkaren
(What you say is also right And I always believe your decisions are correct.I will convey our views to them )
God was kind,that day and The zamindar of Namalaipatti also accepted our views.But heart of heart I knew I didnt have much time.I didnt want Malarkodi to suffer because of my delay and decision.Prayed hard for a solution.
Two months passed away like two years.Returned back to the temple town station and the Hostel.That was going to be my Fifth and Final year.Everyday I was walking up and down the station platform to get a glimpse of her .The uniqueness of the station was that it was flanked one side by the temple town and the other side the University.Hence it was a sort of an observation point to catch a glimpse of people criss crossing between the two places.
Finally,One day I saw her walking towards a lonely spot in between the innumerable labs of our Engineering college.Instantly I realised she wanted me to follow her,which I did .Trying to walk as naturally as I could, I didnt realise, that I was actually running towards her.There she stood between the Internal combustion Lab and Steam lab,waiting for me. I was anxious as I closed in on her and didnt know what she wanted to convey.
part 2 of 3