Wish



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Oye Vijay bhai, Come fast. She’ll be in the verandah anytime now.”

Saying this customary line and banging my door hard, Arun, my neighbouring roomie rushed up through the staircase to join the other guys. As always, I rubbed my eyes, took a big yawn, got up slightly, scratched my pot belly, shedding some body hair in the process and suddenly realizing what the ruckus was all about, sprung up instantaneously. Ignoring the fact that I was in my underwear and was all sweaty due to the Delhi heat, which made sleeping at nights, a hellish experience; I too ran up to join all my fellow P.G.’s.

“Hey, you hirsute, how many times we’ve told you to cover yourself before you come,” yelled Abhinav as I barged into the roof.

“Shut up. I don’t have to mind myself in front of a bunch of gays,” I retorted, pushing him aside to take a strategic position along the railing.

“Weren’t you supposed to get a pair of binoculars from home,” I impulsively asked Rajesh who had just returned from Hyderabad.

“Yeah yeah, Narendra is repairing it and getting it in a while. Don’t get on my nerves,” snapped Rajesh, focusing his eyes towards her terrace in absence of the binoculars.

This was our daily routine, the first thing we did every morning. We, the future of India, the enlightened ones who had taken upon themselves to pull the jittery administrative system of the nation, we the aspiring civil servants, but in short, just a bunch of wannabes.

She used to come to her terrace every morning to do some yoga and aerobics. Her bungalow was a couple of lanes across. However, as both the places where we stayed were the tallest amongst the neighboring ones, we had an eagle’s eye view from our roof.

We all had gathered in the national capital from different parts of the country, some came from the plush plains of Punjab and others from the arid deserts of Rajasthan, some from the coconut coasts of Kerala and others from the mineral rich inlands of Chhattisgarh, some from the sugarcane fields of Maharashtra and others from the spicy land of Andhra Pradesh, all with the same dream in their eyes, to pursue the common ambition of joining the guild of extraordinary not-so-gentlemen.

In an otherwise hectic routine, bird watching was a great respite and since a couple of weeks, we had laid our eyes on this beautiful bird. Frankly, from this distance, it wasn’t easy to recognize her but her milky white complexion and petite physique could not be missed in the small and tight outfits she wore.

For a person like me who fell in love on every snap of the fingers, it took no time to fall in this pit once again. Yes, I loved her. In case you want to correct me and tell me sympathetically that ‘my boy, it was just lust’; let me assure you, in that case according to me, the hormonal attraction between the male and the female can be nothing but lust and the karmic connection of the hearts and the souls is all crap.

While not studying, I used to spend all the time just thinking about her. Her image that kept coming back and made me yearn for her was the one when on an evening, I had seen her grabbing some stuff from the terrace as it had started raining. It was pretty windy too and she struggled as her skirt fluttered, exposing much for a nerd like me to go out-of-control.

I wanted her badly. How I wished to clear my examination soon and barge into her house and ask her to marry me. I know, you must be thinking what a maniac I am. You must also be concerned at the sorry state of affairs that people like me can end up running the country. Well, don’t think that much. Even I knew that I am just fantasizing. But somehow deep within, I wanted at least some fantasies of mine to come true. After all, there was no harm in wishful thinking.

Many such days passed adoring her and the nights, beating the heat in her memories. With no access to television or internet, I had nothing better to do. Finally, the inevitable happened. Our preparatory course got over. Some of us decided to stay back while some like me had already planned to move back to our respective cities to prepare further. So with a heavy heart, for one final time, I woke up early to capture her in my eyes for eternity. The same afternoon, I took a bus destined for my city, Chandigarh.

*

Once back, I was engulfed in serious studies and by sheer hardwork, after just a couple of attempts, I cleared the examinations. I ranked decent enough to make it to the elitist services of the all – The Indian Administrative Services.

Suddenly there was a sea-change in the attitude of people around us. For some time, it was difficult to adapt to the change but soon, I started getting used to it.

As I shifted to Mussoorie for my training, my mother started hunting for brides. Already, I had crossed the average age at which most of my cousins had settled down. However, I was in no hurry.

As time progressed, we started receiving proposals for matrimonial alliance from unknown nooks and corners. The marriage market in India works on the simple economic principle of demand and supply. As the supply of the rare breed like me was low, the demand tended to be pretty high.

I had heard of a man who had topped civil services some years ago and went on to marry the then Union Finance Minister's grand daughter. In doing so he had dumped his girl friend who had been with him since college days, living with him in Delhi whole throughout his preparation and caring for him like a dedicated wife.

When I had heard this story from one of my fellow trainee at LBSNAA in Mussoorie, I had cursed that man. However, today I had started finding some logic in what he had done. Power corrupts, they say and it had definitely started corrupting me. Within two years, I had rejected 25 girls, that is on average more than one every month. Add to it, dozens of proposals that had been rejected at the first filtration level itself, which is by my mother, father or sister. 

If not for my newly acquired elite status, these girls would have just spitted on my face on the mere prospect of spending an hour with me and their rich fathers would have hanged me in full public view on hearing about such preposterous proposal. But today, I was the one who was rejecting them and I surely liked it.

Every time I went to see a girl in some lavish 5-star hotel or a sprawling mansion, I could hear a song playing in the background – 'I've got the power'. The parameters on which I evaluated them weren’t their beauty or intelligence but the status of their fathers and their ability to pull the strings at the centre to help me in my deputations, transfers and promotions.

Initially, I had wondered how these groom hunting scavengers came to know about me, till Arun had made an unbelievable revelation.

“Don’t you remember, after your training got over at Mussoorie, all of you were given an information booklet containing your contact details?” he asked me.

“Yeah, so what?” I had answered, puzzled by the odd question.

“So my dear friend, you don’t know that while you guys were just around 100 or so, the booklets printed were nearly 5000. Now don’t ask me where the spare copies go,” he had revealed as I saw a halo appearing around his small head.

This was a rumor or a fact, I didn’t know but it definitely had some logic to it.

Arun, who got through the civil services in the very first attempt had joined the bride hunting game a year earlier than me. Given his modest upbringing and ordinary looks, any girl would have been a prize catch for him. But now with the IRS tag, his demand had gone up by leagues.

"Are you a virgin," he had asked one girl, daughter of a wealthy businessman.

"Yaar, she was just too unbelievingly hot, that I had to confirm," he had later told me embarrassingly.

"Are you?" was what the girl had replied with a mischievous smile on her face.

Poor Arun was neatly trapped by this question. Both the answers would have embarrassed him in front of her; a yes meant he was a big looser, which he definitely was, and a no meant, he was a big hypocrite, which again he was to some extent. 

They ended up marrying and upon returning from the honeymoon, Arun proudly declared to me that she was teaching him all the moves.

*

It was a pleasant Delhi morning, a rare weather in the capital, when my mother declared that we have to go for yet another rendezvous with some prospective in-laws for me.

As most of the times, I enquired nothing about the girl but just her father. Though his credentials didn't sound so great, there was no harm in having a lavish lunch at his expense.

"Arre, this place must be pretty close to where you stayed while your preparation," my father exclaimed as we approached the area.

"Chalo, it's nice. I might give a courtesy call to Colonel Uncle," I said referring to the person at whose place I used to stay as a PG.

"It seems pretty close," my mother said as we passed the lane leading to Colonel Uncle's bungalow.

We took the next to next right and soon the driver honked in front of a massive gate.

"We've reached sahib," said the driver as I for a moment went blank.

As the gates to the mansion opened, I could just stare in amazement. For four months, I had loitered in front of these gates hoping to take a view inside. Finally, they were being opened for me, the gates to the abode where my dream girl resided.

I couldn't believe what was happening. The atheist in me suddenly seemed crumbling and I gave a sigh, 'Oh, Lord!'

We were welcomed by a horde of servants who led us to the door where the owner of the mansion was waiting for us.

“Hello, Mr. Arora. Welcome to my humble cottage,” he said extending his hands to greet my father, choosing that stale line from innumerable Bollywood movies but without any trace of humility to be found in it.

Soon we were seated in the drawing room which was big enough to accommodate my whole house back in Chandigarh.

I waited impatiently for what was next in store for me.

As I picked a glass of water, I heard a clatter of high heels and turned to my left to see a woman approaching through the lobby. I wore my spectacles to see clearly and was amazed at what I saw.

It was her, my dream girl approaching me with a huge smile on her face. I was seeing her after five long years and she definitely looked a little elder than what I had imagined her to be. Afterall, the distance between our homes had never allowed me to see her clearly and considerable time had elapsed in between.

However, she was undoubtedly angelic, someone from out of this world. Her long hair were left loose and I could smell their fragrance, sitting many yards away. Her body was toned just the way it used to be though she wore a little too much than what I was used to see her in.

“Here comes my dear wife,” announced my prospective father-in-law.

Suddenly, I felt floor slipping under my feet. I just could not imagine what I just heard. However, coming out of my dream and thinking logically, it all made sense. She by no means looked like a prospective bride.

I just kept staring at her as she came and greeted us and sat just across to me.

Soon, their daughter too joined us and my parents started talking to her, asking her about her likes and dislikes and everything possible under the sky.

“She is just 19 right. Isn’t she a little too young?” my mother asked my dream girl.

“Well, Mrs. Arora, when I got married, I was just 17. It’s a common thing in our families. The younger the bride, it’s easier for her to adapt to the new environment. Otherwise, my daughter has been good at studies. She’ll be completing her B.A. this year,” she replied with a charming smile on her face.

We sat there for about couple of hours, had lunch and had some discussions with her husband, the guy whom I envied the most today. Mere sitting in front of her was making me go crazy. I felt that same urge, I used to feel back in those days. Today sitting so close, I felt, as if I could just see her through. I could feel butterflies in my stomach on this very imagination. I wished everyone else just disappeared leaving two of us alone in this trance.

All this while, I was just lost in my own thoughts. I preferred not to have any tete-a-tete with the young girl who was also sitting there somehow uninterested, preparing herself to be slaughtered in this impersonal pact between a businessman and an administrative official.

Soon it was the time to leave and after exchanging some pleasantries, we were on our way back.

“So Beta, did you like the girl,” asked my father expectantly.

“Don’t you think she looks a bit too young for him,” commented my mother still not fully convinced.

“Maybe, I am a bit young for her,” I murmured, lost in my own thoughts.

“What?” asked my mother puzzled.

“Nothing. I mean yes, I liked the girl. I want her to be my bride,” I replied, deep inside wishing for an unthinkable as my parents gave a final sigh of relief.

***

Disclaimer
This is a work of fiction based on some ugly truths of our society. However, I have used the names of all the good friends I had made in New Delhi when I stayed there for half a year, preparing for civil services. 

Off-the-topic Reflections
I got the idea for writing this short story while travelling back from New Delhi after attending the Blog-a-Ton Anniversary Celebrations Meet. As I could not dilute the idea, I decided to write the story before doing any other writing. Because of it, I missed writing about the Meet on my blog. I'll take this opportunity to thank Richa for making all the arrangements for the meet in such an organised manner. I must also thank Geetanjali and Himanshu for the roles they played in organising the event. And not to forget all the fellow bloggers who attended the meet; thanks a lot.
While we were enjoying in Delhi, Rashi and Siddhesh organised the meets in Mumbai and Pune. I must thank both of them and all those who attended the meet for making this day so special for me and all the blog-a-tonics. I must also mention and thank Venky who did an update on Pune Meet.
Long Live BAT!!!

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Reflections of an Empathic Libertarian by Vipul Grover is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.
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