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TWISTED COURSE OF DESTINY

Twisted Course of Destiny

K. V. Dominic

 

Rajiv is a youth in the early thirties. Hasn’t got any permanent employment. MSc in Mathematics. Passed NET also. Still taking classes in an entrance coaching centre for Rs. 10,000 per month. His mother who brought him up and his younger sister had been working as a daily labourer at building construction sites. She is 63 and arthritic. His father died in a bike accident when Rajiv was only ten. He was a barman who never drank. Rajiv’s sister, Rema is only two years junior to him and is still unmarried. She wasn’t studious like Rajiv and had to end her education after Pre Degree course. Born of poor dark parents both Rajiv and Rema are not fair in complexion or attractive. Who will marry a lady who is neither fair nor wealthy enough to give any dowry? Dowry has become such national curse that thousands of ladies are destined to remain spinsters despised by kith and kin and the society as such. It’s Rajiv’s meager salary which meets the household expenditure as well as the medicine for his ailing mother. The family live in a hut built by his father in a three cent plot which he had bought with the money he earned from the bar.

Rajiv passed his tenth class with 90% of marks at the age of sixteen and his mother sent him to a college in the town for Pre Degree course, taking Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics as the optional subjects. Though it was an additional financial burden to her, the mother dreamt of a bright future when her son would get a government employment after education and thus save the family from the abyss of poverty and distress. Rajiv was the most brilliant student in the class and smart in all activities—speech, music, sports and games etc. Naturally he was chosen the leader of the class. He was the favourite of the teachers as well as students. When his classmates of average intelligence attended coaching classes for the entrance examination to Engineering Degree on Saturdays and Sundays, Rajiv had to envy them since he couldn’t afford to pay fees for such classes. What use, even if he gets good rank in the entrance exams? His mother won’t be able to send him to an engineering college in the city.

Rajiv passed his Pre Degree Examinations with 88% marks. He wanted to go for B.Sc. but his mother couldn’t send him as she struggled really hard to sustain the family. As she got a wage of only Rs. 150, there was nothing left for his higher education. Rajiv’s thirst for a degree found a means for its accomplishment. There was a tuition centre in the town providing tuition classes for high school pupils. Rajiv sought for an employment there and since he was brilliant in mathematics he was appointed. He was offered a monthly salary of Rs. 2,500. With the money he earned thus he registered as a private candidate for B. Sc. Mathematics course. Teaching and study went simultaneously without any obstacles. Since he was bright enough he could learn the subjects without the help of any teacher. Years passed very smoothly and he passed B.Sc. examinations with 80% of marks.

What next? The big question mark appeared before Rajiv. In a State like his own (Kerala), mere graduation will not give one any government employment. There was no other option for Rajiv than going for M.Sc. course. Still continuing as a tuition master he registered for M.Sc. Mathematics as a private candidate. Another two years passed and Rajiv became a post graduate with 75% of marks. His post graduation enabled him to get an appointment in a private coaching centre for medical/engineering entrance test. He was offered a salary of Rs. 5000 per month.

In the coaching centre, physics subject was handled by Ms. Sangeeta Gopal. She was fair looking and very gentle in her words and actions. Besides Rajiv and Sangeeta there was a Chemistry teacher Ms. Rohini, Biology teacher Mr. Madhu and the Principal Mr. Murali in the institution. Sangeeta had a special liking for Rajiv. She liked to be with him and talked to him whenever they were free. Which man’s heart can be insensitive to the sweet loving looks and expressions? Rajiv for the first time experienced heart throbs of love and their love grew fast and started to bloom. One day when they were alone in the staff room.  Rajiv told Sangeeta, “Sangeeta, do you love me genuinely? I may not be able to marry you unless I get a permanent job. When it is, I can’t say.”

“Rajiv, I will wait for you till you get a permanent employment. If at all I marry, it will be you and none else. I have already enthroned you as my husband in my heart and I can’t think of anyone else in my life.”

“Sangeeta, you are now 23 and your parents will start thinking of your marriage. You are very beautiful and your parents have sufficient wealth to meet the demands of a suitable bridegroom.”

“I will tell my parents that I don’t want any marriage now. Let me get a government employment first. Thus I can drop their proposals. I don’t think they will act against my wish.”

“My mind says Sangeeta, that you will get a permanent job before I get one. Then how will you resist your parents’ proposals?”

“I will tell them then that I am in love with you and I would only marry you. Rajiv, this is my promise. Kindly stretch your palm.” He stretched his right palm and she pressed hers on it.

“Sangeeta, I will wait for you and we will live together forever.”

Their golden moments ended when the bell was rung and the other colleagues entered into the staff room.

Rajiv started to dream of a happy married life with Sangeeta. What is required for its fulfilment is a permanent job. His ambition is to become a college lecturer. He knows very well that it is a herculean task to get such an appointment. He can’t expect it in government aided private colleges as they demand high donation. He can try for it only in government colleges which are very few in number. He decided to appear for the UGC NET examination which is the eligibility for applying for the post. He cleared the NET exams in the first chance itself. As the State was going through great financial crisis, the government banned all appointments and the Public Service Commission stopped notifications.

Life never goes through easy, smooth, straight roads always. It has to climb hilly roads full of sharp curves before coming down again to plain straight roads. Rajiv’s life has been passing through the easy straight roads and the time has come for him to climb the hill before him. His mother, who has been the main bread earner of the family started to show the symptom of arthritis. The severe pain on her joints prevented her from heavy work and she was compelled to stop her sustaining job of a daily labourer. Rajiv’s sister, Rema somehow passed her Pre Degree course in the third chance. She couldn’t be sent for higher education and hence remained in the house helping the sick mother in the domestic activities. The sole responsibility and burden of maintaining the family rested on Rajiv. With the monthly salary of Rs. 6000 he got he had to meet the domestic expenses and mother’s treatment charges.

Years passed one after another. The new government which came into power after the general elections lifted the ban on government employment and Rajiv applied for every post which he was eligible for—from last grade to that of college lecturer. Public Service Commission’s test, interview and appointment go at a snail’s pace taking several years. Domestic worries, agonies and tensions of Rajiv were subdued and relieved by the caressing touch of Sangeeta’s love in the coaching centre. She too applied for government jobs through PSC. Both appeared for several tests and waited for the results.

One day when Rajiv and Sangeeta were sharing their domestic news, the postman appeared there with a letter for Sangeeta. It was an advice memo from PSC asking her to join the Education Department as a Lower Division Clerk. Sangeeta was highly elated. Rajiv also appeared for the same examination but luck was against him. Sangeeta belongs to Other Backward Community which has reservations in government employment. Though Rajiv is financially poor he belongs to the forward community which denies him any special privilege.

“Sangeeta, my hearty congrats! We should celebrate it,” Rajiv said.

“Thanks dear Rajiv. It’s surprising why you are not selected. How brighter you are! May be you will be called later from the list.”

“God knows. Let Him guide me as He wills. Which is the joining date?”

“Before 20th of this month. Only fifteen days more.”

“It is better to join at the earliest. I mean tomorrow itself.”

“My only pain is to leave you, Rajiv. The District Education Office where I have to join is far away too. Anyway we will be in touch over phone.”

“Don’t worry Sangeeta. We will be in touch. My only request is that you should not forget me when you enter into a new world and new acquaintances.”

“Don’t speak such trash dear Rajiv. How can I forget you? You will always be in my mind.”

“Your parents will insist for your marriage as you are already 26 now. How will you resist it?”

“Didn’t I promise you Rajiv that I will not marry anyone else other than you? I will tell my parents about our love and request them to wait for your permanent employment.”

“But how long can they wait? How unfortunate I am!”

“Don’t be pessimistic dear Rajiv. We shall pray to God to unite us at the earliest.”

“Ok dear. You may join tomorrow itself. Let’s stop. Others are coming.”

They ended their conversation. Sangeeta disclosed the news of her selection to the other colleagues and the principal arranged a farewell meeting. The love between Sangeeta and Rajiv was unknown to others. Both could smartly control in the presence of others. But when Rajiv spoke in the meeting his voice choked. He struggled hard to avoid bursting out of his emotions. The lovers’ parting at 4 pm after the classes was really in tears. They waited for the others to leave the campus.

“Sangeeta, we never thought that we would have to part so soon. We have been here so close together for three years. In fact you have been the polestar who guided me when I have been swaying in the tempest of grief.  What will I do when you are gone?”

“Rajiv, the polestar is always there and nothing can hide it from you. I will be in regular touch with you and we can meet at the park on Sundays.  I plan to come every weekend.”

“You can’t measure my love to you, Sangeeta. Who can measure the quantity of water in the ocean? Or its depth? My mind can’t go on thinking without you even for an hour. Then how can I remain without you for a week?”

“Rajiv, don’t drown me in that ocean of passion. Do you think my love to you is not that deep as yours? Do you think I will happy without you?” Tears started flowing over her rosy cheeks.

“Oh, don’t cry, my darling. I know how much you love me.” He wiped away her tears with his hand and gave a kiss on her forehead. “We should not be sentimental like teenagers. We have to be practical. Cheer up now.”

“Papa will be accompanying me tomorrow. I will seek boarding in the working women’s hostel.  I will call you next evening. ”

“Ok dear. You may go now. Best wishes!”

“Thanks dear Rajiv. Best wishes to you! I will always pray for your employment and our life together.” Thus they departed.

Needless to say, Rajiv was most upset, drowned in grief as his polestar left him. Sangeeta called him the next evening and detailed her new world. She was no doubt content with her new atmosphere. Both of them phoned almost every evening. As promised, Sangeeta met him at the park next Sunday. She was full of hot air on her colleagues, hostel mates, office work etc.

Rajiv got an alarming phone call from her on Monday evening. Her parents have found a suitable match for her. The boy is her father’s friend’s son, who is a teacher in a higher secondary school. She expressed her dissent and had to tell her parents of her love to Rajiv. The parents became very furious and said that they would never allow her to marry him, who has no permanent employment. Sangeeta was really upset and told him that she is willing to elope with him and get registered marriage if he can save her. A heavy lightening shot through Rajiv’s heart. Fortunately his sense conquered the emotions and could think very practically. It is cruelest of her to disobey her parents and push them to the abyss of sorrow and dejection. Rajiv advised her not to displease her parents, and agree for the marriage. She couldn’t agree to his advice first but he convinced her that there was no other option before them. He told her not to call him any more so that they could forget each other, which was what the situation demanded. Even though he was invited for the wedding he didn’t attend it because he couldn’t bear the sight of another person making her the life partner.

Rajiv continued his teaching in the coaching centre. He wanted to escape from the morose atmosphere there. He tried to forget Sangeeta by involving more in reading. He was writing exams after exams of PSC, Banking Service Recruitment Board etc. But luck was against him and the appointment eluded him. He has now completed four years of service in the coaching centre and was getting Rs. 10,000 per month whereas a last grade employee of a government office drew a starting salary of Rs. 13,000.

Finally, Rajiv’s prayers were granted and he got appointment as a peon in the District Collector’s Office. A postgraduate has to work as a peon! Something is better than nothing, he consoled himself. He joined the office which was sixty kilometers away from his house. Majority of his superior officers in the office—clerks, superintendents, accounts officer were all inferior to him in education—passed only tenth class, pre degree or degree. They were sympathetic to him but superiors are always superiors and he had to obey their commands, fetching files and serving them from section to section. His thirst for higher education and a better employment prompted him to do PhD as a part time scholar. Fortunately his college classmate Dr. Joseph was a research guide in an aided college in the town. Rajiv stayed in a lodge near his office and went home every weekend. The monotony and humiliation of his peon work was compensated by the research activities. He availed the earned leaves and visited the research centre, completed the required attendances and submitted the thesis after three years. Only three months were needed for the evaluation and he was awarded PhD at the age of 34.

One day as part of his routine duty Rajiv was asked by the senior superintendent to serve a file to the Deputy Collector who took charge on that day. He was benumbed by the sight of the Deputy Collector. She looked very much like his Sangeeta. But how can she be here? True it is she herself because the name board on the table read Sangeeta Gopal.

“Good morning madam!” He put the file on the table before her.

“Good morning!” She looked on his face and exclaimed, “You Rajiv!”

“Yes madam. I am that unfortunate Rajiv.”

“What a pity! You couldn’t get a better job?”

“No madam. I got this appointment only three years back. Have written many other tests, but luck is against me.”

“Don’t be dejected, Rajiv. I appeared for the Deputy Collector examinations and got this appointment. You too apply that way. What about your wife and children?”

“I am still a bachelor madam. Not planning for a marriage now.”

“Ok, I shall pray for you, Rajiv. God will save you, no doubt, rewarding your goodness. You may go now.”

            Rajiv went back to his seat. How he could muster strength and energy in front of Sangeeta remained strange. My God, what a test it is! His mind was throbbing with great agony. At the same time he experienced some occult pleasure lurking in some corner of his mind. Pleasure of meeting his past beloved after seven years! He had no jealousy to her even if she got a superior job, because his passion for her was such. But facing her as another man’s wife and his superior boss was intolerable to him.
His conscience told him that it is a sin to look at Sangeeta as his earlier lover. He finds it very difficult to differentiate her—seeing her as another man’s wife. But what to do now except accept the stark reality? If God wants him to undergo further trials, let His will be done, Rajiv pacified his mind.

With a dispassionate mechanical mind Rajiv continued his office work. Three months passed. One evening he got a phone call from his home.

“Hello Rema! What’s the news?”

“Happy news, brother! You have got an advice memo from PSC requesting you to join as Assistant Professor of Mathematics in Maharajas Government College, Kochi. “

“Oh my God, what a surprise, thrilling news! I am coming home tomorrow.”

Thus God granted Rajiv’s prayers at last. May be Sangeeta’s also.