Rajvanshji could get things moving with a single phone call. And why not? He had just got promoted from the status of the most successful businessman of the state to that of an unanimously elected representative to the legislative assembly from his constituency. Gloating in the attention and power attached to the new tag, he buttoned up his Nehru jacket, one of many that had intruded his wardrobe, much to the dismay of the loyal business suits that had served him for decades.
“Papaji, it isn’t fair!”stormed in Mallika. “Paakhi gets picked on by that casteist professor daily ;as if being targeted by every other nincompoop in college wasn’t enough.”
“Arre beta,” Rajvanshji consoled her. “Relax! With a friend like you by her side, Paakhi doesn’t need to bother.”
“Come on, papaji,” retorted Mallika “I cannot be with her all the time. It’s not only about how she feels. In this era of globalisation, how can our countrymen still look down upon others on the basis of caste? Didn’t you speak about eradicating this menace in your election manifesto?”
“Haanji, bitiya!” he nodded, and then, appearing distracted, said “Achcha, is your paperwork for that firangi college done?”
“Almost!” squealed Mallika, her eyes gleaming at the prospect of pursuing a Masters in Social Work at Harvard.
The diversion having worked, the smiling father shook his head, recalling Mallika’s affinity for social service; From tutoring the maid’s daughter in English patiently, to raising funds for the colony chowkidar’s surgery, to bringing home injured strays , she made another’s struggle her own.
6 months later
Paakhi topped the university examinations attracting prejudiced hostility by many.
Mallika’s Harvard dream beckoned, resulting in celebrations and farewell parties .
One such fateful evening saw a visibly shaken Paakhi being brought in to the Rajvansh residence by a tearful, distraught Mallika . They recounted a malicious assault as well as molestation attempt on Paakhi by a group of high-handed students publicly.
“Surely ,papaji would bring the perpretators to book.” Thought Mallika.
The next morning saw Rajvanshji frown at the local newspaper headlines.
A couple of numbers dialled, some instructions given, followed by a few pranayams and he was set for the tough task ahead.
“Bitiya, the issue has flared up,”he updated the girls. “It’s unsafe for Paakhi to stay on here. The goons who attacked her are absconding but well-connected. Let’s shift her to her village. She can return once things have settled.”
“I will go and drop her off,” insisted Mallika.
“Bitiya,… your flight tomorrow? You won’t be able to make it back in time. “
Convinced, Mallika hugged Paakhi, seeing her off in the official car.
4 years later
The news showed Chief Minister Rajvanshji being sworn in with an insinuating caption on knowing which side one’s bread is buttered on.
A young postgraduate in Boston ignored the television and the numerous calls on her mobile.
Another young girl in a remote asylum in India thrashed her bed violently seeing the same.
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