“You are being completely imbecile. How did you manage to divert your mind with such distractions?” Lakshmi was furious with her granddaughter, Maya.
Maya was an 18-year-old, high achieving teenager. “Straight A’s throughout,” Lakshmi bragged about Maya to literally every person she met. They were best of friends and had a single ambition in life: Dr. Maya Pradeepan, MBBS, Oncologist.
But today, Maya had belittled her future for a hooligan and wanted to get married to a nonconformist. She was just 18, a phase in life when one had to concentrate on moulding a perfect career for a promising future. Lakshmi could not digest the change of plans, she was dumbfound.
“Grandma, give me a good reason why I should not get married to Ajay?” Maya questioned.
“Give me a good reason?” Lakshmi was startled. Flashes of her past engulfed her mind. She was 15 when she had asked the same question.
Lakshmi was sent to stay with her grandparents when her mother was carrying for the 3rd time. Her grandparents lived in a remote village of Tamil Nadu, completely virgin to the hustle created by the independence movements. Village life was leisurely yet enjoyable. She attended the village school, played with her friends on the fields and loved listening to stories that her grandmother narrated. It was a free spirited life.
Once she was 9, her father wanted the family to stay together. He purchased a tiny house in Mumbai with his little savings. He gave high hopes of a city life to Lakshmi. He promised her that she will be attending one of the finest schools in Bombay. Though she yearned to stay with her mother; curiosity and excitement to discover the city was running high in her mind.
Apart from the tiny house, Bombay was everything she had envisioned. Fast moving life; buildings with huge wall clocks; trams, cars running across the streets. Keeping with his promise, her father admitted her to one of the best schools. She studied along with peers who belonged to the most prominent and sophisticated elite of Bombay. With the whole country fighting for independence, she was inspired by the women pioneers like Sarojini Naidu and Kasturba Gandhi and wanted to give back to the society. She aimed to be a mathematician and a teacher. She studied hard. Her friends nicknamed her King Midas, because she excelled in whatever she studied.
But Lakshmi failed to realise that she still was confined to a conservative society. It was 1947, the year India achieved independence. The whole country rejoiced. It was Lakshmi’s 15th birthday. And her father gave her a gift. A present that changed the course of her life. It was a wedding invitation card. She opened it with excitement, only to find a tarnished future plan. ‘Lakshmi weds Venkatesh’. Her life came crumbling down. The taste of independence vanished from her palate. Sobbing, she asked her father, “Give me one good reason to stop my education and get married.”
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