Quite staggering isn’t it, how a woman revolves her life around her biggest priorities in a way men seldom can. She’s caring and soft but she is also brave. A little edgy and wants to soar high but can also compromise. She can forgive and forget, trust and love.
We hadn’t met before and perhaps would have never, had it not been for a prank urgent call from a friend that ended up in me ghastly cycling my way to his house, for a reason I’d never find out. And as a consequence of his actions and more for my disregard for the college I was enrolled to, we decided to bunk that day.
It was there that I met Dempa – an abbreviation to save us time from pronouncing her longish name – when she stepped out of her room and greeted us with a smile. I had heard from Rohan that his sister was leaving for Nepal the following week. Therefore, mistaking her smile to be the excitement for a new journey, I gleefully queried how happy she was on starting a new life.
From what I had heard, it was indeed promising to be a new life for a girl, who would turn 23 the same day she would begin her journey towards a new destiny. Dempa worked here in a BPO sector, shared a flat with her still studying cousin brother and was the quintessence of most independent women.
But in a split of minutes, between which we conversed mostly on why she was leaving and her plans for future, my expression changed. She was still smiling though. I was certain that smile, somewhat forced, hid explodable sorrow. “But why now?”, I asked, recounting my mother, who after losing her husband on a fateful Valentine’s Day four years ago, rushed to the hospital next morning to help a neighbour, who didn’t know what to do and where to take his ill wife. Like really?
These women, they can give reality a resounding check and stand as brave to the outside world while their inner-depth moist with tears and you would never know.
Dempa was a month away from completing one year in the job. That would mean a slight improvement in her arrears, more experience and a higher band (BPO sectors usually have bands that increases with better performance and experience) which will increase her salary. “Because my grandmother is going,” she said. Dempa’s grandmother stays in Kharagpur in the house of her eldest daughter. That is where Dempa grew up alongside her aunt’s two children.
Her parents stay in Nepal. But Nepal has never been home to Dempa. It is only a holiday destination for her. “I find it very uncomfortable there,” she says. “That is why I only travel there for a few days and come back at the earliest. But this time I have to go.” “Why don’t you just drop you granny stay there for a few days and come back,” I suggested trying to find her options.
Rohan once told me that Dempa was the eldest child in her family. She had two brothers. Dempa was sent to India to stay with her grandmother. She would never live with her parents again and apart from a few holidays when one side travelled to visit the other, they would hardly meet.
“No! There is another reason,” Dempa responded refuting my suggestions. “What is it,” I asked, anxious. “My father wants me to come back.” “Ohh,” I said exasperatingly. “Joseph daa, Rohan must have told you by now that I stay with my grandmother since my cradle days. I missed my parents then. My Boju (grandmother in Nepali) has been my only parent. Now my father wants me to spend more time with him. He will support me, he said,” Dempa spoke cautiously.
“Ohh great!! What have you decided then,” I asked. “I will go,” she was crystal clear in her mind. “What about Rohan then? He’ll stay alone?” I enquired and argued. “I have spoken to him, he will understand,” she said stubbornly. All the while Rohan was busy with earphones tucked to ear. He was playing some stupid FIFA game on his desktop. I was frustrated with him. Here was I worried about him but he wasn’t bothered.
“Don’t worry about him. I have already found him another flat. He will spend the final three months of his fourth semester with one of my friend’s family. I know them too well. They have promised to take care of him. He doesn’t have to even cook,” she said reassuring me. “Why on earth did this thing not come to my head,” I thought to myself.
Oh God! Such a wonderful creation. They would think of your well being even before you’d think of your own. You can’t beat them on that. Caring and thinking for others are in their DNA.
Then there was a little pause. I prepared to go home. But she said, “You know… This is the third time my father is asking me to come back.” “What do you mean,” I asked. “You had gone before?” “Yes” her voiced mowed down. “I had gone in 2013 after completing my higher secondary. But he didn’t want me to study further. So I stayed for seven months, fought and came back to India.”
“Then the second time what happened?” I asked, firmly stuck to my seat. Going home was now out of my mind. This was getting dangerous. She said that last year she had gone again. “But I could only stay three months.” “Why? What happened?” I asked again. “He was about to get me married off to one his friend’s sons. My mother helped me escape from home,” she said, her eyes lighted with perhaps tears.
“Dempa…No! Don’t go.” I was already protective. (No, don’t praise me for that. Anyone would the same thing on the count of these incidents.)
“Don’t worry. My grandmother is there this time. My father has also promised me that he won’t do anything as such,” she said again full of reassurance. “But how can you trust him?,” I shot back.
She was willing to risk it. After all isn’t love, bonding and trust the greatest gift of God. A mother’s love couldn’t see her daughter getting forced into a marriage. She acted then. Here was Dempa ready to trust again. Ready to bond again.
But my constant refutes and her unshakeable confidence soon turned the conversation into a heated argument. Then she backed down because I wasn’t willing to. “What if he again does something similar,” I questioned her trust. “He won’t, I know,” she said in monosyllables.
“So you have forgiven him?” I asked, hurrying myself to leave without waiting for an answer. I could hear her say, “Yes! Forgiven and reconciled” as I climbed down the stairs having forgotten to shut the door behind.
She was ready to forgive and forget for the third time. At that moment she had exemplified what I had grown up reading and hearing. Of course, I didn’t realise it then.
We met at a shopping mall approximately a week later – the three of us. I asked her immediately, “What is the final decision then?” “I am travelling the day after tomorrow.” She answered.