It’s the last day of her annual exam. The boys are dispersing happily to their friends’ for lunch. Tenth grade, the foundation of most lives. Girls are giggling as they plan about a movie tomorrow. ‘Hey, are you coming or not? Mittu? Hello, did you walk out without submitting your answer-sheet by any means?‘ the girl pulls her hand overtaken by curiosity. She reads The Slam Book: Friends call me Mittu. Favorite musician A R Rahman First Crush Milind Soman… The whole gang laugh as the girl holds the book up and reads it out loud. Ambition ‘What?‘ by the time she takes another look, the boy to whom actually the slam book belongs, comes over grabbing it from the lifted hands. He smiles back at Mittu and scoots.
‘No fine arts’. ‘Please mom!’ ‘I did not bring you up to go paint a naked woman and call it art.’ The puny girl, who is surprised to learn that the course has such exercise under the name of human anatomy, thinks and quickly pleads ‘How about an animator? ‘I read from Young World a week back about the first Asian woman animator.’ She has even got the paper cuttings. Her dad nods no. They tell her she is free to choose. From the verge of giving up, she gets up popping like confetti ‘Diploma in Photography?’ The big brother finally opens his mouth ‘where do you get these…Ideas?’
After two years of her under graduation, Santhoshi joins M.A with lots of passion. ‘Santhoshi, you must teach soft skills to your classmates in the absence of any professor, okay?’ Sigh. She had left her computer job, sacrificed the huge salary and come back FOR Literature, for John Donne, Chaucer and Shakespeare not to work for free! Next day, the professor with a mole and a smile darker than it beneath, enters the classroom. He asks everyone to open their new book. Santhoshi turns to Vidthya who looks sad. She has bought the wrong book. Wow, it was not ‘The Alchemist’ by Ben Johnson!
Next, the HOD tells her not to intimidate her two years younger students by participating in discussions. ‘I am a student too!’ her heart cried. Until one day she disappeared from the exam hall boycotting the semester.
Five years later, ‘Encourage and empower the feminine souls’ cheers the mole-face. Nothing about him has changed. He looks as fresh as he appeared when they newly opened the department, now a HOD. The blocks have turned old. There are Chinese students, village youth and urban grads eagerly awaiting the Chief Guest of the Women’s Day to inaugurate their English Laboratory.
Mrithika arrives. She is lighting the lamps and inaugurating the Laboratory at the good time of hour, the HOD sits next to Mrithika on stage beaming with pride. The professor in saree reads her welcome speech out loud to the B.A, M.A, MPhil and PhD students from the piece of crumpled paper. ‘I take immense pleasure in inviting The Woman Co-Director of Tamil Film Industry, that began her career as The first female contestant of a reality show for aspiring directors, my classmate, our university student, Mis. M Mrithika Santhoshini to share a few words.” the applause rained, the verandas echoed. Turning to Dr.Ajitha her tenth grade classmate, she utters in the mic, “You could have addressed me as Mittu, just Mittu, my friend!”
‘It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.’ Santhoshi ended her speech quoting from the book she read from under the desk before discontinuing the course.
-M Mrithika Santhoshini
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