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An Eye Opener

A Short Story by Sudha Chandrasekaran

“Hey Reetu, where are you? It is getting late for work. I need to go to office early today as there is some inspection coming up in another three days.”   "Just coming, your breakfast is ready Anika,” said Reetu, Anika’s childhood friend. “Here are two crisp dosas, your favourite onion sambar and chutney.” “Why did you not make Egg dosai, I have taken a special liking for this dosa these days. I also like omelette, scrambled egg etc,” continued Anika.

Looking up, Reetu saw Anika who was now all dressed to leave for her workplace. Her tight jeans and bright orange waist length T-shirt, short hair and almond like complexion made Anika look a real modern beauty.” Oh, my ghosh, Anika! I just cannot imagine how you have changed so much and I am dumb founded on seeing the recent changes in your dressing manner, eating habits and behavior.”

Reetu’s remarks are absolutely true. Reetu and Anika hail from a small village in Maharashtra and are neighbours as well. As such both of them are quite close to each other and exchange each and every bit of information amongst them. Both their fathers are teachers in Government schools are both are Dad’s little girls as well. Anika is a pure vegetarian whereas Reetu comes from a hardcore non vegetarian family. Reetu always saw to it that her friend had some good vegetarian dish when she visited her home as even eggs and garlic were a strict no in Anika’s house.

Reetu is not that intelligent when compared to Anika. Anika is not only good at studies but also shines well in several other activities including dance, music, painting etc. As such she is admired by each and every family in the village and is a role model for the children of that village. Even though Anika is a bright girl, by nature she is reserved and hardly mixes with the opposite sex. The whole village is proud of Anika when she turns out to be the State first ranker in Plus 2.  Having secured admission in a good engineering college, Anika lands in a plum job during one of the campus interviews. This job takes her to Pune. Her parents and especially her Dad is not in favour of his child leaving home and he feels that the vacuum created by her absence would be too much for him to take on. Her mother, though equally sad, on the other hand is more practical and wishes her well wherever she is.

Reetu being a mediocre student completes her B.Com and joins the finance department in the same office as Anika. At first both of them join a women’s hostel and Anika keeps to herself with just attending her office and coming to the room and staying there during the evenings, reading books and watching TV. After six months, Reetu and Anika rent out a small apartment near the office. It is now that Reetu sees the gradual change in Anika. The quiet village girl starts going wild over the newfound freedom and goes about like a directionless kite. Anika confides in Reetu about her taking to drinking alcohol in small quantities, smoking a few cigars occasiionally and going out freely with boys, even though she maintains her distance from them. 

Both of them lost in their own thoughts are suddenly pulled back by the ‘Jai Ho’ ringing tone of Anika’s cell. Reetu hands over the cell to Anika, “Hey Anika, it’s your dad’. “You better talk to him and tell him that I am busy with some project, and that I will call home late in the evening.”  Reetu is a bit hesitant to pass on this message, but Anika pushes her to talk and Reetu is left with no option. “Hai Uncle, how are you and aunty? “ “Good Beta, is Anika there?” “Uncle she is busy completing some project and will call you in the night.” “Okay Reetu, how are you and your parents? “ Good Uncle”. “Anika’s Mom wants to talk to you Reetu. “Hello Beta. I would like to ask you something as you are very close to Anika and are like a daughter to us.  We constantly worry about Anika as she is quite far away from us and we are unable to meet her as often as we would like to. More over I cannot come there as Anika’s Dad is still in service and has some health issues as well and is forever thinking about Anika.  She is not very communicative these days and her tone does not sound very enthusiastic as it used to be. Is she alright? We are getting good alliances now and if she is agreeable we can finalize some good guy for her. You please do take care of her Beta. Being here we are unable to do anything.” “Okay aunty. She’ll call you tonight.”

Anika could guess part of the conversation and said in an irritated manner, “What again? My wedding? Why can’t my Mom and Dad leave me on my own?” Reetu, angry on hearing this, “Keep in mind that they are your parents and not any Tom, Dick and Harry. You are the apple of their eyes and your dad’s little girl. I am also not happy with your ways Anika.  “What’s happening to you now?” “Reetu continued in the same tone, “I know that you have changed quite a bit but did not expect this from you.” “What?” “I hear that you are going to Mahabaleswar with Raghav today.”“Yes, so what? I know to take good care of myself. Don’t you worry. “

“I know that you are capable of taking care of yourself but he may create circumstances which may work against you. Quite likely it may start raining or his bike might develop some problem and he may suggest that both of you wait in a nearby hotel room till it gets repaired. Knowing you well, he might not directly advance towards you but mix something in a drink and offer you.  Oh! The very thought is frightening!”

The Short Story continues here