This girl caught my attention. She was different. I was in Cochin, attending a 2 day Seminar on ‘Indian Law and Women’. She seemed to be just the person for whom laws were made – frail and pink, silent and lonely. When the other participants were keenly poised to take their points across to the ‘Distinguished Panel’ she sat at one corner, indifferent to the proceedings unravelling in front of her.
I believe that the Women’s Reservation Bill will not empower, but subjugate the lower class women of our country. It is in the interest of our nation that we scrap............She became my ‘subject of interest’ for her silent demeanour. She was different from the stereotypical I-will-not-let-others-speak-females at Seminars. During the breaks, she walked alone with a longing look on her face. She was mostly lost in thought, fidgeting with her iPod.
Why is she silent?
Why is she indifferent?
May be she is in love with someone, unable to adjust with his absence. Or did she have a break-up recently? Possibly. The sudden vacuum might have made her vulnerable. Her silence spoke volumes; feelings of despair and dejection. I couldn’t empathize with her; never been a girl myself (bad joke).
The first day of seminar ended rather late. Interested participants made it a point to be repetitive when conveying their ideas. Their over enthusiasm stretched the proceedings to 8pm. Everyone got out of the building exhausted, in need of some fresh and cool air. I walked slowly, noting every movement of hers. In the moonlight outside, she looked divine. I couldn’t just keep my eyes off her. What began as a literary fascination was fast turning out to be.... No! No! I wouldn’t let that happen, I told myself. With that self-assurance, I walked to my hotel room.
No buts! Just sleep!!
But I can’t!
Just sleep Raghu! You can sleep! – Self instruction.
Shakira’s voice woke me up the next day (Hips don’t lie – to be specific). November 1 it was; Kerala State formation day. The organisers had provided the participants with the traditional attire of the state to be worn on the last day of the seminar. Having been born and brought up in Delhi, I barely knew how to wear a ‘Mundu’ despite being a ‘Mallu’. With several ‘extra fittings’ and more than 45 minutes of efforts, I was finally ready for the day ahead. I got out of the room into the hotel lobby and there she was in her ‘set saree’ looking absolutely stunning! Indian women look infinitely better in sarees, I thought while unsuccessfully trying to divert my attention into random thoughts to avoid falling for her. I followed her to the auditorium rather inconspicuously, making and attending fake calls in my mobile phone. Inconspicuous I thought, theatrical I was. My loud ‘phone conversations’ attracted curious glances from people around. But I managed to reach the auditorium without further damage to my reputation.
Arun Jaitely came and went.
Soli Sorabjee came and went.
Ram Jethmelani came and went.
I didn’t care. I just cared about her. Vaaranam Aayiram, my inspiration.
During the evening tea break, I approached her.
Hi... eh... I am Raghu. Raghu Padmanabhan, I told her extending my hand.
Namaste. I am Anjali Menon.
I retracted my extended hand. False start.
Eh... so... wassup? I asked her, trying to be ‘cool’.
I am doing my MA in psychology. Delhi University. Eh?, her voice seemed to be unusually bold.
Oh... nice. Even I am going to finish my Masters this coming July. Masters in Political Science.
Thanks. I am really thrilled.
I don’t understand Anjali. Why are you thanking me?
I was working on my MA project thesis. And I just completed my last case study.
Why should you thank me for that?
She answered with a naughty smile, “Because you were my specimen for the case study on The psychology of an Indian Stalker”