Short Stories >> Acha Var Garha Gula >> The Mischievous One (Khechli)
Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani
Translated by Arun Babani
The college clock was showing 6 o’clock, and Sarla and Gulli came to the ticket counter, asking for tickets from Balram.While handing over the tickets to them hurriedly, Balram said, “Better hurry up, the program has already begun."Taking the tickets, Sarla said, “We see programs every day, let Gulli see your face today. She has chewed my brains repeating your name all the time."
Gulli bit her lip and her anger was too obvious. She hit Sarla hard on her back.
"Oh God" said Sarla, rubbing her shoulder, inadvertently hitting her knee on the table, toppling it. While bending down to pick up the fallen tickets, Balram shyly said, "I am not that fortunate that somebody remembers me!"
Gulli understood her friend’s mischief. She felt sorry for Balram. She too bent down and began helping Balram collect the tickets. She laughingly told him, "Don't you have confidence that somebody remembers you too..?"
It seemed as if Balram found a gem while collecting the fallen tickets. He looked at her silently, smiling, the kind of smile that comes on the face of any man watching an unmarried girl. With gratitude filled eyes he said, "If truly somebody thinks of me I consider myself very fortunate."
Sarla was still pretending to rub her shoulder. Seeing both of them whispering, she shouted, "Hey! Can't you see that I’m still standing here? Are you collecting the tickets or gossiping?"
Gulli and Balram stood up and started laughing. What better way than to laugh together and express their feelings! Two boys appeared to buy tickets.
"Come on now" said Sarla, dragging Gulli by the arm.
They heard voices of the two boys behind, "Buddy, where are you looking? The girls have gone..North Pole and South Pole…You cannot capture them in your net..Just look at the tower.."
Entering the hall, Gulli said, "This was not right, playing mischief with a simpleton like Balram."
"Oh Oh.You have so much sympathy for Balram! Oh my God. Sympathy is the sister of love. Sujjan may get disappointed."
Gulli pinched Sarla hard on her back. Before Sarla could even retaliate, Sujjan came and took their tickets, directing them to their seats. While taking their seats, Sarla said, "You Gulli, I'll see to it that I disturb you during the program. You really pinched me hard!"
Sujjan came back and said firmly, "This is not a classroom. Please don’t spoil the reputation of our college in front of strangers."
For a moment Sarla glared at him, but Sujjan could only see her head directed towards him. He hurriedly went away and heard her saying from behind, "Just look at the triangle of his face! Huh. This is not a classroom..!' At this somebody gave out a laugh. Sujjan ran his hand on his triangular face, frowning, and went towards the green room.
The program had begun. Sarla could see the people sitting around. She could see the deep neck of somebody’s blouse and she commented, "Perhaps she has worn her blouse front side back." Seeing another girl sitting cross-legged in tight clothes, she commented, 'Look, a Statue."
Gulli was irritated and she said, "Oh God..! If you die before me, I shall surely get your post-mortem done and see what machine is there inside you that goes on working continuously.."
"Now I shall not talk to you till you cry" said Sarla, putting her finger on her lips.
Somebody silenced them from behind, "Shh..Shh"
When the program was over, Sarla gave a yawn and stood up. "Did you enjoy?" asked Gulli.
"Your Sujjan really bored me" Sarla said mockingly.
"Silly, I really enjoyed the program."
"What was there? Only Sindhi, Sindhi. Boring Sindhi artists!"
"Go to hell."
"Don’t give me other people's examples. Even in English play "Arms and the Man" the slave woman too had a Queen's soul and she could rise high."
"Only English examples should not be given.Oh you fool, during the 'Migration" play did you not see how silent everything was. There was such a tragic effect on the entire audience."
"Stop now and walk ahead. How can you not praise Sujjan's program!"
"Let the people move ahead. I'm really happy that there was no hooting today. At least the poor artists could perform properly.."
"Oh my God. You just need an opportunity to praise Sujjan..!"
While walking towards the door Sarla suddenly toppled over and sprained her foot. She somehow managed to limp towards the park, where she sat down, massaging her foot with her hand. Guilli was standing besides her. Suddenly her attention went on Sarla's diamond earrings and her sparkling necklace. She said sympathetically, "Perhaps you are in too much pain. You have become pale."
"Don't be silly" said Sarla, smiling inspite of the pain. "Everything looks pale in the florescent lights." She got up and limped forward but she sat down on the next bench, wailing in pain, saying, "I don't know which guy put his foot in my way while walking out."
Gulli was disturbed at her friend’s pain and began looking here and there for some help. Suddenly Sujjan appeared, "All well?" he asked.
"Please get a taxi. Sarla has sprained her foot."
Sujjan got them a taxi and helped them in. He pressed Gulli's hand and said, "Make your friend understand that it is not good to be so mischievous. She'll be the loser if she meets someone like me."
Gulli now understood who must have put his foot in Sarla's way while leaving.
Exams were approaching. Standing at the door of the college, Sarla was asking Balram, "They are BA exams. You must be having exams papers for couple of years."
"My dear, I have failed only one year. So I have just one year papers."
"I thought you must have repeated atleast a few times. Never mind, I don’t bore myself reading textbooks. I simply solve a few years papers and comfortably get marks."
Suddenly Sarla felt a tap on her back and she was surprised to see Gulli. She had not realized when Gulli had come and stood behind her. When Gulli told her, "You already have papers of the last six years” she was shocked. She smiled in embarrassment and she made an innocent face, "They are all lost and shameless, what are you saying? Do you think I have failed six times in BA to have those papers.."
Balram did not wait to hear any more. He went away sulking.
Sarla frowned and said, "You are so stupid that you just spoilt a good joke."
"How does it matter to you? It is serious for him but a joke for you. Do you know what that poor fellow is going through?"
What has gone wrong with him, tell me?"
Sarla pulled Gulli by the arm and made her sit on the lawn.
"He came to our house after your mischief at that program."
"Really? That's a bit too much! You silly girl, you didn't even tell me."
"First listen. Our family members are happy go lucky people and we are always cheerful, and this guy kept coming home every other day. He started having dinner with my father and he became so comfortable that he said 'there is such a pleasant atmosphere in your house that I don't even feel like going home'. He started talking to my mother, teaching the kids, and getting everything that I wanted and that I like. The poor fellow believes that I surely like him very much."
Sarla burst laughing.
"But even the neighbors have noticed that Balram comes everyday to Gulli’s house."
"So what, Is this some sort of a revolution? If you are lame, people will call you lame. There is nothing wrong if someone comes to your house.." Sarla kept on laughing and laughing.
"But will you let me complete or you will continue to just laugh.." Gulli said, pulling Sarla's plait.
Sarla freed her hair from Gulli and said, "Ok, I'm sorry. Now tell me the whole story.."
Gulli had hurt her knee badly. "Not now. Let's go first to the class, the Sindhi period must have begun." she said stubbornly.
"You just cannot help boring me."
Both got up and went to their class. There was a discussion going on about Shlokas of Sami. Seeing Balram slyly watching Gulli, Sarla murmured, "Only those who have been in the same class for two years can enter others’ homes like homeless people.."
After the period when the girls were walking out, Sarla pinched Gulli on her waist and dragged her away. There was a partition in the compound. She went on the other side and told Gulli, "Now bark what you have to bark."
Gulli suppressed her laughter and she stood there, watching the yellow flowers in the lawns below.
With wide open eyes Sarla told her, "If you trouble me like this, I'm going to chop you."
Gulli smiled and asked her, "First tell me, why are you after this innocent Bal Gopal?"
"Oh, so both the sides are equally passionate!"
"You are crazy." Gulli said stylishly, braiding her plaits with her hands.
"Oh, What an attitude! No wonder Balram kept looking at you all the while."
"Are you jealous?'
"Go to hell. Jealous.. No way..First you complete the full Ramayana.."
"Then you won't tease me?"
"I swear to God." Sarla caught her ears.
"Listen.." Gulli said dreamingly, "A few days ago he asked me to go with him to Elephanta caves. I refused him because of what people would say. He told me that one should always tease people!"
"Really, this Bal Gopal has so much courage! Oh My God. Poor Sujjan" Sarla said, holding her head as if some treasure has been snatched away from Sujjan. Suddenly she was happy and she told Gulli, "Really Gulli, you should have gone with him."
"What is the use?"
"You would have enjoyed."
"You devil. Only you have enjoyed in this way, thereby disappointing many friends."
"I don't care about others’ disappointments. I’ve come alone. I go alone."
Gulli nodded her head, saying, “Yes I know. You have one face for the world and a different face for yourself."
"But there is nothing wrong in going about freely with someone.."
"Now leave your story. Listen to the thoughts of Bal Gopal. You know he asked my mother for permission, saying that he wanted to bring about new principles in the world where there is nothing wrong in girls and boys meeting freely. My mother retorted and asked how it was not wrong in girls and boys meeting? They can combine and work towards nation building or some social work, not roaming around aimlessly..Sarla, you should have seen his face at that time.."
Sarla frowned. Gulli continued saying.. "Like a stale brinjal" and she was laughing away, holding her stomach. But the mischievous one could not laugh. Something sharp, like a thorn, pricked her deep inner being!