Shankar Rao with heavy heart handed over the key of the room to his son Ramprakash.
“Ram, this is the first time you are staying away from your parents. Go to the mess in time and have proper meals. But remember, your main task is to acquire knowledge. You will be attending class with boys and girls. So long you have had only boys in the class. So be careful. Girls are not bad but they are perilous for your career. Don’t get friendly with the girls. I would advise, you stay away from girls.”
“Baba, I promise, I will concentrate only on my studies and will keep away from girls.” Ramprakash reassured his father.
Ramprakash passed out his Secondary school with excellent marks. His father, Shankar Rao wanted Ramprakash to take higher education in college and get his degree. The main problem was there wasn’t any college in his town, he had to go to the nearby city where there were a few colleges. These colleges were at a distance where daily commutation was not possible. He had to seek some hostel accommodation.
Through his friends, Shankar Rao managed Ramprakash’s admission in a college with attached hostel for boys.
The day arrived when Shankar Rao and Ramprakash entered the hostel. With a small suitcase containing the bare minimum necessities, Ramprakash took charge of the room.
Satisfied with Ramprakash’s promise, Shankar Rao left the hostel teary.
Ramprakash made himself comfortable. Got ready and proceeded to attend the class.
The class was a huge hall full with nearly 150 students. Ramprakash saw one side of the class was occupied by boys and the other by almost equal number of girls.
As the days passed, Ramprakash made many acquaintances, some friends, a few good friends. Initially, his mixing with girls was limited to exchanging smiles.
As the first semester exam approached, the fever of studying hard caught up with few boys. Ramprakash saw some of the girls were also serious about their goals. He noticed Sunita was one of the studious girls. Ram’s encounters with Sunita while going to library, were increasing. But it never went beyond ‘hello’.
After the exam was over, while coming out of library, Sunita asked Ramprakash, “How was the exam?”
Ramprakash was a bit confused to answer. He just said “It was okay.” He wanted to know about her performance too. But could not gather words. After speaking that sentence Ramprakash just moved on in other direction though he wanted to continue to talk to her.
During further encounters, Ramprakash would refrain from changing his direction. He would answer the questions raised by Sunita. He would pray that Sunita had some more queries and he would answer them. But he did not have courage to put some questions to Sunita.
Soon, the first semester results were announced. Ramprakash stood second in the class with 85% marks. He wanted to know Sunita’s score. But he could not search on the result-list as he did not know her surname. Neither he dared to ask his friends about Sunita nor he could look for Sunita in the crowd of students.
Ramprakash went near the library expecting Sunita to come there. He waited for her for some time but she did not turn up. He was getting impatient to see her. Ultimately, disappointed he started to leave the place. And then he saw Sunita coming in the direction of library. Delighted, he moved towards her.
“What are you doing here? I searched you all over the college. Even today, you want to study?” she said.
Ramprakash gathered a few words. “ I was waiting for you.”
“For me? I am so happy to hear those words. Anyway, congratulations, for getting such good marks.”
“Thanks, Sunita. What is your score?”
“I came 5th in the class.”
“That is great. I tried to scan the list. But there are so many Sunita’s in our class. And I did not know your surname. Tell me what is your last name?
”Gupte. Sunita Gupte.”
“Oh. Now I will remember.”
“But Ram, I know your surname. Saane. Ram Saane. Right?”
Delighted Ram had a nice smile in return. He wondered how did she manage to know his surname.
“Ram, I need a party from you.”
“As soon as possible.”
“Let me talk to other friends.”
“I am not talking about that general party. That you can give any time. But I need treat only for myself.”
“Okay. Let me finalize my party with my friends which includes you. But special treat for Sunita alone will be at any time convenient to you. “
That was the beginning of Ramprakash’s entanglement with Sunita.
The wonderful part was their meeting place was library instead of some park or cinema hall. Their discussions were on the topics of curriculum instead of dreaming about their life. The result was their career graph was going up together.
Three years passed and their performance was getting better by every examination. Unaware of their bond of love growing stronger and stronger, they appeared for the final year examination.
And suddenly they were brought down to reality, by Sunita’s father telling Sunita of the marriage proposal from a U.S.based I.T. Engineer who knew Sunita in her school days.
The day after the final examination was over, Sunita asked Ram to meet at the coffee shop in the park.
Taking up a corner table, they made themselves comfortable. Sunita appeared to be a bit tense. Ramprakash started the dialogue.
“What a wonderful time we had! Together we did not deviate from our goal. On the contrary we complemented each other and our performance has been on the rise. Now is the time I feel I should open out to you. Sunita, I want to express my feelings.
Sunita, I love you. I feel with you as my life partner, we can conquer high peaks of our career.” Saying this Ramprakash held Sunita’s hand and pressed it gently.
Sunita had an expression of ecstasy on her face. She responded by pressing Ramprakash’s hand in return.
“Yes Ram. I also feel absolutely the same. I am feeling we are born for each other.
But yesterday only my father talked about a proposal received from a friend of my father. His son who knew me since my school days, now settled in U.S. is interested in me. And father was excited about it as he knew the family, the boy itself and his financial position.”
“Then what?” Ramprakash spoke in despair.
“I was thinking over it the whole night. I knew that you also love me as much as I love you. But you had never indicated it before. If I was sure of you, I would have flatly told my father yesterday itself. Now let me see how to handle it.
Ram, I know my father always says, promises for the future can’t be relied upon. In that case, what should be my answer? “
“ I will come to your house and let us sort it out face to face. I will try to convince him; we have to conquer many more goals. I will pose a question to him, ‘would it not be better if we get married after we attain our goal?’ Let us try.”
We will meet at 5 in the evening at your house.”
Next day at five in the evening, Ramprakash was at Sunita’s house.
After a brief introduction, Sunita’s father put the first question to Ramprakash.
“So, Ramprakash Saane, answer my question.
Saane surname indicates you are Kokanastha Brahmin. Do you know, we are C.K.P.? Will your parents approve of this match?”
“Basically, they will oppose it. But I will convince them.”
“See Mr. Ram, I don’t believe in future promises. Last minute if you say ‘my parents are not agreeing, so I am helpless’. What should I do? We will have lost my choice due to refusing the proposal and my daughter’s choice too due to your parents’ refusal. I don’t want to get into this situation. Now you give me a solution.”
“But Sir, I am certain of convincing my parents.”
“Then, why don’t you talk to them right away and get consent.”
“Sir, my getting married itself will be shock to them. On top of it, the out of caste marriage will be more difficult for them to digest. To get them to agree to all this needs some time. Though I am certain of their approval finally, I need some time.
As your daughter has trusted me, I request you to have faith in me. I cannot dream of living without Sunita.” Ramprakash begged.
“No filmy dialogues, please.”
“I told you my genuine difficulty. Now tell me what action from my side will satisfy your concern for your daughter.”
“You marry my daughter tomorrow itself. I have given you one more day to convince your parents. Permission or no permission. If we can perform marriage by tomorrow, I will believe your feelings about Sunita are genuine. Otherwise, Sunita leaves next week for the U.S.”
Ramprakash borrowed few more minutes to answer his question.
And Ramprakash came back with a brilliant smile. He looked at Sunita and said,
“I am ready for marriage tomorrow itself. I will marry Sunita tomorrow and we will be together through our entire life be it easy or tough.”
“Are you sure Mr. Ramprakash? In that case we will call the priest and the marriage ceremony will be performed in the presence of family members only. You both call few chosen friends. That is all.
Mr. Ramprakash, this is not a joke. You be present here at 10 in the morning. I will call the priest at 11a.m. “
“I will be here at 10 sharp.” Saying this Ramprakash started off. Sunita followed him. When out of the house, she said, “Ram, don’t you think it necessary to take permission from your parents? Will they not be hurt with your decision?”
“Sunita. Do you know Grace Hopper, Rear admiral of U.S. ? She had made the very famous statement “ Sometimes it is easier to seek pardon than to seek permission.”
When I am sure that permission from my parents for our marriage requires a sizeable time considering the various factors involved in our marriage, I will seek pardon from my parents after our marriage is performed.”
“Ram, I know you would take care of your parents. But is it not risky?
If they get hurt beyond expectation, then?”
“Sunita, if you are with me, I am ready to face any challenge. I am confident we both together can win over my parents too.”
“Ram. I am glad to have you as my life partner. Will wait for you tomorrow at 10 in the morning.”
Next day, Ramprakash was at Sunita’s house at 10 am.
By mutual consultation, Sunita and Ramprakash invited few friends. Sunita’s father called some close relatives. The marriage was performed in the presence of the small gathering. Sunita’s father was happy over Sunita’s choice for life-partner. He arranged for their honeymoon at a hill station for 10 days.
After their return, when the final year results were announced everyone in Gupte family was happy that Sunita and her husband had secured the first two positions in the university. Ramprakash was at the top of the chart while Sunita stood second.
Ramprakash immediately rang up his father and spoke to him.
“Baba, today the university results are announced. I have two news to give you.”
“Great. Tell me quickly.”
“First news is that I topped the university chart.”
Before Ramprakash could say anything further, Shankar Rao said, “ How great! I am so glad to know this excellent performance from you.
Ram, I am proud of you. Not only you have achieved an exceptional success, but as you had promised me, you concentrated on your studies. Wonderful accomplishment, my dear Ram. I don’t know how to appreciate you. What do you want from us?”
“Thanks a lot Baba. Whatever I want, I will ask from you when I meet you in person at our house. I will start tonight by luxury bus and will reach home tomorrow at 10 in the morning.”
“Surely. I will get prepared to satisfy your demand. Your mother is eager to hug her small child.
Anyway, what is the other news?” Shankar Rao asked.
“I will tell you when we meet in person.”
“Okay. We are anxiously waiting for you.”
Shankar Rao kept down the phone.
Ramprakash told Sunita his plan to start in the evening for his home by luxury bus.
Next day at ten thirty, they were in Ramprakash’s native place. Sunita was happy to enter a big bungalow. Ramprakash’s parents were waiting for him ready to do ‘aarati’ with a lamp for the great success he had got. They were surprised to see Sunita with Ramprakash. While doing aarati, Sunita kept herself aside. “Sunita, you also take aarati. Aai, she stood second in the rank. She also deserves this.”
“Oh. Then please stand here. Let me do aarati to you too.”
Sunita was thrilled to receive this grand welcome.
Now father came on the scene. “Ram, who is this Sunita?”
“Baba wait a minute. First, I would like to remind you that on phone yesterday, you had asked me what I wanted for my achievement. I had told you that I will tell you when I will meet you in person.
I need your pardon, Baba. Tell me you have granted it.”
“Dear Ram, there is nothing you can do that needs you to be absolved. “
“Baba, still. You must forgive me. “
“Okay. You are forgiven. Now tell me.”
“Baba this is Sunita. My best friend during the course. We used to study together. That helped each one of us so much that I got the first position and Sunita secured second position. When thought of life-partner came to my mind, I considered her as the best fit for me.
Her father had agreed and he wanted me to get approval from you. But Baba, the circumstances needed us to get married urgently. No. Nothing of any suspicious relationship between us. We had not crossed our limits of true friendship. But the difficult situation had to be overcome. The only solution was we had to get married. We got married fifteen days back. Baba and Aai, please forgive me for getting married without letting you know. Actually, there was no time to seek your permission.”
“Dear Ram. If you had just informed me, we would have rushed to attend the marriage.”
“But Baba there was one more glitch. Sunita is C.K.P. I thought you would not accept this as it was against your ideas.”
“Again, you are wrong. The character of the person does not depend upon the caste. The girl who was instrumental in your achieving this great success along with her own, is certainly praiseworthy.
Ram, we are glad that you two complement each other. We are extremely happy to receive her as our family member.
Sunita, we both, Ram’s mother and I, shower blessings on you. Wholeheartedly we accept you as our daughter in law.
Ram, in choosing such a wonderful life-partner, you have done us still more proud.”
Ram and Sunita were ecstatic with this happy ending for the decision Ram had taken.