Continued from part II…
caretaker of the prayer hall. At first he was taken aback at the gravity of the situation. He knew that
application of vermilion in a Hindu female’s forehead seals her fate in marriage. And in a religion
where remarriage among females of any type is always a taboo, he knew the position of this girl in
the society if she is left out by her lover-husband even after a few hours of their childish marriage.
He asked the caretaker to contact the girl’s parents at once and intimate them of the situation and
bring the young pair to the church as soon as possible. Cutting off from the caretaker, he connected
his phone to the heads of the two NGOs talked about earlier and asked them to come to his room in
the church as soon as they can.
The caretaker approached the girl and asked her if she remembers any phone numbers of
her home. When he received that, he put a call on that Number to the girl’s house which was
answered by her mother. The caretaker realized the intention of the Church-Father’s to phone the
girl’s home. He had clearly anticipated the situation. The girl’s mother was shocked at the news. She
was razed! She asked the caretaker not to send their daughter to their house again and to banish the
pair from the temple also. She also hinted at lodging a case with the police against the boy for his
audacity when, the caretaker requested her to abstain from such rage-discharges as it will destroy
the life of the boy and the girl also by pushing her to pseudo widowhood (as her vermilion will be
rubbed off). After getting an assurance from her on her non-activity on this point, he cut off from her
and got ready to go to town, to see the father in his church-room along with this newly-wed couple.
Time is flying; he has got not even two hours to conduct his business and return to the prayer-hall to
light the evening lamps and say the evening prayers or to chase away this ‘youthful, commonsense-
less pair’ and wash his hands off this problem. Ruth overcame him and brought out the humaneness
from inside him.
In half an hour the three from the village were in the church courtyard from where the
caretaker was ushered into the one roomed-house of the Padre. The District heads of the two NGOs
were already assembled and had already been intimated about the situation by the Padre. They had
brought along some papers. A stamp and a seal were also seen on the small centre table. The main
problem was the shelter of the young girl and saving her from ostracism by the society! For this they
require a guardian. All information about this girl will be conveyed to this guardian. They asked the
caretaker if he was willing to act as a guardian to this girl. Upon agreement by the caretaker, they
took his consent in writing. They then called the pair inside the room. They asked her opinion about
temporarily leaving her lover-husband and living in their hostel till such a time when she could
manage on her own. She can meet him only once, on Sundays and that too in the house of the
hostel-warden, for an hour. When she agreed after getting a slight nod of head from her husband,
they put her consent is writing. Likewise, her lover husband’s consent in support of the above
actions was also taken in writing. Then they phoned for some sisters of their NGO; Nuns, who are
engaged in missionary and teaching activities in the hostel. They arrived in a little while. The
caretaker was given a copy of all the papers that were filled and signed at that time, duly stamped.
The sisters took the girl with them to the hostel in the car that they had come along while the
caretaker returned with the boy to the prayer hall.
In the hostel, the girl was asked if she wanted to continue with her education. At her
consent, they admitted her to a Distance Education (DE) College where one can pass the
matriculation and study up to the Master’s Degree in selective subjects. Then she was asked if she
wanted to learn something vocational. She had a weakness for nursing from her childhood and told
the sister so. But Nursing requires one to be a matriculate so she has to wait one year to learn the
vacation of her choice.
Back in the temple, the caretaker opened one of the guestrooms of the prayer hall and
asked the boy to clean it. Then asking the boy to wait for him in his verandah, he had his bath and
went to the sanctum sanctorum for the evening prayers. Then he returned to his room and called
the boy waiting on him, inside. He asked the boy if he knew any skill. He already knew that he
doesn’t know. When the boy replied in the negative, he asked him if he wanted to learn something
which can bring him his livelihood. The boy replied that he wanted to learn something although he is
in a dilemma as to what he should learn. The caretaker was also in a fix as to what should be taught
to this very young lad to enable him to sustain his livelihood. Then something appeared in his mind.
Only a week or ten days previously, he was phoned by one of his friends in the town, a Sikh
businessman by name of Sujit Singh, in a casual manner. This Sujit Singh owned a lathe workshop in
the town for cutting, threading and shaping metals. He was in need of a helper as his old time hand
has left him to start a workshop of his own. He wants a serious, diligent and honest young man who
can help him and also learn his trade. He can stay in Sujit Singh’s house if required and will be given
free food. After some months he will be given some money by way of stipend. The caretaker
remembered the call of Sujit Singh. He can place the boy in Sujit Singh’s care. Of course, the boy can
come back in the evening if he wants and stay in the prayer-hall guestroom if he wishes. He
contacted Mr. S.S. through his mobile phone. Conversations were carried and a result came out.
As a result of the conversations between Mr. Sujit Singh and the caretaker the next day, at
eight past thirty in the morning, using the bicycle of the caretaker, the young lover-cum-husband set
out for the town in search of Sujit Singh’s lathe workshop. It took him nearly fifteen minutes to reach
the town and another five minutes or so to seek out the workshop. Mr. Singh was at that time
brooming(cleaning) the shop and helloing his neighbors. When the boy announced himself, he set
aside the broom and welcomed the boy. As instructed by the caretaker, the boy touched Sujit
Singh’s feet before disclosing his name and address. He felt himself lucky to learn a trade to earn an
occupation and also busy him and take his mind off his young wife and his foolish misadventures.
Time moved on. It is said that, for the busy, time is not an obstacle considerable for
surmounting. Instead for them, time acts only as a yardstick for growth and progress. One year
passed stubbornly for the parents of this young-pair without either family relenting to admit their
children into their homes; either of stubbornness or, from taboos or, from fears of ostracism or, the
burden of having to settle them in any profession. But for the busy young pair, the year flew past
swiftly, each one engaged in his or her work when one day, after nearly a year of their elopement,
the girl found herself passing the matriculation in the first division. Her Passing of this exam was
important to her in that she can now boast of as basically educated as well as getting the chance to
train herself as a nurse through one of the training centre’s run by the NGO’s. While for the boy,
although he had cycled all this year from the village prayer-hall to Sujit Singh’s workshop everyday
without feeling any fatigue, his knowledge of this trade and his diligence and earnestness begged for
him from Sujit Singh a good stipend. This enabled him to take admission in one of the Distance
Education centre in the town to pass his matriculation for, whereas his young bride was provided an
admission fee by the NGO’s for being a female, he was not provided such. So out of his salary, he
paid for the admission fee as well as bought supplementary and reference books and exercise books
for his use. This made him busy even on Sundays and provided him to keep updates with the
knowledge which he had acquired at school. It seems for the diligent and earnest, nothing is too cumbersome, hard and unlearn able.
This young couple, after realizing the foolishness of their decision and after getting associated in
good company through providence, decided to make the best of it and so, doggedly pursued
whatever skill or trade they got a chance to learn. They realized from day one that in this hard and
complex world, their senseless and whimsical decision made their worlds harder and more complex.
So, swearing to them that they will not make their lives any mere complex and hard, they resolved
to learn their trade thoroughly and place themselves on their own feet. Engaging themselves in their
work in this way, they did not realize how many years have elapsed from their elopement when one… (to be continued)