After their little conversation, Praveena grew less tensed and less angry. She felt like a new person altogether. After a long time, she slept well that night. The next morning, she sought Priya and apologized.
“Hi Priya” she greeted brightly.
“Oh, I — hi” Priya replied sounding weak. Praveena could see her cowering at the sight of her. She decided to set things right.
“Listen, Priya. I’m really sorry for what happened the other day. I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that.” She meant it, she wanted to make things normal between herself and her other classmates.
After that, Priya and Praveena became friends. They weren’t what you’d call soul mates, but they were a pair of school kids hanging out, trying to tolerate each other. In the years that came, Praveena became the person she had always wanted to be: a normal student.
She thought of her mother almost everyday but not with the same self pity and distress; she now remembered her mother as a person she cherished and whose memories gave her bliss. She sat on her bed everyday and spoke into thin air imagining she was speaking to her mother. It was easier now to tell her mother everything she felt. Ms Marrie seemed to have somehow unlocked the invisible barrier that had stood between Praveena and her expressive abilities, and for that, she was ever grateful.
As days and months rolled on to years, Praveena grew up to be so different from what she would have turned out if not for the little chat with Ms Marrie.
Every time she thought of that day, Praveena couldn’t help but wonder how easily things seemed to have changed. One moment she was full of confusion and fear, and the next, she had felt so positive.
Bearing that positivity in her mind, Praveena got through to the final year of her school life. Students were in high spirits, glad to get away from school tension. They looked forward to join college. It was a prestige itself, to call yourself a college student. College meant a lot of freedom, yet under the student banner. It’s the age many students experiment with their habits and end up miserable later on in life.
Praveena wasn’t aware of those things, yet. To her, college was a senior form of school with limited freedom. With her happily misunderstood concept, she prepared herself to face her final examinations.
Ms Marrie and Praveena had grown closer to each other. Though Praveena didn’t spend time with her in any more talking sessions, they shared a wave of understanding that remained a mystery to others. On her last day in school before the examinations, Praveena was walking down the school corridor when she came across Ms Marrie.
“Good morning, Miss,” she greeted her as usual, noticing that Ms Marrie was unusually happy. She beamed wider than Praveena had ever seen before. ‘Well, there aren’t many reasons to be happy in this school, even for a teacher.’ Nowadays, her inner voices came and went freely without bothering Praveena. They were a part of her after all.
“Morning Praveena. Guess what?” she sounded excited too, like a child who had just cleared her exam with distinction.
Praveena shrugged shaking her head, “You’re happy for some reason?” They had crossed the point of a teacher-student relationship. Praveena and Marrie were more like friends now.
The other teachers in the corridor had begun staring at the pair of them. They never conversed so easily with their students. ‘What’s up with Marrie?’ They’d wonder, not having the courage to voice their thoughts.
“Let’s go into my room,” Ms Marrie replied quietly. Disapproving stares followed them, all the way to Marrie’s room.
Once inside, Marrie turned to Praveena and announced, “I’m getting married!”
“What – wow! Congratulations!” Praveena was too happy and surprised to say anything. She spread out her arms wide and embraced Ms Marrie in a long hug; she didn’t know why she did it, it sort of happened instinctively. Praveena had never before thought of Ms Marrie becoming someone’s wife. She was an individual, a strong single person. That’s the way Praveena had seen and come to respect her. News of her marriage came as a happy surprise that Praveena didn’t know how to react.
“You upset?”, Ms Marrie asked incredulously. Pulling away from the hug and looking into her face.
“Oh, no. No, no” Praveena stuttered. “I’m just – happy.” she smiled widely. And she hugged Ms Marrie again.
“Thanks so much Praveena!”
“So,” Praveena asked, breaking the hug. She paused mulling the words over. Ms Marrie looked questioningly at her. “where’s he from?” She gave an extra emphasis on he.
“He lives here, in Chennai.”
Praveena was relieved. She didn’t want to lose contact with Ms Marrie. “And,” Ms Marrie added, “I’ll be working even after marriage,” smiling knowingly.
That’s exactly what Praveena had wanted to hear. Her joy knew no boundaries. A few seconds of hesitation later, she hugged Ms Marrie again, the only person she had spoken her heart out besides her mother.
Ms Marrie returned the embrace, patting her gently on the head. She knew.
That was the last time Praveena saw Ms Marrie. For some reason after that, Ms Marrie had never called her, or answered her calls.
Soon enough, Praveena was engulfed in other worldly matters. She fared her exams well, and like all others her age, busied herself wondering which course and college to join.
She wasn’t sure what to do. She was attracted towards creative thinking and psychology. She chose to to do a Psychology course. After some thought, her father gave in though she was surprised he hadn’t opposed to her wishes as other parents had. She knew he had hoped she would enrol in Engineering.
So, she decided to take up psychology. She wasn’t the curious kind who had read all about the subject on the Internet. No, she was just another girl, who saw the mind as a fantastic beast. She was intrigued, but she was a novice. And she accepted that on her interview.
“You never read anything on Psychology before?” Her new principal raised his thick eyebrows. He looked quite young and puzzled.
Preveena shook her head, slightly smiling at his surprise. ‘That’s what they teach here, right?
“Ok,” he seemed to have recovered. Stroking his short boxed beard, he said, “would you like to take a small questionnaire. Now?”
Praveena was taken aback. She hadn’t expected this. ‘You should have’. Shut up, she advised her inner voice. And, for once, it did.
So, Praveena took the test. She sat in a classroom, with no supervisor and plenty of empty benches. The blackboard was wiped clean and the teacher’s desk sparkled. The questions were all about patterns and boxes; questions about which matched which, and which line looked similar to the other. There was even a question that had asked her to describe the shape of a circle. Her father sat outside the room, waiting patiently. He wasn’t sure this would work, but he held his silence.
An hour later, she stood in front of the principal while he examined her work. He looked at it for about five minutes without saying anything. He then turned the paper upside down and stared at it.
Praveena started to have doubts. What was he doing? Was he really an esteemed Psychologist, or just a raving lunatic?
At last, he put the paper on his desk and said with an impassive look, “You’re admitted. Congratulations.”
National Blog Posting Month – Day 16