Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Blog Fiction – THE GIRL AT THE AIRPORT

Blog Fiction

THE GIRL AT THE AIRPORT
Short Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

“Hello Sir,” she said.

In the suddenness of the moment  I did not recognize her.

But then  she gave me her typical vivacious smile  her eyes danced  and I knew who she was.

She had been one of my brightest students.

But then  that was quite some time ago.

“Of course I recognize you,” I said, “How can I ever forget one of my best students? But meeting you here at the airport was so unexpected that I was confused for a moment  and you’ve grown up so much  and I too am getting old now...”

“No Sir  you still look handsome  and as young as ever. I am sure all the girls still have a crush on you  like we all did...!” she said naughtily.

I almost blushed  so to change the subject  I asked her: “What you doing here at the airport?”

“I’m going to New York,” she said, “my flight is delayed  so I am just killing time.”

“My flight to Singapore is delayed too,” I said.

Singapore?” she asked.

“Yes. I’m going for a conference,” I said.

“Oh,” she said.

For some moments  no one spoke.

To break the silence  I said, “Let’s go to the coffee shop. We can sit and talk over there till our flights are announced.”

As we walked to the airport coffee shop  I thought of the young girl walking beside me.

She had abruptly left our school 3 years ago  after completing her 9th Standard.

When we teachers expressed our surprise  the Principal of our school told us  that her parents wanted to shift her to an elite boarding school  faraway in the hills.

We told the Principal that she was a brilliant scholar  one of our best students  who had the potential to top the 10th Board Exams  and she would surely bring laurels to our school by getting into the merit list. 

We also argued that  even from girl’s point of view  it was not prudent to change her school and shift her just one year before the matriculation board examination.

The Principal told us that he had discussed all this with her parents  but they were adamant that the girl be shifted to a boarding school.

So  the bright young girl left our school  and she went away to the elite boarding school at the distant hill station.

I did not see the bright young girl again  or even hear of her  after she left our school.

“Sir  do you know why I had to suddenly leave school?” she asked me  as we sat down for coffee.

“No,” I said, “in fact, we were quite surprised at your unexpected sudden departure.”

“My parents were getting divorced  and they did not want me around  so they sent me away to the boarding school,” she said, nonchalantly  without batting an eyelid.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “that’s sad.”

“Yes,” she said, “it was really sad. They never asked me anything. They just decided to divorce on their own. I felt terrible. I did not like it at all. It was amicable divorce by mutual consent - but no one took my consent. Why is it  that in divorce cases  no one bothers about the children’s consent?”

I did not answer. 

I did not answer – because I did not know the answer to her question  “Why does the family court not take children’s consent before granting divorce to the parents...?” 

She had a point.

Aren’t children stakeholders in a marriage...?

I remained silent.

I looked at the girl.

Though I had met her parents once or twice perfunctorily at school functions  I did not know her parents that well. 

In fact  I do remember most of my students  but I hardly remember their parents.

I sipped my coffee in silence.

I did not say anything.

I waited for the girl to speak.

“I just don’t know why they split,” she said, “we seemed to be such a happy family together.”

“They must have had their reasons,” I said.

“Well  I think I know at least one reason now,” she said.

I just looked at her  waiting for her to continue speaking.

“Do you know what my father did the moment the divorce was through?” she said.

“What?” I asked.

“My dad got married to a woman half his age.” 

“Half his age?” I asked, quite incredulous.

“Yes. The female was his student.”

“Student?”

“You know that my father is a Professor, don’t you?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

The girl looked at me with bitterness on her face  and she said, “Yes – my father married a woman half his age. That girl was his student. She was doing her Ph.D. under him. The wily female snatched him away from us. And it was his fault too – a married man with a family getting involved with a woman so much younger in age than him.  It was terrible – a teacher and a student shamelessly getting married to each other. Just imagine how embarrassing it must have been for me and my mother.”

“Yes,” I said, trying to show empathy.

“And do you know what my mother did?”

“What?”

“Three months later  she too got married to a jerk from her office,” she said, “I hate him – he’s such a crafty smooth-talking fake – a charlatan . I just don’t understand why my mother fell for that slimy scoundrel...? ”

The girl paused for a moment  and she said, “And can you imagine his audacity?”

“Audacity?”

“Yes – this so-called step-father of mine - one day he politely told me that ‘they’ wanted more privacy  so could I please go and stay with my own Dad for a while?”

“Don’t tell me…!”

“Yes – it was disgusting – my mother and my step-father – they were behaving as if they were a honeymoon couple’. And now – my step-father wanted to throw me out of my own house. So – I asked my mother to tell her new husband to shut up...

“And...?”

“You won’t believe this – my mother just kept quiet and said nothing.”

“So?”

“So  I packed my bags  and I went over to my father’s place  but it was even worse over there.”

“Even worse?”

“Though she did not say so in so many words – my ‘step-mother’ made it quite clear that I was not very welcome – she kept giving me repulsive vibes of fake politeness – you know those terrible negative vibes – I could feel them every moment.”

“That is sad – very sad.”

“So I spent the next two years of junior college – my 11th and 12th – shuttling between my two parents like an unwanted badminton shuttle-cock,” she said.

“It must have been terrible...” I commiserated.

“Yes. It was really very painful for me – so I made a deal,” she said.

“A deal?”

“I told both my parents that I wanted to go abroad to America for my studies – and I wanted them to jointly pay for it – I told them that they must fund my entire studies and my stay abroad,” she said.

“Oh!” I exclaimed.

The girl paused for a moment – she had a sip of coffee – and then – she said: “You know – all of them – my Dad, my Mom, my Step-Father, my Step-Mother – all of them were delighted to hear this – that I wanted to go away from their lives. My Dad used his academic connections – and he went out of the way to get me admission to the best university in the US. As I said – no one wants me here – so – everyone – my very own mother – and even my so-called ‘step parents’ – they are all chipping in to finance my education in America – for as long as I want to study. They are all so happy to get me out of the way.”

“Oh – so that is why you are going abroad to America?” I said.

“Yes. I am running away. To a new life...” the girl said.

Suddenly – her flight was announced – and she got up to leave.

“Thanks for the coffee, Sir,” she said, “it was really so nice meeting you.”

“I am sure we will meet again when you come back,” I said.

“I am not coming back, Sir. There is nothing left here for me to come back to. I am leaving behind the debris of my past – and I am moving on to begin a new life over there – and I am not going to look back...” she said.

“All the Best. Take Care...” I said.

“You too, Sir – Take Care...” she said.

Then she turned – and she walked away.

I watched her for a long time – till she disappeared from sight. 

I thought she would look back. 

I thought she would wave a last good bye. 

But – she did not look back.

Maybe  she did not want to look back at the world from which she had escaped forever.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This is a revised version of my story titled RUNNING AWAY (SHE DID NOT LOOK BACK) posted online earlier by me Vikram Karve a number of times on this blog - first on August 21, 2012 at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/08/running-away.html  and later at urls: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/11/she-did-not-look-back-girl-with.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/02/escape.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/11/she-did-not-look-back.html etc
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