Jhumpa Roy, was a tall attractive girl. She was the best student of her class in school. She was the topper there in the final exams and gathered kudos for the same. She took admission in the college where the creme de la creme among the students went. Shikha was her friend in college. As time went by Shikha realised that Jhumpa was a single track student who thought about nothing else but by hook or crook had to come first in her class. The teachers called her ‘meritorious’, ‘proficient’, etc., and quite appropriately so.
All this was perfectly alright, till one day Shikha was invited to her house for lunch. Chatting with her mother Shikha came to know how she was a demanding type of child at home. Jhumpa clamoured for all kinds of absurd things. Whatever came to her mind, at her own sweet will and pleasure she would have it for sure. Being the eldest, and the spoilt child, helped and her parents were obliged to give her what she wished to have.
For instance one day, she came to college wearing an impressive looking pair of spectacles. Shikha asked, innocently, if she had any problem with her eyesight and needed glasses. “No”, Jhumpa replied. She did not have problem with her eyesight. She had forced her father to get her these glasses, for a price. “But why on earth?”, Shikha wanted to know. “To look pedantic”, was the reply! Once they planned for a flick, bunking college for the matinee show. Jhumpa issued four thick volumes of books for a day from the library, to carry with her to the cinema hall. Shikha wondered at her style- so much effort all to look studious!
They were great friends all the same. Sharing their tiffin they chatted whenever they found time. The days went on and a few days were left for college to end. Shikha was an emotional type of girl and confided in Jhumpa how she would cry in the night at the thought of having to leave all their classmates. College would be over in no time. Jhumpa’s reaction was the opposite. She didn’t care for anyone and had no reason to miss any classmate she said. Shikha kept quiet at that.
As was expected Jhumpa’s graduation results were also very good indeed. Jhumpa had topped not only college but also the University. She took admission in MA along with Shikha and both were happy to find each other there, once again.
After a few months had gone by, they were both introduced to Vijay Sahay, a year senior to them in the corridor where they happened to be loitering during a free lecture. Vijay was flamboyant and fair with wavy hair. The buttons of his shirt were open as was the fashion then,
revealing hair on the chest.
He wore no vest.
He was talkative and friendly at best.
Along with another classmate, Jitendra, they were a group and would saunter along while returning home. Jhumpa took an instant liking to Vijay, who was a ‘ladies’ man’ kind of person. In fact he sort of took permission from Shikha, if it was okay that he was friendlier with Jhumpa. “Tumko koi objection to nahi hai?”, he checked in with Shikha.
Her studies now took a back seat. Once a topper she would now bunk class to spend time with Vijay. Shikha was surprised as she would find them seated beside each other on the stairs while she and the others went to attend class. It made her think-
Was Vijay the right kind of a boy for a studious girl like Jhumpa?
Jhumpa helped him with his notes etc. as he was nowhere a good student like her. In the final MA exams he somehow managed to scrape through. Jhumpa’s academic interests had already taken a beating and when her own MA results were out, she could not do as well as all had expected her to do. In fact the day of the last paper of MA also happened to be her birthday. She had worn a new sari and was well dolled up to celebrate the day by enjoying a film with Vijay. Not knowing her plan her father stood at the entrance of the University building to take her home for the occasion of her birthday. She was infuriated instead to see him and walked away grumbling exasperatedly with Vijay in tow.
Shikha who was witness to all this was sorry for her father. Hurt and insulted he quietly walked away. Time went by and the two classmates lost touch with each other. One day as Shikha stood near the main road, a common college friend walked up to her and started telling her about Jhumpa. They had got married on their own as Vijay’s family was not agreeable to the match. Jhumpa’s parents also of course had nothing to do with their wedding. They were having a tough time, the friend explained. It would be good if Shikha could pay a visit to where they were staying, away from the town in an under construction house belonging to Vijay’s father, the friend suggested. In fact Jhumpa was sick, he reported.
The next day Shikha went to meet her. Yes, Jhumpa was in a sorry state of affairs though she was pretending that all was hunky dory. Getting no parental support from both sides, it was tough to settle down. Jhumpa had got a job but it was in another town, where she joined some time later. Vijay managed to get a job in the town itself.
It was a bold decision taken by them and fraught with difficulties. Managing two children, later with her job Jhumpa had to fight it out alone. As the years went by Vijay was keeping unwell and due to some reaction caused by wrong medication, he ended up succumbing to his death. Seven years later Jhumpa too gave in to a massive heart attack leaving her two sons without parents.
Shikha watched Jhumpa’s deterioration right from when she had joined University. There is nothing wrong with falling in love, but they should have been more practical in their approach, she thought. Going against her parent’s wish was hardly helpful for her life. As such she lost their support. On the other hand their blessings and monetary help would have worked wonders, Shikha always felt. This, they were bereft of, she observed.
Jhumpa had to pay the price for falling in love with Vijay. Headstrong and stubborn, she thought, in the first flush of youth that she was doing the right thing. Her rude behaviour with her parents showed how she lacked wisdom. She died young like her husband. They will always live in Shikha’s heart. May they both rest in peace.