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Sunday, 12 August 2012

35. THE ROMEO OF THE SEVENTIES

It was Lucknow University in the year 1970.  She was doing her post-graduation in Economics and was the only girl who cycled her way to the university from the Cantonment area.

Those days, although it was a co-ed institution, the interaction of boys and girls in the university was extremely limited. However, one particular boy started waiting for her at the Cycle Stand every day and would stalk her after the classes were over. On the lonely cantonment roads, on hot summer afternoons, it was extremely uncomfortable for her as he would keep his bike’s front wheel close and parallel to her rear wheel for full one hour.

She was an average looking girl, thin like a reed but had tremendous guts. She would abuse him every single day, but he was quite thick-skinned and would not give up. One day she pulled out her chappal while riding her bike and tried to hit him, but he ducked and kept smiling without allowing the distance between the two bicycles to increase. It was becoming highly irritating for her, but a strong person that she was, she would not seek anybody’s help in this. Over a period of time, it became too infuriating for her.

And one day, his courage knew no bounds and he decided to follow her to her house. As she stopped in front of her bungalow in the Cantt, he kept cycling further hoping to move on after seeing her house. Little did he realise that it was a blind road with barbed wires securing it from all sides with no exit available and he had no alternative, but to retrace his steps which he did.

Meanwhile, my friend acted fast and laid her bike across the road. She also called out her mother, a hefty woman from the village of Haryana, fed on the diet of pure milk, curd and home-made butter who was used to carrying three pitchers full of water on her head back home. In a minute, she was out on the road and by the time the young Romeo came back, the mother and daughter were ready for action.

They caught hold of him by the scruff of his neck, pulled him inside the bungalow and tied him to a pillar in the veranda. Within half an hour, her father, a Colonel in the Army had also come home for lunch. On hearing the story, he was all fire and threatened to send the boy to Quarter Guard for punishment. The boy was now scared like a mouse and was pleading for apologies.

Colonel Sahib listened to him and finally his heart melted and he decided to reduce the punishment. He ordered him to pick up the lawn mower and mow the grass of his one-acre lawn on that hot June afternoon which he took about five hours to complete. At the end of it, the poor Romeo was totally pooped out.

The boy was then allowed to go but thereafter was never sighted in the university.

I at times wonder now, what kind of turn the things would have taken place if the incident had taken place in today’s crime-infested society? Would the girl have been kidnapped, raped or murdered after this incident? Would she have been riding her bike with the same confidence in the subsequent days as she had done earlier? …Perhaps not.  

(A real-life incident)

                               *****



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