These are the stories of my two friends. I have wanted to tell it for a long time but hesitated. There were multiple questions ranging from “Why should anyone be interested in knowking what I think ?” to “Why should I reveal my personal thoughts to anyone ?” . Not being much of a social person, my feelings coincide with those of Prof. Brian Little (https://www.ted.com/talks/brian_little_who_are_you_really_the_puzzle_of_personality#t-15596) that also stopped me from writing. So why am I telling the stories now ? The reason I come up with these stories which have exclusively been in personal domain, is the hope that they may do some good. The hope that people may see that what looks like opposite view points may be two sides of the same coin. That people need not fight with each-other , but fight with the real issues that bother them. I know, big dreams…, but I am an incurable optimist.
I have changed the names and back-ground, to protect the privacy of people involved, but the stories are true in their essence.
I start with the story of the friend who is no more, as it is the friends that we have lost forever, ignite memories that are the most poignant. In those days, I had two close friends with whom I spent major part of the day. Let me call them Carla (they both had the same name). I used to call both of them C and loved the confusion it caused. The friend in question was a farmer’s daughter, a Patel girl.She was very spiritual, enjoyed mathematics and was always ready for a good bout of arguments. I always disagreed with her world view, discussed mathematics with her and argued a lot and generally had a good time.
That was the time when Gujarat had several consecutive years of scanty rains. C’s father was not able to support his family with farming. Before I knew it, C had to give up her studies and migrate with her family to another city where there were better job prospects.
The times must have been tough, she fell ill, contacted more infections and passed away before she had turned 25. I had very little idea of her hardships and her illness. Though we did exchange letters, she was the kind who would keep her troubles to herself. Recently I saw a news item, that some funds meant for a women’s program were left unused. There might be many women who may be helped in time, if there is more awareness and understanding and proper management of funds. The best way to help women is to fund their education and living expenses where needed. That would make not only the women concerned but also the whole society stronger.
The other friend of mine is a girl I met in high-school. It was at the library, fighting over the same books that brought us together. I shall call her Leena. Her family belongs to a minority, which in India is often referred to as the reserved category. She is one of the most independent and honest person I have known. A bright girl and the first generation learner in her family, she studied despite multiple odds and found a job. She has always suffered because of her honesty, has been unduly burdened with extra work, fewer leaves and has always got unusual delays in promotions. I strongly suspect that a part of the reason for her hardships may be the caste politics (apart from corruption) that often gets played at the work-place.
The reason I tell these stories now, is that my state Gujarat has been going through a tumulus time. While stories like those of my two friends may be getting played at various places. Keeping such stories in mind may help us make balanced decisions and possibly help us deal with the real issues that matter to us.