Jul 172005


I opened by email with usual resignation. Spam, spam, spam. Some unrecognized mail, by the looks of it. I don’t know anybody called Padma. At least the ones that would send me email. Or, I don’t believe that spammers figured out how to target market to Indian men.

Curiosity won over. I opened the email without any qualms. It is in Telugu: (converted to rts, it reads:)

# EnTi raa. elaa unnaavu?

ravi # mail # vacchindi kada.# I am so happy # raa. endukO teleedu. aayananTE naaku entO gauravaM. eppuDoo aayanatO maaTlaaDalEdu gaanee. monna mEmandaramoo kalisi Dinnarki veLLaamu. caana saradaaga unTaaru. andaritOnoo #free# gaa unTaaru.

mallee raastaanulE. Edo #deadline# unnadi. #

Who could it be? I know it is a mis-sent email, I am not that ramarao. Looking at the company name and sent time, it must be from Bangalore. A Telugu girl from Bangalore. The punctuation (which I corrected) seems like a person who is not so fluent in English. Perhaps some recent (say a couple of years) employee in an IT organization. She might be one of the many that flock to Bangalore after a degree in IT, perhaps from coastal district.

I suppose this Ramarao is some friend of hers. May be a classmate in her degree class. She is quite comfortable enough to call him “raa”. That is interesting. Single girls from Guntur being able to confide in single men about crushes! May be being away from home can make her seek out companionship. Perhaps he is non-threatening in someway. Perhaps he may be already “seeing” one of her other classmates. Or, he may be a brother by a distant relation. In any case, not a real brother — but like a brother — offering enough support and mystique. As a friend of mine said, a girl likes to confide to a safe man — the ones without any threat of romance.

Going to dinners in mixed company … Perhaps it is the liberation that brought on by regular salary. All through her life, she listened to her elders. Suddenly she found her self earning more money than her father did. What appeared wrong or extravagant now looks to be her right. What if she goes out with friends? It is not as if she is running around with boys! After all, there are other girls too that came to dinner. Besides, it is quite common to go out in such projects where we all work with aggressive deadlines, she would say.

I suppose, without the ties that bind constantly pulling at her, it is possible to push the envelope a bit. She can confidently talk about COM, but not men or boys. She can be a little defensive. Why, I talked to boys in college, she would say. She may even offer that “Ramarao” as a proof that she feels comfortable enough with boys. She is not comfortable with a crush — especially when it can be dangerous.

This character Ravi is not really the main part of this story. He may be an elder boy or even a man. He is pretty comfortable with his life style. An affluent middle class existence in Bangalore, and yet unattached. Enough to give the right amount of confidence to be free in mixed company. For her, he may be somebody more than her old classmates. A bridge to a new life and even life style. Something that represents a giddying array of possibilities in the city. Possibilities that her newly found freedom can glimpse into. If it is not Ravi, it would be some Sharma. Somebody who can speak English well, and familiar with pop culture.

Then again, what does she know? She has to traverse this labyrinth of emotions by herself. Not being very comfortable in English is a challenge. Suddenly, you feel like an infant, trapped with feelings that can only be expresses inarticulately. A clever repartee, or even innocent banter is not so easy. With so few words, each word assumes a larger meaning. Each sentence spoken with Ravi’s of the world is agonized over in the night. Perhaps I should have said this. That other girl is not particularly clever, but then how do others listen to her? May be I could have said something better.

Work is another matter. Suddenly being valued for her skills makes her empowered. She knows her father cannot comprehend what she is doing. With a name like Padma, may be her father is a teacher or a bank employee. May be he saved some for dowry. But then, Padma is in a different world. She cannot accept that for mere money she becomes a good prospect for some boy. When she goes back home, the contrast is surreal. They don’t understand that she is in-charge of a module in an important project.

It is an untold story. May be it is not the life of a struggling farmer. May be her trials and tribulations are not what would move anybody. If I write a story about her, if I let you know a little bit about her, may be a defining anecdote, please do not presume to know her fully. I cannot trivialize a person with a few lines. I cannot offer a line picture as a portrait. You will have to muse for yourself why you bothered with this girl in the first place. May be you can see through her eyes a bit — a changing world which you are no longer a part of. If her story offers you such a glimpse, I am happy.

What do you say?

Ramarao Kanneganti
http://www.kanneganti.com/social (for all my other writings)
[Original Here]

 Posted by at 9:17 pm