That night she could not sleep. The innocent faces of two girls haunted her. It was not right to make them face all this. Her guilt compounded and she felt being tortured mentally. It was really too difficult to do the right, to follow the right path. And who besides her knows this better.
The cascade of events initiated with the exchange of Poona’s remarks with Karishma regarding some suspicious activities that were going on in the college. Thinking it was part of her duty, Karishma transferred this information to her. She was the course director and Poona and Karishma were faculty members associated with her course. She took quick notice and called an urgent meeting with the two of them.
Both of them told her that the newly made auditorium on the College top was being rented to outsiders on per night bases. Moreover, that no check was being kept on the identity of those who book the auditorium and why? In addition, of what happens at night inside the auditorium. They also revealed before her that a student has told them about all this and he has also told them to be little cautious while coming in the evening to the college. They also added the name of Mr. Bhisham, a very senior and influential person involved directly in this process. Poona impatiently added that one evening when she reached the College gate after her class to go back home, she saw three cars outside College gate, out of which boys and girls (all outsiders) were coming inside and what seemed was that they were drunk. They were not even stopped by the gatekeeper. And, that the Canteenwala who runs the Canteen at the College Top, used to make the key of auditorium available to outsiders. She was shocked to hear this. Being one of the old members of the College, she knew very well that some property dealers were holding major posts in the College and their only aim was to make money. And that at least the two girls believed it was all, true. She was surprised because if at all it was true, how could they dare to risk the security and the discipline of the College.
She thought about her course and her duty. Some of the classes were held even in the afternoon and evening. It was her responsibility to make sure that the students and faculty members were safe. But how can she assure that under these circumstances. Although there was a disciplinary team in the College, but some of the members were either newly appointed who were trying to adjust themselves in College setup or those who were close to Mr. Bhisham. Therefore, she did not have much hope that they will do something about this.
She thought about Bhisham. He was a family man now, with his wife also in the College. But he was the person on whom College Principal had blind faith. Actually, College Principal used to give son like trust to Mr. Amrit, who was his old student and his right hand and Bhisham was Amrit’s close friend. Now, if she tried to stop all this….what might happen.
What will happen if Principal had already known all about this? How will he react to it then? Inquiries will take place, name of Bhisham will rise to surface, and all the influential people will become her enemies. The fears started surrounding her. And what if she did nothing to stop this? Ignored all this and made the two girls keep their mouth shut and eyes closed. What will happen then? What if something happened due to this, maybe some harm to anybody of her course or College. For her, the College was more like a home. She will not tolerate it being sold… to outsiders. She repeated, “I will follow the right path. God will help me and God is enough for me”. Her fears started disappearing. She knew her right path. Things are perceived differently when they come out from darkness. No darkness is able to stand in light, she thought. She will bring things to light and this will surely make the difference.
She went to the disciplinary committee first. They listened to her, but kept quite. A day passed in hope of some kind of action. Nothing happened.
Next day she went to the Principal’s room. She told him very officially about all that she has heard and requested him to conduct an enquiry into the matter and do something to ensure a safe environment at the College. She felt relieved at the moment, not really aware of what will follow next. But…. this led to the rush of unexpected events, unexpected not only for her but also some others in College.
At night, she received a phone call, from Poona. Bhisham and friends had gone to Poona’s house and now Poona’s brother has insisted her to back out and that she will not agree in front of anyone that she has ever talked to anyone in this matter. It was after all for the sake of her job. “Madam why did you let me into all this…”, that was the last sentence from Poona that she heard and knew what all was going to come in her way. She was alone.
A retired person, Dr. Chakarwarti was made the head of enquiry committee. He was an old man with white hairs, more that eighty years of age, and all very respectfully thought him to be the doctor of converting black to white and white to black. This gentleman started the process with taking a meeting of which she was told to be the part of. In strict tone he announced that Poona and Karishma were being removed. She tried to intervene, as she wanted to be with the girls. She was still their Course Director. She felt it was her right to know why their jobs were being snatched. It was with the order of highest authority, the gentleman had replied and so no reason was necessary to be given. All present were ordered not to gossip, else the same action would be taken against them.
The meeting concluded immediately. She came back to her room and found Poona and Karishma crying and blaming each other. On seeing her, they quickly left the room. That night Karishma’s parents came searching for her house. They wanted to know if their daughter had done anything wrong. They told her that Karishma had worked hard for this job. She assured them and said that they should be proud of their daughter and that she is a hard working girl.
The next day, the two girls were called again. For hours, they were in Mr. Amrit’s room. Writing undertakings, witness notes and God knows what…but definitely what Mr. Amrit and his friends desired.
She met with both while walking down the stairs. Their faces were red but expression less, and beyond the apparent, she could clearly see the hatred for her. The hatred for putting them into all this. Subsequently after a day or two she was also removed from the post of Course Director and transferred to another department. The two girls were also transferred to some other department. All these actions were carried by the Principal’s order.
The true face of administration came forth. Her chair, her room, her position, myths etc., were all removed. The changes indicated that she was to be severely punished for some unknown crime; maybe it was documented that way by the help of Enquiry Committee in Mr. Amrit’s files.
In the coming days there were Mr. Bhisham and friends, laughing at her with the statements like “ We snatch the work and make the people sick.. so that they get frustrated and leave.”. These statements were not at all needed for her. She has been in the College for years and seen such examples where people have left even their permanent post when such conditions were given. She ignored. If she is right, God will give her the strength and in front of God, no one has the power.
She searched her inner-self for fears and found none.
Then she observed the change. The Canteenwala was removed first; although she knew it was only temporary. This was followed by the change of security. All guards were changed. However, nobody discussed anything with her after that. Another insignificant post was given to her but on the surface with a small increment in allowance. Even so, she was happy. At least, the discipline of the College has become much better. For now, the guards kept the check on the entry of outsiders without permission. They have also learnt the lesson, that whatever happens, they were to be blamed for not performing their duty. Now the College auditorium was being used for better reasons. The only regret that remained with her was that Poona never talked to her. However, Karishma was a bit different. She used to wish her with smile whenever she saw her in the corridors.
Poona on the other hand kept drifting from her. Greeting apart, she even never looked at her. She knew why… It was hatred.
God know what it was; that did not let her speak to Poona either.
It was nearly six months after the incident when she received a card.
A wedding card.
Poona was getting married. She was going and she will not come back. The time was slipping out of her hands, as she has to say sorry to her. Poona was once the little sister to her as part of her team. And how can she let her go.., into her new world, her new life with hatred for her.
She ran. Met Poona in Administration’s Office completing the formalities. She waited for her at the door. Then suddenly Poona was at the door. She looked at her; at her after a long, long time. She wanted to say sorry, but she felt her throat being choked. Instead she caught hold of Poona’s hand. In the second moment, there was Poona who was crying badly, putting her arms around her. “ Madam, please forgive me, I have done very bad for you. I could not stand the pressure..”, Poona cried. Suddenly she felt relieved. It was not hatred for her that has kept Poona at distance. It was “Guilt”. Now she did not have any regret. Poona was going with love and respect for her in her heart. She has won after all, the fight between the right and wrong. Moreover, she has learnt a lesson herself. It is not very difficult to stand by the right.