Drowned in sorrow?
Hold your breath.
Just an illusion.
That evening while riding back home in their ladybird bicycles Maanu and Malar witnessed a stray dog which was new to the neighborhood being chased out of the street by the tamed ones. They arrived at a conclusion that the world was indeed cruel and intolerant.
Months passed by and it was time to bid adieu to the pretty pinaforms as they transformed into pants and salwars for the high school era gradually came to an end pushing them into a university for under graduation. Maanu and Karthick made into one of the prestigious universities in Chennai for their engineering degrees. Malar was also in the same university but she had chosen a dental sciences degree to try and fulfill her mother's dream of making a doctor out of her since her marks were not adequate enough for her to take up general medicine. Maanu's family decided against her dreams of becoming an astro-biologist following the unanticipated crash of the Colombia Spacecraft while she was writing her 11th grade exams.
Shanti and Chandran left Maanu at the 'A' block hostel corridor and returned home with a heavy heart. Shyama was all tears leaving behind Malar at the 'B' block, the dental block. The university, being only a few hours away from southern Andra Pradesh was also a popular destination for the well to do Telugu family kids in search of quality professional education. Maanu's room mates Sailaja and Sirisha fell in that category. From their comfort levels for each other Maanu was certain that they must have been friends for quite some time now. She was not wrong Sailu and Siri were high school buddies.
First day at the university brought an untold grimness into Maanu. The only face she was familiar with in her class was that of her so called high school mate, Karthick, the one who had called her a Golti. Fortunately. the three room mates got into good terms with each other well within a week since they shared the same desk at class as well. Maanu's tinge of Telugu did the trick. Nevertheless, Sailu would still address Maanu as "Arawa pilla*". Maanu had stopped being sensitive to such calls after the disastrous biology lab session two years ago for she had understood that her reaction will only be considered futile. Maanu would occasionally meet Malar during dinner hours when they would chit chat about their survival strategies.
Once during the first semester when Sailu and Siri had left for their hometown Maanu walked alone back to the hostel after the day's class. As bad luck would have it she was summoned by a group of senior boys ready to shatter her peace of mind. Maanu almost fainted when she recognized that the boy towards the right corner in the gang was none other than Karthick himself.
"So I gather you are one of those Goltis." one person started out.
Either they must have been observing her association with Sailu and Siri or her very own high school buddy should have had a hand' Maanu wondered. She did not reply. Should she deny? That she was not a Telgi and that she could speak decent Tamil being born and brought up in Tamilnadu. Or shouldn't she? Telugu was her mother tongue and she must be proud of being a Telgi. Maanu bent her head down without uttering a word.
"But anna* she hails from my place Coimbatore. She is my high school buddy. I know her very well. She is more of Tamil anna. She is my friend." Karthick's voice daggered into the surrounding silence. Maanu could not believe her ears.
"Oh you know her Karthick. I thought she was a Telugu up from Andra. You may leave then. But tell me, what is you name girlie ?" Their head asked.
"Maanasa" replied Maanu and started off to the hostel as quick as her legs would carry her.
"Maanu. Maanu listen." Karthick came rushing.
"Wont you talk to me Maanu?"
"But Karthick you have called me by names while at school. And now you say that I am a Tamil and not a Telugu. I don't understand Karthick. "
"Hey Maanu that was my way of having fun. Watching you cry, for you will never react to other stuff. I regret now if I had hurt you Maanu. What you have seen today is real. How can I ever let down a girl who hails from my place? You are a Tamil and we are friends." Maanu was dazed. Yet they shook hands.
Arawa pilla : Tamil girl. The language Tamil is known as "Arawam" in Telugu.
Anna: Translates to elder brother in Tamil.