Back at Block A, room 202, Sailu had returned from home. She conveyed that Siri would not be coming for another week since she was down with some viral infection. Sailu got into the bathroom for a quick shower. Moments later her mobile started to vibrate. The girls had got used to the vibrations for it was a cardinal sin to use mobiles inside the engineering college hostels, especially the girls' and a little bit of carelessness like turning on the audible ringtones would result in grave disaster.
It was Sailu's mother.
"Sailu your momma is calling." Maanu kept he voice as low as possible for screaming the word "call" would attract unwanted attention and the girls were well aware that there were spies all around.
"Attend the call pilla*. Tell her that I have reached safely." Sailu tried her best to sound low but her parched voice did not give away.
"Hello aunty this is Maanu, Sailu's room mate. She reached here just now. She is taking a bath. I shall ask her to call you back aunty."
"All right Maanu. Sailu was bent upon bringing you ariselu*. I have made them for you. Do let me know how you liked it. I have also sent you gonkura*. Sailu said that you liked it very much. She always keeps talking about you. She said that you are a Reddy* as well. Good to hear that. I listened to the taped version of your keerthana* , "paluke bangaaramayena*". You sing perfect Telugu. I am so proud of you pandu*. I shall hang up now. Ask Sailu to call back without fail and Good luck for your exams. Write well and come over to Nellore for the vacations."
"Thank you aunty and I shall come for sure" Maanu cut the phone.
She was astonished at the gush of unforeseen emotions from the other side. She had never imagined of Sailu telling her mother that Maanu was a Telugu. Even surprising was the fact that Sailu had actually recorded her singing in Telugu. All this despite Sailu calling her a 'Tamil girl' always. Maanu was lost in thought when Sailu came out of the bathroom and sat beside her drying the damp hair with a towel.
She gave a gentle pat on Maanu's back.
"What are you dreaming of pilla?? Roger winning the French open?" She teased.
Sailu was a typical leg puller, an assortment of all form of sarcasm and irony, a person who calls Maanu by names, yet an angel in disguise, the confirmation of which Maanu had just received in the form of the phone call.
"Sailu I thought that you considered me a Tamil"
"No Maanu I just call you arawa pilla only to pull your legs. Do not take it to your heart. I am damn sure that if we sit down and work out our family tree we would end up as relatives for my mother always says all Reddys are related one way or the other. All right now stop dreaming. I shall go down and make a call to my mother from the booth. I have run out of balance in my mobile."
Maanu was gob smacked. She locked the room moments later, climbed down the stairs frantically and ran towards Block B. Her joy knew no bounds. She wanted to express her happiness to Malar and convey that the world was not bad at all and that their perception was wrong. She knocked at the door. Malar's room mate Fatima told her that Malar had not yet returned from college.
pilla - Girl.
ariselu - A traditional Telugu sweet made of jaggery and rice batter.
gonkura - Authentic Telugu sour greens paste.
Reddy - A telugu caste
keerthana - A holy hymn.
paluke bangaaramayena - The keerthana sung by Bhaktha Ramadasu in memory of Sri Rama.
pandu - A common word in Telugu used to address kids. Also translates to fruit in english.