Her search for Malar inside the college ended in vain. Both the class room and lab were stark empty. A few of her classmates were found hanging around the veranda. Sheela, one of Malar's best buddies at class narrated what had happened during the last session; the dental pharmacology lecture at 4. Maanu could not believe her ears. She froze as though hit hard by an arctic blizzard.
"Malar's mother passed away in a massive heart attack. A relative of hers, Agilan came to the university to take Malar back to Coimbatore. She left the campus that very instant."
Sheela's words were still lingering in her mind as Maanu entered her room drenched in sweat and collapsed on the cot. Sailu was off for basket ball practice leaving a note behind, directing Maanu to the dine without awaiting her arrival and that she would be back only by nine.
Maanu felt sick. She wondered if she had been prone to any real suffering like Malar except for the ad-hoc teasing and swear words that were muttered unintentionally. She had unnecessarily complicated her life with her own imaginations. That day everything had fallen into place. Her imaginations had masked her conscience as a result of which she could not decide between being a Tamil and a Telugu but reality had revealed that she was now impeccably an amalgamation of both.
But Malar ?
Born a pauper. Lived the life of a shadow fighting hard with her hopelessness and aspirations at the same instant. And now? What will she do? Malar has still not even found the question, save the answer. Which question should she try answering first ?? The question if to live here of flee to Srilanka? Or rather the worst one if to live or die?
Maanu's mobile began to vibrate. She flipped it open.
"Maanu". She could feel Malar's cold voice on the other end.
"Malar". Maanu felt a lump in her throat.
"Maanu I have called to convey something."
"I know. Sheela told me. I am extremely sorry."
"No. It is not that i wanted to tell you"
"What is it then?"
"We were right in our perception about the world. It is cruel. Indeed cruel." Malar almost choked. Maanu felt tears drenching her cheeks.
"Agilan has offered to marry me. We are going back to Ceylon. The situation is better now or so they say. My mother dreamt of making me an Indian citizen and she partly succeeded. It is now my turn to dream of making my child an Indian citizen after my marriage when situation worsens yet again. This will never end Maanu. Thousands of Shyama's are dreaming of another thousands of Malars becoming Indian citizens and leading a peaceful life The plight will continue. We are cursed Maanu and the curse will not be lifted until truth and tolerance dawns. Hope I will be blessed with an entirely Indian heredity at least in my next birth. Pray for me Maanu."
"Malar " Maanu broke into tears.
"Do not cry for me dear. It is all over. All that I need are you prayers"
"My blessings and prayers will always be with you Malar" Maanu could not think of anything better to say. Malar hung up.
Maanu cried for a while and fell asleep. Sailu woke her up as soon as she returned. Maanu emptied her heart to Sailu. She felt relieved to a certain extent. She grabbed her mobile and dialed her father's number in a hurry.
"Maanu" Chandran was concerned since she had called an unusual hour.
"Daddy, now I know why the refugees are given reservation and exempted from taxes. I have understood that they neither complete their studies nor earn a living." Malar could not help but cry.
"I am sorry Maanu. I gather you have been informed of Shyama aunty's death. That is life Maanu. I shall talk to you tomorrow. Now catch some sleep." Chandran decided to call her as early as possible the next day for his little daughter had now learnt some really big lessons in life and was in need of someone to direct her further.