This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan.
It was two months since Arpit and Latika were dating each other. They loved each other’s company. Eventually, Latika got included in all the plans of the gang – she became an intricate part of it.
They would hang out together in the canteen, she would play carrom with them. She even accompanied them on long drives in the night – her parents were cool about it as long as she was in a group and not alone with Arpit. She had already mentioned she was seeing Arpit; her dad was happy she had found someone and gave her any advice she needed. It was a different story with her mom; she hated the concept of dating and found it hard that her husband was supporting Latika on this.
Latika became Niket’s best friend the day she brought ghevar, a classic Rajasthani sweet dish made from flour into a disk shape and soaked in sugar syrup from her hometown Beawar. This was later followed by pyaaz kachori, a spicy twist to kachori made in traditional way. She was a hard core foodie like Niket and loved to experiment new cuisines unlike Arpit, Madhu and Abhinav who preferred to stick to what they knew. Niket found a gourmet companion in her.
Latika proved she was a part of the group when she stood for Swami. It was her stand which helped Swami figure out a better way to a life he loved. They all had gifted Swami a guitar on his birthday so that he could learn the instrument and pursue it. When Swami’s parents came to meet him in Mumbai, his dad was displeased with the fact that Swami was not focusing on studies and wasting time with other kids who weren’t interested in having a great life. He wanted Swami to focus hard, study entire day and get best scores to support his application for masters abroad.
Riddled by the way Swami’s dad was talking to him in front of the entire gang, Latika dispassionately stepped forward to have a conversation with him. ‘I regret to inform you that Govind isn’t going to make it to any good university abroad for his masters.’ His father blinked in astonishment – how dare she says something like this about my son. Swami was shocked, wondering why was she trying to side with his dad.
‘No efforts on studying more are going to increase his chances of getting in – they don’t accept robots, Sir. They accept humans – who have emotions, who have a passion about something and they pursue it along with their studies. Govind has a beautiful voice, with some efforts, he can learn to be a performer with guitar.’ ‘And what to do after becoming a performer, play on the streets? Beg for money? That’s where I see this guitar is going to land him,’ his words came out like a bullet and injured Swami.
What was he thinking after all, all of this is just diversion; he just needs to focus on studies and everything will be all right. The gang is right in their place but I can never be a part of it. My goals are much bigger and demand sacrifice of what I like. As he stood there, confused between what is right and wrong, Latika asked his dad a final question. ‘Do you think any amount of wealth can bring a satisfaction on Govind’s face to the likes of the one he gets when he sings? Do you think money can make your kid smile?’
Swami’s dad left them in anger, muttering something about how millenials are not focused in life. Swami stood behind, crying. Latika’s words had a huge impact on his internal struggle. He had broken free from the fear of his father. This was the first time someone had taken a stand for him.
END OF PART FIVE
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