Father’s Pet but a street dog elsewhere
An article by Monica Ingudam
It was during my engineering college time in a beautiful place call Banashankari. I got close to one of the girls with whom we started sharing our study notes. She was passionate about studies and so was I. We bonded over chapters, notes to getting the perfect final results in labs and had a beautiful friendship. We hung out together and studied together.
One weekend we decided to study together at her home. It was towards the afternoon and we still needed more time to accomplish what we were preparing. My friend suggested that I have a sleep over and we can study late night. I told her that I needed permission from my hostel warden and probably If her mother will write or call my hostel warden, we can try. She was giggly and excited about the idea. I got carried away too thinking it will be fun to have a sleepover with my friend. Her mother was in another room and after my friend told her what we were thinking. Her mother, apparently educated and could speak English gave a questioning look giving me some level of discomfort and lectured “There are lots and lots of students from Assam roaming around at night, I wonder how they get permission. Maybe they forge the permission letter ? Maybe they get sleepover permission for studies and roamed around ?”.
I was naïve and couldn’t connect the dots and was trying to digest what she was saying, was that a “Yes” or “No”. I couldn’t even speak up to even say that I am from Manipur and didn’t understand her context of mentioning Assam. They continued in their local language (South Indian Language) and I was lost in embarrassment. I could never forget her look, her look of questioning my origin giving me extreme discomfort.
It was one of the awkward moment where people don’t acknowledge what just happened. We were back on their roof and my friend diverted the topic and was talking something to which I just said “um” the kind of “um” to keep the conversation going without actually listening. I just remembered looking over the trees and road with my mind blank, questioning and digesting the feeling of the word “disrespect”, I was not sure what to interpret but it sure didn’t give me a good feeling.
As I look over the fluttering leaves with the winds blowing cooling my flushed red face, and I saw my Father’s Face with his serious look, I remembered one incident where my Father sent my Mother one late night to pick me up from grandmother’s place, forbidding me for a sleepover in my own grandmother’s place. My mother was to sleep in my grandmother’s house if I were to sleep there. We walked back in the dark. My father was and is very strict. He was not pleased and said I was growing up, I need to be careful and shouldn’t be staying anywhere. I was just in 8th grade then. My parents never let me off their sight with either one of them accompanying me everywhere I went while I was in Manipur. How could I have forgotten how my parents raised me with such care and value (“Yam Cheksinna”) and I easily agreed for a sleepover, I was in college, all grown up and my Father will definitely not agree for this sleep over, what was I thinking ? I packed my books, got back to my hostel.
I missed home terribly that night but never had the courage to share what I felt that night with my parents. We never had study dates again though we remained friends in college and this incident left me with a bad taste.
Based on an incident that happened in Bangalore, India.