The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, August 19, 2001

A Catch-22 situation
Anjali Majumdar

THE girl is 14. She attends the best girls’ school in Pune; at least she did from lunch time on, and then went dutifully home. "Did no one notice that she was not there in the mornings?," I asked. "No. She is such a quiet girl that she attracts no attention whatsoever." "But did the teacher not notice her absence." Again no. And this in a school so strict that it had not a single second class pass: every one got a first.

How then did her truancy come to light? (in case you do not believe the reason, let me tell you that this is a true story.) Because the girl, all of 14, told her mother that she wanted to marry a boy four years her senior. They spent every morning together before she rushed off to school for her lunch.

The bombshell having burst, the mother went to see the headmistress. The fallout was near catastrophic. I do not know how many teachers were dismissed: the girl was.

The woman who told us this has a daughter. She was fortunate, she said, that the girl shared her thoughts with her. In a corollary she did add,"As far as I know."


Another girl, another boy: these two somewhat older at 16 and in class 11. Let the mother of the boy speak.

"I saw my son with a girl some distance away from the gates of our society as I was driving past. The next time this happened I asked him, on his getting home, who the girl was. She was in his class in college. But their college was a long way off from where I had seen them. Yes, but her coaching classes were here.

"Why then didn’t he bring her home? No, she did not want that. I then said that I ought to let her mother know that she was seeing him. That seemed to work, and she came to meet us. We liked her: she was very bright: brilliant, in fact, a topper. She had been given a scooter as her home was right on the other side of town.

"One evening she stayed later than usual. I insisted I telephone her mother to say that she was leaving and that she would be home soon, a gesture I would have appreciated had I been the mother. She sounded very pleasant, and as there was a dance coming up at our club, I asked whether we could take her daughter along. Yes, but could they meet us before that."

They did. The girl was taken to the dance. The father of each of the young ones had been in the Army, though her’s was not so westernised as his. There was no dramatic ending as in the first case. She got the message that the boy’s parents were not the laissez faire type, and she cooled off. "But I wonder (said the boy’s mother) what would have happened if I had not insisted on getting to know her parents. I have told my two sons that they must let me know where they are going. Should something happen, and there are accidents every day reported in the newspapers , I will know where to look for them. "(They both have a mobike.)

As the mother of two sons brought up in a liberal home — and who chose their own brides — I know how difficult it is to strike a mean acceptable to both parents and children in these times. Having seen the way some girls threw themselves at our sons, all I can say is that I wonder how I would have dealt with a daughter.

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