Editor: Read Chapter VI here.
Swapna was all by herself in the chawl. She followed news of the bombings with trepidation and excitement, knowing that they were on the cusp of the revolution. Once people lost confidence in their leaders and saw all these tall buildings fall down, they would march out on the streets and demand an end to oppression and injustice! Though she had pleaded to be taken along for the training and fighting, Avinash had been adamant that she should stay behind. Tarun too did not seem to want to place her in harm’s way. Surely Marxism gave equal rights to women in everything?
Around six months ago, Tarun had walked into their lives, introducing himself as ‘Tarun, Tarun Anand’. They had laughed at him, his looks, clothes and silk tie, loosened at the collar and his soft hands, depicting a man who did not do any manual labour to earn his living, but they had not known that a hurricane seethed inside. Tarun Anand had knocked Marxist Thoughts out of its complacency.
What have you achieved so far by holding Friday meetings, he had challenged Avinash? We need a revolution, he had pleaded with them all, just as he pleaded with her to be allowed a place in her heart.
Someone knocked on the door. It was Ravi’s mother. Swapna was sick and tired of the old lady who evidently did not like her. It was not her fault that Ravi insisted on remaining unmarried.
‘I made some puris and wanted to give you some,’ she said.
‘Oh, thank you so much! Please come in!’ Chawl etiquette demanded that they keep an open door to all neighbours and behave as if they were one happy family when evidently, they weren’t. Practically everyone in the chawl had contempt for Avinash, the retired postman who hosted a Marxist study circle every Friday in his kholi.
‘Some tea?’ Swapna asked Ravi’s mother, who nodded.
Once the revolution was complete, she would marry Tarun. Maybe, then Ravi would come to his senses and marry someone else and make his mother happy.
‘Ravi called me yesterday. They are now in Kolkata.’
‘Yes, my father too called me.’
Just like every other resident in the chawl, Ravi’s mother had also bought the story of all male members of the Marxist Thoughts study circle going on an All India Tour for four months.
‘One more month and they’ll be back!’ she said with a smile.
For a moment, Swapna felt sorry for the old woman. Then she steeled herself. Why should she feel sorry for Ravi’s mother? The revolution called for sacrifices and it was only fair that everyone should contribute. Once the revolution was over, those who supported it would be rewarded and those who didn’t, would pay a price. Tarun had been very clear on that point and her father too had endorsed that point of view. Counter-revolutionaries would be punished harshly and those who were irredeemably steeped in capitalist values would be executed!
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