Allahabad, a small town nestled in the rich Indo-Gangetic plains in North India, with extreme temperatures, and thinkers, writers, lawyers, doctors and educationists identifying the place. One of the oldest cities in the country with its bounteous waters of the two revered rivers The Ganga and the Yamuna meeting here, also give the city its importance in the Holy scriptures. A trip to the sacred confluence of the rivers tells a story of the life of boatmen and sages, a different world from the city influenced by the British, who left some charming buildings that are an integral part of the architecture of the city. Well, Mona, born here and to a family educationally inclined, with vacillating views on socialism, drew up her own character, strong, rebellious and loud. There was nothing meek about her, and when the school, final graduating class decided to go and enjoy at the Wyndham falls, she jumped at the idea, the plan already forming in her mind. Just one matter, though, despite being eighteen years of age, she would have to take permission from her parents. Too much fear being instilled in her, she felt. Don’t go here, don’t do this, don’t do that. Parenting was at its odious peak then, she felt. But the early eighties were the years which were marked by the loss of innocence, the age of televisions there, new found freedom, freedom from wars and too many societal pressures. So over-caution on the part of parents seemed like natural. A city politically inclined and historically rich had among its population many who were aspiring political leaders. You had to be a goon to enter politics really. The permission was not an easy task.But she had mastered the art. She threw in the names of some friends parents and aunts and uncles who would accompany them, also they would stop by a village and be planting trees at a site slated to be a primary school for the village children.This was true, as she being an active member of the National Service Scheme had made her friends agree to do this activity. A sense of service was ingrained in her by her parents at home and teachers at the missionary school she studied in.
Winter time, temperatures dip to four or five degrees celsius is a time of abundance in that area. Dressed in bell bottoms and frilly tops, most of them had decided that since it wasn’t a very safe part of the city, they must take care to dress modestly. They packed in lots of fruits and raw ingredients to cook food at the site of the falls. The bus ride was a super noisy ride with songs and games during the good two and a half hours that they took to reach the site of the beautiful falls. Not very deep falls, but surrounded by low hills and lush greenery, a rocky place. It gave them enough area to spread their baggage. The girls had invited their boyfriends and little did they know that they would have some unwanted company too. For women or girls going out by themselves is always an issue in this part of the country. So the boyfriends being there were a relief. The friends of the boys were not. They were politely told to stay away, as their company was not required.
They did not take this well and started to behave rowdy and boisterous. Among them was a political bigwigs son. Fearless of the law, he was there as he liked one of Mona’s friends. He had to get hands on whatever he took a liking to. There was no one to stop him. Mona by now had started to feel worried, as her lie would surely be out in the open about her friend’s parents accompanying them if something untoward were to happen.
He insisted on talking to her alone. The unforgettable moment etched in the minds of these young ladies will always be that instant when he yanked her hand and pulled her away from the crowd. The boys seemed helpless as the thug had many ruffians along with him. Panic stricken, in a time of no mobile phones, helplessness took over their psyche. Despite all running after the battling couple, they seemed incapacitated in front of the goons. A fist fight among the boys evoked a further counterblow from the politician’s son. The struggling girl kept yelling out for help, kept fighting away the boy. Single-handedly, she bit hard into his arm, kicked him and pushed him off her. Somehow he lost control and fell, onto a pointed rock, hit his head and fell unconscious. Time for the picnickers to rush off as his friends scrambled towards their hurt and unconscious friend.
The picnic disrupted, Mona prayed for the hooligans’ safety and life. Else they would get in serious harm. What a bummer she thought! No news in the papers the next day was a relief. And soon they would all take different paths to different careers, pursue different studies, only to keep remembering this horrifying misadventure, only once in a while. And as for Mona and her friend, together they landed at the University of Kent UK to study journalism.