The only Tamil word I know with the precise meaning, I believe, is ‘Parkavi’. ‘Par’ = World and ‘Kavi’ = Poet/ Poetess. So ‘Parkavi’ = Poetess of the World, in this case. It’s a nice name indeed. I met Parkavi on a social networking site called tagged.com. She was senior to me as by that time she was in her final year of undergraduate studies in Physics, but younger to me too. She was a genius I met. Though she used to study Physics, she hated it much. Practically she had the least interest in Physics. In contrast, I’m an admirer of Physics and love to talk about it with the like-minded folks. We mostly talked about the differences in our ideologies and cultures. We argued a lot too, almost the same way I argued with Priyanka, my friend, to make her conceive the hoax behind ‘reki’ by explaining the law of thermodynamics. Ha ha ha … Parkavi and I were good friends but we are no longer in touch.
Parkavi was born and brought up mostly in a village in Tamil Nadu. She lost her father when she was a kid. She had one elder brother and has a younger brother now. Her elder brother died from blood cancer. Much care wasn’t given to her education when she was in the village as she was a girl. She completed her schooling in a Tamil medium school. On the other hand her younger and elder brothers were being taught in English medium schools. She had some real bad experiences in her childhood which led her be somber in life but definite in her purpose. She had to see her mother being molested when her family was in the village after her father had passed away. She carried the trauma of witnessing that throughout her life; she was afire inside her self. Soon after the incident had taken place her family moved to Chennai. And then a new journey started in her life.
Her mother wasn’t quite educated at that time. I think she could just finish her schooling and then got married. But after she had shifted to Chennai she started to educate herself and when I met Parkavi she was working as a controller of a certain public exam held in Chennai. She got an air-conditioned govt. residence to stay with Parkavi and her younger son.
Parkavi wanted to become a doctor. But her luck didn’t favor her. Since her elder brother fell seriously ill and was a blood cancer patient she had to nurse and spend most of the time in the hospital with her brother. She didn’t get through the entrance exam. Later on she sat for some other exam and finally got selected for studying Physics in one of the finest colleges in Chennai. There she faced a real challenge. She couldn’t speak in English well as she studied in Tamil medium and everyone else in the college, in her college, officially spoke in English. It was an embarrassment for her. She was also humiliated in several ways different times because of her inability to speak in good English. She tried but often used to make silly mistakes. She wasn’t sad at all.She admitted her lacks and sometimes laughed at her own mistakes. She told me a story wherein while speaking to someone she used ‘circumference’ instead of ‘circumstances’. Ha ha ha … Finally being paranoid she decided to join an English-speaking course. And she did so well … so well that she was offered a place as an instructor/ faculty in that institute where she was taught spoken English. Admirable! When I was speaking to her over the phone I couldn’t doubt for a moment that she would belong to such a background.
Everyday she used to take her classes from 7 am to 9 am. She did something amazing, angelic in her life, which I will never forget. She was voluntarily involved in an orphanage which was run by an elderly woman and that orphanage was around 30 kms away for her home. She used to visit the place almost everyday after her college. She told me that there was a girl in that orphanage who, according to her, was the most brilliant student and she liked her very much and wanted to support her. So she decided to give 50% of her salary to that girl as a stipend every month! I think there are a very few people who would do this in their life. Her life was full of tragedies. That girl died in a road accident! She couldn’t visit the orphanage for a month.
Another thing she was happy about was that she taught the kids in the orphanage how to sign in English. According to her it was the happiest moment in her life when all the kids showed her their signatures. By the way, there were around 30 kids in that orphanage.
Surprisingly, she was very much interested in international politics, law and history and Tamil literature. She was an avid reader and almost everyday she used to visit the public library to read all these stuffs. And these were the things I was the least interested about. More surprisingly her heroes were Che Guevara, Bhagat Singh, Fidel Castro, that chieftain of Tamil Tiger, I forgot the name, who died in an encounter with the Sri Lankan military force! She explained me why she awed them. I’m not wise enough to recall and explain all those here. But we talked a lot about all these.
South Indian non-veg dishes are not bad if you are a beginner and they are quite cheap too. She knew how much pissed off I was with the bland veggies in Pune. So sometimes she used to call me from a restaurant while having lunch and tease me telling the names of the dishes she had in front of her. I was dying to have rice and fish at that time in Pune and she had plenty of these in front of her. Like this we were in touch for a couple of months.
She dreamed to be a diplomat and was preparing herself accordingly. She told me that she’d be leaving for Delhi to join a college to prepare for the Civil Services Examination. I had exams ahead. So I almost stopped being in any sort of networking. She also got a little busy. There was a long pause. Anyway, maybe for some reasons I don’t remember now we didn’t chat much. Then one day she told me that she fixed a date and booked a ticket to travel to Delhi. I wished her all the best. She was very happy to be able to go to Delhi and study there. On the day she’d be leaving Chennai I thought of wishing her a happy journey but her cell was off. That day at around 11 pm I got a call from her when she was in the train. I was surprised for some reasons. I asked how she was doing and how the journey was till then. She replied and then there was a pause. She took some time. And then she said again. She said something and after that without letting me say anything else in reply she just hung up! I tried calling her several times after that night but found her out of reach. She changed her number and didn’t tell me until it was around a month after she had reached Delhi and started studying there. One day in the evening she called me to give her update and also to take mine. She told me that she lost all her contacts and later got mine after calling my father! She started learning Hindi ‘thoda thoda’. She was a bit unhappy to see that in Delhi the bus conductors and shopkeepers didn’t understand simple English. She also told me that she was the youngest pupil in her class and she was competing with a girl senior to her and whose father was a professor in the college she was in. Parkavi said she had to study more since she didn’t get the study notes handy unlike the girl she was competing with. I was smiling while listening to all these. She made me understand how tough the exam was and how much she needed to study. She became more engrossed with studies. Sometimes we used to exchange sms to know how things were at each other’s end. We hardly talked.
Again another day in the evening I got a sms from her. She got a place in the Oxford University with a scholarship! I was delighted much to get the news. So I called her back to get the details. She informed me that she sat for a written exam on law and history mostly, as far as I can recall at the moment and based on her performance in the exam she got selected. She was on top of the world then. She was dreaming about Oxford all day long. That’s how time was passing and she was also carrying on her studies. During this time she became sick two or three times.
After some time one day in the morning she called me. She told me that she became sick again. While returning from college she fainted on the road on two different days. I was very sad to hear and told her to take care. Since there was no one to cook and she wasn’t a very good cook and she prioritized studies, she wasn’t actually on a good diet. I requested her to take proper meals. After that sometimes I called or messaged her just to know whether she was feeling better. A few more weeks passed. She wasn’t keeping well. She visited a doctor. Her mother was anxious. After a few more days she again called me. A doctor told her that he found symptoms of the same ailment that Parkavi’s elder brother had, who succumbed to blood cancer eventually. I was shocked and could feel that she was almost shattered. Parkavi’s mother was crying on the phone and begging her to return home. But Parkavi was reluctant. She was more worried about her classes than going home. That was the day I talked to her last. I told her, “If you don’t want to think about your health that’s alright. But please think about your mother. She already lost her eldest child and you lost your brother. You can feel the pain. Let her not lose you; she won’t be able to survive …”. She whimpered; I could sense that. Later on I was informed that she finally decided to go back home and booked her flight. I was happy to know that and thought of calling her when she would depart from Delhi and wishing her a happy journey and good health. But this bloody me forgot to do that! And when I remembered it was too late and she already reached home. I know how much hurt and sad she was. She was angry with me and I’m unable to disclose the reason here. I tried calling her but her cell was out of reach. After a week I again tried. I tried again maybe after a month. She wasn’t reachable. I sent her messages on yahoo messenger. I haven’t got any reply yet. She wasn’t on facebook. I googled her but she was nowhere. I just hope she is fine, hale and hearty …