The three semesters consisting of nine courses were coming to an end and Madhavan's grading was mostly A’s . His academic brilliance more than made up for his lack of social skills. He was treated with great respect by his classmates. His friends and roommates liked him for his simple, unassuming nature and readiness to help them in projects. They knew he was not just the usual nerd. He was selfless in his approach and helped anyone who sought his assistance, a quality which endeared him to everyone. What they did not know was, his eternal gratitude to them for making him feel equal to them and for restoring his self esteem. They did not know how years of hurt and humiliation from classmates, teachers and acquaintances in Chennai had scarred him for life. Madhavan did not tell a soul that he had even contemplated suicide but was rather forced to continue his existence because of his mother, who loved him and instilled hope in him by constantly talking about his horoscope.
Now Madhavan was happy. Sometimes, he wondered how all his Amma's words came true. Was it really due to his powerful horoscope? He did not know; but he knew for sure, that the tables have been turned now. At last, he proved his worth to everyone and he could feel it in his Appa's weekly talks. Though he sent money for a car, talked every Sunday morning for a longtime with his Appa about various things including his semesters, grades, about his sending resumes to big companies and the upcoming graduation, he never felt close to him. In fact, he sympathized with his Amma, who was trapped by her love-less marriage, with nowhere to go. Once he got a good job, the first thing he would do will be to get his Amma to the States, for a great holiday, show her around the University, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, LA and San Francisco. He might even take her to Niagara. He smiled at the thought. She really needed a break from the maddening monotony of her married life.
Madhavan was getting along well with his roommates. He would go out for dinner, shopping, films etc, but he could never get over his strong aversion to non vegetarian food. Although he was grateful to Mak for bringing eggs into his life. Eggs somehow, he liked, and he firmly believed that it improved his health, got rid of his fungal infection and allergy, cold etc.. But, he refused to try anything else. Similarly, he enjoyed the company of his friends and even their discussion on girls, but remained mired in his reticence to talk about them. Sometimes, when he was alone with Mak, he talked about his dreams of marriage, an arranged marriage with a proper Iyengar girl of his parent’s choice.
Madhavan, Mak and Mathews started sending resumes to many companies. They all knew that Madhavan, with his great grades, would be the first one to be absorbed in some big company of his choice. Though Madhavan felt sad at the thought of separation from his good friends, Mak, Sathish and Mathews, he was now confident that he could start a life of his own in a country, which he dreaded in the beginning.
Meanwhile, the Graduation ceremony was nearing and everyone was excited about it. Madhavan decided to buy the maroon gown and accessories for the occasion, instead of hiring it. He bought a nice camera too, while Mak arranged for taking the video of the event. Though Satish was not qualified for the Graduation, he enthusiastically went around helping them with the arrangements.
Just before the Graduation, Madhavan called up his home to get his parents' blessings. He called up Tambaram too, his first call from Arizona, to Raghavan and family. Raghavan was quite excited to hear Madhavan "What a surprise Madhavan! So good to hear your voice after all these years; I thought you've forgotten us. What's this Madhavan, you called us just once, that too, just to inform us about your safe landing there. My God, that was two years ago.. how time flies! Of course, we are in constant touch with Besant Nagar and get all the news. Ah, by the way, Congratulations, young man, for all your achievements. Your Appa keeps informing us about your brilliant performance in all the 3 semesters, great! marvelous!
I'm so proud of you.. Radha keeps telling Meena to be hardworking like you. Well, she too is keen on pursuing her studies there. Let's see. Tell me, how's everything there? Saw your pictures at Grand Canyon. You've put on weight, young man! You are looking handsome with a mustache. Ranga, Vasumathy and Harini were here last Sunday; they came in their new car. Vasumathy and Ranga are lucky to have a great son like you. When're you planning to visit India? Or do you like that place so much that you're going to settle down there? Ha ha ha!”, Raghavan laughed his usual artificial laughter.
Madhavan waited till the torrent was over and then said, "Sorry Mama for not contacting you all this time. I was busy settling down. After all, a new country, new experience and new friends. Time just slipped by. Really sorry. Glad to hear that all are fine there. I just called to tell you, tomorrow is my Graduation ceremony. I wish you all could have attended. Actually, many parents and relatives from different parts come to witness this. Anyway, I called up home, so I thought I'll call you too and give the good news"
"Congratulations Madhavan. Good, if it's after 2 months I could've come, I'm sailing to San Francisco next month. From there, I could've just flown to Phoenix and back. What to do? Bad luck, hmmm. Radha.. Meena.. did you hear this? Tomorrow is Madhavan's Graduation"
Meena grabbed the phone and said, “Congrats ya, come to India soon and celebrate okay?". Meena paused and then continued, "Hey, Madhavan, I want your help; can you find out about the Universities offering Masters in Pharmacology? I've only an year more to go, If I start right now, collecting all information, it would be helpful. Please ya, do it for me", Meena pleaded. Madhavan regretted calling Raghavan's house. But, how could he otherwise seek his Patty's Blessings for the most important occasion in his life? So, Madhavan controlled his annoyance and said in an indifferent tone,”frankly, I don't think I can get much information now. I'll be very busy with job hunting. Later, perhaps, I can try. The best thing for you to do , is going to the USIS. They've all the necessary information. I too will try. You've plenty of time, so don't worry"
After Radha aunty's turn too was over, the phone was passed on to Raghavan. Quickly, Madhavan said in a voice full of urgency.
“Mama, would it be difficult to call Patty on the phone? Can she walk? Amma told me, she has arthritis and finds difficulty in walking, but” he hesitated a little and then continued 'But, if
she could talk to me it would be nice"
Raghavan took some time before replying and Madhavan thought the delay was due to Radha aunty vetoing the idea. He cursed himself for not asking Appa to bring Patty to Besant Nagar, so that he could talk to her. Sure, Appa did not like Patty's presence in Besant Nagar but, in the present euphoria of owning a car, he would have done anything to please Madhavan.
After an anxious moment, Raghavan said "Madhavan, I'll bring her. She can walk up to this place. You know these old people. They feel lonely and want attention, most of their problems are imaginary. Okay then, I'll call you after Amma comes."
"No, Mama, I'll hold on. Later, I may not get a good connection. It does n't make much difference, take your time”
In less than 5 minutes, Madhavan heard Patty's loud voice, “Madhavan, Patty speaking, how are you?"
Madhavan felt the sting of tears, when he heard Patty's voice, but he tried to sound cheerful when he talked, "Patty, I'm fine.Tomorrow is my Graduation, big function Patty, I called to get your blessings. Patty, daily I'm praying to the idol you gave me, it brought me luck"
Patty was weeping and she could hardly say anything. Madhavan continued "Patty, I'm coming to see you, once I get the job, Okay?"
Patty wiped her tears, ignored the three pairs of scrutinizing eyes and talked, trying to keep her cool "My Blessings are always with you, Madhavan. I saw the car you bought for your Appa. It looks great. I've no doubt about your coming up in life. You're born to be great, nobody can be like you, Vasumathy is very lucky. My Blessings, Kanna”. She hung up the phone. Madhavan thought over the conversation, smiled recollecting the warmth in Raghavan mama and family's voice and thought 'Mak is right; every dog has its day'
# Silicon Castles Chapter 11 by Sreedevi Krishnan