Social Short Story – Lolita
Lolita- the blonde in her early twenties was admitted by her father in my classes for English learning. I met her father a few times as he came inquiring about the teaching of English. On the day, he came with the daughter. I was impressed by her svelte appearance and smiled. She returned it with an unimpressive smile
“She is really dull. Although a graduate, she was expelled by her earlier two spoken English teachers” – Her father said as though he wanted to describe his offspring as the byproduct of his own brilliance.
“What is he” – I asked Lolita after her father left?
“He is a teacher in the government primary school” – She said again with the dull mirth.
“A teacher and he cannot teach you” – I was feigning surprise?
As she cast her eyes downwards, I asked her introduce herself in plain English. Now I could see the shame in her face and her eyes swimming in it.
“Hey look up, I am not asking you anything pricey” – I said as she rose and stood before me.
Her face lit up with another smile as she stood motionless looking at the floor.
“What I could say to egg her on” – I was raking up my brain?
“Such beauty combined with a smile and shame can be helped to a great extent with few lines of self-introduction in plain English” – I uttered hoping that she would open up with this partly romantic sentence.
She snapped at me but the a little trace of a smile was there.
“Well Sir, I am……..”- She was trying to pull on.
I gathered from her smattering of English that she was the middle one of the three daughters of her father. Her father was a teacher and mother housewife. They lived in the suburb of the city for years.
Unlike the Indian girls, she was not wearing bangles in her hands and her forehead did not have the bindi– the traditional mark in the center of the forehead of that our girls invariable wore. Let alone the mask of makeup, she swore that she had never even stepped inside a beauty parlor.
Her presence was mesmerizing while she was dressed in the traditional Salwar Kameez.
Was it her innocence that made her look so good? To my eyes, she appeared a nymph straight from the story books of my childhood. As the days continued, besides teaching, I was getting familiar with the strange antecedents of her life.
“Narrate before me a funny incident that took place during your school days, Lolita” – I was trying to know the little girl in her.
She stopped a while in her silence and then said- “Sir, my childhood had no fun”.
“Why, was it the school’s discipline that you feared the most” – I asked her, bewildered.
“No Sir, my father did not allow three of us to the school” – She said.
“How then did you study your lessons without attending the classes at the school” – I was confused?
“At home, Sir, my father taught us up to standard eight at home and then only got us admitted in the girls’ high school” – She began sobbing while explaining.
“But why” – I was trying to understand the puzzle that she narrated before me?
“How can one study without the school, the teachers, and the surroundings, which are essentials for education” – I was getting agitated. Something had struck my conscience.
“And your father had only permitted you to study in a Women’s’ college because he thought that co-education was evil” – I made my voice firm while demanding to know?
She nodded her assent.
“Is it your father, who does not allow his three daughters to use a bit of makeup and even slightly polish the nails” – I fired my next question?
She was crying.
“And your father is a teacher, who understands that he can only save his three pretty daughters under the age-old puritanical and patriarchal system” – I queried?
Lolita was crying in silence. I was watching her cheeks stained with tears.
Her father had not allowed his daughters to the school because he thought as teenagers, the girls could become fickle. He even could not tolerate the sight and the prospect of sending the girls to the college, where they would study with the boys.
“Your father has brought you up as a milkman does to his cattle” – I sighed as she continued weeping.
Like her elder sister, Lolita went away to work as a salesgirl in a jewelry shop after three months. Her father wanted her to work there and make some bucks payable in her marriage as dowry.
Her father was a gentleman and ideal teacher of our society.