Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Progati - The tale of Progress (Part V)

"Ah, there she is. Someone I thought you'd be interested in meeting."
"The winner of best fiction - Progati"

I looked in the direction Neel was pointing towards and found the green sari clad lady deep in conversation with the chief guest. Looking at their animated faces, I could figure out that they were probably having a debate. As we neared them, snatches of their debate fell on our ears.

"What do you mean by not enough women writers? Who are Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Mahashweta Devi and Manjula Padmanabhan? "

I halted as I heard the voice, and stared at the mouth that had spoken, the eyes that sparkled, the hands that had gestured. I couldn't make a connection between this obese garish lady standing in front of me and the enigmatic Rewa. But the connection was undoubtedly there. It had been nagging at the back of my mind ever since I laid eyes on her, and it was laid bare by her words. And yet, I couldn't quite believe it, that this was Rewa. That Rewa was Progati hit me a moment later, and that didn't surprise me at all. After all, hadn't I thought of Rewa when I first read Progati?

"And have you heard of Anita Desai, Shobha De, Kamala Das, Amrita Pritam and Shashi Deshpande?"

The man had been struck by Rewaitis, I thought smiling to myself. Rewaitis was the term people used in college, to describe the condition of the poor soul who entered into a discussion with Rewa, and could think of no counter-arguments.

"These are the famous ones - only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many women writers around. You shouldn't make off-hand remarks about there not being enough women writers, specially in a setting like this, where you are going to be heard and quoted", Rewa went on. Once she started of, there was no stopping her, just like the old days.

"Oh come on dear, all he wanted to convey that women writers should be encouraged and supported. Surely you don't disagree to that!" said the tall, authoritative looking man who had just joined to debating duo, or rather the debater and her victim. This man was easy to recognize. I was surprised to see him there and more so seeing that after all these years, he still looked the same. Almost as if time had forgotten to brush over him. The image of Rewa standing on the stage facing Nabin flashed through my mind, for that is who she stood facing even now!

"That's her husband. Nabin Mukherjee", Neel whispered into my ear
"He is the chairman of Kaymes Industries"

Nabin and Rewa married? How was this possible? They couldn't satnd each other in college.