Sim had gone to college, and he had a degree: a bachelor of arts, or something like that. At any rate, this meant he knew enough English that everybody in the village went to him for their translations. Sim didn’t mind, but he did wish that more of the village’s young children aspired to go to college. Education was becoming increasingly important, as anybody who stepped out of the village would rather abruptly come to know.
But still, he could not complain much, because his unofficial role as the village translator allowed him sneaky glance s into everybody’s lives. He came to know tidbits of information which otherwise were obscured within complex family history. He came to know about the troubles, and successes, of cousins and relatives gone overseas. He came to know about the downfall of eager young villagers who had set off to Bollywood, aspiring to become famous and bring some respect to their small hometown. Overall, it was not a bad job. He peeled open a banana, ripe for one day too long, and reflected upon his life. He had gotten into a government college with a scholarship that covered all of his tuition and housing. He had snatched up the opportunity and made the most of it, graduating, as his parents proudly put it, “top of his class” and receiving the first Bachelor’s degree in the village. But then he had come back and, as was his duty, taken care of his parents. He helped the villagers translate their news, and taught English to other villagers – anybody who wanted to learn – but had no job. He was paid not with rupees, but with fruits of labor. Sometimes, he received bananas, and other times, milk freshly squeezed from a villager’s cow. The work may not have made him rich, but he was loved around town and the gifts brought to him were enough to sustain him quite comfortably.
As he pondered all these things and ate his banana, one of his closest friends came running down the small alley with a note in his hand. He looked excited. He watched as his friend bounded into the living room and, without so much as an introduction, placed the note down on the table and said “Isko mere liye angreji me padh yaar” (Dude, read this to me in English please?) He could guess who it was from – everybody in the village had noticed the love struck actions of his silly friend. He picked up the note, laughing and teasing his friend the entire time, and began to read to himself. Since the note was in English, he read it first to himself, so that he could translate it without losing its meaning. As he read it, he couldn’t help but grin, and his smile only grew wider as he read more of the note. Finally, relenting to his friend’s anxious pacing, he told him what the note said. It was actually a poem, some beautiful lines of verse. In it, she had explained the constraints of their relationship, and she hinted at her unwillingness to break away from social norms by herself to pursue her love for him. She was afraid, and sure that a rash and dangerous decision on her part could bring death upon both of them. However, she told him that, if she was worthy of it, he should never stop trying to get her. One day, she would be his. That is what the note said.