They were poles apart. Pavi was very shy and the teacher’s pet. Ravi was naughty and a troublemaker. Pavi was plump and had a cute dimple. Ravi’s hair was always messed up and would usually go home with at least one bruise on some part of the body. Both were 8 years old, lived in the same society and went to the same class in the same school. 
But Ravi & Pavi were never apart. Nobody understood their friendship but they understood each other very well. They loved playing in the park together. While Pavi painted, Ravi would play video games. When Ravi burped, Pavi applauded. When Ravi’s Sixer would break a window, Pavi would  be made to flash those sweet dimples and apologize on Ravi’s behalf. Pavi was sensitive and would often cry. Ravi would know when to be supportive and when to give space. 
All would have gone perfectly fine if one day the boys from the neighbourhood building had not come strolling into the park the best friends played in. 
As usual Ravi was being mischievous. Pavi had a bar of chocolate that Ravi snatched and ran away with. Pavi knew that Ravi was too fast and gave up the race. Upset and hungry, Pavi began to cry. 
The gang of boys who had been silent bystanders until now…started laughing. Pointing at Pavi, the tallest of them all and the apparent leader of the group remarked loudly, “Look at that cute little girl crying for a chocolate! Fatty’s hungry? Awww! Come I’ll teach you how to run and get it!” Pavi immediately stopped crying. Ravi stormed up to them and demanded, ‘Who are you and where are you from? And why are you insulting my friend?!’ The leader took a few steps ahead and looked amusingly at Ravi’s angry face. Turning to his friends, he says, “Hey look at this! Baby girl has a baby bodyguard!” Ravi could bear the insolence no longer and kicked the older boy on the shin. He was caught by surprise and would have struck Ravi if they hadn’t heard the whistle of the park watchman and seen him coming running in their direction. “Ayyy…chalo niklo yahaan se! Gunde kahin ke! Bachon pe haath uthaega??! Bhago…” (Translation- You scoundrels…get away from here! Don’t you dare raise your hands on the kids! Run away…) Scared of the burly watchman, the boy and his gang disappeared quickly. 
The watchman ran towards the kids. He had known them since their childhood – right from the time when their mothers used to bring them to the park. He had seen them play together and watched their friendship grow from strength to strength. But he knew the time had come to make them aware of the truth of the world. He sighed before continuing –”Beta Pavan aur beti Ragahavi…tum donon ko ab samjhna chahiye ki duniya ke kuch ussool hain. Ladke rote nahin aur ladkiyan maar peet nahin karte…samjhe? Ab chalo Pavi…aasoon pocho. Ravi bitiya…chalo use ghar leke jaao.” (Translation -Pavan…son… Raghavi…dear girl… you need to know how the world works. Boys don’t cry while girls don’t fight. Come on now…Pavi, wipe your tears. Ravi take him home.)
Neither Pavi nor Ravi said a word while they walked back home. They were confused and shocked at what had just happened. 
She was unladylike and he was unmasculine. Their characters had so far been untouched by patriarchy. Will they change now? Will they remain friends? Who knows! 
Note: Pavi –nickname that is short for Pavan. Ravi –nickname that is short for Raghavi. Pavi is usually a nick name for a girl/woman and Ravi is usually a name/ nick name for a boy/man. 


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