Friday, May 30, 2008

A good turn

-by KParthasarathi Friday, May 30, 2008
I know well I am not a normal person and very different from my siblings. I bear no grudge when people including my family members speak ill of me. They are right in thinking that I have brought shame to my family. It is true that I fell into bad ways from a very young age when I started smoking thrown away cigarettes. I stole from my dad’s purse and filched things to get money. I started drinking whenever I earned money from snatching chains. I was at the bottom of my class and was severely warned when I wrote a love letter to my teacher. I was rusticated when I kissed a girl in the class. Even when I was seventeen I had regular sex with a woman older by twenty years. I had posed as a rich man and duped several girls with stolen vehicles. I was into drugs too. Little wonder that my parents and siblings disowned me and avoided me completely. I still remember the day when my dad hit me with his belt ordering me to get out of his sight and house for ever. The memory of my mother with tears trickling from her eyes is still vivid.
I have no regret that I have not made my family proud of me. All my siblings got settled in life with and had nice wives. My eldest brother had a soft corner for me being the youngest in the family. He had often pleaded in vain with to mend myself. Even after I left them, he used to give some money whenever we met. He would tell me that his doors were open for me if only I changed to honourable ways. However much I liked him, I could not change myself. Life was hard for me. There were nights when I had to sleep without a dinner. I had no decent place to live. I kept changing cities like a nomad as the police were hounding me. I had done some small terms in the prison. Years flew by and I was leading a humdrum life in a city slightly away from my parents place.
I came to know one evening that my eldest brother was in the hospital in a critical condition. I thought of his good natured wife and their three young children. My brother was not well off and his family depended on his monthly salary. I became restless and took the next bus to the city. It was past 8pm when I reached the hospital. I saw my parents, brother’s wife and my brothers in the lounge with grim faces. My mother must have been weeping. Except my mom and the young lady everyone turned their faces away. They dared not speak to me in the presence of my dad who had nothing but scorn for me. He came to me and said in curt tone “You are not wanted here. Please go away.” I replied “This is a public place and I do not require your leave to stay here.” He turned abruptly and left in a huff.
I went to the nurse sitting in the work station and told her that I was patient's intimate friend and that I have come to help in any manner if only I knew what his problem was. She thought for a while and said that my brother suffered from chronic renal failure of both kidneys. He has become too weak even for dialysis. Transplantation is the only solution. His blood group being unusual, they were not getting donors to match. The blood groups of the family members did not match. The situation has become critical as he is falling into coma.
It was then the senior doctor attending on my brother entered. I accosted him despite protests from the nurse and told him that I was patient's friend and that I was willing to donate my kidney immediately. I requested him to see the suitability as my blood group and his were identical. When he agreed , I told him that my only stipulation was my identity should not be revealed to the patient or his family. He agreed and asked me to get admitted the next day.
Things went smoothly thereafter. With the tests revealing compatibility, one of my kidneys was removed and transplanted to him. In a fortnight my brother was discharged certified as fit. I learnt from the doctor that the patient’s parents and family wanted to know the name and whereabouts of the Good Samaritan for them to thank and reward. The doctor had declined to part with the information.
The effects of surgery, lack of nutritious food, medicine and care had left me weak and exhausted. I could not go out to do even the shady work I was accustomed to. But my heart was filled with happiness that I could do one good turn to my brother who was kind and loving to me.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The revenge

-by KParthasarathi Thursday, May 29, 2008
It was the same violent scene at her small apartment daily. He would enter tottering around 9pm fully inebriated mouthing foul language to her utter shame and the disgust of her neighbours. She would be standing in a corner trembling in fear. There need be no reason for quarreling. He would just drag her by her hair and yell at her asking with whom she was sleeping while he was away at work and where she was hiding all her ill gotten money. He would call her a cheap whore and a bitch even as she cringed in humiliation and indignity. He would abuse her parents for palming her off on him without any jewels or money. He would clasp her throat and try to strangle her till she felt her eyes would pop out. He would beat her with whatever his hand could lay on. All her sobs and tears would not move this angry animal in him. How she would wish he strangled her once and for all relieving her permanently from this misery.
Once he took his food kept ready for him, he would be a different man on some occasions. All the anger would have vanished and he would gently pull her towards him mumbling profuse apologies for his beastly behaviour. He will embrace her showering kisses on her bruised face, caress her aching neck and gently rub other places he had hurt. He would even start crying and promise her that he would never touch that wretched drink. This shameless woman would yield to the temptations of the only pleasure that she knew he can give her occasionally. Most nights drunk as he was fully, he would doze off snoring loudly without a touch of remorse. Countless times she wished to put an end to her life but did not have the courage to do it. She would think of the several ways to accomplish it, grinding the poisonous weeds and eating it, jumping into the deep well in the complex, pouring kerosene and burning herself but at the end she lacked the nerve.
Last night he was very cruel. He pulled her from the corner and slammed her face on the wall. He tore her clothes from her body and turned into a beast hurting her with glee. Her cringing and pleading to leave her alone only turned him on in his carnal assault. It was at that point she decided upon a strategy. She meekly submitted herself to his lust as she did so often. The next morning he was sober and took his morning breakfast engaging at the same time in small talks with her. But he refused her the permission to visit her aged father who was on his death bed telling her with a smirk in his face that she can go once her dad is dead. She was seething in anger but did not betray her emotion. It was then she gave him the kitchen knife to hold while she said she would bring the large pumpkin from kitchen for him to cut. She came soon and said that she forgot she threw it away as it had become rotten. He left the knife on the table and went away for work.
She closed the door without locking and wrote on a piece of paper that her life was in constant danger from her husband as he doubted her fidelity and also angry at her inability to get huge sum from her parents. She didn’t want to burden her aged parents with her problems. She posted this note at the post office to her friend in the same apartment. Having done this she pulled her hair and disarranged her clothes she was wearing. She gingerly took the knife at the end with a cloth and plunged it deep into her stomach taking care not to erase the finger prints. As the blood started flowing, she lay on her side smiling with content that her miserable life would soon come to an end. The thought that she was finally going to get out of this vile man’s clutches brought peace on her face despite the seething pain. She slowly slipped into the depths of unconsciousness content that she had wreaked her vengeance.
The adjacent neighbours heard that night the blundering man pressing the bell mouthing obscenities at the delay in his wife opening the doors. They were sneaking a look at the man through their slightly opened doors. He continued with his profanities unaware of what is in store for him.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spare the rod,spoil the child-does it work?

-by KParthasarathi Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I remember I was eleven studying in elementary school. A class mate of mine took me to what he called a library in the first floor of an old building in the main bazaar. My vague memory tells me that there was none in the library. It was actually an office for a small political party. Someone must have made a bequest of all his old books long ago. The attendant possibly opened the office cum library and left on his errands only to come back in the evening to lock it. It had several open racks containing very old books of the great authors like Scott, Dickens, Dumas, Goldsmith, and Shakespeare etc of the past. The books were all so brittle that the pages would get broken. My friend asked me to take some books I wanted to read even as he collected two books. Since I knew then very little of English or the authors, I took the first book that was before me. It happened to be a large well bound book of Walter Scott’s poems with the title in gold letters. I vaguely heard his name but never knew whether he wrote poems. When I asked my pal who would issue the books, he said that nobody is there and I can take the books home and return later after reading. It occurred to me that it was not the right thing to do and yet when my friend started to leave with two books in hand, I succumbed to the temptation and left the place with the book tucked under my arm. In the evening when my father saw the big tome on my table, he took it even as bits of pages fell down. He was initially happy and asked me where from I got the book, I said from library. Further searching questions brought out the fact of my having brought the book without anyone’s knowledge. He became wild in rage and with a cane hit me in the leg shouting that I had turned into a petty thief. I could see the pain in my mother’s face at the revelation. He ordered me to replace the book wherever I took it from the first thing in the morning. When I mumbled about the school, he said it did not matter and that I could go late. His anger and his caning me are still fresh in my memory even after several decades as also the lesson I learnt at that young age.

Most parents would have encountered this problem of the child stealing be it writing instrument in the school or play things like toys or balls from friends. Some laugh at the errant behaviour as if the child was smart. When it sees a toy in another’s house, it takes it without permission, plays with it and brings it with him along unless the parents tell him to leave it behind as it belongs to another child. If the child is very young it has no idea that things are owned and belong to others. But from the age of nine or so , the child knows that it is wrong to steal others belongings. But yet a few indulge in this as they cannot control themselves from the desire to possess what they do not have. It is the responsibility of the parents to inculcate the lesson that stealing is reprehensible and would not be tolerated under any circumstances. There should be zero tolerance for this deviation. In some cases the child will rationalize the act on the plea that he found a pen on the floor in the class and since none had reported the teacher of any loss, he brought it with him. He is right in a way that he did not steal but still he possessed what did not belong to him and was someone else’s. The mother should explain the proper course would be to hand over the thing found to the teacher. She should explain how honest taxi or auto drivers or bus conductors hand over the baggage that contain money or valuable things left behind in the vehicles forgetfully to the authorities. Without accusing them, the children must be made to return the things to the teacher and not keep them. The lesson should be taught in a calm and firm manner preferably privately and not in the presence of other siblings or children. If child does it again, it should be punished immediately after the incident so that it can relate the punishment to the wrong, as often as it does the mistake, with no favouritism to different children. Once punished this matter should be treated as closed and not brought up on every occasion to demean the child. Such act would be destructive. ”Nip it in the bud” should be the right approach to be adopted. Parents may also have to find what sort of friends the child has to wean it away from bad elements. While children should generally be led to good practices by encouragement and explaining, and not by spanking or ill treatment, one should be remember the adage ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ .It would be good to instill in the child’s mind that it continues to enjoy the full trust of his parents and their belief that the child is honest. The parents should be role models. The father bringing office stationery for use by children or the mother accepting quietly a costlier dress given by mistake to a cheaper one actually bought and paid for are all watched by children only to be emulated. The parents should teach by their personal example.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mother’s magnanimity

by KParthasarathi Tuesday, May 20, 2008 Ranganathan is a very senior commercial executive in a consulting and engineering firm. He lived in the company’s sprawling fully air conditioned flat with several bedrooms in SaltLake area. He had a small family of wife and two children-a son and a daughter studying in college and school. As an executive in his department I had gone to his residence on a few occasions. A very jovial and friendly person, he had a good name in the company for delivering results. He grew up in ordinary circumstances at Srirangam near Trichy.He studied on scholarships being a bright student and rose to the present level by dint of hard work. His wife is from an affluent family and the only daughter of her aged parents. They were also living with Ranganathans permanently. I had some official work during Deepavali time for a couple of days at BHEL, Tiruverumbur near Trichy.I always avail such opportunities to visit the nearby famous temples at Srirangam, Tiruvanaikaval, Gunasekaram etc.My boss called me and said” I learn you are leaving for Trichy early tomorrow morning. Can you do me a favour? Drop in at my place after 7pm.I will give you an addressed envelope containing some money to be delivered to my mom at Srirangam.” In the evening when I went the entire family was watching TV. After pleasantries, he came up to the gate and took the envelope from his pocket and gave me. It seemed to me as if he was doing this unknown to his wife. He said ”Tell my mom that I am extremely sorry for not seeing her for long ,that I am tied up with work and that I will snatch some time in a month or two to visit her.” It was three days more for Deepavali.I had finished my work and was to leave for Kolkata after the darshan at Srirangam temple. I went in the morning to the address given on the envelope and enquired about Ranganathan’s mother. One girl of about ten who was skipping a rope took me inside the house thro a narrow passage to the rear of the dilapidated tiled house. The last room was locked .The girl said ”Uncle, she must have gone to a house closeby..If it is urgent I can show you the way.” She made the gratuitous remark “.Do you know the old lady is very poor and works hard in several houses making sweets and savouries for Deepavali?’I could not believe what she said till I saw the lady in her late seventies when the girl brought her outside the house that was a little away. She was a frail lady bent and emaciated in an old faded cotton sari tied in a traditional manner of an ayyangar.I was shocked and rendered speechless by the pathetic sight. Still doubting about the correct identity, I asked her, “Are you Kolkata Ranganathan’s mother? He has given a packet to be delivered to you. There was a trace of a faint and tired smile in her face when she nodded her head in affirmative. I told her how Ranganathan was feeling bad at not being able to meet her for long and that he would find time amidst the busy schedule to pay a visit to her. She asked “Are Rangan and his family keeping well?” when I nodded my head she replied “That is more than adequate. Tell him not to worry about me. If my son Rangan is not here with me, there is the Lord Ranganatha at the temple to take care of me.” When I gave her the envelope, she asked me to open it. I found two five hundred rupee notes inside. When I gave her, she took them from my hands and asked me” Have you visited the temple? You must hurry if not.” When I told her that I was on my way to the temple, she asked me for a favour.”Can you kindly drop these thousand rupees in the hundi at Sri Ranganatha’s shrine? I will pray from here for the good health and happiness of my Rangan and his family. You see, I am having arthritis problem and am not able to walk much. Please do not mention about this to Rangan.Tell him I am hale and hearty and that he can take his own time to come.“ She asked me to wait and brought for me two hot Jangris that she must have been making in the hot kitchen. Tears welled in my eyes as I took leave of this noble lady who had not a single complaint to make of her ungrateful and inconsiderate son. When I noted her concern for his well being by offering the entire much needed amount at the temple, that very moment my boss Ranganathan went down in my esteem by several notches.

What is our response to gay movement?

by KParthasarathi Tuesday, May 20, 2008
There was the upsetting news item of two married women who were lesbians committing suicide as they were not allowed to be together. Whether we like t or not the prevalence of gays/lesbians is wide spread. In fact two states in US have legitimized it amidst strong opposition to it. In our country too leading and famous Indian writers, artists, lawyers and academics are lending support to the cause of gays. It appears they are urging the Indian government to change the existing law that criminalizes homosexuality by scrapping Section 377 of Indian Penal code that can put the gays in prison up to 10 years. They have deplored this section “as an attack on human rights and fundamental freedoms” calling it as a relic of the past colonial era and demanded it to be struck down. They have perhaps drawn inspiration from what is happening in developed countries, particularly US. There is a substantial percentage of people who would like to move along with the fast spreading social changes and do away with the vestiges of the past legal and social discrimination.
Although the practice of same sex relationship is widespread, it is generally never open and has not gained universal acceptance. Except for younger generation, the conservatives among the people who form a sizable number generally talked of such associations in hushed tones as perverse and socially unacceptable. There is even a sense of abhorrence in what is perceived as against traditional values and social mores.
But the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, in its landmark judgment went to the extent of permitting gays to marry legally. The court struck down as “unconstitutional" the existing ban on same-sex marriages as limiting of marriages to opposite couples is restrictive of the freedom and equality protected by the constitution. The court held that “barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex” is violative of the Constitution. Showing the way the wind is blowing.
However people are vastly divided on this issue with about two thirds of the population considering this relationship as unnatural and undeserving of equal treatment to straight relationships. While the US courts have generally been liberal in interpreting laws, the road to legalization of same sex marriages does not appear smooth. There is a section that believes that judiciary can only interpret the laws and not rewrite them. There is even a strong lobby that espouses a case for federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and woman.
The argument runs along the premise that objective of marriage is to bring in union of a man and a woman so that they procreate providing the offspring a father and a mother. Any other relationship purely based on carnal desires will eventually tear the fabric of society irreparably. It is feared that gay/lesbian recognition will ruin the concept of marriage and the sanctity of family forever. Notwithstanding this opposition, there are many liberals in state governments in US who are pleading for a constitutional amendment providing for legal same-sex marriages the same privileges as enjoyed by heterosexual couples in regard to tax provisions, immigration, and inheritance.
Whatever is the legal position, homosexuality is a fact that cannot be wished away and large numbers of same sex couples do live together in India too without any inhibition. The road to a total acceptance of same sex relationship and marriage of gays and lesbians as equal to heterogeneous unions in the eyes of law and legislatures is not without its hurdles. More so in a country like India steeped in ancient culture and conservative outlook. Such relationships between two consenting adults are untested social experiments and have the potential of damaging the very social fabric of society.
Nevertheless the resistance to such aberrations is gradually weakening and the unnatural phenomenon is spreading across the world without any distinction bringing in its wake a host of new social problems. There is a sense of resignation and an attitude of “Live and let live” seems to take over unable to stop the gathering momentum of acts that were once considered immoral. Perhaps there should be a public debate on this.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The last wish

-by KParthasarathi Saturday, May 17, 2008
Shankar a young man of 27 was working in Kolkata since a year. He was staying in a lodge. Not given to mixing with friends he found the week ends boring. He went to the Sunday morning Tamil movie in a nearby theatre.He got a seat in the last row at the rear. He was early and people were filing in. Just a couple of minutes before the lights were switched off, he saw a young couple approaching the two vacant seats by his side. The husband went in first and made his wife sit in the middle. She was around 29, very attractive and smiled flashing her sparkling teeth at Shankar before sitting. The lights went off and the picture started. The mild perfume from her side was a pleasant and intoxicating experience. After a few minutes his hand brushed against her’s inadvertently. She quickly moved her hand slightly. In a few minutes he rested his hand touching her’s but now she made no attempt to move. Shankar too did not take his hand from the arm rest. Gently the pressure of her hand increased. For Shankar being the first experience of a woman in such close quarter, he relished the contact. From the touch, it escalated to his hand caressing her arm in the darkness. Soon their fingers were clasped tightly in between the gentle cuddles. He could feel her hot breath close to his face with the alluring smell of jasmine from her tresses. When the lights came for the intermission, they were careful to be away from each other. Her husband went out to get popcorn. She smiled assuringly at Shankar, told him that her name was Shyamala and exchanged their mobile numbers. The thrill continued in the second half too bolder and more intimate. The unsuspecting husband was munching popcorn and viewing the film wide eyed
Next day around 2.30 pm, he got a call at his office from Shyamala.She gave him the directions and said “Can you take a taxi and come to my place immediately. My husband has gone to Jamshedpur and will return late night. The apartment is 2B.I will keep the door unlocked but will remain closed. I do not want the noise of a bell. Just gently push the door and enter. I will be waiting for you. It is absolutely safe. Please do not fail me. We will have great fun.”When Shankar reached her home, he could not believe his eyes. She had a swell figure, slim waist, large hips and lots of chest. Without any preface, she hugged him passionately and locked her lips with his. The torrid and ardent love affair between them that commenced that hot afternoon continued regularly without interruption as her husband was away on tour for minimum a fortnight in a month.
He got introduced to her husband Rajagopal one day in the lake market with Shyamala telling her husband “This young man is actually the first cousin of my good friend Saroja who you know got transferred to Mumbai.” He seemed a gentle person with little interests other than office and TV. One Sunday after a few months he dropped in at Shankar’s lodge and said “Why don’t you move in to the front room of my flat. It has separate entrance with toilet. There is an interconnecting door for emergencies. I am already on tour for half the month and will have to be away for a week twice a month henceforth. She is very timid by nature and afraid to stay alone. Since you are related to her friend and Shyamala has no objection, I think your presence in the front room will give her confidence. You can pay whatever you are paying here. Can you shift within a day or two?” Shankar readily agreed though he felt sorry for this loving and unsuspecting husband.
The secret liaison went on merrily unhampered for seven long years.Shyamala had put on slight flab and one could see happiness in her face. One day when Shyamala had gone out for attending a marriage, Rajagopal entered Shankar's room and sat glum for a few minutes. He slowly started talking.”Shankar, I have been wanting to talk to you for long but was somehow hesitant. Since she is not there, I decided to take the weight off my chest. When I married her, I thought I was normal. But unluckily it was not. I could not consummate the marriage. It was a great shock to both of us. Medical help was of no avail. I asked her to take a divorce but she would not agree. All my pleadings were of little help. She was young and had the normal urges. I decided to turn a blind eye to any liaison by her with one person if done discreetly. She paid no heed. I then contrived situation as in the theatre years back. I went away on tour to facilitate her amorous affair. I brought you to my flat. I could see with satisfaction that you both get along well. I curse my luck but am not jealous of you. In fact I am thankful to you in accomplishing very discreetly what I could not. Will you promise to marry her in the event of my untimely death?” Shankar was shocked at the revelation that he knew the happenings all along. He protested saying “Banish such thoughts, Sir. You are in good health. If you so wish I will seek a transfer and go away to some other city” He admonished him “Don’t be a fool. I just wanted to mention my wish and if ever I die, I will happily go with the thought that Shyamala is safe in your hands.” Shankar assured him not to worry at all. He did not mention about this conversation to Shyamala.
A week later there was a call one early morning from a hotel in Jamshedpur that Rajagopal had passed away by consuming sleeping tablets. Shyamala wept inconsolably wondering why he took his life when he had no worry at all. Shankar knew but kept quiet. He decided to honour his last wish come what may.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

An eye opener

-by KParthasarathi Thursday, May 15, 2008
I stopped the car when I saw the flower shop. I was on my way to meet my sweet heart whom I have been dating for nearly a year. She was turning 23 this day. I ordered a bunch of 23 large red roses to be made into a fine bouquet. As I was waiting, I saw a young boy around ten years bargaining with the shop assistant. I heard him telling “I have only 10 rupees. Can you make a small bouquet of roses for that amount? “
The assistant told him ”Sorry. The minimum we make is for Rs.50/. I can manage a small one for Rs.25.What you have is not adequate” The boy pleaded “Today is Mothers Day. I assure I can pay the balance in two months. Won’t you please help me?”
The assistant said a bit harshly “No credit. We are busy in the morning with customers. Please go away without disturbing.” With tears trickling, the boy moved away.
I called the boy”Hey, come here I will get for you a bouquet for your mom. I am glad you are a loving son and remember the occasion to surprise your mom. She should be happy to see the bouquet. Please wait.”
Meanwhile the assistant gave me my bunch of 23 roses beautifully arranged and a small bouquet for the boy.
I asked the boy to get into the car telling him that I would drop him if his home was not far away. The boy got down after a short distance before a small house. He said “Thank you, Sir. My mother is actually no more. She passed away last year. I used to get her from the adjacent gardens a few red roses on Mother’s day. She loved roses very much and would feel very happy. This year I thought I will get her a bouquet. Thanks to you, I can place it before her photo.”
My thoughts went to my mother in an old age home. She was past eighty with dimmed vision and reduced hearing. She used a walker to move about. We are a family of six sons and three daughters. Yet none of us were willing to keep her at our homes after my father passed away. Till then they lived separately. My mother is a fine lady, soft spoken and talked very little. My dad was not a rich man. He left behind his house which we sold and out of the proceeds paid the deposit to the old age home and the monthly subscription. She did not depend on us financially. The daughters- in-law were all working and no one wanted an old lady with them. This arrangement suited fine though my mom’s willingness was never ascertained. We went to meet her initially once a month with wives. Gradually the wives stopped accompanying my brothers. I am the youngest and not yet married. The visits by everyone became gradually few and far between.Eversince I started dating, I could also find no time. It is almost a year since I met her.
The boy opened my eyes. I rushed back to the flower shop and got a large bouquet of roses and other flowers. Along with my fiancée I bought some dresses for my mom and went to meet her. She was greatly surprised and was immensely happy when I introduced my fiancée. She had her face brought very close to her to see her and said ”She is very charming and cute. You are mighty lucky. May you tie the knot and live happily.” On our way back, my fiancée remarked “God willing, we shall keep her with us once we get married. We can employ a helper to attend to her needs.”

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The miracle

-by KParthasarathi Thursday, May 08, 2008
Suseela was shopping her monthly provisions at Big Bazaar, a super market. She bought the vegetables and fruits too. There were too many heavy bags in her hand and shoulders. Some young man in a hurry dashed against her and she fell down along with the packages. With profuse apologies, he helped her get up giving her an arm. He picked the bundles and brought them all outside despite Suseela’s protests. When she said that she will take a three wheeler, he hailed an auto and placed all the packets in it. He was very helpful and courteous regretting more than once his mistake in not noticing her before the collision. He was around 32, tall and handsome.Suseela was impressed with his polite and well mannered ways and thanked him. When he asked her whether she was alright and whether he should accompany her., she said it was not necessary. He took her mobile number and gave her his in case she needed any help. Suseela was in her late twenties, tall, slim and quite attractive. She could not easily forget the incident and the pleasant feeling it gave when he put his strong arm to lift her, when her mobile rang. It was the same gentleman enquiring whether everything was fine with her. She was happy and learnt his name was Sridhar. It so happened, by design or otherwise, she met him daily in the succeeding three days at the supermarket. One thing led to the other and they became intimate friends and soon were sleeping together. She knew he was unmarried and held a good position in an IT company. She did not reveal much about herself except that she was married and led an unhappy life. She told him that she and her husband were living in her apartment. She did not tell him where he worked. She also denied that he was a suspicious guy. Nevertheless she never invited him to her house and instead met at his apartment almost daily. She told him that she was having a very pleasant time with him and wished this would continue for ever.. He said one day he was madly in love with her and that both could get married and get away to a distant place and raise a family. He said there are offers for him from USA and that he was declining them because of her. He said she owed it to him to explain in detail what her problem was to enable him find a happy solution. She went on harping that the problem defied a solution and that she cannot marry him at all. In a moment of exasperation he asked why she could not take him to her house to find for himself what exactly was bothering her. She agreed and asked him to come the next day. She spent time with him in his arms the rest of the day savouring his tender love as if it was the last day. When Sridhar went to Suseela’s house, she saw in the living room a very good looking young man of his age in pyjama and kurta.He neither got up nor showed any recognition of a stranger before him. There was a foolish grin that looked permanent like that of a two year child. When Sridhar took his hands to shake, the man started smiling more as if he was playing with him. When Sridhar looked at her in askance, he saw her wiping tears from her eyes. He followed her to the bed room, put his arms around her and stroked her to calm herself. It was then she narrated that her husband was an engineer in a steel plant and that a heavy crane had knocked him the head some five years back. The best of neurologists could do nothing except saving his life. He is like a two year old and unable to comprehend anything. She has engaged an ayah to take care of him till she returned home. Doctors say this condition would continue throughout his life unless a miracle happens. Miracles are very rare and not seen by them. She said “It is in these circumstances that I cannot leave him. He was a very affectionate and loving husband. He had none to take care of him. Your friendship and love was like a whiff of fresh air in the otherwise drab life. I know I cannot withhold you for ever and that I may have to part with you. I shudder at the thought but have no answer.” Sridhar kept quiet for long and said there are two options. “Let us leave him in a home that takes care of such patients and get away to far off land. If it is not acceptable, which god forbid, we may have to part ways. You have the choice to make.” It did not take moments for Suseela to decide. “I will not desert him at any cost and will keep praying for the miracle. Thanks for the pleasant days” she replied. He hugged her and kissed her for long before he left. The story does not end here. When Sridhar with his wife and children was moving in Saw Grass mall in Lauderdale six years later, one lady dashed against him in a hurry. When he looked up ,he got the biggest surprise.It was his old ffriend Suseela profusely apologizing. She introduced him to meet her husband Balu who was in an immaculate suit sans his permanent smile. Sridhar had a surprised look. She replied”yes, the one in a million miracle has happened.”

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The change of heart

-by KParthasarathi Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Audikesavulu is a leader of some high rank in a political party. A school drop out, he involved himself with a political party as a low rung worker and rose in ranks steadily by sheer hard work and loyalty to the top leader. He had never changed his political colours and has been with the same party since inception. He was elected to the Corporation council many times, the legislature a couple of times and was a minister for a short period. He has held chairmanship of many state government institutions. Over a period of time he has become rich through what political opponents consider dubious ways owning agricultural lands, house properties in the city and village, a flour mill and a couple of cinema theatres. It is difficult to know the real wealth of such men as they are held in several benami names. Being influential party man, there was always a crowd of hangers on. Being only in his late forties, the talk was that he had a promising future in the party.
A thorough family man he had two sons and two daughters. The elder son Manoj is a bright boy, studious in studies and had finished his B.Tech from IIT. He had also acquired a PG diploma in business management and was selected by a leading IT firm. A good chap with right values in life he detested politics to the chagrin of his father. He had a strong conviction that politics is not for honest and sincere people and that the political system has been so corrupted that good men abjured politics. His father has been nursing his constituency like a pocket borough and wanted his son to stand for election. The two daughters and the other son were young. He felt that service to others fetched no riches as politics did. But Manoj declined despite persuasion from his mom and other friends of his dad. In fact he wanted his father to come out of politics and involve himself in a NGO to lift the poor people of his village and surrounding areas from poverty. He dared to ask him once that except for improving the financial circumstances of his family what substantial work he had done for the people of his village or the district. He had not got any schools or public health centres or even small industries for his area. He has been only amassing riches. Manoj said his conscience will not permit him to be a part of the defective political system and would like to get as far as possible from it. Audikesavulu was disappointed at what he considered as a foolish response. The boy rubbed salt to injury when he remarked that amongst the colleagues and college mates his political connection is no plus point but a subject inviting snide remarks. Audikesavulu became wild in rage and hit the boy abusing him of being an ungrateful wretch and a drohi. His wife joined in support of the Manoj and said neither she nor the other children are happy with politics. Manoj left quietly but was not seen from the next day. All attempts to trace him failed. He had not reported for duty. Weeks passed without any information about his whereabouts. His mom and his siblings were crying all the time. The police despite strenuous attempts could get no clue. Audi was full of remorse.
It was then the Chief Minister called him one day and proposed that he become a minister in his cabinet. What should have been a sweet music to his ears did not interest him any more. Audikesavulu kept silent prompting CM to remark “What is the matter, Audi? I thought you will jump with joy at the recognition of your long and hard work in the party. Come out with what is bothering you.” Audi started sobbing and touching the feet of CM requested him to forgive him for declining the offer. “I wish to retire from politics and involve myself in social work for the remaining years” he said. CM laughed and remarked “Are we not serving people already? I know you are an intelligent and hard working man. I can wait for a week.” Audi replied politely and firmly “Forgive me, Sir. I have made up my mind to retire from politics and go back to the village. Wherever I am, my loyalty and respect for you would remain undiminished.”
The news was splashed in the news papers and TV channels. It was then Audi received a phone call from Manoj. “Appa, you have made me proud by your decision. I am on the final stages of starting a NGO along with some class mates for the amelioration of the poor. We need your guidance and would like you to be the founder chairman of the organization. We have chosen a few districts for our work. Money is no constraint. We need only dedicated and hardworking volunteers. My friends along with me would meet you this week end. Please tell mom not to worry. All will be fine very soon.” As he put the receiver down, Audi’s wife entered to see the peace that had descended on his smiling face.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Babri Masjid and the lost box

-by KParthasarathi Tuesday, May 06, 2008
It was one 6th December and my wife and my self were waiting at the airport to receive her sister and her family from Chicago. They were coming to our place for a month’s vacation. The sisters are very close to each other and chat twice daily for long periods. They do nothing without consulting each other. Both have a boy and girl.

There was tight security at the airport and visitors’ entry was barred. We had to hang around outside where there was a very inadequate seating arrangement. Most of the visitors, young and old, were standing. The fans were also few and far between.

Luckily our flight came in time. In an hour’s time they came out after the immigration formalities with two trolleys and a stroller each pulled by the two children. The sisters hugged each other and were immensely happy. The children too engaged themselves in happy conversation.
After the pleasantries with Vasu my sister-in-law’s husband, I got the boxes were loaded quickly on the Toyota Qualis that had a carrier on the top. We left in ten minutes. When we came out of the airport and had already driven for fifteen minutes my sister-in- law suddenly remembered the red colour stroller and asked whether it was loaded. I did not remember to have seen any red stroller. The vehicle was stopped and things were seen only to notice that the red box was missing. The boy who was pulling it had kept it away from other boxes and hence it was missed. We turned back to the airport worried whether the box would have been taken away by someone.

When we tried to halt at the place where we had boarded the vehicle, the policemen asked us to move farther away. There was a big crowd of people craning their necks to see something. Both Vasu and myself, got down to see the place cordoned off. We heard people talking about some bomb. When we reached closer Vasu loudly exclaimed “Our red stroller is still there safe. It is in the middle of the cordoned off area”. We approached the policemen and told them about our failing to take the box. They asked how we knew that the stroller was ours. Vasu said that he has come from Chicagoan hour or so back and that he had tied a blue tape on the handle of the red stroller to distinguish it from other similar boxes. The constable took us to the inspector who admonished us for our carelessness and the immense anxiety caused. This stroller had created a scare. Being abandoned, they suspected it might contain some explosive and had called a bomb disposal squad.

Vasu said he was 100 percent certain it was his box and that he be allowed to take it. The inspector asked him whether he can tell any specific things the box contained to determine the box really belonged to him. He said there were in the box a new leather belt, a packet addressed to one Chandrasekharan of Nanganallur and a chess set in glass. When opened he found the very articles mentioned and he was allowed to carry the same after a warning that he had created an avoidable stir and to be careful in future.

That day being the Babri Masjid demolition anniversary with the police mounting a special security drive in airports and Railway stations and the unidentified boxes were being left alone by snatchers for fear of a bomb, my guests were lucky to get back their box.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Do you and your family get invited for dinner ?

by KParthasarathi Monday, May 05, 2008
I am a loner not given to making friends easily and am also a poor conversationalist. I had a few friends in the office but the friendships did not extend beyond the office precincts. My wife on the other hand had a large circle of friends-the other moms who had gathered at the school for taking their children home, the housewives of the apartment complex and the neighbouring flats who met in the afternoons, ladies whom they met at the music classes where their children learnt and so on. She had grown to like one lady in particular and my daughters were friendly with her children. She had invited them one day for a dinner after making sure that I would return home early. The friend’s husband was working in an engineering firm. He seemed a nice fellow but pot bellied, garrulous and talked on every subject as if he was an authority on it. He was however friendly in disposition and humorous in conversation interspersed with loud laughter. He must be an affectionate father as his children fell over him and hugged him at intermittent intervals. He reminded me of a bull in China shop. The lady seemed quiet and talked in whispers. They had one boy and two good looking girls. They sat in the sofa quietly for the first few minutes till the introduction was over and soon in the company of my daughters had a free run of the house.
My wife had large spread on the table, more than the normal, possibly to impress her friend at her culinary skill in Punjabi cuisine. There were the parathas with stuffings of gobi and muli ,fried rice ,palak paneeer ,dal makhni flavoured with spices and rounded off with malai, channa pindi, sarson ka sag, a couple of vegetables,raita,papad,achaar, kheer and icecream..When we all assembled at the dining table, one of the girls exclaimed, ”Ma, see how large a quantity aunty has made unlike you in our house..“ The lady’s face fell as she gave a cold stare at her younger daughter. Meanwhile the boy wailed to everyone’s embarrassment ’Ma, I do not like muli roti and channa pindi, There is also no khadi.” The elder one who appeared quiet reached for the glass tumbler to drink water and spilt it on the table. The lady guest scolded her “you butter finger, did I not warn you in advance to be careful? See what a mess you have made.” As she rushed to wipe the water, my wife said “do not worry. It happens with children. I will take care of it.” I could see my children giggling with their hands on their mouths till I gave an admonishing stare.
Even before my wife indicated that we can start eating, the boy started picking the salad and eating it noisily. When his mom asked him to wait, he said with his mouth full that he was hungry. To assuage the feelings of the embarrassed guest, I said that I am also hungry. The dinner started and there was the usual chatter. They seemed to relish the food from the way they helped themselves by repeated scoopings.It was then the gentleman blew his nose loudly and fumbled with his hankie in one hand. Though all these did not make a favourable impression on us, I could see the embarrassed look in my wife’s and her friend’s faces. As if to crown all these, there was the loud belching from the satisfied guest. The boy said he will have ice cream as kheer is not nice and too sweet for his taste. The girls helped themselves to a second cup of kheer that compensated for the rude remark of the boy. The father with a couple of paans in his mouth and with a tooth pick in his hand was picking unmindful of the others.
Little do some families know that table manners can break or build friendships. They do not realize that some basic etiquette is to be observed to make everyone comfortable. The children should be trained and taught in their homes that and such courtesies are to be observed even in the homes. Table manners are not about the way we eat whether with forks and spoons or with fingers. One can do what one is comfortable with. The main thing is that at the end of the dinner or lunch, one should have left a nice impression. A little care, a little concern for the host and other guests would go a long way in getting invited again and again.Loudness,noisy eating or slurping, licking the fingers, over eating by repeated helpings without seeing whether there is sufficient quantity left for others on the plate, blowing noses,belching, talking with full mouth and picking teeth are strict no. Unpleasant comments on the food served, wasting food on one’s plate and leaving the plate cluttered with uneaten food are not desirable traits. It will be nice to make some small comments of appreciation of any item one liked to make the host happy. My wife may think twice before inviting this friend of hers again for dinner though the family was nice and friendly.