Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
We went on a holiday to our home in South and I was once again relishing the familiar Sambars,Vattha Kuzhambu, different types of rasams and various side dishes that my mom made with the combo different each day. My wife was telling my mom one day as I was enjoying my sumptuous lunch that though I ate the food she prepared without any complaint that I relished my mom’s food more with its own unique flavour.She asked my mother the secret of her cuisine and whether it was different from the recipe of Meenakshi ammal that she followed religiously. My mother had a hearty laugh and said “Partha has neither taste buds nor a nose for smell. He cannot distinguish between a toor dhall and chana dhall.Frequently I enlarge the left over of the previous night’s food with little more water and spices. He will eat anything that is hot without fuss. He cannot distinguish even when the food has gone a bit stale. Do not take him seriously, dear. You are lucky that you have for a husband who is not a gourmet or a fussy type. Mark my words; he would proclaim very soon that none makes such delicious food as my wife does. It is a fact too that you cook very well and tastier than me. Somehow from my young age I have never taken a liking to cooking.”
The remark about my inability to distinguish between good and bad food though left me deflated a bit, I thought it was intended to assuage my wife. But I was mighty pleased with the laudatory remark about my wife’s culinary talent. After my return to Kolkata I found there was a distinct change for the better and the food my wife made these days got the tang and taste of my home at Chennai. When I congratulated my wife she could hardly suppress the proud smile. It was one night there after when I opened the fridge to have cool water, the cat was out of the bag. I found to my dismay the racks were full of vessels containing the left over food of the previous night and the morning.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
We were living then at Delhi. My mother took seriously ill at Chennai .I had to go there along with my wife on the same day or the next. It was a summer month with heavy rush of seasonal traffic. All trains were booked to full with long waiting lists days ahead. There was little chance of getting berths without getting them thro emergency quota. Plane tickets those days were prohibitive. I went to Railway office to try my luck though I was not sanguine about the outcome. There was a huge crowd of people each one carrying some recommendation letter. When my chance came I went in to meet the Deputy Chief Commercial Superintendent planning to plead with him explaining the urgency. It was an unexpected surprise to see my acquaintance in the park seated in the high chair. He welcomed me with the usual “Ram, Ram” and smilingly asked me what brought me there. When I explained, he asked me whether I can take that day’s night train and on my nodding instantly gave me two berths.
It set me thinking. I did not know his name till then and my acquaintance with him was limited to the smile and salutation daily in the park. It was then that I realized the power of smile. It was then I regretted that for years I had never made any attempt to know him or even ascertain his name. If even a passing acquaintance could help so much, how about having genuine friends. I remembered the six lessons to make people to like us. Smile at people and say Hi as they do in US to total strangers. If you smile at someone, they are sure to smile back. It is said that the shortest distance between two people is smile. It is not for nothing that Mother Teresa said “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”Ascertain the name of people whom you see frequently. It is good to remember that a person’s name is the sweetest sound to the person. It is nice to be a good listener and encourage others to talk. When our turn comes it is good manners to talk in terms of other man’s interest. Above all we should become genuinely interested in other people and make appreciative comments wherever apt. From then on I started telling “Ram, Ram” with a genuine smile whomever I saw frequently in the park or elsewhere. I have found people who were otherwise distant and aloof in office and the colony where I live gravitating towards me wanting to cultivate my friendship
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
A fleeting thought occurred in my mind whether this could be some kind of ruse. I asked for her pass port and ticket to make sure about her journey. She had a small baby. She pleaded with the staff for allowing her to take the flight and that she would arrange payment at the destination before leaving the airport. She really appeared as a genuine case of a lady in distress.I agreed to lend her the amount telling her that I trusted her and that she can send me the money to my address that I gave her. I told her emphatically that I had no intention of taking her ring as a surety and that I am acting on good faith. She would not agree to take the money from a stranger without parting with the ring. I told her to accept the money on my terms or find some other willing person to help her out. Time was running out. I told her that I too have sisters like her and that I am doing her a help which I would expect from anyone else to my sisters. This clinched the matter.
She got the boarding pass. She gave me her address, phone numbers and details about her husband like where he worked. She touched my feet and thanked me profusely with tears in her eyes and voice choked with emotion .She soon left looking back again and again. I left for security check for my flight.
Once in Boston I was busy with my work and forgot about this incident. It was about a fortnight later there was parcel in my name from DHL containing a draft for $75 and a cute Mont Blanc pen set with a card signed and saying ”Thank you brother for the timely help that I cannot forget”
Monday, May 25, 2009
"That is splendid and an act of kindness deserving some reward. You will soon see for yourself. But remember to show the same kindness to all in future “
There was a sudden fear whether others also would have seen this ray of web and climbing up along with him. He was afraid the strand may not withstand the weight and break. He looked down and found many climbing up behind him from the dim light of the ray. He stopped climbing and shouted “This is my strand of web given me by god for the many good things I have done .You cannot come up on my strand. Leave it immediately”
The moment he uttered these words, the ray snapped and all went down to the dark abysmal depths.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
One day I had been to his flat at his insistence. What a surprise it was to find a beautiful home with cozy furniture, carpets, curtained windows, well painted walls with soft music playing in the background. There was the fragrance of incense as he had just finished his daily puja.He was clean shaven in a spotless white dhoti and shirt in contrast to the disheveled appearance on the first day. He introduced me to his wife who had brought us steaming cups of coffee. He had taken voluntary retirement after a heart attack and was doing some consultancy work from home. A well read man he could engage himself in conversation on a variety of subjects. Unfortunately they had no children.. Gardening was his hobby to which he devoted considerable time. We discussed about this common topic frequently and he had offered some plants that were not there in my garden. I found him a helpful person when he brought his gardener to remove the weeds and tidy up my garden. When I went to the nursery I brought for him some flower pots and left them in his garden without his knowledge. When there was a power failure once in my flat very late in the night which he happened to notice, he spoke to the Assistant Engineer on his own and got it fixed within an hour. We were becoming good neighbours and enjoyed each other’s company.
There was a wedding in the family of another resident in the colony. I was going in my car to the marriage hall that was close to my apartment around 9AM when I noticed Govind’s wife walking slowly . As I thought she was alone and as the hall was not far I drove without offering her a lift. It was after thirty minutes I found both Govind and his wife entering the hall. Evidently he has been following her as I did not notice him walking side by side with her. There was big crowd in the wedding hall and I could not talk to him. I came back after an hour and had a short nap. Around 3PM I saw an ambulance standing opposite their complex that had eight flats. I presumed someone must have taken ill and did not make further enquiries. It was around 5PM that the Secretary of the colony rang my door bell with a wreath in his hand. Shocked as I was, I asked him who was the person who had expired. He said “Don’t you know Mr. Govind after returning from the marriage had a massive attack and passed away before medical help could reach him.” He added he had walked both ways in the hot sun and that could have been the proximate cause for the stroke.
I was numbed by guilt. Had I stopped the car on seeing his wife and looked behind I would have seen him too and would have taken them in the car and brought them back. I blamed myself that it was not the sun but my foolishness and carelessness that was the proximate cause for my good friend’s end.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Vignesh found that his teacher was always morose and lost in thought when he was with him in the evenings. The lady would be watching TV serials or reading some film magazines or novels. He had not seen them talking much with each other. There was always a tight atmosphere in the house. But when the teacher was not around, Vignesh could see her happily laughing and playing with small babies from the adjoining houses.Vignesh felt that the couple did not get along well as they had no children of their own.
The teacher had a strange habit of forgetting to bring some thing or the other to the school. He would send Vignesh almost daily to his house during the day at no fixed hours asking him to bring a book or pen or lunch box. When he returned he used to pat him and ask him whether he saw anyone in the house.Vignesh would reply that he saw none as auntie always gave the article through the window. It appeared to the boy that the teacher was not satisfied with his reply. Months flew by but the routine remained unchanged.
One afternoon when Vignesh went to the house, he did not knock the door as he usually did but peeped in thro the window that was partly closed. To his great shock he saw an uncle reclined on the lap of auntie and both of them laughing about something.Vignesh quietly withdrew and knocked the door and asked for the book the teacher had forgotten. As usual she did not open the door but gave him the book thro the window.Vignesh was confused whether to tell the teacher or not. To his young mind it struck for the first time that auntie was not good. He started disliking her but did not tell the teacher what he saw. He felt sad for some unknown reason for his teacher. Nevertheless he chose to peep thro the window thereafter before knocking the door. He found the same uncle frequently in the house hugging the auntie or caressing her till one day the auntie found out the peeping Tom. She pushed the man aside and came running to Vignesh highly excited asking him how long he was there.Vignesh pretended that he had just come and gave no indication of what he saw. She did not appear convinced of what he told her. She said she became afraid thinking that a stranger was peeping when she was alone in the house. She asked him to wait and brought a box full of chocolates. She told him after giving the box that she liked him very much and that he should not peep in future. On his way to the school Vignesh threw the box in disgust into the garbage bin.
It was a week after this incident that one day when he came to the school in the morning, he found all the teachers standing outside in groups talking in hushed tones with many boys milling around. Sensing something was amiss he went near them only to learn that his beloved Sanskrit master had committed suicide in the early hours of the day. The teachers were all discussing what could be the reason for him to take this extreme step of hanging at this young age. He had no worries financial or otherwise and seemed happily married to a charming wife. What more one could want? True he had no children but these days so may people adopt children. None were the wiser for the reason the gentle teacher chose to inflict upon himself this ultimate and irreversible punishment. Tears trickled from Vignesh’s eyes. But he was determined to remain quiet to keep his revered teacher’s fair name and dignity unsullied by lowly gossip.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Iyer moved to his village with his wife where he had a dilapidated ancestral house that was small and needed good repairs. An independent man with lot of self respect, he refused to accept any remittance from his son that was offered to him. The couple led a frugal life within their income spending their time in the local temple activities. I had lost touch with him for nearly a decade when one fine morning he dropped in at my house. After the pleasantries, he informed me that he lost his wife a year back and that he was living alone. He was getting his food from the temple on some payment and that he spent most of the day voluntarily helping the temple administration. He said that the temple was in very poor condition and that efforts are on to make some minimum repairs. Being associated with the temple he wanted to donate some amount from his side. He wondered whether I could extend a loan of Rs.5000 which he would repay without interest in due course. He did not specify any time. He said he had no ready cash and did not want to ask his son’s help. Considering the facts that the amount was not big, the cause was worthy and that this was the first time he was seeking my help, I readily gave him the money. I knew his poor financial position and was not particular or sanguine about getting the money back.
Years passed by with no communication from Iyer.I had also forgotten about the money I lent him. One day, I received a long letter from his son Ravi along with a draft for Rs.5000 intimating that his father had passed away about three weeks back. He had lamented that after his marriage his father never forgave him and refused to accept any help even monetary from him. He was not kept informed of his mother’s death too. He came to India when the trustee of the temple had telephoned him about his father’s demise. His father had left a note in a diary wherein he had mentioned that the ancestral house was pledged with a cooperative bank for a loan taken. It appears that he had spent a major portion of the money for his wife’s treatment and the remaining portion he had donated to the temple. Iyer had also mentioned in the note that he had taken an interest free loan of Rs.5000 from me and that he was feeling guilty about the debt he owed me for a long time. He desired that the amount be paid to me with his sincere apologies for the delay from the sale proceeds of the house after settling the bank debt. Ravi had expressed his surprise that the balance left after clearing the bank liability was exactly Rs5000 that his father owed me.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Things were going on smoothly in the colony till recently. What irked the female members was the new occupant of a first floor flat in one of the blocks. Mallika seemed a woman in her early forties but did not appear to be more than thirtyfive.She was very pretty and attractive. Tall and slim, there was always a twinkle in her eyes and pleasant smile in her face. It was a winsome appearance that made people turn their heads. The women did not take kindly to this. No one knew where she worked. The person who seemed her husband was rarely seen. She spoke freely with the men in the colony but kept the females at a distance. This irked them a lot .They were already unhappy after the revelation by the durwans that she had male visitors in the evenings who stayed over. They were convinced that she was a woman of easy virtue and that her presence could be a likely threat to the peace and happiness in their households.
Mrs Rao discussed that night with her husband and pleaded with him that the new occupant should be thrown out. But Bhujanga Rao told her that as long as she was no inconvenience to others, she cannot be evicted on mere suspicion and loose talk of watchmen. He taunted her saying that ladies seemed jealous of her good looks and that they lacked faith in their husbands.Mrs Rao informed her friends the next day what her husband had told her. She also added for good measure that she agreed entirely with him. She was absolutely confident of her husband and that she had no reason to worry as he was like Ram an eka patni vratan.It was up to them to ensure that their husbands did not stray away. Her friends who were not satisfied prodded their husbands to take up with the president. Somehow they were also reluctant to send the woman away for reasons best known to them. The woman continued going about her job unobtrusively.
Some months later Mrs Rao had gone to Coimbatore for a wedding in the family. Mr. Rao could not accompany her. It was during such time in the middle of one night an ambulance arrived at the colony with siren blaring and waking up all residents. It stopped opposite the block where Mallika lived. The men quickly took the stretcher to her first floor flat. The doors were partially closed and she was standing grim and quiet at the entrance. The ambulance driver told the anxious residents that someone has had a massive heart attack. The stretcher soon came out.Every one craned their necks to see who the victim was. They were all shocked to see the venerable Bhujanga Rao unconscious on the stretcher. The news spread like wild fire after the ambulance left. One could see a sense of utter dismay accompanied by a muffled glee amongst the faces of the ladies at the plight of Mrs. Rao.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Dushyanth is a tall, handsome and fair complexioned man though this was slightly marred by a protruding sixth finger in his right hand. In his spotless white dhoti and cream kurta there is an aristocratic demeanour.An unemployed graduate he had no family commitments and loafed around addas and playing carom on the roadside. It was a pleasurable pastime for him to enter uninvited marriage pandals, pose as an invitee and partake of the sumptuous feast. His good looking personality helped him to go undetected thus far.
One evening when he saw a very artistically decorated pandal with festoons of lights, he stopped by for a moment reading the banner outside”Santosh weds Sabitha”.After changing into a well pressed dress, he joined the marriage crowd and sat there watching the light music programme.After about thirty minutes he entered the dining hall and ate to his heart’s content relishing in particular sandesh, misti doi and mango sweet chutney.. As usual nothing untoward happened. When he started moving for washing his hands, a server in a hurry dashed against him and spilt the entire hot dal makhni on his kurta.Embarrassed he stood for a few moments wondering what he should do while the waiter was profusely apologizing. People started crowding near him. The brides brother who was in the hall overseeing rushed to him and said” Sorry sir, I will now give you a new dress to change. Excuse this chap. It was clearly a mistake on his part” Immediately one of his friends brought a gift bag containing new dhoti and kurta.As he gave the packet he asked “I am bride’s brother. Are you from groom’s side?”
Remembering the name he replied “Yes, I am a friend of Santosh.”
Meanwhile someone rushed to Santosh’s brother who was also in the hall about the incident involving Santosh’s friend. He rushed to the spot and apologized to Dushyanth and asked”Sir, I am not able to readily place you. I am Santosh’s brother. I haven’t met you”
Dushyanth replied” We were together working in an office for a short period and were fairly close”
“What are you talking? Santosh is an IIT and IIM graduate working in US since he got selected in campus interview. Come out with truth. Who are you really?”When Dushyanth became pale and speechless the brides’ brother snatched the bag from his hand and said “He is a fraud and has come to steal bags and boxes. Let us teach him a lesson he will never forget” and showered blows on him. All the others too joined in hitting him and tearing his kurta and pulling his hair.
Meanwhile Santosh hearing the commotion rushed to the scene saying.” Stop beating. What if one man takes the food. Hundreds are eating here” Looking at Dushyanth intently and his sixth finger, he asked “Were you not a student in Chetla high school and are you not Dushyanth?
Dushyanth replied feebly” Yes, aren’t you S.Kumar”
“Correct. I am Santosh Kumar. I am so happy you have been able to make it to my wedding. I am very sorry for the unfortunate incident. Please do not take it amiss. Have you had your khana? Here please accept this gift bag .You have made me very happy” He also pulled a Rs. 500 note and thrust it in his hand saying that this was his token present
Dushyanth after a moment’s hesitation returned the Rs. 500 note and asked it to be treated as his present for the wedding.
Santosh took the same and gave him two Rs 500 notes saying” Please accept this without fail. Here is my address. Please come home. I will be leaving for US in a week’s time. We can reminisce of our old days together”
Monday, May 18, 2009
Padmini, a close friend of Lalitha and slightly elder to her was also living in the same apartment. An extremely good looking and tall girl, she had learnt multi media and was working with a big publishing company. Her father was not well to do. Though they were searching for a suitable match, nothing could materialize as her parents could not meet even the ordinary demands of the other parties. It was then a rich business man approached her parents wanting her hand for their only son. They said they were struck by the girl’s beauty and that they were not particular about the status or the wealth of the girl’s parents. They assured that they would take care of the marriage expenses too. The boy looked decent and was assisting his father in the family business.Padmini’s parents were flabbergasted at this god send offer and readily agreed. The marriage over, Padmini soon left for her husband’s place. Initially she came to her parent’s place a couple of times but was not seen thereafter. It appeared that they were not letting her go.
After three or four months Mahalingam iyer saw Padmini’s father in the temple. The latter rarely visited the temple.Iyer found him standing before the deity praying with eyes closed and tears trickling down his cheeks. He went near him and stood by his side quietly. When he opened his eyes he put his hands on his shoulder asked him ” Are you alright? You seem to be tormented with some problem. If it is not very confidential, you can share with me. It will lighten your burden.” The neighbour hastily wiped his eyes and said “We have been deceived.Padmini’s life is ruined.” Even before completing the sentence he started sobbing.Iyer asked whether they are ill treating her because she did not bring adequate jewelry or dowry. He replied that the matter was much more serious but kept quiet without telling what the problem was. It took a while for Iyer to ferret out the information that the marriage has not been consummated and that the boy was unfit for married life. It appeared that it was beyond any medical remedy.
Iyer was shaken initially and after some deliberation asked Padmini’s father to bring the girl home. She was a major and can come out on her own volition.Iyer told him that they can find a solution after talking to her. The poor father readily agreed.
In the night after dinner iyer broached the subject to his wife.Lalitha was also present. His wife also sympathized with the girl’s lot and wondered what could be done. The fate is cruel in some cases, she added. Iyer told his wife “I have arrived at a solution and wanted to know your views before expressing it to Padmini and her parents. Firstly, I am going to ask Padmini to get a divorce. This can be obtained within a short time.Secondly, I will ask Govind to marry her. She is a good match for him. I am not going to see horoscope or bothered by any tradition. I have almost decided and just need your approval.” Iyer’s wife said”Padmini is no doubt a very good girl. Even Govind has a soft corner for her. My only worry is that this marriage should not impede Lalitha’s marriage. You know conservative people may think twice before agreeing to marry a girl from our family.” On hearing this Lalitha exploded “I don’t care. If no one is willing to marry me for this reason, I am prepared to remain single all my life. But Govind should give a new life to Padmini.There is no room for any discussion on this.” Iyer’s wife remained silent.
In six months Padmini was married to Govind.Lalitha too got a good match. The only negative off shoot of this episode was the temple management’s strange decision to divest Iyer of his responsibilities in the temple.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
I asked our maid servant one day when she was crying what would make her happy and free from all worries. I was expecting her to tell a big increase in her salary, a one roomed tenement with toilet inside and with an exclusive water tap or some such mundane things. Instead she said she would be happiest if her husband returned from work without taking alcohol and talked to her affectionately instead of the daily beatings from the inebriated man.
My elderly neighbour, a kindly and timid soul was being tortured mentally by a shrew and termagant for wife. She broke his confidence and made him a diffident blundering nervous wreck. The irony is he held high official position before retirement and was regarded well in his circle. He was one day confiding that he would be happiest if the God were to give him deliverance from her by taking him.
What is happiness? Will ten crore rupees give one permanent joy? Are material comforts to be equated to happiness? Possibly none of these. Is the quest for happiness always successful? Happiness is just an emotion like anger, sorrow or depression. It keeps changing from time to time. A small child is happy with a new toy for a few minutes. It soon gets tired of it, throws away and starts crying. Adults too are no different. Happiness is like a mirage always within your sight but never realized permanently.
Happiness again is not related to the character of the individuals. We see wicked men seemingly happy and good men passing though pangs of pain and suffering. I have no explanation for this strange fact except trusting in the law of karma.
Spiritual people talk of divine happiness that realized souls enjoy. I have no experience of it. I think instead of looking for happiness, we should look for contentment. It does not mean we should not attempt to improve our lives. While making an honest endeavour, we should learn to be content with what we have and not aspire for a distant rainbow only to lose the present peace of mind. Real happiness would appear as being satisfied with the results of our efforts without craving for more. It is a state of mind to be cultivated where one would be thankful to the god for his blessings and accepting the difficulties with equanimity wherever it is not possible to remove them. Otherwise how would you explain the restlessness of the very rich to acquire more and the contentment writ large on the face of a cobbler under a shaded tree? Happiness is not elsewhere. It is in your mind.
A sage found a man on hands and knees. He asked him what he was searching for. The man said he was searching for his keys. So the sage too got on his knees to search. After a while the sage asked whether he was sure he lost it there. The man replied that he lost it at home. When asked why he was searching there, he replied he was searching because there was more light there. The lesson in this story is for us to search for happiness where we lost it.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Ravi went initially often but this tapered off to monthly visits partly due to pressure in office and mostly due to the taunts of Anita. The change had affected the old lady mentally. She became morose and aloof. Calls would come from the home asking him to come and meet his mom. He went sometimes taking time off during office hours but this also became less. But he ensured that his mom got all the physical comforts. There was a phone call one day informing that the old lady slipped and fell down in the bath room. She had broken her back and was unfit for any surgery due to advanced age. Some complications had set in with her kidneys failing. Her eye sight had also diminished abruptly. She became weak and emaciated in the course of a month. Nursing attendants at the home took care of her 24x7.She was all the time muttering “Ravi, Ravi…” I had gone one day with Ravi. It was a pathetic sight seeing the old lady cringe” Ravi, please take me home from this prison and let me be with you in my last days. Please do not refuse. I would myself plead with Anita” Ravi’s eyes became misty with tears trickling down. He said” Mom, Do not worry. Let me talk to her. I will come tomorrow.” He tried in vain knowing fully there was no chance of Anita relenting. He did not have the face to meet his mom. He did not go. The tricky wife compelled him to take her on a holiday to Darjeeling despite the ailing lady. When he was away a call came from the hospital informing that the lady’s condition had turned serious. I informed Ravi and rushed to her side.
I held the lady’s arm. Her eyes were closed. There was a deathly pallor about her. She was too weak even to open her eyes. She said”Ravi, I am glad you have come. I want to breathe my last holding your hand. I have caused a lot of anguish for you.”
I was perplexed about what I should do. The nurse who knew me indicated that I should not reveal my identity. She signaled that she was in her last moments.
I replied “Mom, do not strain yourself. You will be ok.Just rest and I am here by your side”
Ravi, were you not allright? You said you will come the next day when we met last”
“Mom, I had to go out of India on tour suddenly. I could not refuse. I am here and will not leave you. Please sleep as I keep holding your hand”
“I know you are very affectionate to me. “ She kept quiet thereafter and peace descended on her face. I did not stir from the chair and stayed on by her side. I must have fallen asleep in that position till I was woken up by the nurse telling “Sir, it is all over. She passed away a few minutes back. It is very nice of you to have provided the love and warmth she was yearning for. Thanks a lot for your discreet silence.”
Wiping the tears from my eyes, I moved towards the phone booth to inform Ravi.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
There was one young man Murugan living not far from Rani’s house. He was living with his mother and they knew the cruel and suspicious nature of Velayudham.They empathized with her as they knew her pitiable condition. His mother used to visit Rani whenever Velayudham was not there and console her. The talks with the old lady were soothing balm to the neglected young girl. It so happened that one day when Murugan could not find his mother at home, he came in search of her to Rani’s house. As he was enquiring her about the whereabouts of his mother, Velayudham came unexpectedly .Seeing his wife talking to the young man, he flew into rage, abused Murugan of having dishonest intentions and pushed her inside the house. He beat her legs with a log of wood telling that he would break them so that she cannot run away. The poor girl was rescued by neighbours but she had to limp thereafter. She hated him from the bottom of the heart but could not escape from him as she had none to look to. She was afraid he will catch her and inflict more injury on her.
It so happened that Velayudham fell sick with high fever and some other related conditions. There was nothing he could do as Rani had to go out to fetch medicines, grocery etc.When she went to get the medicines from the pharmacy, the thoughts of how her life had been rendered a failure and how her dreams of being married to a handsome young man had been crushed by her husband came to her mind. The total incompatibility in the way they thought, and dissatisfaction in meeting her physical needs and above all living like a prisoner within four walls stood stark in her face. Her revulsion for him was at its highest. When she returned home she found the pharmacy had given her wrong medicines intended for somebody else. Bitter with him in her heart, she decided to keep quiet.
She opened the wrong packet given by pharmacy to find many tablets in different sizes and colours.She coolly gave these along with water when he opened his mouth. She didn’t know whether it would affect him or not but was sure they were not the right medicines for curing him. She loathed him so much that she cared little for him.Soon he was drowsy with his eyelids feeling heavy. He could not sit up for his dinner. She gave him the gruel with some more of the wrong medicines. The next day morning he tried to get up from the bed but could not stand as his legs were wobbly and weak. It appeared to him that the muscles had lost their strength. He became disoriented and unable to focus. He was totally bed ridden. She continued with the wrong medicine till he lost his ability to walk but she did not leave him though she could have .
After a week when she brought the doctor and showed his condition without telling about the wrong medication, the doctor prescribed another set of medicines. This time she gave the right ones but while he recovered from all ailments, he could not gain his ability to walk. He was confined to bed and chair It was one evening she came along with Murugan and handed over him her divorce papers. She told him “Your filthy mind will assume all sorts of wrong ideas about my relationship with this young man. He is like my elder brother who has helped me get out of this wretched place. You broke my leg out of your suspicion and inability to keep your wife happy. As a retribution, you will suffer all through your life” As he lay dumbfounded,she limped out happily released from bondage once and for all.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Vijay had promised to take Naveen and Neeraja to the beach on Sunday evening. He had just spoken to Manjula about the programme.He requested her to join them. He wanted her in particular to come to his home for lunch. The phone rang. It was Naveen reminding about the beach visit.” Naveen, I haven’t forgotten. I have already asked Manju to join us and she had agreed Inform Neerja.”.
Vijay had lost his wife three years ago to a brain tumour.It was tough period managing the children and more than that he missed his wife. The solitude despite the children was too much for him. He had not thought of another woman in his wife’s place till he met Manjula in a seminar. They were paired for panel discussions providing those opportunities to spend the entire two days together. Vijay was no longer the same sullen person.Manjula was a whiff of fresh air that he longed for in his life. .She was also a single. They contrived reasons to meet each other daily on some pretext or the other. Both were deeply in love with each other. The kids liked Manju and her easy ways in getting along with them. She invariably brought things to eat and knickknacks. She took particular interest in winning the confidence of the young girl.
“Naveen, take your shoes off and give them to me. It is easy to run without the shoes.Neerja, you also run along with him. Do not go near the water till we come” said Vijay as they walked on the sands of the beach.
Neerja lingered and pleaded “Aunty, you please come with us. I am afraid of the waves. Will a Tsunami come?”
Manjula told her “Do not be afraid. The waves will not come near you as you will be far away from the water. No more Tsunami. Go with Naveen.I will come behind with your dad.”
As the girl ran behind the boy, Vijay held Manju’s hand and walked slowly side by side rubbing shoulders.
Vijay broke the silence and said, “I have not broached the subject of our marriage. I get a feeling both of them know that we are fond of each other though they have not yet visualized you in their mom’s place. I do not envisage any problem at all from Naveen and hopefully from Neerja.”
“Vijay, I wish that we tie the knot soon. I cannot be away from you and want to be with you all the time. Please hurry” pleaded Manjula
“Sure, it is vacation for them I will talk to them this weekend. Do not worry” said Vijay
They then spent time standing in the water for the waves to wash their legs.Neerja snuggled by Manju’s side and found comfort and security in her hands
Two days later as he was working on his laptop in the night both the kids snuggled up to him and said “Daddy, we have a request. We wish to celebrate Mother’s day this Sunday at 6pm. We have pooled our allowances and we intend to buy a cake from the Italian bakery. We want to have it cut before our mom’s photo. Please invite Manjula aunty also for this occasion. make sure she attends.”
Vijay was surprised and wanted to play along with his children by readily agreeing to their request. It was Sunday and the large box containing the cake and tied with ribbon was kept on the circular glass dining table. Opposite on the wall was their mom’s photo.Manjula had also come as promised.
Naveen and Neerja in chorus said, “We will blind fold aunty and dad. They will open the cake box and only then the blindfold would be removed.”
Both Manjula and Vijay were intrigued but joined the fun by getting their eyes covered by a red cloth. When they opened their eyes amidst the clapping by the kids, they were thrilled to read the icing text/
Dear Manju mom,
Happy Mother’s day,
Naveen and Neerja
Manju wiped the moist eyes even as Neerja pulled her close to Vijay and placed her hand on Vijay’s.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
The one thing Atul liked best was the stroll in the opposite park with dadaji.The old man used to regale him with incidents in his younger days. He always asked him to be truthful no matter the consequences.Atul would contest him telling “What if truth were to harm some innocent person? Would you tell it even then?”Dadaji would smile proudly and tell him that truth should always be spoken when it serves a good purpose. He never complained about anyone to the urchin.
Atul was not happy with dadaji repeatedly telling him of late ”I am biding my time. I think it will happen very soon. I want you to promise me that no matter in whatever circumstances you are placed you would take care of your parents with love and care and never make them feel unhappy.”
“Dadaji, I know you are at times unhappy. I am too when mom shouts at you. I hate her for this” replied AtulDadaji remonstrated with him telling ”You should not talk like this. I am not happy with you. Never talk ill of others whatever they do or say.”
Atul was always reprimanded by his mom for spending his time with his grandpa and she complained to her husband frequently. No one in the house talked to dadaji. His dad who came late from office spent time before TV with his mom. There was no TV in grandpa’s room that was at the rear of the building. Occasionally his dad used to walk in only to tell loudly to his father to adjust to the ways of the house and not be a source of nuisance. He would not however spell out where his grandfather failed to adjust.Atul smart as he was knew that his dad was doing that only to please his mom. He was also aware that she added extra water in his coffee and often gave him left over and cold food. She also served him just adequate and made him eat alone in the dining table much before the family sat together. After the lunch around 11am he practically had nothing till 7pm except for a cup of tea and biscuits at 4pm. Atul knew he was always hungry and would quietly bring cookies from the kitchen after he returned from school and share with him. Grand pa had a sweet tooth and he loved sweets very much but mom never gave him enough though his dad brought sweet packets frequently. She would keep them in the fridge for four or five days only to be given later to the maid.
One afternoon Atul’s mom had gone out leaving the boy and his grandpa alone in the house. He was playing computer game in his room and totally forgot about the old man. It was already 4-30pm. When he came down and peeped in he saw his grandpa opening a peda box that he must have taken from the fridge. He went to him and told him “Dadaji, you could have called me and asked me to fetch. Never mind let me also join you. I am also very hungry like you.” They finished the five pedas in the box.
It was around 7pm Atul heard his mother shouting at the top of her voice “Nothing is safe in this house. How can one lock the fridge whenever we go out?” She called “Atul, did you eat the box full of pedas I had kept in the fridge. I wanted to send them to my mom. It is missing. I am sure you would not have touched it. Who would have stolen this except the ever hungry gluttons in this wretched house?”
Atul shouted back in anger “Don’t talk without knowing. I was feeling hungry and looked for cookies. Nothing was there in the fridge except the pedas and I took them and shared with Dadaji too. What is wrong in it? There were only five pieces and not a box full as you are alleging. Yes, you can call me a hungry glutton or by whatever name you like. It was 5pm then and Dadaji hadn’t had his tea also. I hate your shouting all the time indirectly at him. I do not like to stay in this house anymore.”
The old man in his room heard the boy taking the blame on himself to protect him from the mouthful of rubbish. He wiped the tears trickling from his eyes. After a little while the boy entered the room and said “Dadaji, I have not been truthful but it was done for a good purpose” The old man hugged him tightly and kissed his forehead. “Come to me first in the morning before others come to my room. Do you understand, my little buddy?” The boy laughed and ran away
The next morning when Atul woke up earlier than usual, he remembered dadaji’s request and rushed to his side. He was sleeping quite unusually at this hour. Atul nudged him softly initially and then harder. It dawned quickly on his young mind that dadaji’s time had come.
Friday, May 8, 2009
What were flirtatious chats soon turned into passionate expressions of love sick couple. She could not get him off her mind. He had been suggesting for the last two months that they should meet which Anita was avoiding. He had sent a mail in the evening that he can no longer wait and that both must meet to carry their relationship to logical end. He had said categorically that he would not accept a no from her. She tossed and turned in her bed all night with fantasies of being his wife in his bed. Her determination yielded to her burning desire to meet and hug him. She agreed to meet him at a restaurant at 4pm near her office. It was not a crowded place and he had informed her that he had reserved the corner table at the rear by the side of a large French window..She was both excited and nervous about the outcome. They haven’t seen each other and had mental expectations of a pleasant face and figure.
When she went sharp at4pm and was led to the table, she was surprised at the bouquet of red roses on the table. He was no there. She was very much impressed at his thoughtfulness. She sat there waiting for him. It was 4.10pm.He was still not there. Luckily as she had a call on her mobile from her mom, she did not notice the delay. Within a few moments, a tall handsome man came and introduced himself as Arjun.She was very much impressed though he looked older in his early thirties but was much more than her expectations.Arjun too never expected such a beautiful young lady, tall and slim with bobbed hair in a jeans and Tshirt. He extended his hand and they shook warmly for a long time unaware of the amused stares from the adjacent tables. As he sat down he said” Wow, I must have seen a fox early in the morning to be lucky to meet such a ravishing beauty like you.Hey, what do you think of me? Am I presentable and do I kindle romantic interest in me?” She liked his affable ways and the easy familiarity displayed. She replied “Why, you are the hunk most women would fall for” and giggled.
They ordered two large lassi and paper masala ghee roast. He held her hands tightly as desire surged through him with the thought that she will be his in a few days. He whispered softly “I love you. Will you marry me?”Anita who was nervous initially had a rush of confidence and thrill as she heard him propose. She could not take her eyes off him as she said “I will broach this matter to my parents. I am certain they would be pleased.”
It was then a woman of around fifty with a boy of twelve and a younger girl materialized before them as they came out of the wash room. The woman came straight to Arjun and put her hand on his shoulders as she asked “Chellappa, what are you doing here? Where are your wife and children? Is this lady your colleague?” Arjun sat stupefied and stunned as if he had been hit by a sledge hammer. The boy snuggled close to him saying “Mama, you promised to get me a cricket bat. You have forgotten” The little girl asked the woman “Who is this aunty?”
Anita shocked at the new development stood up and said in uncontrollable anger “You cheater.Fie on you. If you ever contact me again, bear in mind that I will call the police” as she stomped out in anger