Thursday, June 4, 2020

Homage


(A story written 11 years back have not been read by many current readers).
Venkat was in class seven. He was taking regular tuition from his Sanskrit teacher as his father wanted him to become proficient in that language. He went to his master’s house in the evenings to learn. His teacher was dark complexioned, frail and small built man in his early forties. His teeth were not aligned properly and he had a dangling tuft in the unkempt hair that was not tied properly. His face always bristled with unshaven hair. He was on the whole an unattractive person. But he was a great scholar of gentle disposition and soft in words. One rarely saw him smile. He had a soft corner for Venkat as he was studious and excelled soon in Sanskrit.
The teacher’s wife slightly taller than him, very fair and was exceptionally beautiful. Slightly plump with a twinkle in her eyes, she was always well dressed and appeared graceful in her deportment. She must have been younger by more than ten years to the teacher. She too liked Venkat very much, called him Venky affectionately and gave him often some delicacies to eat while running her hand over his head.
Venkat found that his teacher was always morose and lost in thought when he was with him teaching Sanskrit 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 constricted atmosphere in the house. But when the teacher was not around, Venkat could see her happily laughing and playing with him or with the small babies from the adjoining houses. Venkat 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 something or the other to the school. He would send Venkat almost daily to his house during the day at no fixed hours asking him to bring a book, a pen or lunch box. When he returned he used to pat him and ask him whether he saw anyone in the house. Venkat 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 Venkat went to the house, he did not knock the door as he usually did but peeped in through the window that was not fully closed. To his great shock, he saw an uncle reclined on the lap of auntie and both of them laughing about something. Venkat 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 through the window before closing it fully.
Venkat 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 through the window thereafter whenever there was a vent 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 Venkat highly excited asking him how long he was there. Venkat 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 was 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 Venkat threw the box in disgust into the garbage bin.
It was a week after this incident 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 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 many people adopt children. None were wiser for the reason the gentle teacher chose to inflict upon himself this ultimate and irreversible punishment.
Tears trickled from Venkat’s eyes. But he was determined to remain quiet to keep his revered teacher’s fair name and dignity unsullied by lowly gossip.



23 comments:

  1. A sad story indeed.
    High regards to Venkat’s character
    Take care
    Chitra Solomon

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very sad. No reason for the teacher to commit suicide. Should have thrown his wife out of the house.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sadder version to read this time but a great write indeed. How nicely Vekat's character is portrayed, nice to see kids so thoughtful and with this kind of mindset.Though, pity for the poor teacher who had to take such a dreadful step. Really, beauty lies within the inner self and external beauty does not count at all until your soul and character are clean - his wife proved this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was one of your best stories. Very honourable of Venkat. You depict the characters really well

    ReplyDelete
  5. Tragic story integrity and honesty is important to lead a good life

    ReplyDelete
  6. Poignant and mind-piercing.But you have adopted your special way of attracting the readers. A good go indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Venkat showed maturity beyond his age. Feel sorry for him as also his teacher. Who knows what the teacher was going through mentally.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Very sad story... appreciate Venkat for his maturity...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Very sad story... appreciate Venkat for his maturity...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Felt sad...the teacher must have known about his wife and was sending Venkat home. Feel sad for Venkat too to see all these things at his age. But he showed his maturity by not letting out the secret out to anybody. Narration is too good.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Versatility in themes is so evident from this wonderful story presdnted here!
    A potboiler with infedility, ethics, frustration and self respect!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very sad story. Venkat's maturity at the tender age is portrayed by you touchingly. It felt me as if I was reading a story at par Malgudi days of RK Narayan or Rabindranath Tagore.
    All my respect
    Nina

    ReplyDelete
  13. Indira ParthasarathyJune 5, 2020 at 12:18 PM


    “Such a Sanskrit scholar need not have committed suicide. He could have left her by making some arrangements. From the beginning he had doubts about her and hence was sending the boy during school time but the boy did not tell what he saw. The boy very wisely kept quiet after the death of his master to protect his teacher’s honour.”

    ReplyDelete
  14. Partha Sir, The Preteen years are a time of transition and change.Venkat, a preteen boy is on the threshold of maturing into a teenager physically, emotionally, and socially but not yet. The dilemma and the confusion in the mind of the young tween is beautifully portrayed with delicacy and fineness !

    ReplyDelete
  15. Must have been traumatic for the kid.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The dilemma the kid must have faced!!! But he seems mature enough to keep quiet.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The dilemma of the boy is brought out so sensitively. The action of his throwing out the chocolates! And finally his decision to hold the secret from spilling out to save his master's honour. Very nice portrayal.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The discord was evident right from the outset. It is in everybody's interest to snap ties and move on, when things don't seem to move in the desired direction. Life is too short to waste on insecurities and regrets. It is a story that holds a mirror up to society

    ReplyDelete
  19. Imagine, Venkat growing up with this secret buried in his mind. Will he ever trust a woman? What damage to a tender psyche.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Very sad story. Too much of a burden on a little boy, though. Would have been better to confront the wife than commit suicide. Also would have been better if the teacher had taken care of himself better.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Very sad story..many women and men are unfaithful to their partners and ...emotional ones take it to heart like teacher did..thank you

    ReplyDelete
  22. It is definitely a sad story as many of your readers have commented. It is a story which tells what will happen if either of the partners is not loyal to the other.

    ReplyDelete