Thanks to the members of Indusladies for their vociferous responses to my Lakshmi snippets. When I asked for suggestions from some of the members regarding these snippets – some said that I should change the name from Lakshmi, some wanted to focus on ‘Vishnu’ for a change, some wanted to deal with issues relating to career and finances. But quite a few wanted the Lakshmis to continue in the same strain. Here’s another Lakshmi waiting for your comments. Go ahead and write whatever comes to your mind. The idea of this series is to develop rational views on many crisis situations without losing the emotional touch - sridhar (varalotti). This Lakshmi, a very beautiful woman – tall enough to qualify for a beauty pageant, sharp features and a real eye-turner – was married to Sethu. Sethu’s handsome features tormented every woman who passed him by. But more than that his sense of morality and values were something very uncommon. He was moral not because of any external force but out of a natural taste for an orderly life.Lakshmi-Sethu’s married life was a continuous honeymoon. They did not have any children during the three years of marriage. But they loved each other so much that this did not disturb the harmony of their lives. Lakshmi had an unnatural fear for lightning and thunder. The moment she heard a thunder or saw a flash lightning she would fly into Sethu’s arms. Their first problem in their married lives started with the arrival of Mrs.Deshmukh as Sethu’s boss. Mrs.Deshmukh was a divorcee in her late thirties. The moment she set her eyes on a calm and smiling Sethu she decided to have him. She did not want any commitment from him; nor was she interested in any emotional relationship. What she wanted was plain fun. This situation would have been a fantasy-come-true for any other male; but not for Sethu. He abhorred Mrs.Deshmuk’s advances and in the process also had to suffer in the office. Sethu loved his wife so much that he not only detested his sexy boss’ amorous advances but did not even talk about this to Lakshmi even in a manner of boasting. The problem had gone so far that Sethu had to decide between quitting his job or yielding to his boss. Fortunately the lady was transferred elsewhere and Sethu heaved a sigh of relief. It was only a few months later that Lakshmi heard about the whole affair through Sethu’s colleague.. Lakshmi cried the whole night hugging Sethu frequenly murmurring ‘Sethu, do I deserve so much love? Do I deserve you, Sethu?’ They become even more closer after that. Lakshmi was a music buff who spent most of her waking hours listening to classical music. Seeing her passion for music Sethu arranged a good music teacher for her. The teacher was one Ganesh, a gifted gazal singer. One day Lakshmi was in the music class at Ganesh’s place. It was late in the evening. Ganesh was singing a gazal with so much of emotion that made Lakshmi almost cry. Lakshmi was so engrossed in Ganesh’s rendering that she stopped singing herself and was listening to him with rapt attention with tears flowing from her eyes. Suddenly the lights went off. Ganesh did not stop singing. And there was a flash of lightning followed by the loudest thunder ever heard. Lakshmi was thrown out of balance and in a state of fear and confusion she almost fell upon Ganesh who was sitting before her. The Gazal she had been hearing for the past one hour, the fear in her mind induced by the thunder and lightning left her in a daze. Ganesh could not resist the temptation. Lakshmi put up some resistance but could not hold it for long. Soon every thing was over. Lakhsmi was devastated after the incident. She tried to blame it on the circumstances. But Sethu had had even more tempting opportunites and he did not succumb to them. She tried to blame it on her fear for thunder; but that was a weak excuse to lose oneself to a stranger. When Sethu came back she strained herself to put a show of happiness but only succeeded partially. She became listless. All the events after her marriage to Sethu came back as a flashback in her mind. Sethu’s love for her, his concern for her well-being and above all his being steadfast in his moral principles even while his boss virtually forced herself on him – all these were tormenting her. Lakshmi could not hold on for more than a few days. She wrote a letter to Sethu confessing everything that happened on that fateful night and left Sethu for ever. She made it very clear that she did not deserve Sethu and his pure love. She was going to join some orphanage thousands of miles away from their home and was going to spend the rest of her life working there. Her final words were smudged by her tears:’’What I am about to do is a kind of penance. Even if I spend the rest of my life working for those children, denying myself everything I don’t think that is a sufficient retribution to the heinous crime I have committed. I don’t deserve your love or your forgiveness.” I tried hard to justify what Lakshmi did. But I did not succeed. Nor did I succeed in condemning her. How about you?