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  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    I wrote this short story a few years ago. Appalled by the premium placed on the external beauty of women, I wrote this story. After a stage it was the story which wrote itself - an experience any writer would confirm.

    Varalotti
    ================================================
    THE SCAR - A Short Story By Varalotti Rengasamy - Part I

    The clock announced the midnight hour. The calendar has shed one more day. I have now one day less before which I should come out of this dilemma. After a brilliant academic performance in medicine, I have to choose a medical specialty now and devote the rest of my life in becoming less and less ignorant in that field.

    My mother wants me to choose cardiac surgery. My father's death was caused by cardiac arrest. My mother wants me to save several such fathers in future from an untimely death.

    I did not have any objection to that choice and that line of reasoning till I met Deepa, my beautiful classmate who has recently become my lover. Her father is a leading Orthopaedic Surgeon in the city making his millions mending the limbs of people.

    Deepa made it clear that she could not broach the subject of our love unless I choose her father's field. It was now not just a professional choice between cardiac surgery and orthopaedics but a complex personal choice between my mother who gave everything to see me as a doctor and my lover for whose sake I was willing to give everything.

    My mind was going on in circles and I did not know when I slept. I was woken up by a loud wail from my mother.

    "Sethu, Sharadha has left us for ever. Oh God, have I lived so long only for this ?"


    I got up with a terrible shock and snatched the telegram from my
    mother. It was brief : Sharadha Expired - Balan.

    Sharadha is my own sister - elder to me by about thirteen years. You cannot think of Sharadha without thinking of that ghastly scar.

    The scar was right over her face. It started from a little below her left ear, became very broad as it reached her cheeks and ended up near her lips. It was of a dark brown colour and against the background of her fair complexion the scar appeared even ghastlier. The scar was covered by a loose skin which was unnaturally soft and this gave a nauseating sensation to the viewer.

    I had never seen my sister without the scar. She should have got it before I was born. My mother used to tell that when I was a child, I was so much frightened of the scar that I never allowed Sharadha to come near me.

    What I feared when I was a child,I started detesting when I grew up. Fear matured into hatred - I not only hated that ugly scar but also my sister for having it.

    My sister, surprisingly enough, returned my hatred with such a selfless love, which I was too proud to accept and never had the mind to reciprocate.

    Sharadha chose to express her affection towards me in small things. Whatever she did for me spoke of her love to me in no uncertain terms. I neglected her message of love though I retained the benefit of her help.

    I could not bring myself to talk to her directly. I had never looked at her face. I had not talked to her even once.

    But I know how to make her do things for me without talking to her. I used to talk loudly to my mother knowing well Sharadha was overhearing it: "Amma, you know I have to cover the ten notebooks now lying on my table with a brown wrapper by tomorrow morning. How am I going to do it?"

    While mother will simply sigh and walk away, Sharadha will make a sound with her anklets twice. That was meant to tell me, 'Don't worry, my dear. I will do it for you.' The next morning the note books would have been neatly wrapped, labels stuck and my name written on all of them. That was good. But the scar? I could never forgive my sister and her ugly scar.

    I vividly remember one Raksha Bhandan day when I was in school. I walked home that evening with my whole hand covered with rakees of different sizes and colours.

    As I was about to place my school bag on my study-table I found the table very neatly arranged. On the centre of the table was a big, beautiful shining Rakee of a golden hue with a cute greetings card below it. The card read, "For my dearest brother, Sethu".

    It was really a moving gesture; My impulse was to kiss that Rakee and wear it. Suddenly her scar came to my mind. My

    hatred for her ugly scar awakened the devil asleep deep inside me. With a notebook I swept aside the rakee with a flourish, as if it were a poisonous insect and it landed right on the dust bin under the table.

    I could hear a distinct sob behind me and the sound of the anklets told me that Sharadha was walking away from the scene. Who asked for a rakee from Sharadha?


    Checkout - Part II and Part III are separately posted
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2005
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  2. Induslady

    Induslady Administrator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    THE SCAR - A Short Story By Varalotti Rengasamy - Part II

    I detested Sharadha so much that I supressed the fact that I had a sister to my friends in the school. I was in Class XI at that time.

    One of my classmates, Janani, just like that walked into the house one evening to borrow some books. As I was talking to her, Sharadha came out from inside the house to see who had come. Janani saw Sharadha and also the ugly scar that marred her face.

    I could read the question in Janani's eyes 'Who is she?'. If Janani knows about Sharadha and her scar then the whole school will know about it in a day and I could not bear to get the 'pity you' looks from everyone. I immediately thought of a way out and shouted at Sharadha as if she were a house maid: "Veeramma, when are you going to learn to clean the house thoroughly? I can see dust patches almost everywhere."

    Sharadha stared at me for a second and her big eyes were filled with tears. With the accompanying sound of her silver anklets she ran into the house.

    I had overdone it, for Janani said, "Sethu, try to be humane to your maid. Don't shout like that. After all she is also a woman like your mother."

    I had just started in Medical College. My shoes had worn out completely and I started nagging my mother for a new pair. She said that I have to wait for two months for my shoes as she had just borrowed heavily to pay my college fees.

    I could not bear that waiting as already my friends were teasing me about the old shoes. In despair I refused to go to college and was confined to my room for one whole day.

    The next day when I woke up I saw a gift-wrapped parcel on my study table. I opened it with trembling hands to discover a pair of brand-new shoes inside. I had eyed on this design long back and mother had exactly bought according to my taste.

    I hugged my mother to thank her for the thoughtful gift. My mother just sighed and said, "All these years I could save only so much to buy a pair of golden bangles for Sharadha. After all

    she has to be married away in a year or two. Without breathing a word to me that foolish girl went out last evening to pawn her bangles to get you those damned shoes."

    Tears started welling in my eyes. I was not devoid of emotions. Had Sharadha been there without the scar I would have willingly washed her feet with my tears. But in the end the magnified look of the scar killed all the soft feelings of affection and gratitude.

    My face stiffened and I did not even utter a formal thanks for that outstanding act of kindness. A kindness which even my mother didn't venture to show! All because of that scar. Oh God why did you create her with a scar? Only to torture me?

    Mother had tried hard to fix Sharadha's marriage. In fact one guy came to see her. He was very friendly with me. But the moment he saw Sharadha and her scar he shouted at all of us and ran away from the place.

    I could hear Sharadha sobbing all night. Part of me wanted to go up to her and say, 'Forget that idiot, Sis. You deserve much better.' I thought of the scar and another part of me wanted just to shout, 'After all you deserve all that. Why should a woman like you with such a hideous scar dream of marriage? You are destined to suffer.'

    Amma woke me up next morning to tell amidst tears: "Sethu, Sharadha has gone away. To Mysore. To her aunt's house." My mind only jumped in joy almost uttering the words, "Good riddance". But I said something to pacify Amma. It appeared as though Sharadha had almost disappeared from my life.

    A few years later I learnt that Sharadha had fallen in love with a middle-aged bank official and had married him. Though it was an inter-caste marriage mother was happy that Sharadha could get a life-companion at last in her late thirties.

    Actually my mother had been pestering me to take her to Mysore to see Sharadha and her husband. I have been dodging her all along because I could not bring myself to face her and talk to her that too in the presence of a third person, her husband. And now the news of her death has come relieving me once for all of that unpleasantness.






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    Last edited: Jun 15, 2005
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  3. Induslady

    Induslady Administrator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    THE SCAR - A Short Story By Varalotti Rengasamy - Part III

    It was late afternoon when we reached Mysore to see Sharadha for the last time. The small house bore clear evidence of Sharadha having ruled over it. Everything was beautifully arranged and every object tastefully chosen. Even the small doll she had kept on the TV set announced her presence.

    I saw the lifeless form of Sharadha lying in the drawing room. For the first time in my life I was seeing the face of my sister without any fear or hatred, for death had destroyed all those emotions. I could not help thinking that but for that scar Sharadha would have been a very beautiful woman. The scar had robbed her of many things in life including the affection of her only brother. Well, past is past.

    A soft looking man with an unshaven face was sobbing before the body. He should be her husband, Balan. Our eyes met. But I did not have the nerve to talk to him. Sharadha was consigned to flames the same day. We stayed there for two more days.

    As soon as we landed in Bangalore my mind reverted to the problem of choice between cardiac surgery and Orthopaedics. But now Amma could not argue any further on the issue. Sharadha's death had devastated her. I was starting to yield to Deepa when a letter came from Mysore. Balan had written. Why should he write to me now?

    Dear Dr. Sethu,

    There is not much of relationship between us to justify a letter. Had Sharadha been alive she would have acted as a bridge between us. But that also seems a distant possibility because you have never loved your sister. Sharadha did not tell me; but I could infer that. And your mother told me openly about your hatred towards her. I am writing this letter because I want you to know the truth.The truth about Sharadha.

    When I first met her at the bank I was overwhelmed by her internal beauty. The beautiful handwriting, soft words, an unhurried and a clear approach to life - all these attracted me to her. I was not frightened by her scar. And when I spoke my love to her, she wept like a child for half an hour. It seems no one had spoken loving words to her all through her life.

    As we began to move closely I asked about her scar. I just wanted to know whether it was congenital or not. Very reluctantly she told me the story.

    She told me that once the house in which you people lived had caught fire. In the melee everybody forgot the fact that you, a two year old child then, were sleeping inside the house. Your mother had already fainted. But the fifteen year old Sharadha rushed inside the house to rescue you. As she was about to bend down and lift you, she saw a burning wooden plank falling right over your head. Without hesitation she spread herself over you and the plank hit her leaving a deep scar on her back and on her face. Had she not done that you would have probably been burnt alive or you would have got a more hideous scar on your face.

    But more than that Sharadha got a promise from your mother that this fact should never be made known to you. Lest you should suffer from pangs of guilt every time you see the wound.

    Even when she told this to me she extracted a promise that I should never reveal this to you till the very end. I do not know what she meant by the words, 'very end'. But I take it to mean her end. I am now free to tell you this, so that you understand Sharadha at least now. And that is the least I could do the memory of that lovely person with whom I shared the finest years of my life.

    On my first night I asked Sharadha: "Don't you feel bad having that scar?" You know what she said! "Not at all. This scar always reminds me of Sethu. When Sethu stood first in the District in the HSC exams, when he got a gold medal in his MBBS exams, I used to fondle the scar as if to say, 'What laurels have you brought to my Sethu!'

    Now Sethu, your mother told me about the confusion you have in choosing your specialty in medicine. Take my advice and choose plastic surgery. Become an expert in removing scars from the faces of loving sisters so that their brothers do not carry uglier scars on their souls. That, perhaps, is the least you can do to the memory of Sharadha.

    Yours sincerely,
    Balan.

    "Sharadha" I shouted as if the roof were falling over me. My mother came running from the kitchen. She was quite astonished to see me sobbing violently; for I had not even shed a drop of tears even when Sharadha's body was being consumed by flames a week earlier.






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  4. akalya

    akalya Junior IL'ite

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    Fantastic. Awesome.

    When I first looked at the length of the story, I thought may be I will skip reading it. I read the first few lines and was hooked till the end. Really moving story and I read this story out loud to my husband. He then came and read the story himself for a second time so that he can absorb the emotions first hand.

    Please post your other stories. Can't wait to read them.
     
  5. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    thanks a ton, akalya, for the very nice words you have about 'The Scar'. I will post other stories in due course.
    Words like yours are the greatest reward for any writer. They inspire us to write more, do better. They give us the satisfaction that hours of sleepless nights spent before the system after all have not gone in vain.
    sridhar
     
  6. uma

    uma Senior IL'ite

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    Really enjoyed the story and read it 3 times. The line that was memorable to me was

    "Become an expert in removing scars from the faces of loving sisters so that their brothers do not carry uglier scars on their souls"

    what the brother had was definitely a scar of the soul. Thanks for posting the story.
     
  7. malar

    malar Bronze IL'ite

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    This story was a great one [​IMG], Varalotti.
    I got a emotional with this one too!

    This story leaves me with a question...

    In real life, would a brother be so bothered about a scar in his sister's soul, inspite of all the love she had for him??? [​IMG]

    Isn't he left with a scar in his soul forever in his life now?

    If I may add something to the title of this story, I would like to call it as:

    "The scar - in a brother's soul".
     
  8. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Malar,
    Your addition to the the title is very poignant. That addition condenses the message of the story in one word. Would a brother be so concerned with a scar on his sister's face (you have written as sister's soul;as you rightly summed up, the scar is on two places, the sister's face and the brother's soul)
    Gandhiji once said that it is our fear that gets transformed into hatred. Probably seeing the scar and being scared by it (pun unintended) the brother develops a very deep hatred towards his sister. Sounds irrational. But not unreal. We read a lot about childhood fears, dislikes which go into the adult life also.
    I am very happy and very very proud that our women wherever they are stationed in the world still hold our cultural values high. Otherwise a story like 'The Scar' would not get such kind of reviews.
    thanks for the time, malar.
    sridhar (varalotti)
     
  9. Roshni

    Roshni Local Champion Staff Member Senior IL'ite

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    Good one!

    Was it a short story? :? Indeed a good one :)

    When there are many men like Sharadha's brother who go by external appearance, there are few men like Sharadha's husband who go by internal beauty.

    Interestng to know that what a blood relationship failed to digest/accept was fully accepted by a third person!
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Roshini,
    thanks for the nice words. Yes, The Scar is a short story. Written by me originally in Tamil in 1998 and published in Anandhavikatan.Later I translated into English and the story was published by The Deccan Herald, I think in 2002.
    The blood relationship failing to accept (when a third person the husband does it easliy) is a pertinent point. But Roshini, we should understand that the root of the brother's hatred is his childhood fear. A hatred rooted on fear and implanted during one's childhood hardly goes away. Whereas the husband meeting Sharadha later in her life does not carry any emotional baggage and being a compassionate man himself sees straight into her internal beauty.
    Thanks for the nice words, Roshini.
    varalotti (sridhar)
     

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