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A LOVE STORY - Episode 1

Discussion in 'Saturdays with Varalotti' started by varalotti, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    A LOVE STORY
    A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy
    Episode 1

    Impotent anger filled up the mind of the cab driver. He had been working non stop for the last two days, and the customer with whom he had travelled close to a thousand kilometres had insulted him with a ridiculously small tip.

    Driving that small diesel Indica was quite tedious for him as the car did not have a power steering. He saw a black Honda City majestically gliding by. Suddenly, and as it always happened with impotent anger, irrationally, he wanted to vent out his feelings on the driver of the black beauty.

    He overtook the vehicle from the wrong side and cut across to the front sending shockwaves to the sole occupant of the black car. Satisfied with his maneuver he was now driving fast towards his office.

    When he had almost forgotten about the Honda, it loomed large on his rear view mirror. Before he could take a decision, the car cut him short, made a sharp turn making the driver swerve the vehicle to the extreme left in fear and forcing him to apply the brakes with so much force that the people around could hear the sound of a horse neighing.

    The cab driver who had close to two hundred thousand kilometres of cross-country driving on his log had never seen such a perfect exhibition of controlled aggression.

    He was outsmarted, outmaneuvered and practically bullied, the consequences of his own road rage. Paradoxically the aggression had a therapeutic effect on him. He was now pacified and at the next traffic light he stopped his vehicle by the side of Honda, curious to have a look of admiration at the wonderful driver.

    He was expecting a veteran cab driver more like him but slightly younger and more powerful. He was shocked to see a woman who was hardly 40. He could not believe his eyes.

    The lady smiled innocently at him and before he could respond, the Honda vanished from the scene leaving to him stand before the green traffic light virtually immobilized.
     
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  2. varalotti

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    Part 2
    The Honda glided on, took a left turn to Cenatoph road and turned left again to turn to the large complex in the <st1:Street><st1:address>Cenotaph Lane</st1:address></st1:Street>.

    The security guard was silently admiring the lady who walked out of the car. She was about 5’ 6”, fair by Indian standards and slightly plumpy. There was an eternal curiousity present in her face which added to her charm and subtracted the years from her life.

    For otherwise she could not have been judged “hardly 40” by the cab driver a few minutes ago, given the fact that she had celebrated her fiftieth birthday only the previous month.

    She was dressed in an over starched off-white cotton saree and a sleeveless blouse of the same colour baring her beautiful arms.

    She briskly walked up the two flights of stairs avoiding the elevator. She stood for a second near the entrance of a well-appointed office in the second floor of the complex. The janitor was cleaning the brass name plate outside the office which read, “Dr. Kamla, Psychiatrist.”

    She was greeted by her Secretary and two other members of her staff before she walked into her large cabin. She switched off her mobile and sat down on the highly upholstered leather chair.

    She closed her eyes and was absolutely silent doing nothing, thinking nothing for the next fifteen minutes. Her secretary had strict instructions not to let any one in, not to pass on any calls even if it was an emergency.

    Kamla told her friends that she gathered a lot of “lucidity” during those fifteen minutes which helped her remain sane during the next eight hours of hard core professional work.
     
  3. varalotti

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    Part 3

    Anybody new today, Bhavani?”

    Kamla always focused on new patients. And when there was a new case, she always saw them first in the morning and more often than not spent the whole day for them.

    “You are never going to believe this, Ma’am, your new patient today is a clerk in a nationalised bank.”

    To Kamla every day in her profession brought in a new experience, a new vision which often destroyed a long-held illusion or a deep-rooted dogma.

    “A bank clerk? Seeking professional psychiatric help? My God, Bhavani, did you check his background?”

    “I did. I even have his employee number assigned by his bank. I checked with his bank’s head office in <st1:City><st1:place>Bangalore</st1:place></st1:City>. And they have confirmed.”

    “Did you tell them that you are speaking from a psychiatrist’s clinic?”

    “No, Ma’am. I told them that I got his horoscope for my sister and was doing a routine background check. They told me that he is a sincere employee, a good man with neat habits and a clean character.”

    “Thanks Bhavani. Did he fill up the forms?”

    “He did. I have placed them in the folder.”

    “Thanks again. Did you tell him that he should wait for fifteen minutes before the Doctor sees him?”

    “Yes, Ma’am.”

    “When is he coming?”

    “He’ll be in any time.”

    “Ok. Please switch on the camera and ask Dr. Rao to join me here. Quick. By the way, what’s his name?”

    “Mr.Arun Kumar.”
     
  4. varalotti

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    Part 4

    Whenever a new patient walked in Kamla always made him sit in the ante room and observed him through the camera. This “peep-in” gave her great insights into the workings of her patient’s mind.

    Kamla can zoom in on the patient’s face, his eyes, his eye-brows or his forehead and can understand the body language spoken usually aloud by the patients visiting a psychiatrist’s office.

    “Good Morning Kamla. How is Kumar doing? Did he have his constitutional whiskey last night?”

    “Good Morning, Rao. Kumar’s fine. He might forget his supper but not his whiskey.”

    “Let him drink, Kamla. Do you want to treat your own husband for withdrawal symptoms, at this age?”

    Dr. Rao was a neuro-physician who partnered with Dr. Kamla. Each had their own group of patients and they shared the overheads of the joint office.

    Kamla’s husband Kumar was a GP (General Practitioner) who had opted for an early retirement from Government service. Unlike many of his professional colleagues he was not interested in amassing money or working fourteen hours a day.

    Lack of avarice had made Kumar a kind man and an ideal husband for Kamla. Kumar was enjoying his retired life with his wife’s company, with his evening drinks, his old books and his old friends.

    Their only daughter Priya was in the <st1:country-region><st1:place>US</st1:place></st1:country-region> on a rare type of visa, known as the O1, given only to exceptionally bright, outstanding (hence the letter O in the visa’s name) research scholars. Priya was a brilliant theoretical physicist now doing her post-doc research at <st1:place>Princeton</st1:place>.

    Dr. Rao and Kumar went to the same medical school and were thick friends.

    Kamla always called Dr Rao to have a look at her new patients.

    Whether the patient was suffering from a mere “chemical imbalance” which can be remedied by even more harmful chemicals in the form of anti-depressants or whether a prolonged psychotherapy was called for, had always remained a billion dollar question.

    Kamla always consulted Dr. Rao before taking her call on that question.
     
  5. varalotti

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    Part 5
    The intercom rang.

    “He has come, Ma’am.”

    “Offer him some refreshments.”

    “Ok.”

    Kamla and Rao were now glued to a large television screen plugged to the camera which was capturing every movement of their “patient.”

    Arun Kumar was of wheatish complexion and was strikingly handsome. Kamla knew that he was 31 but he looked much younger.

    Kamla noticed his long hands and slender fingers. His face was a tad feminine but that only served to make him even more handsome.

    The eyes were of pure white and were constantly darting around the room. He was very tall and very slim. To Kamla he appeared to be a very sensitive, soft man.

    Kamla also noticed that Bhavani, her married, middle-aged secretary was staring at the handsome young man.

    “What’s he doing in a Government bank? He should be in the movies, Kamla. Looks a lot better than our paunchy middle-aged heroes. What do you say?”

    Kamla did not respond to Dr. Rao. She was looking for some signs of disturbance in him. He had brought a book with him and had started reading it. Bhavani was still looking at him.

    Kamla pressed a knob and zoomed in on the patient’s eyes. The eyes were very large and blemishless. Seeing them so close Kamla could discern some pain in them. Poor fellow! Should have been hurt! Badly hurt!

    Dr.Kamla had an excellent command over four languages, the first three spoken by the mouth and the fourth by the whole body.

    Command over the body language spoken by her patients was a professional skill which she had almost made into an art-form. Kamla can interpret pages of meanings for the smallest movement of the eyes or the slightest frown in the brows.

    After ten minutes she looked at Dr. Rao. He nodded. Kamla switched off the camera and waited for Rao’s prognosis.

    “Working in a government bank. Job satisfaction ruled out. Stress born out of frustration. Put him on the magic drug Prozac for six months. Then slowly taper off. He’d be fine.”

    “You are right, Rao. But I want to know what makes the kid sad. And if possible I would like to give a hard punch on the face of those idiots who hurt him.

    “He looks so fragile to me and I want to take care of him Rao. If I could not open him up then I’ll leave him to you and your beautiful chemical imbalance theory.”
    “The problem with you Kamla is that you get passionately attached to your patients. “

    “And the problem with you, Dr. Rao, is that you don’t.”

    “Ok dear, let’s not start our arguments in the morning. Go ahead. Best of luck. Let me know if you want any help. Good day.”

    “Thanks, Dr. Rao. Good day.”

    After Rao walked out of her cabin she called Bhavani asking her to let Arun Kumar in.
     
  6. varalotti

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    Part 6

    When Arun walked in and folded his hands in her direction Kamla melted so much that she was prepared to destroy the whole world to give happiness to that kid.

    “Have your seat Mr. Arun Kumar.”

    “Thanks.”

    She started talking about some problem she had with her bankers. Arun did not show any interest. She switched over to the weather which drew a perfect blank from her young patient.

    Then she changed over to inflation, fuel prices and the politics underlying them. Again monosyllabic answers and a total lack of enthusiasm.

    She made a note in her mind in bold italics, font size 16: Subject not interested in small talk.
    She then confronted him directly.

    “What made you seek professional help, Mr. Arun Kumar?”

    “Depression, Doctor. Total, absolute, paralysing, agonising depression. Interferes with my work and performance.”

    Depression interfering with the work of a Government bank clerk? Impossible. In fact she had developed a theory that if you are in a dull, repetitive, monotonous job, you will have to be totally uncreative and even slightly depressed to perform well.

    Creative artists and enthusiastic characters usually mess up such routine jobs. It is somehow difficult to think of Shoba De or Vikram Seth as efficient bank tellers.

    “I don’t want to be rude, Arun. But do you honestly think that you need all the enthusiasm in the world to do a clerical job in a Government bank?”

    Arun Kumar smiled in exasperation.

    “No Doctor, I am not talking about my bank job. I am talking about my job as a writer.”

    “My God, are you a writer? What’s your pen name?”

    “Vidyabharathi.”

    “My God, once again! Don’t tell me that you are the great Vidyabharathi the only writer I love and adore. Was not your story on devadasis made into a movie which was a box office hit? I saw the movie twelve times. Now please don’t tell me that you are that Vidyabarathi?”

    “I am, Doctor. But that’s a closely guarded secret. Even my bank doesn’t know that I write. People who know Vidyabarathi do not know Arun Kumar and vice versa. I see to it that my picture does not appear in my books or magazines carrying my stories. But I don’t think I can hold up for long. Truth will be out someday. Then I plan quitting my bank job.”

    Kamla gulped down a glass of water before continuing the conversation.

    “Of late I am not able to write much. It could be the writer’s block. But I think I am depressed. I told this to my publisher to whom my next manuscript is long overdue. It was he who advised me to seek professional help and referred your name.”

    That was about the maximum information she could wriggle out from him.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2008
  7. varalotti

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    Part 7

    Kamla asked about his childhood, his school-days, college-days, and about his love affairs. She knew that he was single from the forms filled out by him. There was an unusual reticence when she talked about love.

    She was in a playful mood.

    “Arun Kumar you are very handsome. You are a writer. And girls would have swarmed to you. Even my secretary was ogling at you. Now please don’t tell me that you were never in love.”

    “Let’s not talk about that, Doctor. Let’s just talk about my depression and its treatment.”

    ‘Talking about your love and treating your depression, both are the same, you moron.’ Kamla could not help muttering to herself.

    She took him around the periphery several times before returning to the topic of love. But Arun did not open up. Kamla tried several times and failed.

    Arun was now behaving like a small child who did not want to show his boil to his Doctor, afraid that the Doctor might cut it open.

    And Kamla was like the Doctor determined to cut open the boil if necessary by using violent force on that boy. She decided to infuriate Arun. She feigned an angry expression on her face and shouted at him.

    “Mr. Arun Kumar, you know something, you are phoney. A fake. An imposter. You are just feigning depression.

    “You are very proud of your appearance and your writing skills. With this kind of ego you could never have been in love. Because love requires the acceptance of other person which your ego would never let you do.

    “You could not have even loved your mother enough.”
    Kamla had raised her voice from font size 10 to 14.

    The last sentence hit Arun where it hurt the most.

    “You.. you… you.. heartless woman.. How dare you say that… “ Impulsively he picked up the paper knife on the table and threw it on her. The sharp edge hit her forehead and there was a spot of blood.

    Hearing the sound Bhavani rushed into the room with two male nurses. The nurses found that something was wrong. They sandwiched Arun between them and were holding him in their grip.

    Kamla covered the wound with her hand. She did not want her staff to see blood.

    She looked at Arun Kumar being held captive by the two burly male nurses.

    “Please leave him alone. He’s fine. You may go. We are not yet finished. “

    “Are you all right, Ma’am?”

    “I’m fine, Bhavani. You may go.”
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2008
  8. varalotti

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    Part 8

    Once they left the room Kamla took a tissue and wiped the blood in her forehead. She went to the medicine chest and found out some anti-septic ointment which she applied on the wound.

    “Yes, Arun, we can continue the session now.”

    Of course she did not expect him to continue as if nothing had happened. But neither did she expect that he would lapse into sobbing.

    She stood from her chair went to him and placed her hand on his shoulder.

    “I am sorry, Doctor. See what this depression is doing to me.”

    “The depression did not do that, Arun. I did that. I provoked you.

    “What I did is the psychological equivalent of a GP jabbing your body with a needle just to know whether you can feel the pain. You screamed and I am relieved to know that your mind is up and running.

    “If there’s one person who should apologise, it’s me, Arun. I am terribly sorry. I never meant a word of what I said.”

    “ “

    “Will you come again to see me?”

    Arun just nodded.

    “Well, this is enough for the day. I’ll have my secretary call you and fix up the next appointment. I can douse you with chemicals and drive away this depression. But it will come back later with a vengeance.

    “Psychotherapy is a long-drawn process and it could be as painful as chemotherapy but far more effective, if you co-operate with me.

    “I have a suggestion for you, Arun. You should find out a lady friend for yourself. And slowly confess everything in her. Remember, I am not asking you to love a woman. Just be friends with her. It could be your sister, cousin, colleague, any one. That’ll help a lot in your psychotherapy sessions.”

    Arun was lost in thought for a while. Kamla did not speak. After a full minute Arun lifted his head to look at her. His eyes were blood-shot and still glistening with tears.

    “Doctor, I lost my mother when I was twelve. I was the only child. After my mother’s death I never found any one who loved me. That’s the reason your words hurt me so much.”

    “I’m sorry, Arun.”

    “It’s all right. You wanted me to have a lady friend, right? I don’t have sisters or cousins who can fill up that role. Most of my women colleagues are not interested in just platonic friendship and I am not interested in them. My woman readers – the last thing I want in this world is to discuss my depression with them. My readership would come down and my depression would go up.

    “I know it is asking for too much. Still I can’t help asking. I hit you. Violently. I drew blood. Had you just made the slightest frown in your eyes, those goondas who came in as male nurses would have made a mincemeat of me. You did not tell anything to them.
    You have fully accepted me along with the paperknife I threw at you.

    I can’t think of anybody else in this world – my father very specifically included – doing that for me. Will you be my friend, Doctor? Will you let me pour out my mind to you? I can talk a lot more about me if you are just my friend and not my psychiatrist. Will you let me hold your hands and cry on your shoulders? Will you be there for me, Doctor?”

    Kamla has made hundreds of her patients cry in her clinic. But this one had turned the tables against her. She never expected that kind of a request from one of her patients.

    Her motherly instincts were aroused and she took Herculean efforts to contain her emotions and told him in a choked voice,

    “Yes, Arun.”

    “Thanks Doctor. I won’t trouble you. In fact I won’t call you at all. Whenever you are free and feel like talking to me, you call me. We’ll meet at the place and time you choose. Thanks, once again.”

    “You are welcome.”

    “How much do I owe you for this consultation?”

    “Please wait in the next room. Bhavani will tell you.”

    “So long, Doctor. I am sorry I hit you.”

    “It’s all right.”

    “Will be waiting for your call. Take care. Bye.”

    “You too. Bye.”
     
  9. varalotti

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    Part 9

    It took some time for Kamla to compose herself. Bhavani came into the room. Kamla scribbled something on a piece of paper and gave it to her. Bhavani was surprised to read that.

    “Give it to him.”

    As soon as Bhavani stepped out of the room, Kamla switched on the camera. Arun was looking at one of the paintings in the ante-room.

    Bhavani gave the slip to him.

    Arun read the note. “I collect fees only from my patients and not from my friends. Good Day.”

    Kamla zoomed the camera on to Arun’s face. He was frozen for a while. Tears started welling up in his eyes.

    He turned towards Kamla’s cabin and saluted in her direction with tearful eyes.

    Kamla could not contain her emotions any longer.
     
  10. brindhak

    brindhak Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar...

    Read the whole episode in a single strecth..I know my eyes stuck to the montior...and forget to blink. as usual when reading your writings !!....

    What a lovley Opening Sridhar...... Your Kamala is still in front of my eyes..I can see her smiling,see her siting in her room,.,see her love for her patients through your wonderful narration...Profound Gesture !!

    And Your Arun....must be a lovable guy..but still I couldnt portray his face..need some time to kick my imagination , cos he is the Hero .... :)

    A Writer is writing about a Writer ....GREAT sridhar..this has increased my expectations !! ...

    And also many Questions in my mind..Why Arun is depressed ..? Is he in Love..? What made him cry?? Like this many Questions Sri....

    A Good start is Half Done !! You have done it Sri....Bow..You Simply Rock !!

    I missed many lovely novels and story books when I came M'asia I had a feel that I couldnt read those books ..But Im damn sure...you writings are going to replace those books Sri...

    Waiting Eagerly for your next Episode .....
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2008

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