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HE - Episode 10

Discussion in 'HE - Serial Story' started by varalotti, Jan 11, 2008.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    HE

    A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy

    Episode 10


    Timeline B



    Sethu foiled Balki’s attempts to disgrace him. Sharada looked at Sethu with admiration.

    The private detective, still standing at the same place, looked at them with frustration.

    For such a long wait he had only one picture of value. But his was a state-of-the-art camera and he had a sophisticated computer and even more sophisticated software back in his studio. He could work miracles with that one picture.

    Even Sethu’s alertness could not extend as far as the private detective.

    The detective sent a curt message to the mobile number he was given. “Subject caught in action.”

    A few seconds later Balki was reading the message with a wicked smile on his face.
     
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 2!

    Part 2!


    Balki was seated before the CEO of the private intelligence agency at Harrington Road.

    “Sorry, Balki, we didn’t find anything wrong with your wife. She was just talking to the masseur at Le Meridian. That was a decent, harmless talk that happens between friends.

    “I don’t know whether you will believe me. But your wife is a very good woman. A woman of high moral standards. And here’s the real picture.”

    “KV don’t give that crap to me. When I gave the job to you, I told you that I wanted some “touching up” to be done on the photographs. Now my mission is not to gather intelligence about my wife’s morality; but to find some strong evidence I can use against her in the divorce case.”

    “I know, Balki. I have got the photos touched up. You are my long-term client. You pay me very well. I have always loved working for you, though many times, the transactions were shady.

    “But in this case, I will have to warn you Balki, you are trying to accuse a blemishless woman. It has never worked. And it always backfires.”

    “KV, when I feel like listening to your preaching I will fix up an appointment and come. But now I want those photos.”

    KV pulled a Manilla envelope from his table drawer and pushed it towards Balki. Balki grabbed it, pried it open and took out a picture. Sharada was lying on Sethu’s lap. Sethu’s fingers were on Sharada’s face.

    “Don’t be so heartless, Balki. If you decide not to use these fakes, I will waive my entire fees for this assignment. I am ruthless in my job, Balki. But even I do not have the heart to hurt a noble woman like her. Please, please… leave her alone.”

    “KV you are not my conscience keeper. You are merely doing some detective work for me. And here’s your payment, all in cash, in small denominations, the way you prefer. Have you kept the negatives inside?”

    “This is 21<sup>st</sup> century, Balki. We are using digital cameras and computers for the work. No negatives. I have asked the photographer to destroy the original photo and all these fakes. Don’t worry about that.”

    With all the cost and clumsiness of the olden days film-photographs, there was one great advantage. Having the photo negative ensured that nobody else can have the copies.

    But with digital photography and modern computers, the pictures are never completely destroyed. They are stored in the system in a back-up folder and in some CDs, just in case. Sharada’s touched up pictures were no exception to that rule.
     
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  3. varalotti

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    Part 3!

    Part 3!

    The doctored photographs represented a cruel victory for Balki. They were a matter of moral concern for the otherwise ruthless CEO of the detective agency. But for the photographer who took those pictures it was just a matter of professional expertise.

    He used them to prove to his clandestine customers to get more orders for similar work. Even before delivering the doctored pictures to the detective agency he made a copy of all of them in his 1 GB pen-drive. He printed out copies of some of the pictures.

    He threw one of the touched-up pictures before a prospect who doubted his abilities.

    “See, this lady is cheating on her husband. This guy is her lover. I was hired by her jealous husband to take this picture. You know this lady is a popular dancer.”

    “I know.. I know…… and I think I know this guy. He is….”

    “A masseur at Le Meridian. I took this near the hotel’s swimming pool. Do you know how difficult it was? I was hiding behind a bush all day to take these pictures.”

    “OK. Let’s continue the talk tomorrow. I have to to go now.”

    That prospect was Mani, a big name in the Chennai real estate market. He belonged to the same club to which Balki belonged. There was a long-standing rivalry between the two. Balki had defeated him in the last year’s election for the Club’s secretaryship. Balki had insulted him many times on the cards table. They were not on talking terms.

    Mani saw the time. Balki would be in the club now. He ran to his car and drove like mad to the exclusive club on the Mount Road.
     
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  4. varalotti

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    Part 4!

    Part 4!


    Balki was in the club’s bar with another friend. Mani sat in the adjacent table. He looked around the bar and found an acquaintance. He called him to his table.

    As they were conversing about something, Mani talked about the rigging that happened in the election for club’s secretary. He was deliberately loud to infuriate Balki.

    “But for a massive rigging in the last election, this club would not have had an impotent man for a secretary.”

    In a flash of a second Balki was upon him.

    “You scum, how dare you call me impotent? I am keeping three woman and can’t have enough sex. And you, eununch, you are talking about my potency!”

    Mani was outwardly enraged. But inwardly he was happy that Balki had fallen into his trap.

    Balki was now trying to strangulate Mani.

    Mani replied with characteristic nonchalance.

    “A man who’s wife is going steady with a masseur – how do you call that cuckold?”
    Balki was shocked. His hands lost their grip on Mani.

    “I will accept that you are a man, if you have the guts to kill the other man. Otherwise, be decent enough to accept the title I conferred on you.”

    Balki pounced on him and pushed him down to the floor. Other members intervened and pulled them apart.

    Killing Sethu was what Balki had planned eventually. But now he wanted to do it right away.
     
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  5. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 5!

    Part 5!

    Sharada was in a state of turmoil. She knew very well that between her and Balki, not even a faint façade of marriage subsisted. Should she walk out on him now? What was the pointing in living with a heartless man and suffer his taunts for no fault of hers?

    If she walked out on Balki, she would not be killing their marriage. She would be just performing a decent funeral for an indecent marriage that had died long back. Or a marriage that never showed any sign of life but for some brief moments during the first few months.

    She badly wanted a change of place. She decided to go to Bangalore that afternoon to spend time with some of her friends. She called her travel agent and did her ticketing. She was to fly by afternoon flight on that day.

    She called the live-in maid and cook and told them about her programme. That was the unwritten code of conduct followed in that house. If Balki or Sharada planned an outstation trip, they would keep the servants informed. The servants, in turn, would inform the other spouse.

    When Balki came home for a late lunch on that day, the cook informed him about Sharada’s Bangalore trip. Balki had been planning a small escapade for quite some time. Now that Sharada was away he wanted to use the opportunity.

    He told the cook and the maid to go on leave till Sharada came back.

    Balki returned home early in the evening with a voluptuous woman, one of his several liaisons. Balki was so overcome with passion that things got out of control right in the drawing room itself.

    As fate would have it, Sharada’s flight was delayed inordinately. When she learnt that she could not get to fly out till 9 PM that night, she cancelled the trip and returned home. It was about six in the evening and there was still some light outside.

    She let herself into the house with her key and was shocked to see Balki and another woman in the drawing room in flagrante delicto.

    That was the proverbial last straw on the camels back. A straw that was so heavy that it almost broke the camel’s back.

    Sharada was not naïve enough to think that Balki never cheated on her. But to bring a lady to the house and have it in the drawing room, was a crude affront to her womanhood.

    Shakespeare’s sutra, “Sweet are the uses of adversity” proved true in a strange way. The incident helped her go ahead with her decision of walking out on Balki.

    Surprisingly after the initial flush of emotions, her mind was unusually calm. Her way forward in life was still not clear. But one thing was clear.

    She was not going to live in the same house with Balki. She went to her room silently. She packed all her valuables – jewels, bank deposit receipts, share certificates and a few property documents.

    She took out her large travel case and stuffed some of her dresses into it. In another case she stuffed her important personal belongings. Then she picked out the most precious books from her collection and put them into a sack.

    She transferred her baggages to her car all by herself going several times up and down.

    Balki was not to be seen. May be he had taken the lady to his bedroom, she thought. She felt relieved that he would not be there to block her way or raise unnecessary questions.
     
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  6. varalotti

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    Part 6!

    Part 6!

    While Sharada had decided firmly to go, she had not decided whereto. She was driving her black Skoda Octavia like mad. She even contemplated killing herself. But then decided against it because that would give an undue, undeserved victory to a heartless criminal.

    She was caught in the late evening traffic at the Tharamani junction. And then she was slowly inching towards west. She travelled further and at the end of the Sardar Patel Road turned left to join the heavy Mount Road traffic.

    She realised all of a sudden that she had nowhere to go. She ruled out going to any of her relatives’ houses. None of them were close enough for her to seek a refuge. Her friends were in Bangalore. But then she did not want to drive to Bangalore all by herself, especially in the night.

    By that time the car was in GST Road. To her left she saw Le Meridian’s huge neon sign board. Her decision was made in a fraction of a second. She turned left earning choicest abuses from the drivers coming behind her.

    She parked her car in the lot and almost ran into the hotel. When the receptionist told her that their GM was Nalini was still there, she heaved a sigh of relief.

    When she saw Nalini’s affectionate welcoming smile, Sharada almost broke down. Seeing Nalini’s PA Susan in the room, she checked herself.

    Nalini sent Susan for some work and made sure that her room was locked.

    “Tell me Sharada, what happened?”

    “Nalini….. Nalini…. I… have….”

    Sharada was about to break into sobbing.

    “Tell me dearie, what do you want.”

    “Nalini, I want to hug you and cry. Please….”

    Nalini stood up from her seat and came near Sharada. Sharada buried her face in Nalini’s chest and broke into violent sobs. Nalini let her cry for a while. When Sharada finished crying she gave her a glass of cool water and ordered tea for her.

    Nalini did not ask anything from her. But Sharada started talking. She told about her marriage, about Balki and finally about what she saw in her drawing room that day.

    “I am now on the street, Nalini.”

    “No, Sharada, you are not. Didn’t you say that you wanted to have an elder sister like me? You have one now.”

    “Nalini” Sharada flew into her arms once again.

    “Sharada, my house is in Guindy. It’s under renovation now. So I have got special permission and am staying in a room here. The room is big enough to hold both of us. I will have your baggages shifted to the room. Have you finished your dinner?”

    “I am in no mood to eat tonight.”

    “Come on, Sharada. The best way to beat the stress is to indulge, especially in rich food. I will have the best food ,our chefs can manage, delivered to our room. We will eat together. I have another hour of work left. If you want to take some rest I will show you the room.”

    “I don’t want to go to the room. If it’s okay with you, I will just be here watching you
    doing your work. Somehow my hope to live gets renewed when I see you.”

    “Anything you want, Sharada. Can I get you some more tea?”

    “No thanks.”
     
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  7. varalotti

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    Part 7!

    Part 7!


    The Chefs at Le Meridian had gone out of the way to do something for their loving boss, Nalini. When Nalini told them that she had a guest and wanted nothing but the best from them for dinner, it was celberation time for them. For a true Chef there is nothing more rewarding than preparing the best food for somebody he loves.

    The dinner menu for the two ladies was simply outlandish.

    They started with a mild concoction of tender coconut water sprinkled with spices and fruit pieces. Hot minestrone soup with crispy panneer pakoras and vegetable springrolls followed suit.

    The next to come was the cute mini cucumber oothappams liberally dozed with the traditional chilli powder.

    A cook from Down South had strained himself to mimic the famous Azhagarkoil Dosai. It was a little harder than the normal dosa but with an overdose of pepper it was delicious beyond words. He had made them into small pieces to be taken one at a time.

    Kamala orange rasam and rice followed. After some curd rice, in rolled the dessert trolley which had Fig fruit Walnut Halwa and a yummy chocolatie ice-cream sundae in freshly baked waffles.

    After the dinner Nalini made it a point to call each of the Chefs to appreciate their handiwork and to thank them for the great food.

    After an hour of chit-chatting with Nalini, Sharada went to sleep. She had a nice dreamless sleep after a very long time. Nalini woke her up around 7 AM with a cup of hot South Indian filter coffee.

    “Good Morning Sharada. Don’t do anything today. Just relax. You can spend time in our bookshop or in the health club.

    “I suggest that you go to our multi-cuisine restaurant. It will be like an airport lounge. Seeing so many people from different parts of the world, you will feel refreshed and will get a proper perspective of your problem. We can discuss about it after three days.”

    “Thanks a lot, Nalini. I hope I am not imposing myself on you.”

    “Not at all, dear. Oh, I forgot. Sethu will be coming around two in the afternoon today. He will not be busy till five in the evening. You can spend some time with him if you want.”

    Sharada did not know why her heart skipped a beat when she heard the name of Sethu.
     
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  8. varalotti

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    Part 8!

    Part 8!


    Sharada had a very light breakfast and had a light buffet lunch with Nalini late in the morning. She spent some time browsing the books. She had an eye on her watch and was eagerly waiting for the hour hand to go near two.

    At ten past two Sharada was present at the health club.

    Sethu stood up and smiled at her. Sharada thought she found more friendliness in his smile. Or was it just an hallucination caused by her over-worked mind? She was not sure.

    Sharada drew a chair and sat down to talk.

    “If you don’t mind, Madam, can we go to the ladies section? Your sitting with me here in the gents section will raise some eye-brows.”

    “Whatever you say, Sethu. But on one condition.”

    “Yes, Ma’am.”

    “You should call me Sharada hereafter. I don’t like you calling me, Ma’am.”

    Sethu smiled.

    “I am comfortable with Ma’am. Honestly, I feel it is a little too early for the next step.”

    Sethu was only referring to the way of addressing. But Sharada read between the lines. The words indicated that Sethu was interested in the next step; but the time had not come. Sharada was quite happy.

    “Ok. As you please.”

    They moved on to the ladies’ section which was practically empty at that time. Kanchana had gone for lunch.

    “Do you have anybody to assist you, Sethu?”

    “I do. He has gone for lunch and will be back at four.”

    Sethu placed two comfortable lounge chairs in a large ante-room in the ladies section.

    This time the talk was not about Zen, dance or philosophy. It was personal. Sharada was determined to have it that way.

    “Do you know, Sethu, that I have moved in here with Nalini?”

    “Ma’am told me this morning.”

    “Wont you ask me the reason?”

    “I thought it would be an intrusion into your personal life.”

    “My husband ditched me. And I have run away from my house.”

    Sharada briefly narrated the events of the previous day. Sethu listened with rapt attention.

    There was definitely not a tinge of happiness in his eyes. They were as sad as usual. There was not even a slight look of condescension or amusement. But the absolute serenity with which Sethu received her story without hurrying to add any comments or an angry remark against Balki offended her.

    Sethu’s body language made her restless and at the end of her narration she blurted out.

    “Of course, you can never know my pain. You have been living a recluse life. How can you know the pain of a cheated spouse?”

    Many times casual, unconscious remarks like this one caused a deeper wound than the words deliberately intended to hurt others.

    Tragedy in life affects different people in different ways. It makes many people totally insensitive and immune to further grief and renders them incapable of being happy.

    Once these people go through hell, they lose their emotional capacity either to enjoy in heavan or to suffer in hell. It is a kind of disability no doubt; but hardly felt.

    In a few exceptional cases the tragedy tends to heighten one’s sensitivity. That was the case with Sethu.

    He never thought that of all the persons Sharada would hurl such words at him.

    In spite of his best efforts to control, his eyes became red and tear-laden in no time. Sharada now realised her mistake. She got hold of Sethu’s hands.

    “Sethu, I’m sorry. Absolutely sorry. Please forgive this arrogant fool. I never meant to hurt you, Sethu. Please….”

    Sethu was looking straight into her eyes.

    “It is quite easy to think that we are the only persons suffering in the whole world. And the rest of the world is dancing in happiness. The truth is that suffering is universal. There is virtually no life without some kind of a pain or other.”

    Sethu’s voice was empty of all emotions. But his suffering was quite obvious. Sharada did not know what to do.

    They were silent for a while.

    Sharada’s mind was working furiously. She was now technically free from the bonds of marriage. This was the right time to tell her feelings to Sethu.

    But how could she tell that on his face? What if Sethu rejects her love? In a way it is better to declare one’s love and be rejected than not to speak your mind at all. As Sethu said while replying to Balki, ‘It is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all.’

    “Sethu…”

    “…mm.”

    “Sethu…..”

    “….mm”

    “Sethu, I’m afraid this might be the last chance I have. I love you, Sethu.”

    Sethu stood up from his seat. He looked shocked.

    “Please sit down, Sethu. Just hear me out. Then whatever you decide, it’s fine by me. “

    Sethu sat down.

    “I have lost all hopes to live. I know you carry a deep wound within you. So I am not forcing you to accept my love.

    “But I badly want a life with you, Sethu. If not as your wife, at least as your maid. I want to be with you, talk to you, live in the same house with you. Please Sethu, please don’t let me down.”

    “Ma’am, you do not know me at all. What you have seen is only a small fraction of my real self. One day I will tell you about my past life. Then…”

    Sethu’s words were interrupted by a loud wail coming from the gents section of the health club.

    Sharada shrieked in response. Sethu recognised the owner of the voice. Nalini.

    “MADAM” Sethu yelled as he ran to the gent’s section.
     
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  9. malspie

    malspie Platinum IL'ite

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    Hi Sri,

    I enjoyed reading the episode, it was filled with pain of a woman carving for love when loneliness has towered her stature. Your way with words starting from Sharada deciding to annul the marriage, her quick left turn towards the Hotel creating a traffic havoc, she pleading to sit and watch Nalini work rather than rest in her room - this was extremely touching and it proves that you take care of others feelings, the sobs of Sethu and Sharada quickly disclosing here about her feelings for him; was all apt for the situation. Sri, your stories are more like Screenplay, why don't you give it to some producer, you can hit very in that zone too.

    In a nutshell, it was worth the wait as usual. :cheers:cheers:cheers
     
  10. Hemalata

    Hemalata Senior IL'ite

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    Hello Sri sir,
    I enjoyed reading today's episode. I wasn't expecting it on Friday so I was pleasantly surprised. And it was a great pleasure.

    I have just newly started reading your stories. I read SHE some days back and completed reading it at one go. I was so engrossed in it that I couldn't even think of taking any breaks.
    I am enjoying reading HE as much as I enjoyed SHE. I really cherish the words of wisdom thrown to us every now and then. This time it was the quote regarding "suffering" by Sethu.

    Thank you for such a lovely piece of write-up..

    Best regards
    Hema
     

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