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HE - Episode 11

Discussion in 'HE - Serial Story' started by varalotti, Jan 18, 2008.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    HE
    A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy

    Episode 11


    Timeline B



    Sharada expressed her love to Sethu. Sethu was so much taken by surprise that he could not immediiately respond to her proposal.

    He had just started narrating about his past life, when a loud wail was heard from the gents’ section of the health club.

    Sharada shrieked in response. Sethu recognised the owner of the voice. Nalini. Sethu ran out like mad.

    Nalini was lying in a pool of blood. She had been stabbed in her stomach. The assailants had run away. Sethu saw them running. But his priority was to save Nalini.
     
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  2. varalotti

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    Part 2!

    Part 2!



    Balki had sent two of his goons to kill Sethu. They were gathering information about their victim. When they found out that Sethu was a past-master in Varmakkalai they were mortally afraid.

    At the same time they did not have the courage to withdraw from the project. Enmity with Balki was worse than having AIDS. If they backed out now, Balki would have them killed.

    They decided that a surprise gorilla attack on Sethu was the only way out.

    They had planned to come in as customers to the health club during the lean hours in the afternoon. And while Sethu was attending on them they had planned to stab him to death and vanish from the scene.

    When Sharada came to see Sethu and wanted to spend some time with him, Sethu decided that it would be better if they talked in the ladies section. He did not want any raised eye-brows especially because Sharada was now Nalini’s guest.

    The goons came to the gents’ section and had enquired a bell boy about Sethu. They were told that he would be in the ladies’ section and might come there any time.

    They had planted themselves behind the door in the mens section. They changed the plan now. When Sethu entered that room they would pounce upon him and stab him repeatedly so that he did not have a chance to defend.

    From the place they hid themselves, they could not see who was coming. So when they heard the sound of footsteps, they thought that Sethu was coming in. But it was Nalini who came in to find out how Sharada was doing.

    As soon as she entered the reception area of the gents’ section the assailants pounced on her and stabbed her in her stomach. Then only they realised that they had attacked the wrong person and ran out of the hotel.
     
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    Part 3!

    Part 3!

    In a flash Sethu lifted Nalini in his hands and started running towards the hotel lounge. Sharada ran before him to the Reception.

    She made them call Apollo Hospitals for an ambulance. She asked the lady in the reception to check whether any Doctor was staying there in the hotel.

    As luck would have it, one of Apollo Hospital ambulances was returning to its base from a place which was just a mile away from Le Meridien.

    When the hospital transmitted the call to the Ambulance driver’s radio he switched on the wailing siren and started driving fast towards Le Meridien.

    Meanwhile Appollo’s ER staff located a Doctor who was living near that area. He was asked to rush to Le Meridian. The Doctor’s contact number was then furnished to the Ambulance Driver who started co-ordinating with him.

    Sethu and Sharada got into the ambulance along with Nalini. Nalini had fainted by then. The Doctor came just at the nick of the time and jumped into the ambulance.

    He checked Nalini’s pulse, her eyes and the condition of her wound. He sought Sharada’s help to remove Nalini’s dress and dress her in a sterilised hospital gown which was there in the vehicle. He tried various ways to stem the blood flow.

    Then he called Apollo’s trauma care and started barking orders. By the time Nalini was wheeled out of the ambulance at the main Apollo Hospital at Greams Road, a well-equipped medical team was ready to take over.

    Sharada and Sethu ran with the stretcher till it disappeared into the emergency room.
     
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    Part 4!

    Part 4!



    Several minutes later a senior Doctor emerged out of the room. Sethu ran to him and caught hold of his hands.

    “She is out of danger. Thank God, we could find an ambulance quite close by and that has made all the difference. We need to do a surgery right now. Some blood transfusion may be required. She will be all right tomorrow morning.”

    Sethu shook the Doctor’s hands violently. Sharada heaved a sigh of relief.

    “I need one of her close relatives to sign these forms.”

    The Doctor was waving some papers in his hand. Sethu grabbed them and started signing in the places pointed out by the Doctor.

    “There is absolutely no risk. Or I’ll put it this way. She has a 95% chance of survival. But you know, a corporate hospital, has some extra formalities….”

    Sethu was signing those forms furiously.

    The Doctor collected the forms from him and before going back into the ER he turned around and asked, “You are..”

    “Sethuraman.”

    “You are her….”

    “Son” – That was what Sethu wanted to shout. But that would invite unnecessary questions as Nalini was just a few years elder than Sethu.

    “Brother.” Sethu mumbled.

    “When is her husband coming?”

    “He wont come. He left her long back. She’s divorced.”

    Sharada was shocked. She felt ashamed that in spite of moving so closely with Nalini she had not enquired about her life.

    Sharada vividly remembered what Sethu told her in the health club.

    “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.”

    These words had crushed her heart at that time and they crushed it even now.

    Till that very moment Sharada was thinking that Nalini should be leading a picture-perfect life.

    She always assumed that as Nalini had a good job and was an outgoing woman, naturally she should have a happy family back at home. It was a rude shock for Sharada to realise that Nalini too had her share of problems.

    Now she felt like a small girl besides Nalini who was facing her problems with majesty and grace. Sharada lapsed into a sob on this discovery.

    Sethu thought that Sharada was crying for Nalini.

    He came near her and told her softly.

    “Don’t worry Sharada. She will be fine.”

    Sharada was surprised. She never thought that Sethu would call her by her name so soon. Even in that moment of grief and guilt, Sharada felt a sudden joy leaping in her heart.

    After the surgery Nalini was wheeled into a special ward late in the night. Sharada stayed with her in the hospital.
     
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    Part 5!

    Part 5!


    Sethu came early next morning. He had a flask in his hand.

    “Sethu, I don’t think the Doctors will now let her take coffee.”

    “It’s for you, Sharada.”

    Every time Sethu told her name she felt as if he was touching her face. She blushed.
    Nalini was sleeping.

    The Doctor who performed the surgery came around 9 in the morning. Nalini had just woken up. Sharada and Sethu were by her side.

    The Surgeon checked her pulse, pressure and temperature.

    “Mrs. Nalini, you are out of danger. I am sorry, we had to remove your uterus. It was badly damaged and we did not want to risk any infection over there. Other than that you are doing fine. You might have to be here for a week’s time at the maximum.”

    There was a bland smile on Nalini’s face. As soon as the Doctor left Nalini spoke almost in a whisper.

    “Did you see the irony, Sethu? My uterus was like my appendix. It did not have any known purpose. The doctors told me long back that I could never become a mother. I had lost its functions already. Yesterday I just lost the form. What’s the big deal?”

    Sethu’s eyes had become red. Sharada was too shocked even to speak.

    A nurse came in to give some tablets to Nalini. After a while Nalini dozed off to sleep.

    Sharada was sitting in the adjoining bed constantly looking at Nalini’s sleeping form. Sethu had gone out on some work.
     
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    Part 6!

    Part 6!



    When Nalini woke up around <st1:time minute="0" hour="12">noon</st1:time> she was pleasantly surprised to see her room full of bouquets. Sethu had returned by then.

    “All these are from our staff, Ma’am. Almost every one of them has given a bouquet and a card. Here are the cards.”

    There was a large bunch of get-well cards. Nalini picked up a card at random and tried to read. She was in tears.

    From the Chairman of Le Meridian to the bell boy, from the F&B Manager to the trainee-waiter, every one had sent her a card.

    “Did you bring all these things, Sethu?”

    “No Ma’am. The staff were here. They came in batches. The Doctors told them that you should not be disturbed at any cost.

    “They told him that they did not come to see you. They came just to pray for you. They were all standing in batches before the room and were silently praying for your recovery. The nurse told me that such a thing has never happened here in Appollo.”

    Nalini sobbed.

    “What did I do Sethu? Why should these people love me so much? How am I going to repay that love, Sethu?”

    “Love is meant to be experienced, Ma’am. It is not a debt to be repaid.”


    “And you know, Mani from F&B met the Doctor and asked about your food. The Doctor told him clearly that you should eat only the food provided by the hospital.

    "Mani fought with him to get a special permission to personally prepare the food for you. The Doctor was adamant. He told him that there are ten persons in this wing. And he could not allow special food to be brought to one of them.

    “Whereupon Mani told him that he will prepare food for all the ten persons every day till you leave the hospital.”

    “Sethu, do you think that any other boss in this world has enjoyed this much of love from her staff?”

    “You are not their boss. You are their mother. You have been taking care of them all along. Now it is the childrens’ turn.”
     
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    Part 7!

    Part 7!



    They heard a knock in the door. Sethu went and opened it. F&B Mani was standing outside with a large lunch basket.

    “Sethu, can I come in and just have a look?”

    “Please, Mani. Madam is awake. We were just talking about you.”

    Mani had always been used to seeing Nalini in action. For him she was a real boss who could take tough decisions in a fraction of a second and be very caring at the same time.

    Somehow he could not reconcile himself to seeing Nalini lying in a hospital bed. He meant to ask, “Madam, how are you?” But only a sob escaped from his mouth.

    Nalini had to take herculean efforts to avoid an emotional breakdown in Mani’s presence.

    “Come on, come on in Mani. I heard that you fought with the Doctor to cook for me. Now let me see whether the food is worth the fight.”

    Mani was a born cook. He was not yet a Chef. But they were going to make him one the next year. On hearing Sharada’s words, he wiped his eyes and started taking things from his lunch basket.

    In just a few minutes he set a table before Nalini. He had brought in a table-cloth, flower vase and even a few candles. When Mani was in the catering college the first thing they taught him was that a well-set dinner table was as important as a well-cooked dinner.

    “Ma’am this is warm water with cumin. An excellent appetizer. And this is beet-root soup with coriander leaves. These are mini idlies soaked in ghee and dozed with pepper powder. And this…”

    Nalini was overwhelmed. But she was not sure whether she could eat all those fancy stuff brought in by Mani.

    Mani read her thoughts.

    “I have got the whole thing approved by the hospital’s dietitian. I even made her estimate the calories to ensure that they are within limits. She is now after me for the recipe.”

    “Did you prepare this kind of food for all the ten persons?”

    “No, madam. I checked with the Dietitian. She gave me their standard menu. It was some bread, rotis, rice, sambar, rasam and curds. The usual stuff.”

    Nalini sipped the warm water. Even that tasted awesome. The dark-red beet root soup with coriander leaves floating in it was heavenly.

    The recipe might list all the ingredients. But with Mani preparing the food, one major ingredient that no recipe ever specified was there in abundance. His love and reverence for his boss.

    Nalini turned her face the other side, wiped off her tears and started eating her food.

    Mani had also brought food for Sethu and Sharada.

    “Why should you bother, Mani? We can have the hospital food.”

    “Sethu, I am preparing food for 10 people who are total strangers. Then why not for you two?”

    Nalini shook Mani’s hands to congratulate him for the excellent preparation. Even a double-promotion and a triple-increment could not have made him that happy.
     
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    Part 8!

    Part 8!



    After Mani left the room, they were chit-chatting for a while. The nurse came in to check Nalini’s pressure and temperature. They were all normal. She was given some tablets and was asked to sleep for a while. The nurse left the room.

    “Sethu, can you please ask her to give me some sedatives? I cannot sleep now.”

    “Most of the sedatives have some side effect or the other. They are habit-forming. And when you get up, you will have a strange feeling of depression.”

    “But how to sleep now? I cant sleep at all.”

    “I’ll help you. Please stretch yourself. Relax your body. Close your eyes. And now let me start the treatment.”

    Sethu placed the thumb and the index finger of his right hand on Nalini’s forehead. He exerted the right pressure on her forehead and slowly started massaging it. Nalini instantly felt a kind of relaxation and within five minutes she lapsed into a dreamless sleep.

    Sethu signalled Sharada to come out of the room. He told her that he would have to go to the hotel now and would be back late in the evening.
     
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    Part 9!

    Part 9!


    Sharada was just lying in the other bed in the room lost in thoughts. At about five in the evening there was a knock. Sharada opened the door. The afternoon coffee had come.

    Nalini had woken up. Sharada sat in her bed by her side.

    The women were sipping hot coffee in peaceful silence. Seeing the cards and bouquets,Nalini heaved a sigh.

    “See the irony of life, Sharada. Nature has made me unfit to be a mother of a single child. And now I am the mother of so many children.”

    “I’m sorry, Nalini. I have been a selfish giant, all through. I was always thinking about my life and my problems. I never even suspected that you would have had so many problems in your life.”

    Nalini sighed again.

    “I got married to a wonderful man, Sharada. Our life was unbelievably sweet. We loved each other so much that for the first few years we didn’t even think about the child.

    “He was very loving and told me that he didn’t even want a child. But I was desperate. I went from Doctor to Doctor. Their verdict was unanimous. I was unfit to be a mother.

    “With my hubsand by my side, even that was bearable. I even told him that he could marry another woman if he so badly wanted a child. But he refused.

    “Then one day he left me just like that. Left for another woman. I could never understand why he did it.

    “I was in such a state of shock that when his lawyer sent a divorce notice, I did not even resist that. I gave him the divorce he so badly wanted. I am still wondering what made him decide like that.

    “Sometimes I feel it would have been better if he had fought with me, abused me and shown to me that our marriage could not work.

    “After several years I still can’t digest why he did that. The beauty is that even now, even after all that, I still could not bring myself to hate him.”

    “Does Sethu know that?”

    “Yes. Sethu is another story. I met Sethu in his Master’s Ashram. A friend had taken me there and I was crying before the Swamiji.

    “Swamiji heard my story. I could never forget his words.

    “The Universe is a beautiful, well-connected web. When a need is felt somewhere the entire Universe rushes to fill up that need somehow or other.

    “I now have a man with me who requires a mother. And here you are, a mother looking for a child. Being a mother to someone is not a question of age, position or relationship.

    “It’s all a question of love. Pure, selfless, motherly love. You have it and he needs it.”

    “He introduced Sethu to me. He spoke about his skills. Then he sent him along with me..

    “Since then he has been a son to me. Of course we do not live in the same house and he does not call me Ma.

    “But he takes care of me as only a son can. And he comes to me whenever he has any problem. I got him a job in Le Meridien as I wanted to have an eye on him.”
     
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    Part 10!

    Part 10!




    It took several minutes for Sharada to absorb what Nalini had told her.

    “Nalini, in a way, I am responsible for all these.”

    “Don’t be a fool, Sharada. If somebody stabbed me, how can you be responsible for that?

    “I now think that this stabbing is the best thing that happened to me. Otherwise how could I have even known the love my staff have for me?

    “God thought that I am such a dimwit that he gave a knife-wound in the stomach to know these loving hearts. God did this transaction in His usual way. He took very little from me and gave me quite a lot.”

    “That’s okay, Nalini. But you should also know who’s behind all these. Those are my husband’s goons. I could see the face of one of the men. He is in my husband’s payroll. He should have sent the goons to kill Sethu. They hit you by mistake.”

    “I almost suspected that.”

    The ladies turned around to see Sethu walking into the room.

    “And now a time has come to repay your husband’s kindness.”

    “Sethu, don’t do anything silly. You can never win over violence with violence.”

    Nalini was afraid that Sethu might get himself hurt while taking revenge against Balki.

    “No Madam. I am going to win over violence with intelligence. Sometimes we need to just tell the guy that this is not all right.

    “And we have to tell it in a language he will understand. Looks like he can’t understand any of the languages which we human beings speak through our mouths.

    “You know, Ma’am, my hands speak a language which he will instantly understand.”

    Sharada did not know what to say.

    Nalini was still concerned.

    “Promise me Sethu you wont do anything silly.”

    “I promise on you, Ma’am, I wont do anything silly. And I further promise on your honour that I will teach a good lesson to that man, a lesson, he wont forget for the rest of his life.”

    Sethu walked out of the room. Balki’s bad times had started.
     
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