HEA Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy Episode 3 Timeline A After responding to Priya’s teasing question on his ‘wife’, Madhavan attacked her with the same question. “And lady, may I know why have you not brought your husband along?” Priya composed herself and responded with a tear drop balanced in each of her eyes. “For that to happen, they should have held this convention a year ago. Yes, my husband died last year.” An uncomfortable silence enveloped the hall. The ball came with a bang to Madhavan’s court again. He had no mind to hit the ball. He had no mind even to continue the game. Everybody felt sorry for Priya. In the name of sympathy Priya was now being more intensely ogled by the middle aged delegates in the convention. Knowing that the dusky damsel was a widow, everybody started travelling fast to the land of fantasy – a land where the uncomfortable reality will not be there to obstruct their vicarious pleasures. Nobody knew how to break the ice, except of course, Priya. “Mr. Madhavan, now that we have settled the issue relating to our spouses, can we please go ahead with the rest of the programme? “Ladies and Gentlemen, I now claim your attention to Mr.Madhavan, CEO, Ad India who is going to deliver his thematic address on the Value Created By Advertisement.” When Madhavan looked at Priya and let out his captivating trade mark smile, Priya’s heart fluttered for a moment. There was of course more of gratitude and relief in that smile than anything else. Unlike the professional speakers who spoke with a bunch of cue-cards and sought the aid of Powerpoint graphics to make their talk lively, Madhavan spoke straight from his heart. “For the last two days almost every speaker in this convention was focussing on the value created by advertisement. I am going to deviate from the topic and talk about something else. Something more important for our long term survival. Of course, we advertisers, do create value. Otherwise the businessmen out there will not give their millions to us so easily. India’s largest car maker, Maruthi Udyog, could not sell its product Maruti Van, a few decades ago.We advertisers dropped the word Van and coined the word Omni to describe the same product, changed the mindset of its customers and made the product a runaway success. While we are busy creating value for our clients, I am afraid, we are slowly forgetting our values. We are too busy thinking about how to sell a product, that we do not have the time to examine, what we are trying to sell. A few years back a leading ad agency ran a vigorous compaign to promote magnetic beds knowing well that it was a fraud on the Indian public. Many agencies got involved in promoting spurious financial products. Every day the Advertising Standards Council receives complaints about unethical advertisements. We all know the ‘laws of advertising’. There are wonderful texts on the subject. But please do not forget that the laws of life- some of them like honesty and transparency are quite simple and straightforward - are of greater importance. We naively think we can break the laws of life once in a way, to our material advantage. Remember the words of Cecil B DeMille, the creator of the film, Ten Commandments. “We can’t break those laws. We can only break ourselves against them.” As it always happened, Madhavan got a standing ovation for his speech. He saw Priya through the corner of his eyes. He was happy to see her standing and furiously clapping her hands. His happiness was that of a child who, after performing at a school’s fancy dress competition, had seen his parents among the audience, clapping for him.