HE A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy Episode 4 Timeline B “I have a policy of tipping the staff right in the beginning. So please accept this from me.” Sharada was flashing a thousand Rupee-note in her hand when she said that. Sethu saw Mythili sitting there at the other end of the room with a long face. “I too have a policy, Ma’am, of not accepting tips from those I have not yet learnt to respect.” Sethu cast a pointed glance at Mythili. Sharadha did not know what to do. Sethu walked out of the room. Mythili jumped from her seat. “Sharada this is too much. I wanted you to punish him for his impertinence. You offered him money. That blackguard threw it back on your face. Come let’s talk to the Manager. I want this arrogant fool out of the hotel right away.” Sharada failed in her attempt to pacify her. Mythili was Sharada’s distant relative. She had had a role to play in moulding Sharada’s career in dance. Sharada had to give in to her insolent demand. They were directed to Nalini’s cabin. Mythili did not allow Sharada to talk. She poured out her grievance against Sethu. Nalini looked at Sharada straight in her eyes and asked her, “Madam, do you like to make this an issue? Do you really want to prefer a complaint against Sethu?” Sharada looked at Mythili with pleading eyes. Mythili was adamant. “Yes. We do.” Nalini’s face fell. “Ok, Madam, as you please. I will have to call in Sethu now. Whatever you want to say against him, you will have to do it only in his presence.” When Sharada saw Sethu’s elegant form, her heart fluttered. Why on earth should somebody have something against this nice man, Sharada mused. But Mythili was hell-bent on getting Sethu out of her way. She spoke vehemently against Sethu for the next ten minutes. “Do you have anything to say against this, Sethu?” Sharada and Mythili turned sidewards to look at Sethu. He remained calm. He had a smile on his face, something similar to an indulgent smile on a parent’s face while attending on a fussy kid. “Nothing, Ma’am.” “Ok, Miss Mythili, I want to know whether Sethu was rude in refusing your request?” “No he wasn’t. But I want to say that his mere refusal was rude.” “Think like this Miss Mythili. Let’s say somebody has invited you to their house to teach music to their child. While waiting for the child to come, suppose the lady of the house asks you to clean the bathroom, what will you do?” Mythili was now cornered. But some animals when cornered exhibit a greater degree of ferocity. “But still I insist that Sethu should apologise to me. Otherwise we won’t have the dance programme today.” Nalini felt hurt. She looked pointedly at Sharada and spoke. “Madam, I think this is an emotional blackmail. Had this come from any other guest, I would not have given a damn to it. But you, Madam, the one and only Sharada Balakrishnan, is different. “I was moved to tears this morning, when 50 Americans stood in queue to greet you. You are part of our national heritage. And before my country’s pride, my self-esteem is nothing. “But even then I can’t ask this man to apologise. Because you see, the fault is squarely with me. “Do you know that Mr.Sethuraman is an acclaimed expert on body massage and Ayurveda Therapy? Do you know that his Master declared that he is fit to run his Ashram as its head? And yet for some personal reasons he is here with us? “And I out of my foolishness, deputed him as your contact person. I find nothing wrong in his actions. But if you insist that only an apology can make you dance, I will apologise, Madam. I will apologise for the grave error of deputing an expert like Sethu to do small chores for you. I am ready to fall at your feet and apologise.” “No, Madam. No.” Sethu shouted. “Your apologising to these people…” Sethu was so overwhelmed with emotions, that he could not even speak for a while. “… can happen only over my dead body. For your sake, Ma’am, I can swallow my pride and fall at the feet of this lady.” It was the primordial ferocity of a son protecting his mother’s dignity. There was a charged silence in the room which even Mythili did not want to disturb for a while. “But even then….” Mythili resumed her arguments. “Shut up Mythili. Enough is enough.” Sharada shouted at her. The expression in Sharada’s face frightened Mythili. Sharada now looked lovingly at Nalini. “Do you mind, if I call you, Nalini?” “Absolutely not, Madam.” “And please do call me Sharada.” Nalini was speechless. “I am moved by what I saw here, Nalini. I am now sure of one thing. If someone has to apologise, it’s me. I should not have listened to Mythili. “I think that even my offering tips to Mr.Sethuraman was a kind of rudeness. I just wanted to exhibit my money-power and buy him over. It was wrong. “Mr.Sethuraman, I am sorry for what this lady did and what I did. Please forgive us. One more request, Mr.Sethu, please continue to be our contact person till we stay in this hotel. We assure you that we will treat you with the dignity you deserve.” Sharada folded her hands towards Nalini and Sethu. She then quickly walked out of the room. Mythili virtually ran behind her. “I’m not done with him yet.” Mythili hissed. “What did you say?” Sharada asked her. “Nothing.” Mythili was now like a wounded tiger who badly wanted a revenge.