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HE - Episode 6

Discussion in 'HE - Serial Story' started by varalotti, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    HE

    A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy

    Episode 6


    Timeline B



    Sharada explained to the audience what Sethu did to cure her cramps. When Sethu walked on the stage and the American garlanded him, all the 300 people gave a standing ovation.

    All the eyes that looked at Sethu were full of love and admiration. Except of course an odd pair which belonged to a man in the last row. And there was nothing in those eyes except jealousy, hatred and evil. The man’s name was Balakrishnan.

    Sharada was enjoying the happiest moments of the day blissfully unaware of the danger waiting for her in the last row.

    She saw Sethu getting down from the stage and trying to go out of the hall. She wanted him to see her dance. She ran to the mike again and announced.

    “Ladies and Gentleman, I am not yet finished. I want Mr.Sethuraman to occupy the seat of honour in the front row and be my special guest this evening. I seek the General Manager’s permission on his behalf. Nalini, please….”

    Sethu stopped in his tracks. Nalini smiled, turned towards Sethu and beckoned him to come. The person sitting next to Nalini vacated his seat and a shy Sethu was almost forced to sit there.

    The dance programme started. When Sharada bowed to the audience in keeping with the traditions of dance, her eyes met Sethu’s. There was reverence, gratitude and something more than that in those pleading eyes.

    Sharada was explaining the second number in her own style.

    “For us Indians, religion is not different from our literature. Nor is it away from our life or love. Prayer, for us, is not an actitivty scheduled for a particular time of the day. It is a state of mind. Our prayers are poetical and our finest songs are prayers.

    “And the song which I am going to dance now is a prayer. It is also the softest expression of love a human being can have for God. It is poetry at its best.

    “The lover is insulted by her beloved in the presence of others. He has let her down. But the girl is so madly in love with him that she still seeks him, she still longs for him.

    “I am like that girl, O Lord, cries the devotee. You give me pain, disease, dishonour, death and hell. I will still be singing praises of your bejewelled feet.”

    Sharadha tried to capture the devotion of Kulasekara Azhwar in her dance movements and her facial expressions.
    When she described the lover’s humiliation, the hurt feelings expressed in her vulnerable face made the Americans look for tissues. There were no dry eyes in the hall.

    Before the last item was about to commence Sharada received a chit from the Americans that they had a few questions. Would she care to answer them after the performance?

    After a ninty-minute performance Sharada appeared on the stage to receive a standing ovation which lasted for a whole minute. . Her dress was now a dazzling red silk saree. She was profusely sweating;yet she was eager to answer the questions.

    The Americans now showed a greater degree of reverence and the questions were on the dance schools, the time it would take to learn classical dance and about the Bhakthi Literature of South India.

    Sharada answered the last question and was about to get down from the stage, thanking God for the perfect evening. But Destiny which hated perfection started wagging its long, ugly tail.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2010
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 2!

    Part 2!



    A hand shot up from the last row.

    “Yes, please.”

    Someone passed on the wireless mike to the person. When the gruff voice echoed against the walls, Sharada identified its owner and shuddered.

    “What do we gain by this dancing? How many man-hours have you wasted? Five hundred people in this hall. One and a half hours each. 750 hours have been wasted.

    “What’s the big deal about this dance, songs, poetry, when we have more important things to do? In short, Mrs. Sharada Balakrishnan, what do you want to achieve by dancing? What’s the purpose of dancing?”

    The blatant rudeness shocked the Americans. Nalini signed to someone near her. She asked him to be ready with some strong men just in case.

    Had this question come from any other member of the audience, Sharada would have taken it in her stride and would have answered with the same eloquence she had used while answering the question on many Gods

    But the question came from her husband Balakrishnan.

    Balki, as he was known in his circles, owned an automobile ancillary unit near Chennai. He was short and bulky.

    There was a cruelty in his face, normally found only in the faces of hardened criminals and cunning politicians. He was worth a few hundred crores and was constantly on the look out for earning more.

    Pretty early in her life Sharada had decided not to marry at all. Dance had been her first love and till then she thought it would be her only one.

    She had been following the lives of some of the best dancers in the city. After marriage they sort of shrunk into their shells. Their lives had turned upside down. They had a deep yearning to dance; but their husbands and their circumstances did not let them do it.

    With the divine art in them struggling to express itself and their domestic responsibilities pressing them down, they ended up mostly as wrecks. That was especially so if their passion for dance had been really intense in their formative years.

    Sharada was ready to sacrifice marital bliss and even motherhood on the altar of dance.

    It happened two years back. Sharada’s beauty had attracted a big industrialist who started stalking her. Police was not of help.

    She desperately needed somebody with man-power to guard her. Mythili suggested that she take up the matter with Balki, a rich industrialist, distantly related to her.

    Balki was a childless widower in his mid thirties. Balki solved her problem in three minutes flat. Sharada was impressed.

    At that time Balki used to talk about dance all the time. Sharada never knew that he got information from other dancers and reference books, with the sole purpose of impressing her. Balki was all sweetness during courtship.

    When Balki proposed. Sharada was in a dilemma. Though she liked talking to him about dance, she was not very ecstatic about the relationship. She needed somebody strong like Balki to protect her from the male predators. She was also not ready for a life-long commitment.

    She talked to him about her passion to dancing. Balki was drunk with love for Sharada’s beautiful body. He said yes to whatever conditions she imposed.

    After getting an express permission from him that he would not interfere with her dancing career, Sharada mumbled a weak yes to his proposal.

    For Balki, Sharada was just a woman to be ticked off. He could lure other women by money and gifts. For Sharada it was marriage. Within a month Balki got bored of Sharada.

    But he wanted a famous, beautiful wife as a status symbol. So the marriage continued. Soon Balki started to show his cruel inner self. He would not beat her. But his words, abusive language and inhuman teasing would make Sharada tremble in hatred and humiliation.

    They had stopped talking to each other. Balki had never given a damn to her dance and had never been to any of her performances after marriage.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2010
  3. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 3!

    Part 3!



    But today Mythili had secretly called him to talk about Sethu’s “treatment” and Sharada’s inclination towards him. Being continually snubbed by Sharada and Sethu she badly wanted a revenge.

    There was no better way to do that than by tippiing Balki about Sethu and making him come for the evening programme.

    A cunning Balki attended the programme with the sole purpose of embarrasing Sharada in the presence of an international audience.

    Sharada was paralysed. Tears of humiliation were streaming up in her eyes.

    Sethu was the first to understand the situation. He jumped on to the podium and was before the mike in no time
    .
    “With your permission, Madam” he told Sharada before turning to the belligrent Balki.

    Sethu was now in his element. His Master was a deeply religious person and had talked to Sethu about many things, while training him in Varmakkalai.

    “Sir, your first question was “What do we gain by this dancing?
    “The answer is nothing. What do we gain by seeing a flower? Nothing.
    “By reading beautiful lines of poetry, nothing.
    “By listening to music, nothing.
    “By looking at a smiling child or a beautiful sunrise, nothing.

    “These activities are not business propositions which you examine under the lens of profits. To attribute ulterior motives to these activities is to deny life itself.

    “Working in an office, manufacturing articles, rendering commercially valuable service is necessary to live. But dancing, poetry, sunrise and a child’s smile are the reasons for living.

    “You ask what is the purpose of dancing? Dancing itself is the purpose. The purpose of dancing is not to get across to the other side of the room. You can do it more efficiently by running.

    “Looks like you will ask why at all we should love. By loving we cannot find a cure for cancer or a cheaper fuel for our cars or a cleaner environment. Love is its own purpose. Am I clear sir?”

    The applause from the audience was thunderous. Nalini was clapping with tears in her eyes. It was the pure happiness of a mother seeing her son being appreciated by others.

    Balki wanted to have one last dig before he quit. Mythili had told him that Sethu was single.

    “Mister, it is easy to talk about love. Have you ever been in love?”

    It was apparently a general, innocuous question. But for Sethu it was a barb aimed at his heart. It did not miss its target. Sethu’s heart bled.

    He was silent for a while. Sharada looked at Sethu. Nalini was more hurt than Sethu as she knew his background. She knew very well that Sethu could never answer this question without reliving a portion of pain of his past life.

    Sethu told Balki in a choked voice.

    “I have loved and lost. But Sir, looks like you have never been in love. Even after facing the most cruel betrayal from the only person I loved in all my life, with my heart and soul, I still feel, that it is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all.

    “And, you Sir, if you have ever loved another human being in your life, you will not have asked those questions.”

    Balki walked out of the hall in a state of anger. Sharada was still shivering. Nalini ran to the stage and took Sharada in her arms. As Sharada was being slowly taken away from the stage, she turned around to look at Sethu.

    Sethu had given her dance back to her earlier. And now he had protected her pride. There was no need for her to talk. Her eyes conveyed her feelings far better than the finest language of the world can ever hope to do.
     
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  4. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 4!

    Part 4!



    Sharada checked out of the hotel around half past ten.

    Nalini was waiting for her. Sharada came to her cabin.

    “Nalini, I can never forget you in my life. I am the only child of my parents. I had all their love and attention and never had to share it with any sibling. I thought that I was a lucky girl that way.

    “But after meeting you I now feel that I would have been luckier if I had an elder sister like you.”

    Nalini stood up and hugged her.

    “Nalini, please don’t think I am nosy. The relationship you share with Sethu is something quite special…..”

    Nalini sighed.

    “You are right, Sharada. He is more like a son to me. And there is a background for that. Let’s talk about it some time. It’s a long story.”

    “Sethu has done so much for me. I want to make a special gift to him. Can I go and see him now?”

    “He just left. I’ll try to get hold of him.”

    Nalini called the security at the entrance. Luckily Sethu was just crossing the gate. Nalini called him to her cabin.

    A few minutes later Sethu entered Nalini’s cabin. In spite of Nalini’s repeated requests, he refused sit down before her. Now Sharada stood up and spoke.

    “Mr.Sethu, I am no longer the foolish lady who thought of buying you with money. What you did to me cannot even be measured in terms of money. So will you please be kind enough to accept this gift from me?”

    When she took out the gift from her bag, Sethu was shocked. It was her dancing anklets. For a dancer they are as precious as her life.

    “Whatever you talked about dancing applies to gifts also, Sethu. There is no need that the gift should have utitlity value for the donee. Gift is an expression of love, affection or gratitude. I know no better way to express my gratitude than by giving some thing that is as dear to me as my life.

    “This is the anklet my teacher gifted to me on my debut performance.

    “I was just 16 at that time. My teacher was an old woman of 72. She was a very strict teacher and did not let me set foot on the stage until after 7 years of rigorous training.

    “She was so pleased with my performance on that day that she walked up the stage and put these anklets on my feet herself. When her old, withered hands touched my feet, I sobbed unable to contain my happiness and pride.

    “I keep this in my prayer room when I am not wearing this. Please Sethu, please accept this from me.”

    Sethu did not know what to do. If Sharada had gifted a million Rupees, Sethu would have rejected it with alacrity. But this was quite different. Sethu accepted the anklets with utmost reverence.

    Nalini was speechless. Sharada switched the topic.

    “Nalini, please allow me to come and see you whenever I feel like it. If you are busy, I’ll just come here, sit before you for a few minutes and silently walk away. Can I do that?”

    “Oh, Sharada… you can come anytime. If you are busy, just call me, I’ll be there at your place.”

    “Thanks. See you. Thanks, Sethu. See you.”

    Sharada went to the door and came back.

    She looked around the cabin to assure herself that there was no one else in that big room.

    “I was debating with myself whether I should tell you this or not. The person who rudely asked about the purpose of dancing is my husband.”

    She allowed a minute for the fact to sink in.

    “He is a very wealthy industrialist. I am ashamed to say that he is venomous. I am afraid that he might try to hurt Sethu. Sethu, I am really worried about your safety.”

    Nalini’s face darkened. But Sethu was smiling.

    “Don’t worry, Madam. If God decides that I should be hurt by someone, nothing I do can prevent it. If God decides that I should not be hurt, a thousand persons like this man cannot even touch my hair. Thanks for the concern, Madam. So Long.”

    Sethu bowed to Nalini and walked out of the room leaving the two ladies in a state of shock.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2010
  5. SupriyaDinesh

    SupriyaDinesh Silver IL'ite

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    Good move sir..Balki seems to be an interesting character.. Story is going like a river..smooth at times and rough.. Keep up your good work..

    Bye,
    Supriya
     
  6. Arunarc

    Arunarc Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Hello Varalotti
    Sometimes I think are you a writer or a CA?? How come you write so well?? And the most important is how come you get so much of time?? As I very well Know the job of a CA who hardly have anytime, with such busy schedule you do get time to write that has to be appreciated.
    Why do some men feel jealous on the success of a woman?? That was really sad part. Such a successful woman have such a sad background, feeling sorry for her.
    Sethu gave him good, he deserves that. I am just wondering what will happen to Sharada when she goes back home............:eek:mg:don't want to think about that... The way you have written it looks like you keep yourself in the character.
    It is true if any person is sad in their life even a little bit of love shown to them makes such a big difference. Hope Sharada has a happy life ahead. I think she should put an end to Balki and live her own life........
    Will wait and see what happens next...........
     
  7. Vidya24

    Vidya24 Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,

    It is an evolving experience as a reader to switch from one time-line to another. Thank you for exposing us to a different genre of writing. This episode again unfolded like a scene before our eyes. The narratives, the instructive lectures that preceeded the dance, the QA session all these not only made interesting reading. There was something to learn in everything and they all showcased your pandithyam in all these aspects. The portrayal of all characters is immaculate- be it a gentle Sethu or a cruel husband of Sharadha. Kinda nice to have two strong women of substance in prominent roles-both Sharadha and Nalini touch the heart and head. Good going!

    regards
    Vidya
     
  8. sudhavnarasimhan

    sudhavnarasimhan Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,

    i just loved this episode ......it was too close to my heart.
    I have been facing all these questions and situations, which are very difficult to handle and to explain to people who ask these questions. Loved the answers given by Sethu!

    “What do we gain by this dancing?
    “The answer is nothing. What do we gain by seeing a flower? Nothing.
    “By reading beautiful lines of poetry, nothing.
    “By listening to music, nothing.
    “By looking at a smiling child or a beautiful sunrise, nothing.


    Also the way you explained the song for Azhwar ....
    “For us Indians, religion is not different from our literature. Nor is it away from our life or love. Prayer, for us, is not an actitivty scheduled for a particular time of the day. It is a state of mind. Our prayers are poetical and our finest songs are prayers.

    “And the song which I am going to dance now is a prayer. It is also the softest expression of love a human being can have for God. It is poetry at its best.

    “The lover is insulted by her beloved in the presence of others. He has let her down. But the girl is so madly in love with him that she still seeks him, she still longs for him.

    “I am like that girl, O Lord, cries the devotee. You give me pain, disease, dishonour, death and hell. I will still be singing praises of your bejewelled feet.”

    Where did you get hold of this......we as dancers are aware of the inner meaning of all the songs we have to render, especially Love songs! But amazing that u could explain so well!
    And i HATE this Balki character.,.....spoilsport .....how i hate such characters who cannot appreciate Life!

    Well, sorry i think i got carried away,....you know why! But great going.......
    Awaiting the role destiny will play in both Timelines......:2thumbsup:
     
  9. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sridhar,
    With the entry of a villain, I think, the stage is now all set for “action” !
    Balki is a very stylish sounding name after the usual names Balu, Bala etc for your villain.
    You write

    There was reverence, gratitude and something more than that in those pleading eyes.

    What was “that”, Sridhar? I can’t wait to know about it ! I hope it is not the usual “that” !


    After yawning, now that Destiny has started wagging its tail, the momentum is gaining !
    If you have expressed your own views on dancing as an art , in the words of Sethu, my salutations to you, Sridhar ! That portion is just beautiful.
    Well, getting caught between Timelines, I hope, I don’t get a jet lag !
    Love,
    Chithra.
     
  10. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Varalotti,

    You really have an ace up your sleeve...I mean the two time line narration that you have come up with.
    Just as my attention is all for Priya and Madhavan and I am pondering over the suspense you have hung over our heads, I come back with a thud to Sethu and Sharadha! It is very hard to say which character is more appealing to me.
    Sethu is almost from another world, he should be some guru leading people to spirituality. Instead, he is leading Sharadha towards the love she so needs in her life.
    You have brought out the dilemma of a woman who is specially gifted. In this case, dancing, It sure is tough on a woman to possess a talent which is not appreciated by her spouse. I also loved the way you described how and why she married in the first place. Makes good sense. Otherwise, a woman like Sharadha today will surely refuse marital life and she was right to do so. It is very obvious that you have put yourself in every character's shoes before portraying their character here, so true to life. Only, it must be hard to be in the shoes of Balki!
    Me too, I like this name Balki, sad it has negative intonation here. Just recently, I read about this film director who made Cheeni Kam and was impressed with his shortened name..Balki:)
    As usual, some beautiful lines by you, already quoted by my friends here. I enjoyed reading this episode. Looking forwad to read further...heartless...two weeks wait ! shakehead

    L, Kamla
     

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