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.