The Scandal Please refer to Varalotti’s story in this thread http://www.indusladies.com/forums/showthread.php?t=181 This is one of the most poignant short stories, I have ever read. Not only poignant, but unbelievably poignant. This story pays a glorious tribute to the pure friendship that can exist between a young man and a woman where physical involvement is totally non-existent ! If tears roll down my eyes for Lakshmi, my heart cries for Kamala. When Lakshmi tells her husband that she has lived with him fully trusting him for forty years & she is above suspecting him for doing Kamala’s last rites, we find it difficult to digest . Next comes the revelation that it is a story of the fifties. Was a woman’s psychology very different then – looks like, the author thinks so. Still we wonder how such an equation is ever possible between a husband and a wife ! Kamala blessing the young priest for treating her like a human being with a mind and a heart, is very touching and inadvertantly, we develop a soft corner for Kamala, eventhough she is practising the world’s oldest profession. In spite of that, she had no plans of “ making him her customer “ and this shows her in very good light. She has compartmentalised professional and soul satisfying friendship, which, the author has brought out very admirably. The sentences “ No more words were exchanged between them. But both felt comfortable in each other’s company” show that Kamala and Sharma have struck a beautiful emotional chord with each other. This suggests that a deep friendship is possible between a man and a woman irrespective of the gender difference. This is a beautiful view point of the author, which is very relevant in today's life, where men and women are closely associated in all spheres of life. When the Head Office manager makes clear his terms to Sharma, for not framing him in the case, it sends a chill through our spine. We see such demands in movie stories, though. But Kamala’s offer made to Sharma to help him out of the crisis, shifts the focus of the story to Kamala and endears her to us. The price she pays for her friendship melts our hearts, eventhough we know that it is her profession. A discordant note is struk in the story when we see that Lakshmi offers all her jewellery to her husband without uttering a word ! It is unbelievable, to put it mildly. But, the story requires this step, to move further ! The price, Sharma offers to pay Kamala for her timely help, risking his own name & honour in the town, speaks volumes of the inherent noble nature of Sharma and also how he wants to honour his emotional bond with her. The author proves that it is possible to derive from such a friendship, emotional support and thrapeutic value equally, if not more from one with the same sex. One partner seems to offer psychotherapy to the other, which is a beautiful aspect, on the lines of universal friendship, dissolving gender difference ! Sridhar, your style is usually enjoyably racy, but in this story it is immensely absorbing and explores the relationship between a young man and a woman from a totally new and different perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Love and regards, Chithra.