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SHE - Episode 12

Discussion in 'SHE - Serial Story' started by varalotti, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    SHE
    A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy
    Episode 12

    A sense of loneliness and emptiness filled Shalini as she saw Latha and Natasha going off for security check in the airport. Though her heart could only rejoice and pray for them, she felt a bit left out and longed for some companionship. Jaggi and even Rishi pervaded her mind.

    To rein in her thoughts, she leafed through a glossy magazine when a catchy ad in the personal ads section captured her undivided attention .

    “Wanted female companion of any age for a handsome man of 50 healthy, well-placed and without commitments. Respond to….”

    Well, Shalini was not going to respond to that weird advertisement. But she had something weirder in her mind.

    Yes, she was going to advertise for relationship. It was not exactly the wisest decision taken by her.She was not sure if her father would have been proud or even tolerant of her, if she had ever done this while he were round. But she wanted to try every thing while the going was still good.

    Two weeks later the magazine carried an even more rivetting ad.

    “Thirty year old woman wants a male companion. Initially for a live-in relationship, eventually for something permanent and committed. Respond to…..

    Shalini’s mail box was flooded with responses from all over the country. Spammed was more the word. For the sake of curiousity, to satisfy the auditor in her, she counted them patiently – 2238 in all.

    My God! Do that many men read a woman’s magazine? And are there so many men desperate for female company?

    But very predictably, 95% of the applications were worthless. They were from gigolos, self-styled studs and males who had nothing but sex in their leering minds - day or night, rain or shine. She shortlisted twenty applications for a more detailed scrutiny.

    As she was sorting the mails she found one gaudy envelope which definitely was not in response to the ad. It was in cream and red with tassles and glitter, surely an invitation.


    She thought it might was from somebody known to her father. Or from a former colleague. And then she looked at the from address. She was puzzled. It was from her ex father-in-law, the Captain. But what could be the occasion?


    Rishi’s marriage to his second cousin from the village had been more than three years ago. Had Rishi divorced that woman? There was a glee in her heart, a tad wicked, which persisted till she pried open the invitation and read it. Her face fell. And then she frowned seeing a ‘Captainism’ aimed at her.

    Shalini had not forgotten the Captainism printed on Rishi’s wedding invitation. ‘At times education can be a reason for one’s downfall.’

    At that time it was like a pin-prick, which vested her with the courage to accept Jaggi’s live-in proposal. But this time the Captainism printed on the card caused a dull ache in her heart.


    While the earlier one activated her, this one paralysed her. She was angry earlier; but now sad, terribly sad. And she missed her father, her mother and even missed Jaggi.

    She read the Captainism for the hundredth time. “A woman who is not a mother is not a full woman.” It was simple to the point of a truism and sadly only served to revealed the brusque Captain’s lack of proper non-military education and his poor command over the language. But still it hurt. Especially so because of the subject matter of that invitation.

    The invitation was for the naming ceremony of Rishi’s second child, a baby girl. The invitation carried a photo of the baby- cute with dark curls and limpid black eyes.

    She could gather from that invitation that Rishi had managed to beget two children within a span of three years and that the first one was a boy, the second a girl.

    Shalini now had a feeling that the world was racing past her in full speed letting her stagnate at the same place. She wryly felt that even if she had to stay in the same place, she would have to get her act together and move faster.

    She took a second longing look at the baby and tossed the invitation away and trying to focus on the job at hand – a job that was at once pleasant and unenviable, to choose her future live-in partner from among the twenty most eligible aspirants.
     
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 2!

    All the twenty appeared enticing enough. ‘I need to know them a little more to decide.’ She drafted a simple reply. “Thank you for your response. Let us get to know each other better before we commit on any relationship.” Then she described her past in not so flattering terms.

    She also enclosed her picture- one in which she had too much make-up and one which which did not do justice to her natural, great looks. She did not say anything about her wealth.

    She deliberately chose this ploy to fob off those who were in for money, those for some casual sex or those who were not courageous enough to accept her as she was.

    Predictably sixteen of the twenty backed out citing some lame excuses.

    The last four who survived it all had to be good. One was an upcoming architect in the city. Another was a software engineer who had specialised on embedded systems and was much in demand. The third suitor was thirteen years elder to her. The fourth was an Economics Professor, who had recently divorced his wife.

    How to decide among this four?

    She recalled a recruitment process back in the company when she worked with Jaggi. It was for the post of Deputy Manager-Accounts. Two candidates, a lady and a bloke, were equally qualified and did equally well in the interview. Shalini was handling the entire process. She reported her findings to Jaggi.

    “J, I don’t know how to decide. We might as well spin a coin and let it decide for us. Or hold a seance and summon some spirits--”

    The candidates were still waiting in another room.

    “We have better methods than that. Will you please call them in?”

    “Listen guys. We still cant decide who should be hired. My suggestion is that you both take two days off from your current job and work for us. We will pay you at the rate of your current salary.”

    The candidates agreed. The girl worked for the first two days, and the guy for the next two. After four days, the decision was fairly easy. Though the boy was brilliant he had severe attitude problems which was brought out in the way he interacted with his colleagues.

    What the interview process could not unearth, what the education system could not reform or even point out, two days of working with people, two days of relating to other people in the organisation revealed beyond doubt. The girl was hired.

    ‘Jaggi, I miss you. You are in the wrong. You made it impossible for me to continue with the relationship. You cheated on me. You bastard, you rake, you cheated on me while I trusted you. But still I miss you.’

    Shalini now decided to move on with the shortlisted four to find out who would suit her best. For a moment she stopped to think. ‘Is this not a kind of moral depravity? Am I lusting for male company?

    Is it morally all right to move with the four guys at the same time and then drop three of them like hot potatoes?’

    Shalini recalled a discussion on morality with her father. His advice had always been practical and helpful in difficult times. He had not read a single book on morality and ethics; but his view on the subject would make a wonderful, probably the first ever useful book on the subject.

    “Shalu, to find out whether an act is morally right or not, you need not have to read the religious scriptures or remember social conventions. I have a two-way test.

    “One,will it hurt others? Two, will it in any way hinder your giving your very best to this world?’ If an act passes both the tests then it is moral, though your religion may cry hoarse over its immorality. And if it fails even one of the tests, then it is immoral, even if it is sanctioned by the holiest of the Gospels.

    “Thus, to me, watching Television for four hours in a day is an act of immorality, as it prevents you from giving your best. Working for 15 hours a day is an act of immorality, as it hurts your family.

    “A Government official who proclaims that he is honest and beyond corruption but sits on an important file for months on end without deciding one way or other is immoral.

    “Sex between consenting adults is not immoral provided none of the adults have a commited relationship otherwise. But continuous obsession with sex even if it be with your spouse is immoral because the obsession prevents the person from giving his best.

    “Of course life often throws some complex situations which may defy this simple test. But if you are honest to yourself, I am sure, you can lead a hassle-free life without carrying any unnecessary guilt.”

    ‘Oh, my dearest Dad. I should be born your mother in my future birth and try to give at least a part of what you gave me in this life.’
     
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  3. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 3!

    She typed a mail to all the four aspirants – the architect, the software engineer, the businessman and the Professor – asking for a meeting with them.

    In just a single meeting she was able to reject three out of four. The architect looked very flamboyant and came to the meeting dressed in full suit, silken tie, gold cuff links and reeking of an expensive imported perfume. It did not took long for Shalini to find out: a) the man was phony and b) that he could never relax.

    Soon after the introduction and exchange of pleasantries he started talking about all the high-rise buildings in the city he had designed. He even doled out information on the fees he earned for every project. Shalini had never been comfortable with people who revealed their income and financial position at every opportune moment.

    To cap it all, the architect was too preoccupied in projecting himself that he did not even make a modest attempt to know Shalini as a person.

    He ordered food for Shalini without even caring to ask her what she wanted. Shalini sat through the hour-long meeting only because she called for it. When they parted she vowed to herself that she should never meet this man again in her life.

    The Economics Professor was too preoccupied in academics. When Shalini asked him aboutthe subject of his Doctoral dissertation, he started a lecture on that, which Shalini did not know how to stop. He even drew some graphs on the paper napkins. ‘No wonder your wife has divorced you’ thought Shalini. She even pitied his students.

    Her decision regarding the software engineer was quite easy. She could not meet him at all. He was earning at the top of the market. But he was travelling for more than 20 days in a month.

    He was so busy that he could not even come for the meeting. Shalini changed the date and venue thrice, but still he could not make it. And to top it all, the guy suggested a video-conferencing session for their first meeting.

    “You can never imagine, how busy I am” he repeated almost in all his mails. ‘Thanks for making me know that’ thought Shalini and ticked him off.

    The last person she met was the businessman. Raj Metha. Raj was in his forties. His wife had died a year ago. He had a son and a daughter and both were in the US. The daughter was married and the son was working in San Jose as a software engineer.

    Raj was an inherently happy man; but he was not shallow like most others in that category. He had a flourishing business in food grains. He was a merchant trader, he knew his limitations and never pushed beyond that.

    When Shalini arrived at the Sheraton lobby five minutes before the agreed time, Raj was waiting for her.

    Shalini looked at him. He looked his full age of 43 years and 7 months. He was of wheatish complexion, slightly more than average height with mild obesity. In spite of his skilful attempts to conceal his paunch, his prosperity was conspicous.

    But with a smiling face and a relaxed appearance, the paunch only served to endear him even more.

    They shook hands and adjourned to the table for two booked by Shalini.

    In the first few minutes Shalini found out that Raj loved life and was a natural conversationalist. He did not talk too much, or too little. He let the conversation flow in its natural way.

    He was the first among the shortlisted four who showed a very genuine interest in knowing about Shalini. Without inquisitive questions he asked about her life. He listened to her and was not in a hurry to offer off-the-cuff solutions or snap judgments.

    Shalini was impressed. When he started telling about his life, there was neither exaggeration nor underplaying. He was a graduate but did not set much store by education. He was a second generation businessman who knew his trade like the palm of one’s hand. He did not boast like the software engineers or industrial barons that he worked for fourteen hours a day, 8 days a week.

    “Shalini I do honest, smart work for about 3 hours a day, six days a week. I have a large office and have loads of staff to carry out my plans. My work is just thinking and planning. And making crucial decisions.

    “I earn enough, pay my taxes and have no complaints whatsoever. If I were to start my life again from the scratch I would love to travel the same route.”

    “I lost my wife last year. My children have flown away from the nest. I can't bear to be lonely. I don’t want to risk a marriage. So I was fascinated by your live-in proposal.

    “You see Shalini to lose one’s wife at my age is cruel. I simply cannot be all alone. It is not possible. I am not sure whether my children would welcome this. But even if they object it doesn’t matter. It’s my life and I want to live it on my terms.”
     
  4. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 4!

    Shalini felt like crying. When her mother died her father was just about 50 and was in the pink of his health. But the thought of remarrying never crossed Shiva’s mind. On her mother’s first death anniversary, at the end of some religious ceremonies, an elderly relative broached the subject of remarriage.

    The relative warned Shiva that he would be very lonely as his daughter was bound to leave the house soon after her marriage.

    “I will be alone but not lonely. Lakshmi is always with me. Till her death she was a little away from me; but after that she is now fully in my heart. With a heart full of Lakshmi, it is obscene to approach another woman.”

    ‘Dad, will there ever be man like you in this world? Why did you leave me alone, Dad?‘

    “I am sorry Raj, something has fallen into my eyes.” Shalini had to explain her tears to the man.

    Four meetings and six weeks later Shalini and Raj Metha decided to settle into a live-in relationship. It was not exactly a live-in. For they both thought that it was too early to hurry up with decisions regarding logistics.

    To start with they would continue to live in their respective places – Shalini in her father’s palatial house, and Raj Metha in his deluxe apartment in Velachery. But they would meet quite often and once they got to know each other they will be living together alternatively in both the houses. They agreed to review the arrangement after two years.

    Shalini started her third innings in life and Raj, his second. Shalini could not help but compare the men in her life. Raj was not as as fast or as intelligent as Jaggi. He spoke slowly and his grasp was also limited.

    But he had formidable native intelligence which even his business rivals admired. He was more expressive than Rishi or Jaggi. But expressive in his own way. Raj was plain in looks and manner. But there was an openness and directness in his manner, an unspoken candour and acceptance that made him an affable person.

    Whatever Raj had revealed about his work was true. He went out at 10 and was back for lunch. He never talked about his work or office while he was home. He took calls in the evening for an hour and in the night spent an hour on the net tracking grain prices all over the world.

    He knew more details about the hurricanes in the US than someone working for the US Met Office. Hurricanes led to a raise in the prices of grains a few months later. He also speculated on commodity futures. But always limited his losses.

    If making money were to be the only criterion to measure a man’s intelligence then Raj would be the smartest; for he made ten times more than many chartered accountants, Shalini knew. And Raj made it in three hours while they could not do that in fourteen hours-work-days.

    But what endeared Raj to Shalini was his capacity to listen. Unlike most businessmen, Raj was a born listener. When Shalini talked, he would listen as if there was no other work in the world. And he never hurried with his own opinions. He let her have her say and her way too.

    In bed, Raj was not as passionate as Jaggi. But nor was his love-making as insipid as
    as that of Rishi. He was soft and tender and showered his love on Shalini. He did not overpower Shalini with his passion or strength, but at the same time gave in to her girlish fancies and feminine desires. He put her first when they were in bed.

    Raj gifted Shaini an exquisite diamond necklace on her thirty-third birthday. They had a brief holiday in Dubai to celebrate the event.

    For the second time in her life, Shalini felt very relaxed. After all, she had found her soul-mate. And for that wonderful discovery she had to suffer a dysfunctional marriage with Rishi and had to undergo the trauma of Jaggi cheating on her. But even then she thought that the price she paid was not high; because she had found a wonderful, sensitive, balanced human being.

    Raj was not as handsome as Rishi; nor was he half as passionate as Jaggi. But he had a very high overall score over the other two.

    Shalini wanted to talk to Raj about permanence in their relationship. What if Raj refused? Or what if he said, let us part as friends? She was reluctant to rock the boat which was sailing smoothly aided by a favourable wind.

    She hesitated; but Destiny, true to its nature, did not hesitate to intervene, this time in a very cruel way.
     
  5. Monsi

    Monsi Bronze IL'ite

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    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo.....:frown: pls dont end the episode here... Pls tell what happened next ....
    Are you going to kill Raj? :icon_frown: :evil:
    I cant wait for the next week. Please post the next episode now itself. Plsssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss .............
     
  6. sujathae

    sujathae Senior IL'ite

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    Dear Mr. Varalotti, The turn of events is a little too much for me. It will take some time for me to digest things that r going on. I will not be able to read yr next episodes until september as I am flying on saturday. Let me prepare my mind for everything and come back after my vacation to read the rest.

    Thanks and regards,

    sujatha
     
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  7. nikhath

    nikhath Senior IL'ite

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    Hi Sridhar:

    What a tumultous life our heroine is going through!! I was eagerly awaiting for this week's episode after the turn it took last week. Episode 12 intensified my doubts about Shalini's respect to her values. Sridhar you have put my doubts very well in the following lines:

    She was not sure if her father would have been proud or even tolerant of her, if she had ever done this while he were round.

    Shiva has been Shalini's ideal man. SHE has treasured the values she learnt from him. Then why did SHE end in a divorce, venture into a live-in relationship twice, after Shiva's death?

    Lastly, what does "Milaku Kuzhambu" mean?

    Thanks and regards
    Nikhath
     
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  8. sudhavnarasimhan

    sudhavnarasimhan Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,
    My my, our heroine is made to go in all controversial ways, before she finds her Identity! Well seems to me taht she has set herself on a long journey! Lets hope she settles down finally! But i wonder what Destiny( read Varalotti!) has in store for her. You are really dragging Shalini ( and us) into all the lanes, bylanes of LIFE little visited by us!
    Just one thing which did not fit in my mind.....how is Raj just 43 years old, with a married daughter and son working.....seems a bit not alright, calrify please!:icon_frown:

    But i still feel you had sketched Jaggi and Raj also in a better way, but Rishi was not given any character....my symphaties with him only. Also i dont think the captain is evil, when he is sending invitations....he has been hurt and his ego has been punctured, and he was never anyways potrayed as a gem, so i guess his act is again a God's way of prodding Shalini to look at her life in comparison! Right?! How is this for analysing your episode!he he he:mrgreen:
     
  9. varasangam

    varasangam New IL'ite

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    What twists in the story Sridhar, Don't tell me Raj is going to die or is going to get a heart attack or a stroke, I now sympathize with Shalini, poor SHE, is she not destined to have a a normal life.................cant wait to read the new twist in the story................:idontgetit:
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Honestly, Monsi, I did not want to end the episode here. But I had already exceeded my quota of 2000 words and have gone over 3000 words. I had to stop at this point.
    As of now I dont want to close any of my options. So lets just wait and see.

    regards,
     
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