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SHE - Episode 14

Discussion in 'SHE - Serial Story' started by varalotti, Jul 28, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    SHE
    A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy
    Episode 14


    Raj and Shalini were in the resort on the outskirts of Kumbakonam. They were talking about so many things that night.

    As Raj was talking his voice became low, and suddenly it turned into a whisper. Shalini heard a sound of a small hiccup coming from him. Then there was silence. Total, complete,absolute silence, which lasted for a few minutes. Then Shalini’s scream was heard two floors below.

    Shalini was sitting in their resort room. Her tears had completely dried up. And if there were tears to shed, she did not have any strength left in her body to cry. She was staring at a distance lost in thought. She felt completely lost as her only hold in life, her future husband, her live-in partner, her own dear Raj had died just like that.

    There was no sign, no warning, nothing. Only the previous month Shalini had accompanied Raj for a master health check-up at Appollo. The day-long investigation revealed nothing.

    The Doctor had only issued a very mild warning that Raj was bound to be a diabetic sooner or later, as the disease ran into his family. Even that was just a remote possibility, the Doctor said.

    But how did this happen? Shalini’s smile born out of utter despair was a result of her thinking about the irony of fate. Only a few days before she was in the height of happiness.

    She thought at that time, that everything was just a dream or a fantasy. And now pushed to the other extreme, she thought that even this was a dream – the worst nightmare that could ever happen to her.

    It was a day after Raj Metha’s death. Shalini had informed his daughter and son. They were coming the next day. When Priya heard the news she let out a wail which shocked Shalini even more. Once the news was conveyed, Shalini did not have anything to say. Both the women were sobbing non-stop.

    After Priya Bansali spoke to her for the first time, Shalini felt very happy. After being alone for so long a time, she was not only going to have a husband, but also a friend in Priya. They bonded so naturally, that Shalini even thought, that in some previous birth, they should have been sisters.

    But now there was no scope for any kind of relationship with Priya. Yes, she might talk to her once in a while. Yes, they might cry over each other’s shoulders. Yes, the common grief might create some kind of a bonding. But that relationship simply did not have any future.

    The one person who was to be the bridge of love between the two women was not there anymore. Priya would just remain a contact for Shalini. And so would Shalini be for Priya. Nothing more.

    Shalini was now all alone for the third time in her life. The first time was immediately after her divorce. At that time there was some expectation, some hope, and even some mild exhilaration at the new-found freedom.

    The second time she was alone was after Jaggi went away. She was not sure of herself at that time though she could steer her life well. And it was only because of her boldness and ingenuity did she find a man of golden heart – the one and only Raj Metha. Despite her best efforts to control it, a sob escaped from her mouth.

    She was also afraid that her search for her identity or love or happiness, whatever it is, might even destroy her. Shalini had the same feeling of wretchedness that engulfed her when her father died all of a sudden five years ago. If only her father had been alive….. Shalini thought for a while.

    She would abandon her search for her identity and live with him and would have brought happiness and relief to him in his old age. She would have even been a nurse to him, if he fell sick. She would have taken care of him, not as his daughter, but like his mother. Her life was somehow full of these ‘would have been’s.

    She was in the depths of despair and thought with a tinge of optimism that it could not go any worse. But it did go.

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    Shalini’s screams that day woke up all the guests who were staying in the resort. The Manager also came running. There was a Doctor among the guests who examined Raj’s eyes and pronounced him dead.

    Some North Indian ladies consoled Shalini and was with her for the whole night. The Manager told her that he had no other option than to call the Police.

    An Inspector Of Police and two constables came late in the night. The Inspector was very polite and courteous to Shalini. He asked the usual questions and then sent the body for autopsy. Shalini begged the Inspector to spare Raj from all these cruelty.

    The Inspector said in a firm voice that the death was of a healthy man and had happened in a public place. In her own interest it would be better to have the doubts cleared rather than having some complications later. Shalini relented.

    The Inspector advised her to extend her stay for a few days to collect Raj’s body.
     
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    The phone in her room rang. Shalini’s hello was not even audible at the other end. She cleared her throat several times before she could bring herself to speak. The voice on the other end had the condescending tone of a professional.

    “Am I talking to Mrs Shalini?”

    “Yes.”

    “AM I TALKING TO MRS. SHALINI”

    Shalini said yes a lot more louder now.

    “I am sorry I had to shout. I thought that the phone line was bad.”

    “It’s okay.”

    “My name is Shylendar. Dr.Shylender.”

    “ “

    “Can you please give me your mobile number? This line is not secure.”

    Shalini gave her number.

    Soon her mobile rang.

    “I am sorry to hear what happened to Mr.Raj Metha. But now you are in trouble, deep trouble.”

    “Me? Why?”

    “Ok, just listen to me carefully. You need to act pretty fast. My friend, a Doctor, works for the Government hospital here. I was with him yesterday when he did the autopsy.

    “I hate to tell you this. Mr. Raj has been poisoned to death. We found some lethal substances in his intestine. My friend was not very sure. So he called another Doctor and they are having a look at it now.”

    Shalini was too shocked to respond.

    “The police has been informed of this. They are now waiting for the post-mortem report. I heard that the Inspector is planning to arrest you first thing in the morning.”

    “Me? What for?”

    “As the primary suspect, for murdering Raj Metha. Please listen. I am not sure how they will treat you here in this town. You might be harrassed. Anything might happen. So I suggest that you go to Chennai immediately.

    “Call up your lawyer at Chennai and ask him to move for an anticipatory bail. Even if they accuse you, you can stay out and conduct the case. You should have a good lawyer. But if they arrest you here, it might be a scandal. Who knows, they may even resort to third degree methods.”

    Shalini was speechless.

    “If I am in your place, I would leave the place in next ten minutes. Don’t bother to check out. Don’t take your baggage. Just take the valuables in an overnight bag and flee from here as fast as you can.”

    Shalini’s thank you was not heard at the other end.

    “ I will get in touch with you in three, four days.”


    Shalini was confused. Should she run away from the place as a fugitive? After all she did not do anything wrong. Then why should she run from the hands of law? But coming to think of it Doctor’s advice was practical. She was not going to run away from the law permanently.

    She was not going to run away from the country like the Hawala Brokers whose deals have been exposed by the Police. She was going to fight the battle, no doubt. What she was going to do was just shift the scene of the battle to her homeground. Anyday playing in the homeground is a safer strategy.

    Human mind works in very strange ways. Till the call came Shalini was paralysed in grief and shock. Now this was a new dimension to the problem. Whatever may be the consequences, this new information did serve to alleviate her grief. Self-preservation is the most fundamental human urge and when activated it drew resources from all the quarters.

    Shalini saw the time. It was around 9 PM. The activities in the lobby would cease in an hour. She first thought of leaving the hotel after that. Then she thought otherwise. ‘Contrary-thinking’ was a lesson she learnt in managing her investments.

    While the entire market would flock in one direction she would gauge the route and would go in the opposite direction. Invariably she made huge gains with that strategy. She was surprised to find her mind working very fast. She was going to leave the resort right now.

    She abandoned the dresses and the suit-cases. She took the valuables. Her wallet, Raj’s wallet, their credit cards, her and Raj’s mobile phones alone constituted her luggage. She removed the contents of her handbag and stuffed these things into it.

    She did not wash her face or arrange her dishevelled hair. She did not even change her dress.

    As she handed over the keys at the reception, she told the man there that she had been called by the Inspector for another round of questioning. She also asked him if she can return around 11 PM. Would there be anybody in the lobby at that time? The man said he would remain awake till she came in. Shalini thanked him and left the place.

    She summoned her car. She checked the fuel in the car. It was full. She gave some cash to the driver and told him that she was going to drive down herself. The driver went away with a sigh of relief.

    She hit the highway around half past nine.
     
  3. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Shalini spent the next two years in the various courtrooms in the company of her lawyers. She was granted anticipatory bail first. And then it was cancelled on an application moved by the Police. The High Court, on her appeal, granted it again.

    She came to know of the facts much later. Raj Metha had made a huge killing in the commodity futures. He had lent that money to another trader for a short term. The borrower failed to repay.

    When Raj threatened to proceed against him, the man had hired professional assassins who had trailed Raj and Shalini to Kumbakonam and had poisoned Raj’s food.

    Raj had ordered for naans and a panneer side dish, while Shalini went for a dosa and curd rice. This difference in their orders made it easy for the killers to isolate Raj and poison his side dishes. Had they chosen to order the same food, Shalini also might have died.

    Though the investigation by her lawyers led to this inference, Shalini was in no mood to bring those killers to book. Her first priority was to defend herself and clear her charge.

    The newsreporters had the field day digging about her past, her live-in relationships, her divorce and her present state. She was described in various terms ranging from damsel in distress to a murderous nymphomaniac.

    When the reporters contacted Captain for his views he added fuel to the fire by bad mouthing Shalini. As if that were not enough he sent a mail to her which had nothing but, “SEE WHAT YOU HAVE LANDED YOURSELF INTO.” Written in bold red letters across a foolscap sheet of paper.

    The only silver lining in the dark clouds that hung in her skies was Dr.Shylender’s support. He was there to meet her every day. He took her to the lawyers and worked hard in gathering evidence for her. Once or twice Shalini told him not to trouble himself too much. Shalini had no mind to force him out of her life at that time. Of course their relationship was purely platonic.

    Shylender was a professional to the very core of his being. He organised all her meetings and took notes when they were discussing with her lawyers. He was also a good PR man.

    He organised many press meets which to a large extent cleared her name. On many days they had lunch and dinner together. But neither of them had any other thought than the problem at hand.

    The case dragged on for two years. Her lawyers had done a splendid job. Of course Shylender’s clear thinking and great ideas helped them form the winning strategy.

    Their final arguments were quite simple and elegant. They first proved to the court that Shalini was a very intelligent woman. That was a pretty easy task as all they had to do was to produce her academic certificates and subpoena a few of her former employers and colleagues.

    Shalini was first perplexed; because in most of the criminal cases the lawyers would strive hard to prove that the accused was not in a state of sound mind. Here they were taking the exactly opposite step. But the lawyers had a beautiful logic.

    In order to establish the guilt, what is needed is “mens rea” – the motive. Let us assume that this smart, professoinal lady had that motive, to start with, they argued. What could be her motive? Raj Metha’s money.

    But Shalini was richer than Raj Metha at the time of his death. This was also easy to prove. And the clinching argument was this. Even if Shalini had wanted to steal Raj’s money, she would have planned the murder after her marriage.

    Then she could be the legal heir or at least one of the legal heirs, to his property. By killing him before marriage Shalini could not gain anything. Raj Metha’s wealth went to his son and daughter. At the time of Raj Metha’s death, Shalini had no legal relationship with him.

    “Only the dullest of fools would plan to kill Raj Metha at that crucial time. But we have already established that Shalini is a highly intelligent woman. So two and two….”

    The Defence Counsel sat down with a smile.

    The Police Inspector failed miserably on cross examination. The Police could not produce the poison which they alleged Shalini used on Raj Metha.

    The judgment came two months after Shalini’s 35<sup>th</sup> birthday. She was acquitted. The Court had passed strictures on the Police for implicating her in the case in the first place, letting the criminals go scot-free.

    Shalini was not as enthusiatic as Shylender, though she felt that a heavy load had been taken off from her shoulders.
     
  4. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    For more than two years Shalini and Shylender had been working together for the case. They were meeting each other almost every day.

    Shylender’s service was selfless. He refused to take any money from her. Many times he spent money from his packet. He used his vehicle most of the time and refused her offers for reimbursement of fuel cost.

    All these made Shalini think that Shylender might have something in mind. If he proposed now, well, Shalini would be only too happy to accept.

    To give him the proper opportunity and the right ambience, Shalini hosted a classy dinner just for the two of them at Park Sheraton. She was sure that Shylender was going to propose to her at that time.

    But unfortunately she was going through such a period in life when whatever she thought would happen for sure did not happen. And what ever she never imagined could happen, did happen.
     
  5. Ushakrishnan64

    Ushakrishnan64 Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,
    Another unexpected twist..that s our Sridhar!!

    Shal, one piece of advice from a friend who is older in age than you are...I undertsand u r going through a rough patch. In search of identity, you are paying a very High Price..
    Slow down..and keep your cool!. Our best wishes are with you.

    Regards
    USHA
     
  6. maya08

    maya08 Senior IL'ite

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    oh dear!
    siiir....how could u do this???
    looks like there's more than it meets to the eye isnt it sir?

    well...ending with another probable(or definite) surprise keeps the readers more and more anticipated...

    from what i gather...i dont think dr.shylender is actually interested in her romantically,even though they have been meeting each other for the past two years.

    hmm....i wonder:confused:


    cant wait for the next episode...

    regards,
     
  7. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    SHE is a sad story. This woman has launched on her independent self discovery journey. As a woman, I would wish that to be successful, if somewhat difficult. But our Shalini has nothing but misery written all over her. SHE depresses me:cry:
    Sridhar, why should a woman face ONLY obstacles if she is venturing into a life of her own choice, even if it does not adhere to the accepted norms? Can she still not be successful and a winner ?
    Don't do this to her! Personal tragedies, advancing age, miserable partners, death, murder........what next?!
    Give her a break, my friend !!

    L, Kamla
     
  8. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Usha,

    thanks for the confidence reposed in me. And thanks for the involvement in my story, so much so, that you have started wishing Shalini.

    Shalini is going through an exceptional period of struggle. Agreed. Not every one has that kind of problems. But if I am going to write about a woman who is leading a peaceful, happy life with no ups and downs, will it be still worth reading?

    One request, Usha. Let's not view Shal's problems as a kind of punishment for her search or chosen way of life. Her handling her problems is a part of that search.

    thanks usha once again.
    regards,
     
  9. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    looks like there's more than it meets to the eye
    that was a profound statement that you dropped just like that in your post. The statement has as much relevance to SHE as it is to every moment of our lives and everyone we meet in our lives.
    As to what is there in Shylender's mind, we will have to wait and see.
    And Maya, one more thing I want to say to all through you.

    A search for one's identity is not like searching a lost object. It is not done alone. One sees oneself in relationships, in others, in the world. So a journey for the search of one's identity will overlap on the life journey of others. As it happened earlier in the most controversial SHE 11 where a lesbian was involved.
    If you happen to read the original text of Ramayan or Mahabharat, you will find that apart from the main story line there are literally thousands of side stories. These stories on the side actually add colour, meaning and emphasis to the main storyline.

    Thanks Maya for your kind words.
    regards,
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you friend for raising the right questions and making the right statements. So let's go slowly over your poignant post.

    SHE is a sad story
    I would not venture a statement like that. SHE is a story. Whether it is happy or sad, is our individual view. Suppose Shal had decided to continue as Rishi's wife and had not ventured out at all, will that be a happy story or a sad story? Well, housewives trapped in unhappy marriages without being able to come out of it will say, it is a sad story. To many conventional woman it will be a happy story.

    After seeing many love marriages I am now tempted to think that the standard fairy tale ending, "They married and lived ever happily thereafter" consists of two parts. They married, constitutes a sad story. And "lived ever happily thereafter" is sheer falsehood.

    Success is not finding a proper relationship or settling down in life. Success is being able to take bold decisions and being able to face any turn in life.

    Sridhar, why should a woman face ONLY obstacles if she is venturing into a life of her own choice, even if it does not adhere to the accepted norms? Can she still not be successful and a winner ?
    Good question, Kamla. After observing women all these years, (as you may know by now, my favourite them has always been women) I find that every woman faces obstacles. In the case of Shal, it is publicly known and the obstacles are quite new. A housewife stuck with an unromantic husband and uncooperative children and harsh in-laws has also got her obstacles.

    Believe me my friend, after reading your friend I introduced a scene in SHE 17 as a part answer to these questions.

    Don't do this to her! Personal tragedies, advancing age, miserable partners, death, murder........what next?

    After all these things, what else can come dear friend, but pure, distilled wisdom and maturity. And happiness. That is not the happiness as it is meant in "they lived happily everafter" but a different kind which does not need a favourable external situation to be happy within.

    SHE has four more episodes to go. Hope to give her a break before that.

    Thanks, once again, dear friend.
    regards,
     

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