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SHE - Episode 2

Discussion in 'SHE - Serial Story' started by varalotti, May 4, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    SHE
    A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy
    Episode 2

    Shalini was clearly wounded by her father-in-law’s derisive looks. His brusqueness reminded her of a sudden thought she had on the day after her marriage. Even the vibrant mehendi on her palms had not faded, while her soul did.

    On that day very much against her feisty nature, she had permitted someone else to instruct her as to what was right and what was wrong. Not in her eyes, but in the personal opinion of the other. Yes, that was quelling a dynamic part of her. Is this life still worth living, with the crippled part of her spirit that survived this onslaught? This question languished in her mind since then.

    Every day immediately after breakfast, Rishi and Shalini would rush to their room upstairs to pick up their briefcases for work. Shalini was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a medium-size software company. At office, she was feared, respected and admired, not only her professional acumen but also for her fiery independence. Feared by her bosses, respected by the men and admired by the women.

    Shalini was too depressed to do anything meaningful that morning. She decided not to go to the office. She changed into a comfortable kaftan, removed constricting inner wear and slouched on the bed with a Jeffery Archer thriller in hand.

    Rishi was annoyed.

    “Hey, old lady, what happened? Aren’t you going to office today?”

    “I am not, Rishi.”

    “Are you sick? Shall I ask our family doctor to come by?”

    “I am not sick. Thanks for asking. Just taking a mental health holiday, a relaxing day off.”

    “Now Shal, if you are not sick, then it is not fair to bunk office.”

    “You are not my boss.”

    “But Dad will not tolerate this.”

    “I am weary of him. Tell him, that I am sick. I am not going to go to office. I do not owe an explanation even to my Managing Director.”

    Rishi was upset by her curt response. Any further argument would only serve to make her even more defiant. He left her without a word.

    Before Shalini completed a page more of Archer’s book she heard a knock. Exasperated she stood up to welcome her father-in-law.

    “Rishi told me you are sick. I noticed that, Shalini. You did not eat well this morning. Shall I tell the cook to prepare a hearty chicken broth for you?”

    “It is all right Uncle. Now I am feeling much better.”

    “Ok. if you need anything, call me.”

    “Thanks.”

    The Captain was always extra-kind when somebody was sick. Shalini wished that he could have shown at least half of this kindness when she was late for breakfast. She could not focus on her reading any longer. Her mind drifted to her childhood memories.

    Shalini was the only child of Shiva and Lakshmi. She inherited her mother’s good looks and more than that, the rebel-genes of her father.

    Shiva had a raging lust for life, so potent that he lived only one day at a time. Shiva was the youngest in his family. His father and grandfather were rich landlords hailing from the then fertile Tanjore Delta region.

    Those were times of change, when agriculture was declining in importance. Fortunes diminished with the introduction of ceiling on land holding and the uncertainty prevailing in the produce markets.

    Still, Shiva’s father gave his sons top-class education. Shiva’s eldest brother became a Doctor and started minting money, sometimes even faster than the Government Mint at <st1:City><st1:place>Nasik</st1:place></st1:City>. Another brother became a lawyer and soon rose to the rank of Additional Solicitor General of India.

    Shiva’s father wanted him to become an Engineer. It was only then that the old man discovered what a great rebel his son was. Shiva said a big NO to engineering. His father alternatively suggested medicine or law or any other profession which he wanted.

    “Thanks, Dad. I actually want to become a carpenter.”

    His father was shocked. But the old man knew very well that there was no point in arguing with Shiva.

    Shiva apprenticed himself to a leading carpenter in Chennai. When he was 25, he was happy not only to have found a career but also an excellent medium to express himself – wood. He was not a sculptor, but he thought being a carpenter he could be at least as creative as a sculptor or a painter.

    He started his career as a Woodwork teacher in a Government school. It was there he met Lakshmi, the sweet-looking Tamil Teacher. Lakshmi was elder to Shiva by three years. She was a spinster at 30 because of a serious problem in her horoscope. And she belonged to a caste several rungs down the ladder from where Shiva’s caste stood.

    After a decent period of courtship Shiva proposed to her making her weep in ecstasy. .

    That was the proverbial last straw on Shiva’s father’s back. He disowned his son, disinherited him from all his wealth and instructed his other sons to do so. On the very same day that Shiva set up a family with Lakshmi, he lost the family he was born in.

    Very soon Shiva resigned his teacher’s job and started consulting for big projects. Unlike the other carpenters he could talk to the architects and the engineers in their own 'speak' and then translate their plans into the typical carpenter’s lingo for his assistants.

    Shiva proved to the world that one could become rich and famous by doing what one loved to do. And Shalini had inherited the fiery rebellious genes of this master carpenter.
     
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    The ringing of her hand phone broke her reverie. It was the COO of her company, the one person in her office she could never get along with. Shalini looked at the time. It was <st1:time minute="30" hour="10">half past ten</st1:time>. The busiest time in her Department.

    “Shalini, it is already 10 30 and you have not come. Don’t you have a clock at home?”

    “And Sundar, do you know how to see the clock and tell the time? Yesterday I left office around 8:30 and had to work till 1 AM in the morning. You did not see the time yesterday; but now you can see nothing else but the time.”

    “Please understand Shalini, I have a lot of payments to make; you need to sign a number of cheques.”

    “I have signed the cheques for all the payments planned for today. They are with Venkat. As to the last minute payments, well, it’s your problem.”

    “So, what do I do now? Go to the MD and complain that the CFO is not in a mood to come to office today?”

    “You can do that or..”

    “Or..”

    “Go to hell.”

    Shalini disconnected. Given another thousand years, this guy would still not understand the fine art of planning ahead.

    Her mind drifted again.

    She was her father’s diva, his whole world. It was difficult to find another father-daughter in the world who shared that kind of a relationship.

    Shiva did not follow anybody; nor was he influenced by anyone. He brought up his daughter exactly like him. He even saw to it that he did not influence her beyond what was warranted by his parental duties.

    Of course Lakshmi doted on her only daughter, whom her friends said was a miniature Photostat copy of her. But the similarities ended there.

    Being born of a rebel and brought up by a rebel, Shalini turned out to be all fire even when she was quite young.

    One day Shalini overheard her mother complaining to her father about a neighbourhood girl who was smoking. Shalini would have dismissed that as a juicy gossip had not her mother warned her not to imitate that girl. Shalini was upset. She was hardly 14 at that time.

    The next day she promptly went to a shop, bought a Gold Flake Filter cigarette and attempted to smoke. In the evening she told her father about her adventure.

    She told him clearly how she was instigated and how she found the stuff utterly disgusting. She told him she would never ever do that again.

    Her father said, “I am happy, Shal, to see that now you are vaccinated against smoking. I should tell your Mom to be more careful with her words.”

    When her whole class flocked to the then popular maths and science groups Shalini chose the humanities Group for her Plus Two Exams.

    She got her first love letter from her Plus Two classmate Aravind. She accepted the proffered love letter and even without caring to read it presented it to her father.

    He had a hearty laugh reading the stuff. “This guy needs to work a lot on his grammar and his spelling, Shal.”

    Without directly coming to the subject or commanding his daughter in any way Shiva talked about love marriages and arranged marriages.

    At the end an impatient Shalini asked him what was she expected to do.

    “Do you remember our dinner at the star hotel last week? Do you remember seeing their menu card?”

    “I do.”

    “The menu runs into pages. You didn’t just pick up the first item in the menu. You studied the whole menu, found out the food which you liked the most, enquired with the bearer about that item and then ordered it. Not to mention the discussion you might have had with your friends on which item is good in which hotel. Now this..”

    Shiva was holding the love letter in his hand.

    “… is the very first item in the menu.”

    Shalini understood.

    The next day she searched out the guy, Aravind. She informed him in a matter of fact tone,

    "Aravind, I accept your love. Tell me when we can elope and get married.”`

    Her words sent shock waves in the midst of boys who were standing with Aravind.

    “Before we plan that you tell me how you are going to support me. Do you have a job? How much do you earn?”

    Aravind was a sentimental type. And he did not want to miss the chance.

    “Shalini, I don’t even mind being a Railway Porter to earn money for you.”

    “Do you know how much a porter earns? And do you think you are qualified for that job? Apart from my food, clothing and school fees my Dad pays me an allowance of hundred bucks a day. Can you please show me a porter’s wife or daughter having this kind of life?”

    Aravind was shocked.

    “Idiot, this is the age to study. Not to love. If I see you giving love letter to any other girl in the school, I will complain to the Principal. The letter is my evidence. And then you will have to really be a Porter all your life. Mind it.”
     
  3. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Shalini topped her class, school and her educational District in her Plus Two exams. She was accepted to do her Bachelors in Commerce in a prestigious college. It was there she met Mrs. Malathy, her professor for Accounting. Malathy and Accounts were made for each other. And Malathy was a born teacher.

    The way in which she led Shalini through the intricate cobwebs of a subject that was more than 700 years old and changing quite often, lit the fire in Shalini. More importantly like the other professors who had control over their destiny through their internal assessment marks, Malathy never demanded respect. She commanded it and got her students’ love too as a bonus. After a year with Malathy Shalini had found her ground.

    When she was in her third year she told her parents one day while they were eating their dinner. “Dad, Mom, I plan to do CA next.”

    Her Mom was not happy about the career choice.

    “You doing, CA? I hear only men do that.”

    “To my knowledge there is no such rule.”

    “But then they may not admit you.”

    “I will file a writ alleging hostile discrimination and then they would have to relent.”

    “Why don’t you become a software engineer like that girl, Gita? She is in Wipro making fifty grand a month.”

    She then dragged her amused husband into the controversy.

    “Shiva why don’t you tell your spoilt girl that she should be a software engineer?”

    Shalini looked askance at her father. Shiva smiled and patted Shalini’s shoulder.

    “Lakshmi, first let her be herself. Let her do whatever she wants to. If my little girl wants to drive a garbage truck, I will buy her a Benz Garbage Truck as her birthday gift.”

    Shalini blinked gratefully at her father through a screen of tears.

    Contrary to what most men are prone to think, a woman’s first need is not security. It is not even love. It is freedom - the freedom to be truly herself and true to herself. Shiva belonged to the endangered and almost extinct sub-species of men who could really understand what a woman needs.

    Varalotti
     
    sindmani and anu1975 like this.
  4. sunkan

    sunkan Gold IL'ite

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    dear sridhar,
    through this episode i enjoyed the character shiva a lot, wish all girls had someone like him giving them the choice to live life the way they want, just tapping here and there to create a wonderfull character, the menu card is really a great way to show his daughter, wonderful piece wish, many woman had father like shiva...shanlini it getting more and more rebellious and like a wild horse getting tied with ropes, and kicking up the air...great sridhar u r leading the character in a fine way, already looking forward for the next week, all the best...regards sunkan
     
  5. Vandhana

    Vandhana Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,

    Just finsished reading this episode, and i loved it. Have to tell you i think it is love at first read:oops: for me with Shalini's father. You have brought out his wonderful character very well. Now you leave us thirsting for more...... Will start counting till next friday.
    I loved the last few lines you wrote about women. And i do think Sridhar you belong to the almost extinct species of a man who understands women!!
    So i leave you with :clap :clap for Part two... And still gearing up for the battle to come as promised by you.

    Vandhana
     
  6. AGR

    AGR Bronze IL'ite

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    Dear Sridharji,

    Your episode reminds me of my dad……….But unlike shalini I had no idea as to what I was going to do in future…….but my father guided me to do CS………he actually accompanied me to all my exams….wait till the exam is over and would take me back to house………he would get feedback from other students as to how the paper was and would assess how Ihave done based on the points I had written in the exam……….of course he just holds a bachelors degree in economics which he obtained after my sister was born……….when I told him that I would get married only after I finish my CS he supported me………….and to day when I got a good increment I could see how proud my dad was……….

    As far as being independent is concerned……….we need to listen to everybody and at last the decision should be ours…..that is being independent……….but not even listening to others and taking decision as one wishes is adamancy……….but the difference between these two is very thin.....esp when a working women wants to be independent it will be viewed as admancy by others........ I think with Shalini every gal can identify themselves……. But I was just wondering how a man can actually bring out a gals emotions so well………waiting for ur reply on this………
     
  7. meenaprakash

    meenaprakash Silver IL'ite

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    Hello Sridhar,

    the portrayal of Shalini's rebellious nature is gaining all the attention.
    All the good words about Shiva is fine but don't you think along with freedom he shld've taught her how to accomodate people.
    whatever a girl study or whatever great heights she reaches, she has to be a woman one day - she has to learn to accomodate people cause her role is still that of a woman. All this freedom & rebellious nature is great to read but in real life, it wouldn't take us anywhere. Shiva giving her the freedom to choose her career and her life-partner is all good (how amny would get even that chance in life???? ) but looks like Shiva concentrated on igniting the fire in Shalini but he shld've also tried to put off that extra flame that would burn people instead of giving them the warmth.
    again, I'm not sure as of yet on Shalini, would love to know more about her before I freeze my opinion on her.
    security, love, freedom - all have such immense importance/meaning in our lives. all three sound equally important.
    eager to see what next???????????????????????
     
  8. mythili

    mythili Senior IL'ite

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    Instantly felt Shalini is married to a jerk when Rishin commented that Dad would not tolerate if she took a day off.
    Makes me think Rishi does not have a personality of his own at all, he is living behind fathers shadow, whereas Shalini is at the opposite end of the spectrum.

    Im so jealous of Shalini! and can't stop curiousity about her career, how did she reach high in her career ladder so quickly.. And Is she child free by choice?
    And even though she is quite independent and stands up for what she believes in, she puts up with her FIL's fancies because of the relationship. That is truly appreciatable!

    Can't wait to see the next episode....
     
  9. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Sundari!

    Dear Sundari,

    Thanks for being the first to comment. Shiva's character is something I like too. May be I saw in him the qualities which I as a father do not have. But the menu card piece is something I always advise young girls who want to defer their marriage indefinitely. I tell them only at the right age you have the maximum choices, maximum number of items in the menu card.

    I dont think that I am leading the character. After a stage the character is leading me. To where will it lead me? That is a moot question for now.
    Thanks once again,
    regards,
    sridhar
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Vandhana!

    Dear Vandhana,

    I am very, very happy that you liked Shiva's characterisation. I am even more happy that you picked up the last few lines for appreciation. I was afraid that they might go unnoticed.

    Thanks for directing the praise towards me. Do I deserve that or not? Well, you should ask the two ladies who grace my life.

    Thanks for the applauding smily. I now have to explore the ways for maintaining the tempo of the narration in the coming episodes.

    regards,
    sridhar
     

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