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SHE - Episode 4

Discussion in 'SHE - Serial Story' started by varalotti, May 17, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    SHE
    A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy
    Episode 4

    Shalini could never accept or digest the rudest, cruellest shock in her life – her mother dying at the moment of her glory. While her father gave Shalini a rebellious nature and a definitive identity, her mother, balanced that belligerence with her love and tenderness.

    To the father and daughter drunk in the strength of their own identity and being, Lakshmi was a sobering influence.

    Shiva was devastated, no doubt. Any age is a wrong age to lose one’s spouse and fifty years was all too soon. And to lose a wife he loved with all his heart for more than 20 years of harmonious relationship – well, a throbbing, live part of Shiva died on that day.

    For Shalini her mother’s death only served to harden her further and strengthen her personality. But whenever she thought of her sweet mother even that tough Shalini could not help shedding some tears of love.

    With a sigh, Shalini stood up and dressed herself, applying a coat of lip gloss. She did not want to go down before her father came as that would mean answering a volley of questions from her father-in-law. Soon a maid came in to announce the arrival of her father.

    Shalini waited for five more minutes to go down. When the Captain saw her he requested her to go with her father in a tone which suggested that she was obliging him by doing so. Shalini smiled at her father secretly admiring his powers of persuasion.

    Seated in a cosy table for two set with floating silver lamps and lotus buds in a copper bowl, father and daughter let the conversation drift to the trivia. Shiva could not help noticing how every man who passed them, looked long and longingly at Shalini.

    Shalini relaxed completely for the first time in the day. As they were spooning the leechi kulfi perfectly set in a bed of fresh fruit, Shiva asked out of the blue, “How is life, Shalini?”

    His tone was serious and he made it clear that he wanted a direct, honest answer. And he had called her by her full name And Shalini gave him the truth unembellished.

    “It sucks, Pa.”

    Shalini described her regimented life in Captain’s house to her puzzled father. Just to allow her to finish, Shiva ordered Turkish coffee for both.


    Shalini now looked like the same 14 year old girl in boys cut and braces, who had given her first love letter to her father and was anxiously waiting for his words.

    Shiva was in deep pain to see his little girl suffering. He forced an indulgent smile on his face and talked with feigned enthusiasm.

    “Dear, I am not competent to advise you what you should do. But I want you to remember two rules. Your decision should lie within these rules.”

    Shalini was all ears.

    “First, you have only one life to live. So live it on your terms. Just remember, dear that everything is a matter of choice – your marriage, your living in Captain’s house, your living with Rishi, your job, your daily chores, even your life.

    “You have made some choices; but that does not mean that you cannot change them. Got it?”

    “You see pumpkin, we ordered some food here. The bearer brought our order. And now after tasting the items we realise that we have made a wrong choice. We can order for something else.

    “We can refuse to eat what we ordered first. But, that, my dear girl, costs money. So you can choose and then change your choice. But that change costs, in terms of stress, in terms of practical complications, in terms of waiting time.

    Shalini nodded.

    “The second rule is that when you are trapped in relationships, be it with your husband, your father-in-law, your colleague, your friends, why even your Dad, remember that you cannot GO out of any relationship. You can only GROW out of it. I have seen my friends divorcing their nagging wives only to marry even more nagging women.

    “But do remember whatever decision you take I am with you.”

    Somehow Shalini got attracted more towards the first part of Shiva's words than the second.

    Shiva dropped his daughter at her place around 3 in the afternoon. Captain had not returned from his afternoon round of golf.

    Shalini went up to her room, changed again into the comfortable kaftan and took Jeffrey Archer’s book. But she could not read a single line. Her father’s words, especially those spoken towards the end of the meeting were haunting her. How did she manage to get trapped in this life, this marriage, in this set of suffocating relationships?


    One day Shiva brought Rishi’s picture to Shalini and asked for her comments.

    “Pretty handsome. Looks like a clean, healthy guy. But why are you asking me?”

    “His name is Rishi. He is the only son of my friend, Captain Ramnath. He is an engineer working for the State Government’s PWD. His mother died a few years ago. He and his father live in a beautiful house in Anna Nagar.”

    “Dad, are you suggesting that I marry this guy?”

    “Not at all, Shal. You remember my talking about the menu card and all. I am just saying that this is one of the good items on the menu.”
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2007
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Shiva arranged for Shalini and Rishi to meet in a star hotel. One thing led to another and their courtship ended in marriage.

    At the time of her marriage Shalini was between jobs. She had resigned her first job and was looking for the second. Being in a Government Department Rishi could manage a long leave for their marriage.

    They had a picture perfect honeymoon in the idyllic Kothagiri near Ooty. It had all conveniences but was far removed from the traffic and congestion of a popular hill resort. It was there that Shalini spent the happiest four weeks of her life. They literally spent the days and nights locked up in their room, wrapped in themselves-again literally.

    When they climbed down from the hills, little did Shalini realise that the fall in height would be symbolically representative of her life after honeymoon.

    Rishi was handsome, a strapping 6 feet tall with broad shoulders and pleasing, pleasant features. His sharp nose and the well-trimmed mush below made him quite dashing.

    He did not smoke nor drink. The second was a feat because Rishi’s father had drinks every night before dinner. Many times Rishi mixed drinks for his father. But he had never touched the stuff himself.

    And in spite of his stunning looks, Rishi always kept away from women. Very few men were like that, Shalini mused. Even the so called ‘moral and upright’ men ogle beautiful women when they see them on the road. Rishi did not. He was careful with his money, a wonderful provider and an excellent care-giver.

    But the absence of negative qualities did not in itself imply the presence of anything positive. When the wedding bells dimmed, the honeymoon ended and the real marriage started Shalini realised that they were poles apart – in their qualities, in their habits and in their approach to life.

    For starters Shalini loved to talk all the time. Rishi talked only when it was absolutely necessary. Even while making love Shalini would like to talk some sweet nothings; at times she was rather noisy in her passion. But Rishi would not even utter a word. And worse still, he never wanted to talk about it afterwards, though Shalini pestered him.

    Their first argument started two months after their marriage, when Shalini told him that she was going for a job interview that day.

    “All the best, Shal. But honestly, why should you strain yourself, when we have all the money we want?”

    “But Rishi you promised that I could work after the honeymoon.”

    “I did, Shal. I am not denying that. I am just suggesting that you can always stay home and give company to my Dad. After all he is alone. You can help him in managing the household chores.”

    Shalini was silent. Rishi mistook her silence for yielding.

    “Honey, it is enough if one of us works. You know raising a family is far more difficult than even your chartered accountancy.”

    He meant that as a joke. Shalini now composed herself and told him non-chalantly,

    “Darling, what you say is true. Enough if one of us works. Why not that one be me? So that you can spend more time with your father? He will be really happy to have his son all for himself for the whole day?”

    “What the hell are you talking? Shalini I am a…”

    Rishi stopped mid sentence.

    “You are a man and therefore if you do not work, it wont look proper in the eyes of the society. But I as a woman can throw my ambition and even my identity to winds and be a subservient wife and an obedient daughter-in-law?”

    “So you are going to go for the interview, right?”

    “I am not asking for your permission, dear. I am just informing you. If you have the heart wish me good luck. Otherwise, see you in the evening.”

    Shalini’s words ended not only the argument, but also all the romance in their lives.
    They did talk to each other after that and also had a decent love-life. But there was neither passion nor romance in their relationship.

    Rishi would get up at 4 AM in the morning and would silently go about his routine. Shalini woke up only around half past six or seven. At eight there was the solemn ceremony of morning breakfast with the captain officiating as the High Priest. After that they would be busy getting ready for their work. In the morning their conversation consisted of nothing more than arguments on some petty issues.

    They would have lunch outside. In the evening Rishi would come around seven and Shalini around half past eight. Rishi and his father would have dinner together. Then they would be chatting till 9:30. Rishi would directly hit the sack after that.
    Shalini would have finished her dinner outside or else eat alone around 9 30.

    Shalini could never sleep till half past Eleven. She would either surf the web or be engaged in work she had brought home.

    The next day - would be the same.

    On weekends Rishi would spend most of the time watching TV. He would go with his father for a round of golf on Sunday.

    There sex-life was not non-existent. That was about the most positive comment on their marriage. Lacklustre , sepid, lukewarm, tasteless- there were many apt words to describe their love-life.


    It appeared to Shalini that they indulged in sex more to relieve themselves physically than as an act of passion or even love. Invariably, it would happen on Saturday nights.

    This life exhausted Shalini.
     
  3. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    A year before, she took the bold step of meeting a marriage counsellor. She spared no details from her. The counsellor, a family friend, gave her a practical advice of maintaining a log of the time she spent with her husband.

    Time spent with the spouse did not include the time they were in the same room, if they were engaged in different activities. It referred only to the time they were talking to each other (not talking at each other) , perhaps the time spent sitting by each others side, holding the other’s hand on the terrace on a moonlit night.

    She asked Shalini to meet her after a fortnight with the logged details. She told her that the log would be a significant pointer to the status of their marriage.

    Shalini told her that there was no need to wait for a fortnight.

    “Here’s my log.” She pushed a paper at her. In which was written, “Time spent together: NIL”

    The Counsellor did not know how to proceed. Shalini now expressed her fears.

    “You see, I am starved, emotionally starved. I now tend to cling to any person who shows me even a trace of love. I work with a lot of men in my office. I am on the Net most of the time. I am afraid very soon I might be caught up in some affair. Tell me what should I do.”

    The Counsellor was now on familiar ground.

    “Shalini, please do not think that I am standing on a moral high ground and speak against extra-marital relationships. I am a very practical person. These affairs always tend to destroy lives and families. A person indulging in an affair is a coward and a cheat. If you do not like your partner just end the relationship and live with whomever you like. But to carry on something on the side just makes your life complicated.”

    The Counsellor then asked:

    “Why don’t you guys start a family? If you have children it secures the marital bond. And you have somebody else to love, something to live for.”

    Shalini had thought about it. She had told Rishi on their wedding night that she did not plan having children until she felt that she was ready for that.

    Shalini did not have anything against children until she met her childhood friend Sumathi. Sumathi was the most beautiful girl in her school. While in college she fell in love with a guy and eloped to marry him. Shalini met her just a month before her marriage, in a Departmental store. Over a cup of coffee they exchanged notes. Sumathi’s husband had deserted her for another woman. Sumathi was the mother of two girls now. She was hardly thirty and living the painful life of a single mother.

    Shalini asked her earnestly, “How do you manage, Sumathi?”

    “Simple. I killed the woman in me pretty early to let the mother in me live.”Those simple words were profound enough to shake Shalini to her roots. Before she could take in the full impact of those words, Sumathi said,

    "But the pity is, Shalini, even the holiest of mothers has to live only in a woman's body. Hope you understand what I say."

    Shalini was rendered speechless.

    And in that shock she had made a decision - not to have children till she was psychologically ready for that.
     
  4. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    So the story moves ahead! Well, it is running on the lines I expected it to. Only, I never imagined that a free willed girl like Shalini would go for an arranged marriage?
    Also, the counselor advising Shalini to have a child to keep the marriage together seems a little far fetched, couldn't have been the most efficient counselor??:) I feel it is terribly wrong to bring a child into the world just for your selfish purposes.
    With the criticism done, I would once again like to say that the narration is very smooth and stylish. Liked the idea of having lychee kulfi on a bed of fresh fruit!! You are a gourmet too, didn't know that:)
    All these little touches you give like changing into kaftan, a neat mush under a sharp nose, applying lip-gloss... makes the story and the characters realistic. The story rings very true. It could be happening all around us:)

    L, Kamla
     
  5. sunkan

    sunkan Gold IL'ite

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    dear sridhar,
    if those words "I killed the woman in me to let live the mother in me" belonged to shalini, it would had been more effective, yes i am waiting for the rishi's personality to develop now, all the relation sometime pick from the reaction rather than the action, here also u have presented shalini in a light and setting the curiosity to find out what caused her to be so, wish could have known what was the conversation between shiva and the captain, any way ur making more inquisitive for the next episode...great going..regards sunkan
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. gayathriar

    gayathriar Bronze IL'ite

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    This is my first FB to you. You write really really really ...well.

    After I read this, I feverishly read episodes 1, 2 and 3 and I should say that I liked episode 1 the best.

    Coming to the analysis of this episode, I think the heroine Sucks - I feel that she is self centered, immature supplemented by a confused and complex personality.

    Since there was a courtship period, being a smart person that she is, she should have assessed her husband's household - Captain's clockprecision routine and her husband's routine should not have been a surprise and nevertheless suffocating. If the relationship was so bad, did she do something about it and fail - we are at dark. I think she has no clue as to what to expect from the marriage and what is expected out of her. In the subsequent episodes, you will have to work hard to portray Captain as the villain I think.

    Also, I wonder how Shiva would have found such an incompatible family for his darling daughter.

    In short, if I were Shalini's friend or counsellor, I would have suggested her one of Dr. Laura Schlessinger's books to read.

    I am sorry, my first FB to you is in this tone. But, I wouldn't be surprised, if this is the reaction you tried to invoke.

    -Gayathri.
     
  7. Vandhana

    Vandhana Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Captain varalotti,

    All passenger are waiting impatiently on the taxiing plane for it to take off. I liked episode 4 and it left me wanting for more.
    I do agree with Kamla, the counsellor giving all the wrong ideas to Shalini abotu the kids. Anyway will wait patiently to see how it goes next week.
    Simply loved the Lychee kulfi and Turkish Coffee!!.

    Vandhana
     
  8. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Point Noted, Kamla!

    Dear Kamla,

    There is a world of difference between my writing a story all my self and my writing a story for an enlightened forum like IL.

    When I write I go on writing. I do not stop to ponder why this or why not this. But when questions come, especially deep and penetrating ones from people like you, I stop and wonder.

    Here's the answer.

    This counsellor (I am not sure still whether she is the most efficient one!) sees Shalini's problems like this. There is no major disturbing factor in this marriage - where the husband is an alchoholic, or he abuses his wife or there is another woman in his life. The problem is mainly one of ego. Rishi and Shalini adamantly stick to their ways. While they are individually good (at least till now) they do not want to commit to the other by yielding at least part of their whims.

    In this context only a major factor can bring about a change. If you had read The Class by Eric Segal, the piano player getting affected by paralysis, brings about that change. His wife who was about to leave him because of his incessant womanising decides to stay back and help him.

    Similarly a child might mean a bridge between the warring couple and in some borderline cases may help stabilise a marriage. I have seen some dysfunctional marriages being held together on account of the children. We have this saying in our parts of the country, "If a child is born then the marriage will be all right"
    (குழந்தை பிறந்தா எல்லாம் சரியாப் போயிடும்) This may not be a perfect solution, but worth trying as a last resort. Maybe the counsellor had these ideas in mind when she suggested it.

    I want your views on this, Kamla.

    regards,
    sridhar
     
  9. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sundari,

    Shalini could not have uttered those words. Again I wanted her to hear those words from an affected person so that the effect fully sinks into her.
    Incidentally I would like to declare in this open forum, that those words do not belong to me. It was uttered by a good friend of mine which, with her permission, I used in this story.

    I am happy you have spotted out those words.

    The story is SHE. It is about Shalini and all the other characters are there only to provide context to her search of her identity.

    I am happy to note that you are now waiting for the next episode. Just 168 hours to go.
    regards,
    sridhar
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    I was waiting for you, Gayathri!

    Thanks for your kind words about my writing. This was the kind of post I was waiting for. Every writer would love to say why he created a character like that. He could not say that in the story.

    "Coming to the analysis of this episode, I think the heroine Sucks - I feel that she is self centered, immature supplemented by a confused and complex personality. "

    You are too hard on my heroine. But it's all right. Well, honestly, she is not a perfect personality. Yes, she is on the selfish side. But whether she is immatured, confused and complex - well, I would rather reserve my judgment till I finish reading all the episodes.


    Since there was a courtship period, being a smart person that she is, she should have assessed her husband's household - Captain's clockprecision routine and her husband's routine should not have been a surprise and nevertheless suffocating.

    I have almost done research on this courtship period. During courtship both the man and the woman put their best foot forward and try to project themselves as ideal personalities. To judge a person during courtship is very difficult. That's why many love marriages end in a failure. It is not exactly WYSIWIG. That is What You See Is What You Get. And during courtship the harmones are at their active best and disable the intellect from forming character judgments.
    Again during courtship she would not have any idea of what's happening in Captain's house on a normal day.

    If the relationship was so bad, did she do something about it and fail - we are at dark. I think she has no clue as to what to expect from the marriage and what is expected out of her. In the subsequent episodes, you will have to work hard to portray Captain as the villain I think.

    I reiterate that Shalini is not the best or the noblest. You may be right that she had no clue as to what to expect from her marriage. But one thing is sure. She does not want to dissolve her identity in her husband's.
    Gayathri, I am working hard to write every line of the novel,let alone portraying Captain as the villain.

    Also, I wonder how Shiva would have found such an incompatible family for his darling daughter.

    Again a pertinent question. Let's take up this after you finish reading the fifth episode

    In short, if I were Shalini's friend or counsellor, I would have suggested her one of Dr. Laura Schlessinger's books to read.

    It is really unfortunate that you are not her Counsellor. Can you please tell me more about her books? I haven't heard of her name.


    I am sorry, my first FB to you is in this tone. But, I wouldn't be surprised, if this is the reaction you tried to invoke.

    I am happy that your very first FB is like this. I want this forum to be an active, fiery discussion board not a fan club. Regarding your second statement I have to sheepishly admit, yes, that was what I tried to invoke.

    Gayathri, one more request. Dont' let this post be the last word on the subject. Go ahead and bring out your points. Discussion like this will help me build up the story better.

    Thanks a lot Gayathri.
    regards,
    sridhar
     

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