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Tears and Warning Bells Again - The Freedom Song

Discussion in 'Wednesdays with Varalotti' started by varalotti, Nov 14, 2006.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Most Gracious ILites,
    Words are not enough to thank you for your overwhelming response to the last thread. I can assure you, Ladies, that I never got offended, even if the replies were vehement. There was an incident which we saw from different perspectives.
    This week we shall see a story but it is a story only in format. This was my very first story in English published in Womans Era in Feb, 2002.
    I am sure that the responses this time will be even more emotional.
    regards,
    Varalotti




    THE FREEDOM SONG
    - A Short Story By Varalotti Rengasamy
    I was as restless and impatient as only a new groom can be on his wedding night. I was waiting for my bride Malathi to be ushered in. I still could not bring myself to believe that this is reality and not just a fantasy that occurs after a heavy meal.

    No one would have believed that the most popular singer of the day Miss Malathi Jeyaraman would end up as my wife! My mind was racing back to the time I first met her.

    A well known Music Sabha had an account with the bank in which I worked . Thanks to the small favours I showed to the Secretary of that Sabha I got a complementary ticket for MJ's concert (that was how Malathi Jayaraman was popularly known in the world of Music). She was already a crowd-puller and after a song in a super-hit film she was the current rage.

    Sitting in the front row I was listlessly waiting for MJ to appear on the stage. When she gracefully entered the stage precisely at the appointed hour I was awe-struck by her beauty. She was tall enough to qualify for the beauty pageants. And her face! The chiselled features and the eyes which betrayed a sort of vulnerability - I fell in love with her then and there.

    I sat through the three-hour classical music performance feasting my eyes on the artist rather than my ears on what she sang. I met her behind the stage at the end of the performance just to congratulate her like an ordinary fan. I know that an ordinary Scale Two Officer in a nationalised bank like me is no match for that beautiful, talented artist. Yet I could not help falling in love.

    Bitten by the love bug I attended MJ's every single performance in the city. And every time I met her behind the stage to dole out liberal praises directed more towards her person than towards her performance. Slowly the intimacy grew.

    From the stage of muttering a formal thanks she went to that of complaining, "Why didn't you turn up for my concert in Music Academy last week?" I for my part took the liberty of commenting on her dress. "You look great in this black silk. But the yellow one you wore the day before yesterday, oh, it was lousy."

    Our love entered the next stage when we exchanged the telephone numbers and started talking to each other in the late hours of the night, uttering sweet nothings. Then we exchanged notes about our personal lives. I did not have much to say except that I was an orphan but brought up well by a reputed orphanage.

    Her father was her friend, philosopher and guide. He had spotted the talent in her while she was quite young and had nurtured it with great pains to make her what she is today. He had gone to the extreme of resigning his quasi-Government job and had been acting like her secretary managing her dates and finances.

    She was so much devoted to her father that she virtually worshipped him. Her mother had died long ago.

    Given the circumstances and given my knowledge of Kollywood movies I was sure that her father would be the first villain to our love. But reality was not just stranger but much sweeter than fiction. When one fine morning I broached the subject of our love to her father his response was graceful.

    "Mister Sethu I have been enquiring about you. I know that you lost your parents very early. But I have been given to understand that you are a good man with neat habits and strong values. I am happy that my daughter has made a sensible choice. But Sethu, let us not forget the realities."

    The first reality that hit my face was his dropping the prefix Mister from my name. He continued.

    "You are just a Scale Two bank officer. Malathi's bank deposits runs into seven digit figures. You will have everything - eventually. But you should not insist that Malathi should come and live with you after the marriage.

    “You should not cage her in a five hundred and odd square feet <st1:place>West Mambalam</st1:place> flat and make her cook wash and clean for you. You don't understand? I approve the match on one condition that you should come and live with us.

    “You are free to pursue your career in banking. And Malathi will pursue hers in singing. Managing her dates and finances will be my prerogative in which you should not interfere. But for this you will get all the respect a son-in-law deserves in our tradition. Is it okay for you?"

    I could not deny the fact that I was hurt by his pointing out the differences in the economic status between us. But I was head over heels in love with Malathi that I immediately accepted the conditions imposed by her father.
     
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    The Freedom Song (Contd..)

    After a grand wedding in which I acquired a celebrity status for the only reason that I was a celebrity’s husband, I am now waiting for my bride to walk in to this room.

    Clad in a softy <st1:City><st1:place>Mysore</st1:place></st1:City> silk saree which was of the colour of the heliotrope flower, Malathi walked into the room with a jar of milk in her hand - the traditional accompaniment to the bride on her wedding night.

    I relieved her of the milk jar and slowly guided her to sit by my side on the bed. I could not believe my eyes. What a beauty, What a grace! I was the luckiest person alive.
    "Malathi, Malu dear, An ordinary bank officer like me having a bride like you! Honestly I don't deserve you, dear."
    When she closed my mouth with her hands I was not in this world.

    "Sethu Dear, I am also equally lucky. I need to talk to you,Sethu. But first promise me. Will you give me whatever I ask?"

    "You have everything, my dearest. What can I give you except my love and my sincere heart, my dear?"

    When I attempted to hug her with these romantic words she gently brushed aside my hands. Suddenly she became very serious.

    "I learn your bank has branches throughout <st1:country-region><st1:place>India</st1:place></st1:country-region>. Tell me which branch of your bank is the farthest from this town?"

    "I think we have a branch in the Ladakh. Why do you ask dear? You want to stash away some black money over there? No problem. I will arrange for that."

    "Nothing of that sort. Other than Ladakh where else do you have a branch? The place should be very far from here. And it shouldn't be a metro, The place should not be a remote village either. Can you think of such a place?"

    "Why not? We have a big branch in Chandigar. That's a beautiful city. I was posted for training there some years ago."

    "So Chandigar. That's it. Now you apply for a transfer to Chandigar. As soon as you get it I will quit singing and we shall set up our home there. And our wedding night will be only in our new home in Chandigar. Okay?"

    "Are you in your senses, Malathi? If I apply for transfer to Chandigar they will post me there immediately. You are in the height of your career. And it is wrong timing to quit now.

    “Then your father? He agreed to our marriage only on the condition that I should come here and live with you and not the other way round. And I should not interfere with your singing. How can we desert him and go to Chandigar?"

    "I want to go to Chandigar precisely because I want to be as far away from my father as possible. My father, my career in music,this palatial house, my popularity - these make the walls of the prison from which I want to flee."

    "Here, have some water dear. But what happened to you? You had said quite often that but for your father's sacrifice you would not have been in this position. You were almost worshipping him.

    “When your mother died your father abandoned the idea of a second marriage only because he wanted to make you a great singer. You have told this with tears in your eyes so many times. Now all of a sudden.... are you all right, darling?"

    Malathi brushed aside my attempts to ascertain whether she has been suffering from any fever. And then answered very firmly:

    "Now that was the script I had to act when I am donning the guise of Malathi Jayaraman - MJ - the singer. But now I am just Malathi - plain and simple. And now only do I speak from my heart. I hate my father."

    I was speechless.

    "Sethu you are the very first person in my life to whom I am opening my heart. I have never spoken these words to any other person. But if I hide the truth from you also then the marriage ceremony we had this morning would be rendered a sheer mockery."

    I was dumbfounded by the choice of the strong words. I just allowed her to vent her feelings.

    "Sethu, it is true that my father moulded me into a first class artist - of national fame. I concede. But what for? You know the reason? In his young days he wanted to be a musician himself.

    “But his prosaic father would never allow anything of that sort and forced him to take a Government job instead. My father's frustrated desire to become a singer was fulfilled through me.

    “But God, what a horrible life I had lived! You know, Sethu, I have not tasted any ice cream so far. Reason: ice creams are bad for throat. So my father banned them. I have never played like a child. In the past fifteen years I would have hardly seen ten movies. In fact I have never had a childhood, Sethu. It will be music class or music practice or music performance all the time.

    “You know when my classmates and neighbours used to play around with abandon I will be practising music for ten hours, twelve hours at a stretch. Now my critics eulogise my singing - they liken it to the freedom song of a lark that flies in the high skies. But my singing is like the circus-trained bear driving a bike. And my songs only mourn my desires that have been mercilessly crushed by my father.
     
  3. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    The Freedom Song (Contd..)

    “Life and relationship is all about spaces, Sethu. My father did not allow any space for me to live my own life. He was with me throughout and dictated every aspect of my life. It would have been better if he had taken a second wife. At least during the time he might have spent with his wife, I could have made an attempt to live my life.

    “I have simple desires, Sethu. To chase the butterflies down the lawn, to sleep late on a Sunday, to get myself drenched in rain, to eat as many ice creams as possible, to wear a jeans pant and a T-shirt and move around in a two-wheeler and above all to be totally free to do what one wants to do. But I was not free to make even the simplest choices in my life.

    “Which concert I should accept, which contracts I should sign and which I should refuse, and what songs should I sing, and even the colour of the saree I should wear for a concert – everything is being dictated by him. I do not have even the basic liberties of a condemned prisoner, Sethu."

    It was only now that I ventured to speak.

    "No, Malathi. I think you have got it all wrong. Your father did everything for your own good. Had I got a father like yours, I would have been in the IAS or probably a popular heart surgeon or a famous writer."

    "Sethu, you do not realise the value of freedom. You take it for granted because it came to you just like that. To me the first goal of life is to be happy and free. To be a big singer or an IAS officer could not be your life's goal. The world may praise your talent or appreciate your position. But if you do not like the career that is thrust upon you, you will never like the fame. You will be living in hell. I speak from my experience."

    "But Malathi if all achievers are going to talk like you then there will be no place for achievement in our lives. And nothing is accomplished save by exerting oneself, by making sacrifices and compromises along the way. And your father has motivated you to achieve. Is it not great?"

    "No Sethu. Had I been genuinely interested in music and had my Dad nurtured that talent I would have been grateful to him. Not that I hate music. I like to listen to good music once in a while like any other person. Surely I don't want to practise singing for ten hours in a day.

    “When I was in my school my favourite subjects were maths and science. I have never missed getting cent percent marks in maths tests. Naturally I wanted to opt for the maths and science group in my higher secondary. My father put his foot down and said a singer need not study maths or science. So I was forced to take humanities.

    “My maths teacher came to my house and pleaded with my father. She told him that I am a budding scientist and maths had been a second nature for me. Father did not budge. I was so furious with him that I wantonly flunked in all the subjects. But he took it as an excuse, put an end to my studies and made me sing and practise all day."

    "But Malathi, you forgot one thing. When I told him of our love he immediately consented. Don't you think that he gave you the freedom to choose your spouse?"

    She came near me and ruffled my hair.

    "In spite of being a bank officer you do not seem to know the ways of the world. My father knew about our love long before you spoke to him.

    “He enquired about you. Found that you were an orphan without any relatives. To make you come and stay with us would be no problem. Ultimately he did not want to lose control over me. From that perspective you were the ideal choice."

    I felt too embarrassed to venture a response. Sensing that Malathi gently kissed on my forehead.

    "Suppose I agree to your plan and we are off to Chandigar. Will that not be too much for your father? You have said that he has a heart condition. If he couldn’t bear the shock and something happens to him......"

    "So what? I will mourn his end as a daughter is reasonably expected to do. Then I will have to live my life, Sethu. One has to live one's life and there is no point in living your life for the sake of another.

    “And it is cruel to impose your desires and dreams on another. Ultimately I don't blame my father. He wanted to be a singer. His father suppressed that desire. So my father transferred that to me and made me into a great singer. Now I wanted to be a scientist. My father did not allow that.

    “So if our child wants to be a singer or artist I should not force her to be a scientist simply because of my frustrated desires. The practice of sacrificing the children's lives on the altar of parent's frustrated desire - let that curse end with me. I want to bring up our children as a free individuals.

    “Now I don't want to become a scientist any more. The time's up. In Chandigar, I want to be an ordinary housewife. Watching TV serials, gossiping with the neighbours, browsing magazines, eat as many ice creams and chocolates as I can, making dishes for you, and when you find fault with them fighting with you, expectantly waiting for you in the evening - I want an ordinary life full of things like that.

    Will you please give me that Sethu?"

    When Malathi pleaded with tears in her eyes I signified my assent by tightly embracing her and kissing her tears off.
     
  4. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    To place this thread on the top!

    Sorry Ladies,
    Just a small post to make this thread go to the top.
    Varalotti
     
  5. Eljaype

    Eljaype Bronze IL'ite

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    Congrats

    Dear Sridhar,

    As usual, your story was a touching one and realistic also. This was what I was mentioning in the previous thread also, that one shouldn't impose their likes and dislikes on the children , without knowing their preferences.
    We have to have a talk with our kids before we decide something for them.
    Whe we see the situation from Malathis' view, what her father did was unpardonable, but when you see it from her father's side it was ungrateful.
    Actually I have to think over it and then decide which side I want to take. I think most probably I'll be taking Malathi's side.
    Latha :wave
     
  6. Preethi

    Preethi Gold IL'ite

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    Good Emotional Saga

    Dear Varalotti,

    I just finished reading your story, and automatically (my hands took over the control) replying your thread.....Well, To my surprise, I am reading this story the second time. I don't recall when I read this story before, but the moment I read the initial few para's I remembered the outline of this story and the ending too, Probably when I had been an avid reader of Women's Era back in India, I must have come across this story earlier, but at that time I didn't know you.

    Well, Here is my view about the story overall.

    Well, Malathy is right in her decision to quit singing, From her flashback its clearly evident Singing was thrust upon her and it didn't come natural to her. She succumbed to the desires of her father, who quenched his dreams through Malathy. Though done with an intention to make his daughter shine with good career, his father was not right in imposing his views so forcibly on her and not allowing her to live her life, at her free will. Malathy's feelings to quit singing is thoroughly reasonable and as long as she has no regrets not singing for rest of her life, she can choose to lead her life the way she wants. Till she was the daugher to her father, she was in his clutch and had no say in his decisions, however she is married now and realistically speaking Sethu has equal and more rights to decide about malathy's life now. So Sethu, if willing, can encourage malathy to go ahead with her dreams of leading a simple life and oppose her father, in case he creates problem for malathi in accepting her new decision.

    However, I feel that malathy could continue her new life (as per her desires and wishes) right where she lives without having the need to leave her father (If she prefers, she can choose to stay seperately with her husband and not desert her dad and goto far away place), Malathy father's method of approach may be wrong, but his sacrifices for her were very real. He didn't re-marry for the sake of her daughter and also he quit his job to make malathy a star...! Malathy leaving him now like that, would surely dishearten him for whatever he did to her. He deserves forgiveness for this ruthlessness, for atleast the sacrifices he made for her. Malathy didn't have a good understanding and supportive father , but atleast she can be a understanding and supporting daughter to him and through her love make his realise his mistakes ! Leaving would go no good to both of them...it will only widen the father-daughter relationship...

    Anyway this is a well thought story ! and brings out the emotions of a person, who has been deprived their rights to lead their life, beautifully. Many a times due to over-protective/authoritative nature of the parents, the kids get into emotional problems and that also strains their lovely relationship. This story is one such example...! This story deserves readership from all those parents who are similar in nature to Malathy Dad.

    Love,
    Preethi
     
  7. Ushakrishnan64

    Ushakrishnan64 Silver IL'ite

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    Mixed emotions!!

    Dear Sridhar,
    I am filled with mixed emotions!! My replies have always been aggressive..Here comes one..Now coming to Malathy..I do not agree that she will ask Sethu to make this drastic move..that too..on their wedding night
    In my opinion, she should own up for her decision and do the following:
    (1) Malathi can take a month-long leave (honeymoon!! no father will stop this!) and go away to some dream destination..need not be 5 star standard. Here she can wear jeans, eat an ice cream and do all that she has been longing to do..When she comes back, she will be more refreshed and can think straight.
    (2) Her vacation would have sent feelers to her father that she is showing signs of slowing down in her career.
    (3) She can quit her career (if she still wants to) , when she has to take care of her children, in a few years time.
    This way, Sethu has stuck to his promise to his FIL, at the same time supported Malathy in her decision.
    I do not agree to the fact that Malathy wants to turn around 180 degrees, just because she has a husband to support. Whatever said and done, a father deserves his due respects. It is Sethu's duty to fulfil his promise to his FIL. This way, the couple can try to mend the ways of the father in due course.

    Regards
    USHA
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2006
  8. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Now I Make You Jump The Queue!

    Dear Usha,

    While Latha and Preethi are waiting in the line for reply I made you jump the queue as I love agression and your response provokes me to give a strong reply.

    I think you are so involved with the character Malathi in the story that you have placed her in your position rather than placing you in her position.
    If my words offend you I apologise in advance and seek your pardon.

    But Usha, when a person's mind is suffocated by such a domineering parent and when a person's freedom is robbed, he would be in so much desperation as a person suffocating for air. After a while the spirit in that person would die and the flame would go off. When this happens the person would be totally docile and would not do anything of her own.
    My heroine Malathy has still the spirit living in her. But its condition is pretty serious. And a drastic action is necessary to rejuvenate it to life.
    For a person suffering from TB we can advise bed rest, healthy food, stay in a comfortable sanatorium area and all. But a heart attack patient has to be rushed to the hospital for an emergency surgery or some crucial first aid.

    When we think of Malathi's comfort in the airconditioned comfort of our home or office, while relishing our evening dinner, we can suggest these measures like taking a leave, getting a break or doing such insignificant things.

    Right now Malathi's mind is at danger. And the only way out is the drastic steps she herself had prosposed.

    Sethu's promise to his fil need not be fulfilled as the latter is the agressor (though in the psychological sense) and he owes a greater duty to his wife. Malathi's father asking him to fulfil his promise would be like the evil mother-in-law enlisting the help of her son to kill her daughter-in-law, on the ground that he owes that to his mother.
    regards,
    sridhar
     
  9. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    MJ allows her heart to rule over her head !

    My dear Sridhar,

    That this is one of your earliest stories is evident from the names of Malathi & Sethu. Now you have switched over to the likes of Radhika & Raji !

    Your title for the story says it all ! Malathy was singing in concerts all these years. Now, she has decided to pursue what her heart dictates & go ahead with her freedom song.

    You could not have selected a better title for justifying her action. Some decisions in one’s life are just waited for the opportune moment to emerge and grabbed ! Malathy did just that. All along her life, Malathy has given more importance to her father’s feelings than to her own. She has reached a stage when she wants to live her own life, the way she wants. By sacrificing the rest of her life to please her father, she will be only fooling herself.

    We must remember our heart always speaks the truest answer to our dreams ! We can never deny this.

    With Sethu’s support, she is ready to learn and ready to risk, as well, perhaps. Anyway, who can be a better support to a woman than her man ?

    She must shape her life to follow her instincts, inclinations and preferences.
    Well, her father dreamed her life so far, but now she has taken charge of her own life and decided not to dream her life away !

    I am sure, you will think that I am vehement in my thought process ! Well, Sridhar, that is what I am !!

    Love & regards,
    Chithra.

    Do still girls enter the bridal chamber with the traditional milk-jug, I wonder ? ! We have come a long way, Sridhar ! For a change, we would welcome our man to enter the room with beautiful lingerie and perfume to floor us, to start with !!
     
  10. Ushakrishnan64

    Ushakrishnan64 Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,
    This forum is a platform for discussion. So no offence..no pardons!!
    You are right, I am so involved with the character Malathy that I am suggesting what I would have done. I do not believe in breaking homes or hearts.
    Let us work backwards...
    Malathy has all along been a very docile character. But her heart is full of hatred for her father. If she did not like her lifestyle, why did she not opt to live separately? After all, she is financially strong. She could have walked out on her father and led a very happy life. But she forced herself to remain meek and humble, thus cheating herself and the rest of the world.
    Her attitude really bugs me..She says she will mourn the death of her father like any other daughter would..Come on..This is unacceptable behaviour!!
    Has she ever argued with her father or expressed her feeling that she does not like to pushed this far? Why did she accept this? Now what is the need to become aggressive?
    Malathi's mind is in danger..This does not give her a right to break her exisiting ties and try to fly high in the open sky. She has to think calmly and seek a good decision.
    Sridhar, I am enjoying this discussion. Please post your comments minus apologies for the harsh words.
    Regards
    USHA
     

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