SHORT STORY – ANANTHU’S FAMILY

My name is Ananthapadmanabhayyar. As it is too long, all called me Anathu. As we lived in a remote village, father put me in a school in Bombay where my uncle lived.

I had some school mates who led me to women of undesirable character and soon I knew things which were very tempting, including alcohol.

Uncle arranged a stenographer’s job for me. I was very quick and accurate; so much so that I got several jumps in my factory. Then father thought of marrying me to a girl who was related to him

There was no thrill of the “first night”described in novels and shown in films; still I enjoyed deflowering her. For the first time, I saw hymen!

 She was plain but very docile and enjoyed our new life, seeing a city like Bombay for the first time.

We were living in the quarter allotted by the company. I found that my wife, Nina, was becoming very popular with the neighbours and one or two were always there, when I came home. I didn’t like it but could not find a way of convincing Nina, who was too innocent to suspect their intentions.

I was happy to leave her in her home in the village as soon as she became pregnant. I reestablished contacts with my night lovers who were too eager and adept in making love.

When she came with a son, everything changed. I never knew that a baby could be so sweet and precious. As son as I came home, the boy would come smiling and the next one hour would be spent in playing with it. On holidays, we would go for a movie or to some friends’ flat. Or simply moving around in parks or temples.

The years passed and my son was enrolled in a good school. As soon as the school bus moved away with the kid, I would be uneasy until the boy returned safe and sound, at two in the afternoon.

We used to attend parent-teacher meetings. The teachers were full of praise for our boy, except that he needed improvement in maths. So we engaged a tutor for him.

One day I returned at noon from the factory to search for some document. I saw a pair of shoes in our front veranad. The door was locked from inside.

I quetly went round towards our bed room. There were sounds from inside; when I peeped through the window curtain, Nina was lying on the bed with her skirt drawn up and Pawar was pumping with gusto…. More forcefully, more forcefully: she was shouting…….

I was dazed and completely lost my senses.

 Somehow, I managed to walk away towards the railway station

I was sitting on a parapet on the road side, where the road and the rail line were running parallel. I do not know how long I sat there, watching the movement of suburban trains and the red buses. A woman came and sat beside me. It was Mary. Both of us had learned short hand in the same institute together.

She said: after a long time I am seeing you; what are you doing here? You look terribly upset.

I was in no mood to speak. We new each other too much and all attempts at evasion were futile. I spoke out, about what I saw in my bed room.

She kept mum for some time; then she urged me to go with her: my mother is not well. That is why I am here.

We walked along, talking. I just listened.

I am working in a private company at Nagpur. You know I can manage any boss with my beautiful body. Now I am getting handsome salary. Still unmarried. I don’t say you marry me. Let us live together. I shall fix up a job for you. I have just to ring up my boss.

We reached her place. It was a rented house which her parents occupied long ago. Her father was no more.

Her mother was very pleased to see me She told me to sit beside her in the bed and kissed me on the cheek: I am seeing you after a long time. Now you have become a man. Aren’t you married?

Yes, Maji. How are you?

I am beyond hope. My daughter gives me all sorts of medicines. I tell her not to waste money on me.

Mary brought coffee and biscuits. Afterwards, we went to her room.

As was our habit, we lay on the bed. She cuddled towards my body and whispered in my ear: I am yearning for your warmth.

I was in no mood. Yet, can any man resist it? How long? Soon we were converted into the Khajuraho postures.

At last, when fully satisfied, she opened the subject: you must realize that circumstances make us virtuous or not. What will your wife do when you are away in the factory and the kid in the school? And this neighbour, having done his night duty is ready all the time. It is not a new thing. Fashionable ladies are always eager to have a fling. They are just afraid.

I told her I can come with her.

The first few months were somewhat pleasant. But I missed the joy we felt at home, with the boy a source of great comfort, especially when I return from the factory. He was a tonic, better than a glass of fresh fruit juice.

And those barbs…….Poor Mary has to satisfy her boss in the office and Ananthu at home…. some wags would say.

I told her about it.

She said: if you want, I shall give up my job.

That is a good idea, but I want my boy.

We decided to go to my quarter in the factory, but my family had already left.

One day I just went away, in spite of Mary’s protests.

First, I went to Hardwar and then Rishikesh. In those days the mountainous Rishikesh was somewhat scarcely populated, especially upstream along the bank of the Ganga. In my state of mind I approached several sadhus living in caves. No one impressed me, but their very presence was soothing.

A well known Guru in a math was different. He advised me about life in general.

He said: sanyas is not for young people like you. You have done Brahmacharya (schooling). Now you must complete your Grihastham, including looking after business, property, children etc. When all things are settled and your children grown up and able to look after the business, should you think of Vanaprasth. You may wander the whole Himalayas even now, as it will change your narrow out look and enable you to see things objectively. Stay here for some days and go through the books in my library.

I followed his instructions literally and then returned to my village, after wandering in the Himalayas for full six years.

I was able to locate my family after some enquiriesthough her people had shifted to Salem.

 Nina appeared like a shadow of her former self, very thin and wiry. The boy was grown up and could not recognize me. In spite of the presence of curious on lookers, I went and embraced them.

WHEN WE REJOINED, IT WAS A NEW LIFE.

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SHORT STORY – PRINCE CHARMING

Our’s was an arranged marriage.

My mother and her mother are chums. They went to school together and remained in contact afterwards too. So they decided our alliance.

I was interested only in medicine. Now I am practicing in a small clinic, attached to the factory, manufacturing automobile parts, run by my mother who wanted to make a car, combining the luxury of a modern car and the sturdy quality of a jeep, suitable for our country roads. What she brought as dowry, she invested in the factory. Now she was short of working capital. My mother- in- law is very rich and mother thought of my marriage as a way out of the crisis.

Father is a professor, living in a world of books, spending his time in the library room at home. He did not have any money and so remained aloof. However, he told me to see the girl before marriage.

I casually drove to their home without telling any body. I was received by a maid and told to wait. It was a bare room, with nothing except a few chairs and a round table. The house is quite big, though.

In about five minutes, a young looking lady appeared, smiling and gesticulating, indicating to me to sit down. She was exceedingly charming, though not so beautiful, being short and coffee coloured. She sat very close to me and looked intently into my eyes. I felt uncomfortable. Afterwards, she commented: you are really handsome.

Presently the girl came, limping slightly. She was more lovely, but a little gloomy, I thought.

So your mother needs some money. Any idea how much?

?

Oh! Your mom is right; you are still a kid. Do you like this girl?

I looked at her. She was smiling, least bothered about my answer. Do you like me? I asked her.

It was the mother who answered: who will not like this boy, a real prince charming!

The maid  brought biscuits and coffee.

After that I returned home.

Mother and father were sitting together. It was father who broke the silence. Do you really like the girl? I am told she limps.

Yes, I have no objection. If her one leg is shorter, it is not her fault.

After our marriage, Sharada, my mother- in- law assumed charge of the management of the factory, employing about 1000 workers. I was busy from 8 am, as people not belonging to our factory also came to me, for want of any facility near by. It was my principle not to take money; whatever they wanted to give, they can drop in the box kept outside. I tried my best to understand the condition that caused the symptoms; curing the symptoms is the easy way.

Some patients needed further observation, but we had no beds. When I mentioned it to Sha (she insists that I address her by name), she promptly agreed to build a hospital of her own and the work started immediately to do the preliminaries. She would linger on, even after office hours, to see the progress of construction works, and then, sit in my room, watching me at work. Occasionally, she would offer suggestions which surprised me.

Do you know about diseases?

Before joining this office, I was working as a philanthropist; we have a hospital. In my spare time, I read medical literature, including ayurvedic and yoga methods.

Then, why didn’t you go for medicine like me?

My father was a capitalist. He wanted me to for MBA. He died early, of heart attack, leaving me with more money than I can ever spend.

Sometimes we talked about love and the attitude towards sex.

Did you ever love any one?

I was too busy in my studies. If I get anything less than 100%, I felt unhappy. There were many girls in my batch; they were interested in getting a degree, some how. They were uninteresting.

Before joining college?

Once a girl came with a friend of Ma. She was very talkative and spent a lot of time with me. I think I liked her. I wonder where she is now!

This profession killed the lover in you.

So it became a routine. We would return home together, she driving the car, as she was quite an expert, and reach home by nine in the evening. She was now staying with us.

Some three years passed; we had no issues. No one in my family bothered, but my friends started questioning my masculinity!

The gynaechologist, a lady, after examining both of us, looked at me searchingly and said, with a naughty smile: Doctor, you must spend more time with her, especially in the night!

She was always reading  detective novels. She was not exactly cold, occasionally she was quite warm; but gave me the impression that she was happy without sex. So I asked her, while driving back home.

Tell me frankly. Do you enjoy sex?

Of course.

But I always find you sleeping.

She changed the subject. Do you know my mother?

Why, we always come home together.

She has a dozen close friends, mostly men.

She told me she is a philanthropist.

A fig leaf to cover her other activities. She is getting several letters. She won’t show even to me, her daughter.

A person is entitled for some privacy.

The topic ended with her stoic silence.

 That night, all my efforts to undress her failed.

She curled into a coil, like a centipede, when poked with a stick.

The next day I tried to find out from her mother. Sha told me that she is not her daughter.

One morning they found a new born baby at their home, when she opened the door for the day’s newspaper. It was wrapped in clean cloth, but was alive. She took her in and gave her some milk. With the help of a nurse, they took her to their Calcutta house. They told every one it was their baby.

When they returned home, after this long period, every one thought the same. They were issueless even after seven years. Now she is happy this girl is in loving hands.

The launching of the rural car and the inauguration of the hospital were to coincide. All except me, were busy. I was immersed in setting in perfect order, the in patients’ ward.

There will be sufficient number of closed circuit Video cameras, to observe each and every patient, his personal data, and hearing him continuously, when required. I appointed two assistant surgeons to help me, so that routine cases are not referred to me.

Ma and Sha were every where, with two mobile phones, one for us and one for the public. I had nothing.

The day of the inauguration was a nightmare for me. I never like such things. At the proper moment I showed my face, thanked every body, including the Chief Ministr, and returned to the hospital, which had started functioning a few days earlier.

One day, they had all gone to attend a marriage. I didn’t go. I was relaxing in my room at home, with lights off, when suddenly Sha came and sat by my side, her one hand encircling me from behind. The other hand was busy undressing me and we both fell on the bed entwined like the figures in Khajuraho temple. We forgot the world and enjoyed like Adam and Eve.

 Suddenly we heard some sound and when we opened our eyes, there was light in the room. Someone had come through the open door. I saw Sha rushing out, after hurriedly putting on my shirt. I followed her, into a room locked from inside. She was shouting, with no response from inside. We broke open the door and saw my wife lying in a pool of blood.

I wanted to go in and see if she was still alive. But Sha blocked me saying:

I shall bring her to the hospital immediately. You rush there ahead of us. To all questions, say you don’t know anything. You were in the hospital, I shall manage this.

I complied.  I heard her calling the police.