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 – THE ANGEL AND THE VAMPIRE

I was working in the State Bank, as Accountant, when my father phoned me, insisting that I come home immediately. He refused to give any reasons, as is his nature, being something of a Hitler. He still treats me as a child. I must confess that I am slender, weak minded and lack the will power of my father. It was his suggestion that I must join the Bank. My preference was for literature. Only fools read poetry, he would say.
Mother died early in my life, and father wanted me to marry early, so that there will be a woman in the house, which was quite big and the estate a few acres in size. I hated it, as he would tell me to count the coconuts, before taking to the mill, for extracting oil. I always made mistake in counting, as my mind will wander here and there.
When I reached home, he told me to see a girl, whom I knew from childhood. I cursed my fate. She was one among half a dozen brats, black, dirty with a running nose and always babling about whatever came to her mind.
Their house was in a village which can be reached by a local train, starting early morning. The next train is in the evening. I was to go alone, as they had been informed in advance. Of course, father was too busy to come wth me.
I was thinking about Sushma, of our office,who had a liking for me. I too felt happy in her presence. I missed the station, where I was to get down. So I got down at the next station.
To my surprise and relief, my class fellow was the Station Master there !
As soon as the train left, he took me to his room. When I explained my plight, he burst out: let him go to hell. You are earning a salary. You can live with your income. One day, the old man will surely die. Don’t marry now. Wait for some years. You are only twenty two!
At lunch time, we went to his quarter, a few  steps from the station. He had infrmed his mother and  they were expecting me. He had a sister, extremely beautiful, but unhealthy. She went on talking to me, as to an old friend, though it was our first meeting. I liked her.
When I returned home, by the noon train, my father did not say anything. When I told him about my missing the place, to get down from the train,
the only comment was: what else can be expected from a dreamer?

The station master, my friend, and I belong to the same caste, Tamil Brahmins settled in Keralam. He lost no time in contacting my father and before I could think of it, my marriage with his sister was fixed. I was not unhappy.
I hired a better house and we started our life on a good note. The mobile phone enabled us to be together, even when we were separated, and I enjoyed her sweet voice almost always. Sushma, though a Nair girl, used to come to our house off and on. My wife knew how to make vada, dosa, muruku and a  host of other dishes, available only in Tamilnadu. She would teach the technique to Sushma, and sometimes, my wife would sing. She had a pleasing voice.
Every month, my wife had fever, with high temperature. I think, the doctors did not understand her problem. They went on prescribing new medicines, which were of no avail. When she became pregnant, they cautioned about her inebility to survive a delivery, but my wife was bent on having the baby.
Sushma too tried to avert the calamity, advising a D and C.
 I tried to believe in His powers. We went to all temples and offered prayers. When the time came, we went to Calicut medical college hospital, where I had friends. Sushma too came to give moral support.
Even when I recollect those times, I feel the utter helplessness of we human beings, our prayers and aspirations. I was mentally prepared to hear the worst, but was spared of the necessity. She delivered a boy and survived.

But the joy was short lived. She died of a very severe fever, becoming delirious and then uncoscious.
Sushma remained with me to look after the baby.
I was transferred to Calcutta.
When I joined the branch there, my boss was a Miss Swamy. She came and I wished her. Seeing the new comer, a flick of recognition passed through her eyes, just a momentary ray of light. She motioned me to come into her cabin.
On being seated, her smile burst into peals of lauhter. I could not understand it. How can this fashionable lady, though jet black in colour, know me, living in far away Keralam ? Yet her eyes, so magnetic and fiery, reminded me of the past. But how?
Are you not from Vallapuzha ? she asked. I was dumbfounded.
Yes.
You have a big estate there.
Yes, Madam.
OH! Forget the madam. I am simply Geeta. Once you were coming to see me, but you didn’t turn up. My father was very upset then.
I kept mum.
Several customers came in and she dismissed me.
I could not believe it. How that dirty girl has metamorphosed into this vivacious, bright, fashonably dressed, Senior Manager of a Nationalised Bank, where I am still an unknown accountant, was beyond my comprehension.
During lunch break, she called me in and we had tea and biscuits. She asked me to stay on, till she took me out to have dinner. As I was new, I didn’t have much to do. She called me in, at about four.
I must thank God you have come. I came here only one week back. I have not settled yet. Have you brought your family?
 I told her what happened.
I am so sorry man. Any way, we will stay together. I have plenty of friends here. They will fix me up.
Then she took me in her car and drove to a posh restaurant. She behaved, as though we are friends for a long time. She even ordered non-veg. items. I chose dosa which was avalilable luckily.
Why did you not try for officer’s post.
I am happy as it is.
My father pressed me hard to marry. All others are married. Now he is no more. What about you?
Mine is still alive. Very weak. Can’t hear or see.
In the night, she persuaded me to stay in her hotel room. There is plenty of room for two. We are not teenagers. I had enough sex. Now I a not interested, unless you want to.
Can I speak to my people at home?
She asked the hotel to connect the number I gave her.
Who is this Sushma? Is she attached to you?
Yes and no. See, she is looking after my son. She is very much devoted to my late wife and our son.
Well, good night! Have proper rest. Talk afterwards.
In the office, she asked my advice, even for small matters. There was a case, involving a loan of some twenty crores. She wanted me to study it thoroughly, especially the risk factor. Some minister is interested.

We shifted to a house, in a posh locality. Why not some cheap one, I asked.
Life is to enjoy. Whom shall I save money for? Will they not forget it afterwrds, when we need their help? – I had no reply.
Every one was happy, it seemd. Not some people in the office, though.
What is the relation between the two? People were curious. In our society two individuals may not live together, if they happen to be of different sex. Some anonymous letters reached H.Q. They forwarded it to our lady. She showed it to me. WHAT DOES HER ADVISOR SAY?
On the one hand, I undrestood her philosophy. But we are living in a society. We have to respect their sentiments.
Sushma wanted to come to Calcutta. I was eager to see my son. In the photo he seemed very handsome. He is now two years old. I never went home, during these two years.
That evening we went to a park. The full moon was rising in the East, spreading its milky sprays in the whole world. Geeta sat very near, encircling me with her arms, warm and soft, loving and tender. Her lips were nibbling my cheek. A celestial fragrance emanated from her body. We lay down, curling against each other. She removed the buttons of her jacket and I brought my mouth very closed to those soft buttery heaps, when we heard footsteps coming towards us…….
She bought some fine whisky and we went back home. The maid brought our food and she dismissed her. Sipping the drink and tasting the chicken, no more objectionable to me, we spent a pleasant evening.
I slept soon. In the dead of night, something was creeping over my body. When I switched on the light, I saw Geeta  licking my body, every inch of it, herself stark naked, her breasts full and the nipples erect. My body began to get hotter and hotter. She was lying over my body and almost bit my lips off.
My stuff stood up like a pillar and went into the tunnel in the valley, as easily, as a sharp knife into the soft cake……
Nex day, Sushma came with the kid. I had taken leave and went to the railway station to receive them. The boy was looking healthy and smart. Sushma looked even more bright. No one will say, it is not her child. On the way she asked me a number of questions, some very difficult to answer. Why am I staying with Geeta?
We used to go sight seeing. She was in a metropolitan city for the first time. The child too enjoyed the atmosphere in the children’s park etc. But she was very critical of Geeta. She is capable of doing anything, she said.

I told Geeta that Sushma is willing for a transfer to Calcutta. Will Madam help?
The day for their departure came. The boy was crying, but no response from Sushma. When  we went into her room, she was lying dead. Blood was coming from her mouth.
Geeta: I always kept a bottle of cyanide for emergency. She must have taken it inadvertently.
I took the baby and Sushma’s baggage. I went to the railway station, without saying a word.