The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

For Dignity's Sake

For Dignity's Sake
Markandeyulu was then a young man, dynamic and fun-loving, and at the same time had earned an enviable reputation as an efficient superintendent. But, knowingly or maybe acting on the force of irrepressible impulsion, one day he just happened to commit a blunder. Nay, it could be a simple error of judgement on his part. Had he cogitated over the incident a little discerningly, everything would have appeared crystal clear to him. But then he was really scared, too scared to gather his guts and go any deep into the matter.

It was a day of perfect harmony. The entire staff were busy to do their best so that at the end of the day they could stage a successful drama. All those who had roles to play had completely memorised their parts. Being there, one would clearly feel the air was filled with infectious inspiration. “The Fruit of Love” was the title of the drama, one that was as banal as the name would suggest…and going through the entire storyline one would not find anything extraordinary in it except those juicy titbits centring on love, chase, proposal, surrender and stuffs. Yet there was something ineluctably attractive about it. Aha! Its dialogues were ever so witty and ever so special!

The roles were to be played by the selected members of staff, all of whom were bubbling with youthful vibrancy, and yet there remained one role to be allotted. It was the role of a woman. Agreed, there were a few in the group who represented the real comeliness and womanly beauty yet, when it came to accept a role that would have demanded frankness on their part to flirt and fondle and, if not that, at least to talk amorously to the “other” males, such demure sweet beauties considered it to be purely shameless. So, for enacting the role of heroine in the drama one fellow was to be taken as a guest artist. That transpired to be the final arrangement, the best one to suit their purpose.

So, quickly a heroine was chosen. She was one Monali by name who had behind her a reputation of being a supremely talented artist during her long ten years’ professional experience on stage. It was not an inexpensive arrangement though, in that the staff had to shell out an amount of twenty thousand rupees to meet her demand. Anyway the expenses did not matter much as long as it assured them that something really spectacular was on the cards. Monali would dazzle the stage; and she would leave nothing to chance.

And now just a few quick words about the wonderful actress. So very gorgeous was Monali—as though a brand new Japanese doll had just been unpacked on the stage! Her raven-black brows had been plucked to perfection, kinking a faultless arch over her expressive eyes. Those were a pair of limpid eyes, ever eager to exchange an acknowledging look with her fans. Charming were the smiles that continually flickered across her attractively moist lips and yet they were for all, so very unending, so very universal in their appeal. Oh, she was owner of an ever delightful countenance and she was so equitable in scattering her charm! Look at her at any distance and from any angle, and she imparted the same endearing vibe to one and all. And then she had lustrous smooth hair, braided beautifully, as if inviting her besotted beholders to stroke it for a feeling. What is more she was fairly tall: none would ever miss her presence in the crowd of characters on or off the stage. Her eye-catching complexion, her swinging gait—everything was comparable with the most sensuous enchantress ever known to the mankind.

Only a few short hours were left before the starting of the performance. The spectators were slowly filling up the space and in time the auditorium was filled to capacity. Besides the spectators, the invited guests also reached there on time. Among those invited, Markandeyulu was special but somehow, by nature, he was not at all interested in such dramatic performances on stage. Nevertheless, he was the head of the division—whether he liked the stage performance or not, he was expected to take part in all such functions organised by his staff. That was the norm. And that was his predicament. How could he have avoided that?

As the special guest he was entitled to special treatment though. Markandeyulu was ushered into the greenroom. Reaching there he found everyone busy doing his work. The one near the entrance was busy pomading his moustache while another sitting near him was thoughtfully applying layers of foundation on his face. There was one in the corner, smoothing out the crease on his outfit and another beside him was busy setting his wig right. So it was all hectic there.

Then Markandeyulu entered the room adjacent to the greenroom. There Monali was busy too. She was already a beautiful lady but she knew her spectators would demand more from her. And she was trying her best to live up to the expectation of her fans. However, finding Markandeyulu approaching her, she politely motioned towards the chair lying near her. And he sat down. A moment of silence just passed between them. Nay, Markandeyulu was busy preparing himself for his momentous step ahead. By now he was already smitten by Monali, and by her matchless beauty. Oops! He did not even know that he was only gawping at Monali. For minutes on end he just ogled at her, his focus shifting from one attractive spot on her body to another. Immersed in his thought, he had little time for his inhibition.

‘O Monali, you’re a matchless beauty. Oh no, you’re the haloed angel that alighted from the sky. I’ve in all my life had not seen a woman more beautiful than you,’ Markandeyulu went on blabbering. He had a strange quiver on his lips and it seemed he had difficulty in uttering all the words that lay lumped at his throat.

Monali enjoyed the helplessness of Markandeyulu and all the unctuous words he uttered in her praise. In response she only uttered, ‘Um…hoon.’

‘Now I’m not in my control, Monali. Throw your buttery arms around me and take me in your embrace, now…this moment,’ entreated Markandeyulu.

Like her previous response, Monali said nothing that was meaningful. She had only her soft monosyllables to repeat, ‘Um…hoon.’

By now Markandeyulu had already left his chair. Slowly he inched towards Monali. Then he leaned forward and planted a kiss on her lips. And that was all he did before rushing out of the greenroom.

Any excuse was okay for doubling back. He was suddenly reminded of a very important commitment at home—saying that he just vanished from the scene. But alas! That was not enough to save him. Fear was there to stalk him. Howsoever he tried he could not get a wink of sleep that night. And he kept thinking, ‘Did Monali take his action as uncouth? Was she angry? True she did not create any fuss, but was her silence not a sign of her fury? Oh my god, I’m a culprit: I was invited as an honoured guest. I should have acted conscientiously. I should not have behaved so uncouthly with a lady. In case Monali has chosen to complain before the police, what will happen to me? Maybe she’ll wait till the completion of the stage show and then go to the police station right away. She’ll not rest until she has put me behind bars. Oh my god, what’ll happen to me now? The public will force-shave my head, and then parade me on the streets with garlands of brinjals and lady’s fingers. People will force-feed me the cow-dung solution and ask me to lick Monali’s feet in public. Oh my god, excuse me once, this time alone.’

The day dawned after a dreadful night of trauma. The effect of insomnia and tension debilitating him, Markandeyulu had a nasty fall as he tried to get up. And for hours he lay senseless on the ground. Then there came a doctor to examine him. Now Markandeyulu cried aloud, ‘Save me. I’m not a criminal. I’m only a poor pathetic lover boy. Please..please don’t send me to jail.’

The doctor gave him a pill to get some sleep. As per his diagnosis, the patient was unsuccessfully trying to get over some unknown mental tension. His blood pressure had soared to a disturbing level. And so he should take bed rest, at least for a week.

Whether or not anybody could make any sense of what Markandeyulu uttered in his schizophrenia, Monali definitely knew what he meant. As soon as she got the news, she came rushing to see the patient. He was, after all, her patient! She sat near him and whispered into his ear, ‘Mr Markandeyulu, you’re ever such a naïve fellow I must say.’

Markandeyulu said, ‘I couldn’t say you ‘sorry’, Monali. I’d no courage left in me then, after what I did there. Now you’d better punish me. Now, this moment. Yes, you punish me, and only then I’ll be free from my mental agony. Please, Monali, please.’

‘Mr Markandeyulu, I’m not what you’re thinking of me. I’m not a woman who can seek legal remedy for restoring her dignity. I’m just a eunuch you know. So, can I go to police to lodge a report because you stole a kiss from me?’

Listening to this Markandeyulu went speechless. And he pondered over the issue for minutes on end. Probably he was thinking as to what he should do in the changed circumstances. Should he shoo Monali away? And go away from her to a safe and respectful distance? Should he say perfunctory “sorry” and let things go their way?

‘Still…you may like to excuse me,’ said Markandeyulu. His tone showed that he was slowly limping back to normalcy.

Then he sighed…and thanked god profusely. Finally he thanked Monali, again and again, for (s)he took the matter so seriously and rushed to him to restore his tottering dignity.

A. N. Nanda
New Delhi

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Anonymous Shirisha said...

Great Narration!!!

2:38 AM  
Blogger Anant Nanda said...

Thanx Shirisha!

7:52 AM  
Blogger Usha Bande said...

This is an interesting story. The twist in the tail is really marvelous. One can hardly imagine that things would turn out thus. The language evokes the atmosphere of the theatre, the greenroom and the psychological debacle of the protagonist. I enjoyed reading it.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Anant Nanda said...

Thank you ma'am Usha Bande ji. In fact I was in two minds whether to bring it to my blog in its English form, but then when I was in need to maintain the tone of humour I had to fall back on my old Hindi story to translate it and keep the momentum up.
It's a great feeling to read your comments. A blogger cannot expect a better thing to accrue to him through blogging!

8:04 AM  
Blogger Usha Bande said...

last evening I read your old blog on Hanuman. What an interesting perspective. yes, hanuman is a leader, a devotee par excellence and an adventurous being. i also agree that Lord Rama is a hero and a leader of extra-ordinary qualities. Interesting that i never thought of Sugreev as a weak leader, in fact I never thought of him at all. The observation of the little girl is humorous. thank for such a blog relating to our mythology. It is a lttle on par with Dev dutt Patnaik's.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Usha Bande said...

In one your recent blogs I saw some excellent pictures of nature. Are they taken by you? excellent.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Anant Nanda said...

Thank U ma'am for revisiting the blog and letting me know your kind appreciation. The photographs are all mine, taken by either Sony digicam DSC-T300, or my cellphone which is again a Sony brand XPERIA S or by FUZI HS 20 EXR. There are a few, mostly the ones I clicked in Muzaffarpur Bihar and Coimbatore, that were shot with my earlier cellphone which was of NOKIA brand.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Anant Nanda said...

Coming back to my post "Remembering Hanuman" that I posted in August 2008, it's one of the nicest reflection that I could catch for my blog.I'm so very happy, ma'am, coming to know that you liked it. As for your comparison of Devadutt Pattanaik with me--well, I like his writing so much. He's given his best to this genre which has stimulated many young people in India to read Indian mythologies without compromising their scientific approach to the issues nor eschewing their modern outlook.

9:04 AM  
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7:27 PM  

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