Saturday, June 25, 2005

Qualification (To Love ) ---- A Short Story

Rukmini came out of the temple and as she put on her slippers, she tossed a 1 rupee coin to the beggar in front of the temple. Rukmini was 73 years old, grand mother of 4 children. Today was an important day for her. Her family had been looking for possible suitors for two of her grand daughters. Janaki, was her son's daughter, who was turning 22 this year. Chitra, was her daughter's first child and had turned 25 this year. Her son Srinivasan ( works for Union Bank as a Senior Accountant) lived in Mahadevan street, which was about 5 minutes walk from Subramaniam street, where her daughter's family lived. Both Janaki and Chitra were to be visited by possible suitors today. The family who were to visit Chitra had confirmed that they would be visiting Chitra's house at 4:00 PM. The other boy's family would be visiting Janaki's house at 8:00 PM. It was Saturday and Rukmini had performed archana for Lord. Sathyanarayana. Saturday was for Sathyaranarayana, she had reminded herself before she visited the temple. Poor Lord.Sathyanarayana had been harassed by Rukmini for the past 5 years. He had so far watched, with a lot of mirth and sarcasm, his collegue and co-diety Hayagreevar being tortured and pounded by Rukmini for 20 years until both her grandsons completed B.E and went to the United States. Now for the past 5 years it has been his turn. And frankly it had been exasparating. Rukmini always prayed to him to somehow make Chitra say "yes" to the visiting suitor. He seemed to remember dicussing with Goddess Mahalakshmi " Chitra simply doesn't say yes! does she? she has been saying NO for 5 years. What is it with girls nowadays?". Normally one visit from a boy's house would see 12 paradakshanas and an archanai by Rukmini. Today was a double-bill and Sathyaranarayana had to endure a ghee bath, curd-bath, milk bath and 24 pradashanams before Rukmini decided to leave him alone. He was quite shaken by all this attention. Next week was Public Board exam week and the Lord was expecting quite a lot of visitors. So he decided to take some rest as he saw Rukmini finally leave the temple. She felt she had done her part by requesting to Him 728 times to somehow make Chitra say "yes" today. He was thinking "I heard her the first time. What does she think? I can't hear properly?"

Rukmini walked towards her son's house. She lived with her son. Janaki was B.E from Eswari Engineering College. A fair bespectacled girl who could sing in 6 octaves and an employee of Sathyam Software. She had been class first and college first for the past 10 years. Everything from DOTE admissions to campus interviews clicked for her in the first attempt. They had advertised in "The Hindu" classified only last week (while it was Janaki's first advertisement, it was Chitra's 3rd advertisement in matrimonials) and they had got an agreeable response for Janaki very soon. The boy, Sundaram, was a rich industrialist's son. He had worked in Pune for 2 years before moving to Bangalore 3 years before. He also wore spectacles, but that was okay he was going to be promoted to a Project Manager soon. Rukmini was happy at the prospect and then she thought of Chitra. "Contrast this with Chitra" she said to herself sadly and angrily. Varadarajan, Rukmini's husband, sat in front of the house talking heatedly with Guru Moorthi. She didn't like the looks of it. Varadarajan was saying " oye.... Om-namo-bhagavathe-vasudavaya was not in the original version of Bhagavad Gita. I do not know why Sankara Bashyam of Vishnu Sahasranamam decided to include it". To which Guru Morrthi angrily replied "when Adi-Sankara visited Govindacharya in the 6th century...". Rukmini decided to hear no more. She was completely bored by their discussion. Varadarajan and Guru Moorthi were friends for 30 years. They had never agreed on any topic and fought on issues from Indian cricket team selection to Jayalalitha. She wondered how they managed to still be friends. They couldn't live without each other. Men confused her. She would never talk with her friends if they disagreed with her on a single issue. This argument meant Guru Murthi would stay until coffee time. She did not have decoction for an extra person. She wished the her husband would concede defeat and end the argument soon.

She changed her saree, took her bag and decided to leave to her daughter's house. Her intuition said Janaki's alliance would click. According to Rukmini, the only weakness in Janaki's repertoire was that she wore specs. But the groom wore specs too. So, she said to herself "it wouldn't be problem". Chitra was the problem, as she had been for 5 years. She had to go to her daughter's house with all the prasadams and somehow make this one click. On her way out she said to her husband " Neither Adi-Sankara, Ramanujar, Sachin Tendulkar nor Jayalalitha will lose a minute's sleep because of your arguments. But if you are not there in your daughter's house before 4:00, you may lose your leg". She was in her daughter, Vasantha's house in 10 minutes. She asked her daughter, Vasantha, if the soji-bajji's were all done. "No tiffin for the groom," said her daughter. "The boy does not want to eat anything it seems. He does not even want his parents to eat anything. They feel it is indecent to eat this way when visiting a girl's house. The boy's mother specifically said this". Rukmini sighed "Modern World" as Chitra entered the house after a chat with her friend. Before Rukmini opened her mouth Chitra (and much to the relief of Lord.Sathyanarayana) said "Okay Patti... this time I will wear a Saree". Chitra was a complex person. She had done M.Com. She worked in a Auditor's Office for sometime and then got a job in a private bank and has been working there for 3 years. When she was in 11th Std, her brother begged her not to take Commerce group. At that time she thought, she knew everything. She refused to listen to anybody and took Commerce group. Then later she changed her mind and thought M.Com and not C.A, was what she wanted to do and once again, she went against everybody's wishes and joined M.Com. Her brother repeatedly said " You dont have long term vision Chitra. A M.Com will make you un-marketible for good alliances. Everybody wants professionally qualified brides these days. Nobody looks for beautiful girls or girls who know classical music anymore. If you are not professionally qualified, you will marry an average person and lead an average life. Everybody around you will be visiting various countries and enjoying life, even me. while your biggest joy will be that your husband bought a Pulsar Bike. Is this what you want? This decision could cost you a good life.". She didn't listen then. Now, ofcourse she secretly regretted her decisions. Her friends had all been married and were working in U.S, U.K and Australia. Her close childhood friend now worked for Microsoft, was happily married and she had seen 7 countries so far. Her brother had been right -- as he always was. Looking back she couldn't remember why she thought Commerce in 11th std or M.Com was right for her. Why didn't she do C.A? she asked herself. She had secretly confided to her mother " yes! I don't think people know what they are doing when they are in school. I should have listened to my brother". But that didn't dampen her spirits. She said to herself "one mistake will not kill a person". If I am not professionally educated, at least I will find someone who is very well educated. And so she rejected anybody whose education did not meet her expectations. No matter if they came loaded with gold, she did not care. Money did not mean anything to her. Rukmini was bewildered by her principles. Chitra did not want a person, who owned two houses or looked after 27 acres of agricultural land. She wanted an educated person. A PhD perhaps. Much to the consternation of many, especially her Grand Ma, She rejected Lawyers, Bankers etc. She decided she will develop her own proper vision as her brother had suggested, even if it was too late. It is tough when one develops late realization, but she decided to grit it out, no matter what. Thank god! her father supported her. "Being an M.Com does not mean, I will be condemned to an average life. I will get a good alliance" she said, as she waited for Mr.Right.

The boy who was supposed to visit her, Srikanth, was a PhD in Micro Electronics from University of Pennsylvania. He worked for IBM's Research Lab in New York. His only condition was he wanted to talk to the girl, understand her as best as he could in the 1 or 2 hours given to them and then decide. He knew he couldn't find out everything in 2 hours, but what he wanted out of a girl, he thought he could find out in 2 hours. He said "if I can't find out about a person in 2 hours, I wont find out anything new in 20 months". Chitra always requested to talk with any prospective alliance (much to Rukmini's irritation) in any case so this was nothing new for her. It was 6:00 PM. Chitra and Srikanth were talking for close to 2 hours now. Rukmini was convinced Chitra would ruin everything by talking about her stupid philosohphy and ideas. "He is so welll educated and he has consented to come and see her even if she is not qualified at all. How dare she ask so many questions. The girl has no sense", thought Rukmini. Varadarajan had finally torn himself from Guru Moorthi and had entered 5 minutes after Chitra and Srikanth starting talking in a separate room. Rukmini had given him a cold glare when he entered. His daughter too had refused to give him his evening dose of coffee. He felt a little guilty. Now the families had exhausted all small-talk about weather, mega serials, movies, cricket etc. The boy's father had become silent 25 minutes ago. He was now only saying "uhms and aahs" to Varadarajan's comments on Alwars and Divya Desams. Varadarajan was getting a feeling they weren't that interested in God. Rukmini had dialled Lord.Sathyaranarayana's number 2000 times since the boy and girl started talking. It was busy tone up there. Finally they finished talking. Both of them came out and after 5 minutes they got ready to leave. The boy's family left saying they would call soon and tell their decision. It was 7:30 PM. Time to rush to Srinivasan's house for Janaki's alliance visit. Nobody even asked Chitra what they had talked for so long.

Sundaram, the boy who was supposed to meet Janaki, had not seen the girl's photo or knew anything about Janaki. Janaki meanwhile had seen Sundaram''s photo in Yahoo Photos a dozen times. She liked his smile. He had a dimple. For Sundaram, however, all this happened in a rush. His mother had told him the previous night that they were going to visit a girl the next day. When he asked her for details, his mother said " you can find out all the details when you see her tomorrow". Sundaram's family arrived at 8:00 PM sharp. They were always punctual. After the greeting and formalities, Janaki was asked to come to the living room, where everybody sat. Janaki had refused to wear contact lenses. "This is me grand ma" she had said. "I am person who wears glasses. I will not present myself any other way". Janaki was self-confident. Unlike Chitra, she was used to success. Janaki felt Chitra was too shy and lacked self-confidence. She never undertsood why. She had the "The world is mine" attitude. You could even say she was even a touch arrogant of her success. Sundaram looked at her and did not say a word. Janaki looked at him and did not say a word. Sundaram's mom wanted to hear Janaki sing and so she bgean to sing "Marugelaraa", which happened to be Sundaram's favorite song. At that time Chitra's father's cell phone rang. It was Srikanth's father calling to convey their decision. "So Soon??!!!" thought Rukmini. Chitra's father attended the call, kept it down and continued listening to Janaki sing without saying a word. Everybody's (except Sundaram's and his parents') eyes were on Chitra's father. But his face did not show anything. When Janaki finished her song, Sundaram's mother was beaming. She was surprised that Janaki's voice did not falter when it went to high-pitch. Then Varadarajan asked Sundaram if he would like to talk to the Janaki. Sundaram, looked embarassed, adjusted his 200$ designer made prescription glasses and politely replied "No". "He looked smart in glasses," thought Janaki. Janaki had no such preference of talking with the boy. Rukmini could feel magic in the air. " Clicked for Janaki in the first attempt again..she thought". As soon as the boy's family left, everybody rushed towards Chitra's father and asked him what was the call about. He looked at Chitra and said seriously " did you want to marry the boy ?". She didn't care now but she said sharply " yes! I wanted to". Her father then looked into her eyes and said "well.. then ..he wants to marry you too!!!!" and smiled. Rukmini could not believe her ears. Her joy did not have any bounds. She immediately thanked Sathyanarayana, who too was quite releived. For half an hour they talked and rejoiced the good news.

The phone rang again. This time it was Sundaram's mother. For Rukmini it would be two hits on the same day. Varadarajan finished talking, kept the phone down and said, " They do not want to proceed with this alliance. The boy wants a girl who does not wear eye glasses"

38 comments:

tilotamma said...

One word - LASIK :-)

Hawkeye said...

good one... really good one :-)

fieryblaster said...

The story was captivating. If u intend to write more of this kind, better seggregate it from hawkeyeview. Again, a wholesome story.

tifoc said...

this story didn’t seem to be your original style… ‘the potato peeler point of view’ was missing! ;-)

I am still ROTFL whenever I read ur ‘What is your Salary – I’…the 2nd & 3rd para rocks…

Anonymous said...

really enjoyd it. goodone

Anonymous said...

really enjoyd it. goodone

priya said...

A nice story... I felt like reading an anglicized version of a "Mangaiyar Malar" story :-) It would have sounded great in tamil .

Hawkeye said...

General Comment:

I am surprised nobody noticed that Sundaram rejected the girl because she wore glasses, inspite of the fact that he also wore glasses. I expected the women folk to take some exception this issue (and many other things too). I guess the ladies have softened nowadays..and become more forgiving :-)

let anupadmaja visit maybe there is some spirit still left.

Hawkeye said...

Vasumathi,

i hear u. it may be a good idea to have a twin blog for this. but then it may become difficult to maintain.. which is why for now I have just kept everything here.

Hawkeye said...

tifoc ... thanks :-) real experience ring more true than fiction i suppose :-)

Hawkeye said...

anonymous... thanks

priya,

i haven't read mangayar malar ... its a magazine that does not carry cinema news..so i rejected it and went for AV etc :-)

tilotamma said...

Bharath was that good one - for me?

Hawkeye said...

tilo -- yes! its one thing of the girl decides to LASIK her eye but if it is suggested from the boys side it cud become a big issue :-)

tilotamma said...

I expected the women folk to take some exception this issue (and many other things too). I guess the ladies have softened nowadays..and become more forgiving :-)


Ok - this was obviously the first thing anyone would notice but I let it pass...

Now, nee enga 'dhill'a touch panathu nalla - let us talk about it.No guy/girl in their right mind wants to have anything less than 20/20 vision without cumbersome glasses.

The 'intellectual' look which glasses give anyone - you tire of that soon enough / or you want to display it only at certain junctures.

Or like that play - doctor en eppovam kannadi pottukarar - enna avar appo appo, adha kaititu, ezdhavadu serious- aga solla laam nnu...

It has a specific purpose.......

so even at that point I don't buy the story - the girl actually prefers to wear her glasses...

why? She dosn't show any other sign of intellignce/assertiveness.so intelligent look is not what she is going for presumably.

She expects her credentials to speak for her, to be taken at face value and she was.........

That kenna groom obviously wanted to impress the bride with his 'intelligent' look and also NRI ( I think), so hopes someone will realizes his glasses look great it is not from Rajan opticals etc.

Did the dad say "ana unga son kuda kannadi matti irrukirarrey" .

she could call the boy and blast him herself and say should we set up a LASIK appointment together at Shankara Netralaya - it is cheaper in India. Not that she weants to marry him anyway but he might consider it too!!!
That is what this new medical tourism is all about etc......


or tamely wear contacts at her next 'seeing' which is the kind of person she seemed to be anyway....


I never take up cudgels on behalf of women who are like that!

tilotamma said...

One more inconsistency in your story Bharath - the guy who was going to judge by 'face value' would most certainly have checked out the girl's photo beforehand and decided if she was worth his time "looks wise".

Ram said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ram said...

Bharath,

Is this your way of showing that you like Isai Kuyil CHITRA better than S.JANAKI?

It was kind a looong post and I could not help but fast forward to the last few lines and find out what happenned ;-)

Okay, as a guy who got married after turning down my parents' request to see girls several times, I am inclined to think that Sundaram was just not ready for marriage, he came along being forced and this is a dumb excuse either from him or his parents to ward off the alliance.

So, women-folk, hold your fire!

tilotamma said...

why Ram that is about as lame as it gets!

A person who is not man enough to tell his parents what he is thinking has no buisness wasting other people's time by going to such ceremonies!!

VC said...

Here's my twisted take.....
In the story, all we heard was Varadarajan telling the rest of the family that Sundaram wants a girl who doesn't wear glasses. That doesn't necessarily mean that that is what Varadarajan heard from the boy's side. Maybe, the boy's side could have just mentioned that Sundaram didn't like Janaki. Period. Varadarajan, could have embellished on this, in the hope that Janaki does not wear glasses at the next ponnu-paarthufying. If not for anything else, it might make Rukmini feel better and consequently his (Varadarajan's) life will be better.
Hey! I told you it was twisted....

Ram said...

tilo... you can't blame him for trying his luck.

Anonymous said...

Bharath,

Of all things, why go back to the old style of the 1 page stories of AV/kumudam.

With no offence meant, the one page stories of AV/kumudam are just one step ahead of the gokulam stories.
Those stories are written by x and y with the only wish of watching their names appear on a magazine.

Somebody who is as knowledgeable as you can do better than this.
I really like your writing style and your blogs in general which is precisely why I am writing these comments.

Writing a story like this is same as directing a masala story tamil cinema tirelessly generates. I am sure none of us watch those masala movies.


Anukrish.

fieryblaster said...

// I guess the ladies have softened nowadays..and become more forgiving :-)//

Chitra wanted a professionally qualified groom, though she was not qualified professionally. Sundaram wanted a wife wearing no spectacles, though he himself needed them for clear vision. Tastes differ and I found nothing to differ.

fieryblaster said...

As far as Anukrish comment goes, I just wanted to add a few lines. If u separate the story from its author, the story is fine. ur earlier blogs were so fierce and so informative and indepth, that we were disappointed to read a story like this from u, which was just ordinary. That is why I requested u to dedicate a separate blog for that.

Again, I would have been wrong on my part had I discouraged u telling what i felt, because, this is a new area and initial hiccups are common. My feeling was purely out of my over expectation and I would have appreciated vehemently had it been from some other author.

Probably the same thing wud have influenced anukrish. in a field where one is novice, ur first output seems perfectly wonderful. I know what u r capable of rendering a great output in this area too.

tilotamma said...

Fieryblaster - if only all blog commenters were as supportive & insightful as you!

Atta Girl said...

I hardly wear specs, my power is 0.25....Dunno why, just now to read this post why I wore my specs....and lo, the specs lost the game! lol! Well, anyway i prefer srikanth! :-)

Good one...

Anonymous said...

Apologise for being insensitive. Yes, it is your first effort. It had some humorous moments too.

Fiery blaste, thanks for pointing it out:)

Anyway, but somebody had to tell you right!

Anukrish

Anonymous said...

Hey anuKrish,

I thought it was a good post. If all the posts are fierce and strong, it will get monotonous in sometime. I am really happy about the variety bharath has.
This was a very good reflection of the house of a Tam-Brahm. The same thing happened in my house a couple of years back. All that I had to do was replace the names and change the temple name to Siva-Vishnu.

This was light and subtle which any parent can relate to. I dont understand the fuss about the post not being good:-)

Anyways bharath is not wwriting Headlines for a national newspaper for all the posts to be fierce and sensational. This is what peoples expectations can do to you. Over a period of time you need to write what people like to read more than what you actually want to write.

No offense meant !

Praveen

Hawkeye said...

Anu kris,

I wanted to actually reply to ur comment and say that I like writing short stories and I am sort of finding my way in the dark and probably i needed one or two goes to write in 3rd person :-)

i actually didnt know how to put this point neatly without lowering my self-esteem. but fieryblaster put my thoughts into words so nicely..that i simply am loss for words.

more than that I think she summed up the essense of the story so nicely.

I appreciate your nice comments though. u were upfront and direct.

Hawkeye said...

tilo,

have to agree with you. u have to read vasumathi's blog (specifically the one on introspection of why one should strive and maintain their individuality despite adversity). its a good one.

Hawkeye said...

praveen,

thanks for your comments. I was planning to post a sequel and then went decided against it and then went back and forth.. i guess i'll complete the short story after all.. :-)

tilotamma said...

Since I said a zillion different things I don't know which of them you agree with.......

WHo is Vasumathy and which post of hers are you talking about assuming that she is a blogger..

Then do provide her link. I notice you don't have a blogroll either.

fieryblaster said...

Hi Bharath, thanks a lot for praising words. Tooooooo happy :)BTW did u mean God I am blessed post?

@ Tilo: I am Vasumathy Tilotamma.

tilotamma said...

(specifically the one on introspection of why one should strive and maintain their individuality despite adversity). its a good one.

----------------------------------

vasumathi - I arrived at your blog by the complicated process of putting 2 and 2 together ;-) and still didn't find the post he is talking about.

I am waiting for the sequel to this, are you?

fieryblaster said...

Bharath, did u mean someother vasumathy? clarify. I am also confounded now. If u have meant someone, then provide me with the link, I will be too glad to go through.

Atta Girl said...

Tilo & Vasu - I eavesdropped on ur conversation :-)

I think he's talking about this post.

PS: I have just learnt to post hyperlink in comments section, had to show off!! ;-)

Hawkeye said...

no fieryblaster == vasumathi. the vasumathi that i meant was fiery blaster it was the comment to which i said i will post a 'bathil' comment. atta girl probably linked that blog.

Suresh Ramani said...

nice story. Kind of had a Manirathnam touch to it.
..
..
you may climb down from cloud 9 now :)

If the guy had seen this girl (the ones with specs - I don't remember the names, and am too lazy to alt <) on the street and had walked by, not interested in her, because of the glasses, the same choice would have had no bearing. but, the story did leave a bit of a bearing, which was due to the huge burden that the curcumstance adds to this simple choice of an individual.

Suresh

Karthik Sriram said...

Very good one, hawkeye.