Today she felt a little more excited than usual. For some reason she wanted this to work. But she still began by asking her regular questions, which indirectly expressed her vision of her future husband, " Are you a responsible person"..."Do you keep your house clean"..."Are you serious about your career". She never asked "are you a honest person".."will you always tell the truth". To her these were silly questions and invariably people would say "yes". She focussed on things that were quantifable. She was always nervous to meet the eye of the boy directly. So her eyes wandered around the room or focussed on some point slightly aboove Srikanth's head and once-in-a-while she met his gaze. He was matter of fact, serious and sincere. When it was his turn to ask questions, Srikanth did not stress on the boring "will you be okay with the joint family and respect my mother" question. Chitra thought the question was too obvious and did not understand the purpose of the question. Most girls would say "yes" anyway. She in fact thought low of the boys who asked her that question. Srikanth's opening line was "I do not care to ask if you would like to live in a joint family. To me, thats not an option. If we face a situation where we have to live with the joint family, I expect you to cope with it. I think its a stupid question to ask and I won't ask it". Chitra smiled. She agreed. This was good. After a few initial questions Srikanth said " There is no easy way to ask this, so I will be direct. Have you ever had an affair, been in love, been in a live-in relationship with anyone. Be it for a day or a year". Chitra was caught by surprise. This was the first time she was asked such a question. So she said, "Do I look like a person who has been in love". Srikanth replied " I think it is a stupid question and I think you know it too". Chitra laughed and said " yes! its a stupid question. Sorry I was caught by surprise. Anyway the answer to your question is -- No. People have asked me if I wanted to marry them, but it has always been -- No.". Chitra spoke the truth. Like most people in such a conversation, when asked such deep personal questions, she was candid. Even if she had a relationship she would have been upfront and would have told so. Not because she was a swear-to-god honest person. People are always afraid that their past will catch up with them. So they take care to put the record out in the open. It was the sensible thing to do. Chitra was a sensible person. Chitra now had regained her composure and asked, "Why do you ask? and What will your answer be if I asked you the same question".
Srikanth had been in a live-in relatioship with a person called Janani. After he completed engineering, he ignored his M.S admission and took up a job in Hyderabad to be with Janani, who also had got a job in Hyderabad through campus interview. He had been madly in love. Janani had been his engineering classmate. Janani never really committed to Srikanth and she never really did say -- No -- also. Srikanth's friends thought she was playing games with him. In all honesty even Janani did not have a clue. In about 6 months, one other office collegue proposed to Janani and right under Srikanth's nose, he took Janani away from Srikanth. Srikanth could not believe that the person who he was staying with, up until 3 months before could now be with someone else. This was something he imagined would never happen. He lost the Janani he loved and saw one who avoided him and even lied to be away from him. Srikanth was devastated. It took him quite a lot of time to recover from - what he called as a betrayal -- and take up on the M.S offer the next year. He lost trust in girls and always feared, the one he loved would run away with some other guy. Srikanth carefully considered Chitra's question and replied " I do not want to marry a girl, who has had an affair before. It is a personal preference. The answer to your question is -- No". Srikanth lived life off-the-wall. He was a risk taker, a gambler. He was a sensible person too. He liked Chitra and wanted this alliance to work and he was well on his way to acheive that objective.
When Sundaram entered Janaki's house, he did not know what to expect. He had so little information about the girl. This was something that he usually did not approve. But he trusted his mother to have done the right thing. Sundaram was born to a person who started his career as a mechanic. When Rajendran, Sundaram's father, was 20 years old, he fought with his boss and in a moment of fury stole Rs. 10000 from the cash box and ran away. From that point Rajendran, who started his life near Trichendur, had cheated several banks and had run away from most places he had lived. With the money he obtained from cheating others, he started his own business and 30 years later, except for bribing some government officials now-and-then, he led a reasonably honest life. Sundaram grew up like everybody else. He wore glasses from his 2nd STD. Kids in his class called him "Soda buddi". He felt himself an awkward and less-confident teenager, when he had his glasses on. He hated glasses and he hated the fact that he had to live with glasses. He missed out on sports opportunities and even on some girls because of his stupid glasses. He still wore them and disliked them none-the-less. He vowed to himself at a very early age that if he ever grew up he would never want his son to go through what he went through. This was primarily the reason why Sundaram looked for a wife without glasses. He thought that would give him some (even if it was a slim one) chance to father a child without glasses. A week before Sundaram saw an opportunity for a dream job in Singapore. While submitting his resume to that company, Sundaram had lied heavily and also falsified his employment dates. He had done this to somehow secure his dream job in Singapore. When Rajendran learned of this, he pulled Sundaram aside and told him " Do not lie Sundara. It is a sin to lie. Never falsify information in your life". Sundaram looked at his father and in a sneering way replied "What gives you the qualification to advise me. Look at your life. You have lied in almost every path of your life. You are a cheat. Didn't things work out for you? How dare you give me advise when you are least qualified to give it".
Rajendran looked at Sundaram and said with some emotion, "Who else will know the evils of lying and stealing better than me? Have you ever stole or falsified in your life before? Do you know how agonizing the experience is? Do you know how many sleepless nights I have spent worrying if my past will catch up with me? Do you know how afraid I was when I went into the bank for an education loan? Frightened to death that someone from my past will come and call me out". Sundaram was stunned at this reply. He had never thought of this issue this way. His father was talking sense. Rajendra continued, "If at all anybody has qualification to talk about this issue, it is I. I have more qualification that you or anybody else to comment about this. How can a person who has never had cancer talk about its pain. I have had that cancer and I know what I am talking about. I have stolen and lied in my life and I know better than anybody else, how bad it is". Sundaram never forgot that conversation. Sundaram was thinking of this conversation when he listened to Janaki sing Marugelara.
"My dear Lakshmi", Lord Sathyaranarayana said to the Goddess and his consort, who was quite confused by the incongruency and the vagaries of life, "People have severe misconceptions on the meaning and applicability of the word -- Qualification. This is what makes them so judgemental. People constantly want to think of themselves as ethically, monetarily, and holistically more successfull and better than others. And so they invent this thing called qualification, which to their eyes, makes others lesser human beings, when compared to them. This qualification factor allows humans to brand others as hypocrites and in-consistent. They have created a mini caste-system based on qualification. Who can say what -- who can do what -- is determined based on qualification. People with spectacles are forbidden to prefer spouses without glasses, while the reverse is allowed and even appreciated. People who are perceived as less educated, are made fun of when they look outside their "less educated caste". While again the reverse is allowed and appreciated. What you just saw is a small example and many evils happen in the wide world that I have created. But it gives you a lot to think about doesn't it. Think about real caste system, it is based on and centered upon qualification. *** Who has the qualification*** constantly disturbs people.". Lakshmi then asked " Isn't there then -- no qualification required at all" to which the Lord replied "yes! quite a strict list of qualifications exist in this world that I have created. Qualifications of the highest order exist even for my creations to see their creator and attain salvation. But it is so individual and person specific that not everybody gets to evaluate and judge another person's qualifications." The Lord paused and said in an emphasizing tone. "There is no general rule that is applicable to all, which directly implies that there is a general rule that can be applied to all also" The Lord winks at his consort upon saying this because the phrase so wonderfully summed up His Whimsical world. He then continues, "A person may do things that appear to be incongruent and contradictory. But these things will still make him **Qualified**. To the fool he may appear as a hypocrite and self-contradictory but to me he is not, because I know where he comes from. While fools confuse the meaning of qualifications and abandon the things, which make them qualified, these contradictory people follow the path that makes them -- qualified"