Saturday, July 02, 2005

Qualification -- Part II -- Closure

Note: this is a sequel to the Short Story that began here

Chitra and Srikanth entered the room at around 4: 03 PM. Minutes after Srikanth's family had arrived, Srikanth's father had suggested that they get right down to business and insisted that the girl and the boy should start talking soon. Rukmini led them to Chitra's father's office room where they could talk. Varadarajan had not arrived and was still talking with Guru Moorthi. Rukmini was angry but she did not show it ..yet. Chitra did not have a chance to look at the boy. She had only seen his blue jeans and the collar-less black T-Shirt. Chitra always perceived arranged marriage in a calculative mode. It was her defense against the randomness introduced by such moments. People behaved incoherently and inconsistently when romance was even remotely involved, thought Chitra. She thought Love marriages and Arranged marriages were essential similar in that both leaped from a cold ruthless calculation to a palpitative emotional decision -- the moment a love proposal comes in or the moment she stepped into a room with a potential bridegroom. Chitra rejected three people who had proposed to her in her NIIT days. That was because she never allowed herself to wander into the mental state where she actively considreed their proposals. She rejected without analysis. This, she thought was the best strategy to avoid falling into the love marriage pitfall. She considered her friends who did love marriage as people who fell into the trap of considering proposals seriously. Not that she was against Love Marriage but she knew her family couldn't really afford one at the moment.

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"


navin said...

Apologies for swerving away from the current topic.

I made a post on Ilayarajas latest CD'Thiruvasagam in Symphony', alternate perspective

Pls take a look. I would value your comments on the same.

anantha said...

Bharath: Awesome analysis boss.. i mean, this story surely did not come out in a day. It must surely be the result of some analytical thoughts.. awesome awesome awesome..

Atta Girl said...

I agree with the concluding paragraph - We as humans are way to small to judge others by way of what *we* think as a qualification.

But I want to punch srikanth in the face! First, for asking such a question...and second for denying his affair. I am not for a moment against a boy, who has had affairs in the past but I strongly believe a relationship (that's with an intent of spending a lifetime together), "IT SHOULD NOT BEGIN WITH A LIE!"

What if Chitra later figures out his past? She may not have any respect left for him - not becoz he had an affair...but becoz he lied to her at the very onset!

One of the problems with arranged marriages is that it dwells too much on the past than the future. The strings of instances in teh past becomes a benchmark for what your future is gonna be like. For god sake human life is not like a mathematical equation that it can extrapolated for future results...

I think people shud get rid of such prejudices when they meet their future alliances and think more about how they fit into each others future!

Hawkeye said...

/*One of the problems with arranged marriages is that it dwells too much on the past than the future. The strings of instances in teh past becomes a benchmark for what your future is gonna be like. */

oh! this is not just limited to arranged marriages but it is universal. "are you from IIT..oh then u must be smart! oh what did u do B.A ..didnt u study well. u must be dumb"... then there is "show me the report card from previous school so that i can judge you"

people struggle when they can put others into categories. they wanna place any person they meet into a bucket asap.

plus on the bigger note regarding what u mentioned in a comment. from experiences i belive that a person who moves with u as a friend may not move the same way with his wife. i have found some charming fiendly people who are suspicious and bad when it comes to their wives. i have unfortunately given vote of support to such friends and regretted later. mind is a funny thing.

then again.. who knows what srikanth's justification for lying would be. maybe he is "qualified" to lie :-) which is what the last para indirectly refers.

the first story didnt get many people wild. and i began to think girls had become soft. but finally i got some girl all fired up :-) . atta girl ur initial blog on men, which i mostly agreed with... told me u wud bite :-)

Hawkeye said...


i think analysis develops over a period of several arguments or experiences. over time u tend see a pattern thro which people argue and then an opinion/analysis is slowly formed. yes..while i wrote it in an hour it was a result of analysis over a good period of time.

Krishna said...

One of the great posts i have read in the recent past!

Atta Girl said...

So you read that post of mine! :-)

You can't imagine the way many men reacted to that post, not in my comments section, but otherwise! I was shocked that despite higher education, we never learn to leave our biases behind! I used to think that education open's mind but i guess now i'm not too convinced if it does, unless individual effort is involved to look at things objectively!

>>>oh! this is not just limited to arranged marriages but it is universal.>>>

How cud I make this mistake...yes, completely agree that this problem is universal. My personal experience itself was so devastating. It's strange that when the romancing reaches a marriage stage, people can suddenly change their stance about 'what matters to them in life'...mind surely is funny.

One of my colleagues was recently dating a guy, although she was reluctant initially but it was the boy who insisted that it's a perfect match of sorts...and now when she was completely involved in the relationship...the boy turns around and says, I want a smart, working wive...but ur career graph makes me uncomfortable. I don't know if my ego can take it that you are doing much better than me in ur career!! Huh, What a qualifying factor!!

Just read this article - Mirror of fiction. It sums up things beautifully!!

PS: OOOffff, i am fired up! lol!

Hawkeye said...


thanks for your comment :-)

ioiio said...

This is by no means short..bharath. lol :)

Hawkeye said...


u crescent .. me crescent .. wow! same pinch :-).. so there are at least 2 bloggers from crescent!

Suresh Ramani said...

hmm .. this post started in an even better narrative style than the previous one, and ended in Bhagawat Gita narrative style .. :-)

<<<"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">>>

couldn't resist the temptation to add my own generalization of life .. "try to find simplicity in complex things, and try to find complexity in simple things" .. that should be good enough to keep life going ..


Anonymous said...

atta girl,

i am sort of a bit late to comment on your line but i do like your..
<< "But I want to punch srikanth in the face!" >>....

good ma'm... so u expect ur husband to be a boxing player... or atleast would have practised boxing..... just kidding....

Good to see that there are girls who still look for honesty and sincerity , besides money and degrees from we boys.

Actually as a matter of fact ... the whole incident.... of srikanth seeing chitra and asking the question has happened just one week back in my life... on sunday jun26th.....
i actually asked the girl like this in telugu "Meerevarinanina college lo ista paddaraa..."... ( when transalted goes like this... Have u ever liked a person in college ) she is an MBA and i thought its quite natural ... to actually get attracted. her answer has been a kind of punch in my face ... saying... "No... Not at all... I dont believe in love before marriage ... I believe in Love after Marriage.... BTW ... whomever male i see i will immediately call him "Brother". :) "... and she has asked me if i liked anyone...

My answer at that time has been "When the time comes.. i will surely tell you... ".... Here... i dont think i lied to her... at the same time... i dont really think i got confidence in her to confide my entire life history ( full of rejections ) to her on the spot... mine is a big undending story...

atta girl... i just wanna say that... as bharath... said... People get qualification to lie sometimes... to get out of the situation in that minute... but i also agree with you that it hurts like hell when the person whom we thought as prospective life partner lies to us. different situations would have made her lie to me... but .... when the person who confides before her has not found it as lie from anywhere else ( by background check and verification ) ... but from her mouth itself...and she still inssits on that... then i am really unable to understand what she is trying to test in me after 2.5 long years of knowing each other...

I am not a tough guy to actually not forgive her.... i want to understand what made her lie .. or what she is still testing in me.... i tried to get as much as possible into her sandals... and try to understand the situation from her perspective... but i failed miserably by the confusing things she said to me in the next few minutes...

People definitely need lies... to manipulate or to win in that situation over the other... but the only thing that binds any person to you is a unending mutual trust and honesty... only on which a relationship lasts forever...... when that trust is not there relations go in a complex whirlwind...taking the direction they want.

I am still not able to understand , if a girl really loves a person... why cant she tell it before him... she knows each and every bit of what the boy feels... even then ... if she still insists on something which cannot come out of her mouth... she is not only screwing up her own life but the life of the guy who loves her madly.


Babs said...

Excellent job Bharath I enjoyed it thoroughly daa, wonderful phrasing, good start to the story, awesome narration and good punch line delivery. I should say you think like a writer now and fully qualified to stop blogging and start writing short stories or put together a novel, seriously no kidding. I believe a writer requires 3 main quality (not qualification :-)
1) Imagination.
2) Vivid Narration.
3) Ability to know what the readers are thinking.
You have showed pretty much all three in this short story. Its great start. machi tell me did you work your way end to start and improvised or vice versa i wud like to know.
Great job

Atta Girl said...


I think I’m a bit confused here. The first part of your comment suggests that you just met the girl and second part states that you knew each other for 2.5 yrs.

Nevertheless, if faced with such a situation (depending on my comfort level/judgment), I’d either prefer to say I’m not comfortable discussing right now (the way you said) or I’d ramble out everything!

But that’s just me. If I try to think from that girls’ point of view, I can think of only a couple of things, which could be holding her back. Such as –
1) She fears losing her love or
2) She doesn’t have confidence in the lover yet & probably needs time to open up (you know all girls get hazaar doses from mums -- never ever talk your past, never give anything in written :-) may be she got one of those doses!)
3) She had a real bad time in previous association that by denying that to her current lover is actually her way of psychologically denying that relationship to herself. (Something like let not my past cast it’s shadow on my future. It was never there!)

Though I still feel it’s best to open up, but if the boy loves her so much & the girl is also willing to settle with him...does all this matter!

PS: Sorry bharath for taking so much space on ur blog! :P

Anonymous said...

I think the last para just came as a bolt to me. Yes, there seems to be a mini- caste system out there.

Every one makes a list of items about their life partners. Most of the time, they end up with somebody radically different from their list:) Its like the movie manal kayiru, except that time has come now where both gal and guy have a long list. The end results are same.

I read your blog, I personally know of a guy who exactly did what you said in your blog. It must work fine for people who just follow the rules of soceity blindly and take pride in that. Atleast in this person's case, its true.

PS: With the last para alone, this blog has become one of my personal favorites:)

Ram said...


I'll have to agree with Anu (and all others) about the last paragraph. It is almost an epic in the making. You have explained this Sundaram-kandam in a way most writers do not dare to venture out on. Kudos!! May you have many more arguments and publish such moral boosting stories!

Anu Krish,

My appreciations to you on the way to convey candid and honest feedback. You were not shy to reverse your initial impressions and this is setting a very good example indeed.


Hawkeye said...


i knew u wud catch that phrase.. :-) i wish i cud form such sentences during my train arguments with u.. unfortunately this occured to me a little late in my life..

Hawkeye said...


atta girl gave me the same advise. i'll never forget the suggestions u gave me on topics of books to write. u should seriously consider a management career. u are suited for it. i still dont understand what u are doing in a technical line.

will email u in detail.

Hawkeye said...

Anu kris & Ram,

thanks for your generous praise. I am happy you liked it. your comments were forthright direct and did really provide feedback. i am thankful for it.

Hawkeye said...

atta girl,

/* I don't know if my ego can take it that you are doing much better than me in ur career!! Huh, What a qualifying factor!! */

actually this just makes me jelous. i wanna be a house husband and just do whatever i want instead of being thrown around in this dark corporate world... and here is someone who blew away the best chance to be a house husband ...sigh :-) :-)

on a serious note.. i think life is much more difficult if u are a girl and u know u are good and u feel u can compete at the top. while men face odds in the form of bad timing or bad luck... women's odds are more.. wrong century..bad planet etc.. i am sure this will also evolve. women have made quite a lot of progress in the last 50 years. it is still not enugh but there has been some progress. unfortunately ur friend is in an era that is more punishing than its successor.

Anonymous said...

Atta Girl,
I think you are living in an imaginary world. You are saying that the guy (or gal) has to explain all their past romances to their prospective spouse. May be this may sound morally right..but practically this will not be least in the Indian context. First, there's no way you can trust that person that much to tell all your past. Second, when you confide it all, I can tell you in most cases the other person (or their family) will not appreciate the honesty rather they would think... "It's good that we realized all this even before marriage. What if he/she has "done more" than what he/she confided. Knowing all this upfront... only a fool would go ahead with this proposal." You might say why would wud u want to marry into a family that doen't trust you in the first place. But..think about it. why wud you want to say something about ur past (with which you'll have nothing going forward) and spoil ur future. What if by saying (or anyone for that matter) missed a proposal to a spouse who was understanding of what u said but couldn't marry because of family pressures coz of what u said. I can tell you most guys are pretty conservative when it comes to chossing a wife. They always want a wife that are as clean as ...whatever the most cleanest thing is:-) I know, I know but that's the way it is... One possible reason for this is that...most guys grow up trying to get a girlfriend but they dont end up being successful at that. So, psychologically after being rejected for so many times...and have all their hopes pinned up on at least falling in love after marriage...when they find out that all they get is a girl who has already fell in love with someone else (though there's nothing wrong with that) they dont think that they are getting a fair deal...

Someone said..."a guy always wants to be the first in a girl's life..and a girl always wants to be the last in a guy's life". Meaning a guy always wants to be the first male to have a romantic relatiosnhip with a girl whereas a girl does not want the guy to have any more relationship after her. Not that the converse is true...

So.. It's not a good idea to open up everything about ur past when someone meets their prospective spouse since there are always certain things that are better left unsaid. The argument that is always made is that " what if they find ir out later ?". First, I think that the prob. of finding out later is very less (unless u still have feeling for that other person and hence it's explicit) and even if its found out the couple w(sh)ould be far along in their marriage that what happend in their pre-marital life, when they didn't know each other at all, shouldn't matter anything at all.

Hawkeye said...


my story was reverse than the usual ones because it involved a fictional story with real names. i put the name srikanth because u came to my mind when i wrote the story. but never did i imagiine u wud make some of the events real also :-)

pyrogaea said...

hey ...nice work dude..
we, pyrrogaea, would like you to give in your views on live in relationship on our website..

Karthik Sriram said...

An very heavy and thought provoking second part to a light hearted first.....

durga said...

interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

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