Saturday, March 31, 2012

Seshu....

"Hariharan...have you ever fallen in love with anyone during your student days?" That was Seshu with on of his usual, ever embarrassing questions.


I was shifting uncomfortably in the sofa. 


We are a conservative family. Twenty five years into marriage, I have never told my wife that I loved her. Even when she reads some of my posts which contain some romantic moments/instances, I do not sit near her; I used to feel uneasy.


The above being so, you can imagine my plight when Seshu questioned me about my love life during student days. 


Seshu (name changed) was one of our neighbors- he was staying in a flat upstairs and we were in the ground floor. Seshu was 65 years+. He was a banker in Dubai. After retirement, he returned to Chennai in 1995 and settled down in his R A Puram flat. His elder daughter was married to a Corporate Executive in Dubai. Seshu lived with his wife Rama and son Murali in Chennai. Murali, who was a commerce student was interested in motor car racing. All I learnt about motor car racing during my six months association with Seshu's family was that it was a very, very costly sport. 


Krishna, my elder son who was sitting next to me got up and walked to his room. Parvathy, my wife came to my rescue. "Mama...shall I get you some onion Pakoda?" She went to the kitchen and brought a plate of Pakodas.


Munching one of the  Pakodas, Seshu asked "Ha...I was asking you whether you fell in love with anyone when you were young....Or did any girl fall in lover with you?"


Seshu, being Seshu, Pakoda was too small an incentive for diverting his attention, we realized.


"Do you know Hariharan....Kamalini in the 2nd floor....the journalist... drinks beer. I counted six cans in the dustbin..." said he another day.


"Joseph in the F Block was caught red handed with the servant maid...his wife caught him...there was so much....."


Seshu became a regular visitor to our flat at 6.30 in the evening. We were in the ground floor. Residents of flats in the upstairs who walked past our flat for catching the lift could easily hear the conversation. We were worried as to what they would think about us. 


I came out with a devious plan to squelch the gossip session of Seshu. Parvathy and I started watching Saath Nibhana Saathia, a TV serial when he would be pouring his gossips. Occasionally we would turn towards him so that he does not feel that we were ignoring him.


6.30 pm next day.


There was no sign of Seshu. I smiled triumphantly at Parvathy- my plan has worked. We watched the serial at 7 o' clock and were getting ready for dinner at 7.45.


Calling bell rang.


Seshu was at the door step. "Since you were watching a TV serial....I thought I should not disturb you...Now that you are free....we can talk freely....!"


!!!!!!! I avoided Parvathy's mischievous smile.


"One day Murali will win a Formula 1 race....a rich, beautiful girl...perhaps daughter of an industrialist would fall in love with him...." That was Seshu's pet fantasy. 


While there was perhaps nothing wrong in fantasizing, I felt awkward when he shared the same with me.


"Let's go out at 7.30." That was Parvathy's plan for avoiding Seshu.


The next day Seshu caught us in the corridor. "I saw you going out for a walk yesterday night. I thought it would be a good idea to join you. We can talk while walking...." 


!!!!!!! It was Parvthy's turn to avoid my smile.


We tried various tricks-switching off the lights in the hall, pretending to sleep, etc. Seshu effortlessly thwarted each of our plans. We accepted our defeat and patiently listened to the Manjula-Hussein love story, Ramalingam's fraud in his bank.....

After a few days I returned to Dar Es Salaam and forgot about Seshu in my busy schedule. My wife did not talk about him when we skyped nor did she write anything about him in her mails.


I visited Chennai again after 5 weeks.


Around 6.30 in the evening it struck me that it was time for Seshu's visit.  Though I was watching TV, my attention was on the entrance- when would he come?


6.45....7.00....perhaps he wants us finish viewing Saath Nibhana Saathiya....


7.30....7.45....8.00....


Parvathy noticed my frequent glances towards the entrance. "Are you expecting someone?"


"Ha.....Seshu...."


The expression on her face changed. "He will not come."


"What happened?"


"He has been admitted to the hospital...."


"............................"


"He is mentally not stable......"


Seshu gave me a blank stare. Obviously he did not recognize me. We were in the hospital to see him.


"When we came to India, we had more than Rs. 1 cr as savings. Over the years the savings have dwindled....Meanwhile one of our FDs matured. Rajesh (who took care of the administration of the building) told us to invest the same in a plot in Kelambakkam. We invested ......... lacs. But the property is still not registered in our name. Perhaps we have been cheated.......


"Also Murali wants us to send him to London. He wants to be trained in car racing....when Seshu refused, Marali demanded his share of the property.....


"Seshu has been having one problem after another over the past couple of years....First our daughter married a guy who was not from our caste. Then Seshu's brother and his wife started treating us badly....


"Seshu vents his feelings out by gossiping with others.....gossiping helped him forget his worries....helped him divert his attention....but people gradually started avoiding him...he was left to himself....he could not bear the loneliness...." Rama wept.


Parvathy and I returned home with a heavy heart.


The chair next to the keyboard where Seshu used to sit stared at us.


I could not control my tears. 


"Seshu....please come...let us talk about my love life...about Kamalini...about Manjula who eloped with the newspaper vendor....but....come...please....."

75 comments:

  1. very sensitive post--we never know what lies behind people's habits.

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    1. Thank you. I wrote this with a heavy heart.

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  2. Oh my...How often does this happen.. we fail to see the pain behind someone's eccentricity...Life has got so many faces to it. Beautiful post.

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    1. Yes. I agree life has got many faces to it.

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  3. What turned out as a hilarious post turned heart wrenching. Nice post.

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    1. Thanks. Yes it was a sad story and I found it difficult to accept when I expereinced it.

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  4. Hmm! You started off making me smile and ended up making me feel and think! Lovely post!

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    1. Thanks Suresh. It was difficult for me to write opening humorous sequence.

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  5. That was a twist in the tale. I was framing a comment when I was half way through, but now I am stumped. It was so poignant. We do tend to look at the surface and form our opinions some times, don't we?

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    1. Thanks Zephyr. What you experience over this post, I did over a 45 day period. Having know the result, it was difficult for me to write the humorous sequence in the beginning.

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  6. Sad story. Everyone have a reason for being what they are.. Thanks for sharing this.

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  7. Unfortunately there are lot more Seshu's these days....Nice read...

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    1. Yes, I recognized him after 45 days!

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  8. oh god! from the humor laced conversations in the beginning to the sadness filled situation in the end...this was so touching

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    1. Yes...as I said elsewhere I did not understand him for for full 45 days. When I understood, I felt guilty.

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  9. from Solace to Solitude ! hope he recovers soon....

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    1. I understand from my wife he is recovering slowly.

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  10. That always happens sir. We might get annoyed at certain traits of people, But once they are not around, we miss them and we feel better off when we are annoyed. Such is the nature of us Human beings. That was so Touching to know about your Friend. My prayers for a speedy recovery for him.

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    1. I agree. I have experienced this before also with others. But the depression Seshu fell into made me feel very sad. I felt bad as I was insensitive.
      I understand from my wife he is recovering slowly.

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  11. Wow! I don't know what to say Sir, the last few lines were so emotional. :( I hope Seshu recovers very soon. :)

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    1. He is recovering slowly. Doctors say it will be months before he can become normal.

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  12. interesting...why do we shy away from expressing our feelings......are we a nation of repressed emotional issues!!

    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in

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  13. So,Seshu was trying to cover for a mountain of fortitude with all those clownish gossip sessions! It is a touching tale, magnificently narrated.

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    1. Yes. It took me 45 days to realize that.

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  14. Sheshu... Lives....as fragments of blissful childlike behavior.
    How does it matter if the mind goes insane .. i wonder many times..I am hardly an adept when it comes to judge a piece if prose by its literary merit.
    But this one doesnt need it any way.
    Thanks for the gentle humanity that flows in the prose.It is sublime and connects to the core of human heart.

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    1. Thanks. Your comment speaks more than the post...

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  15. My dad tells a dialogue " life is like this"- yes life is strange. very touching post sir.

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    1. Thanks for your views...I agree with your dad's saying...life is like this

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  16. Like Zephyr said I too saw something else coming but you surprised me. Now saying what I initially felt, seems so silly and so wrong to say. This is an eye-opening tale. One-feel good part of this post is that his wife seems to be on his side. Isn't that lovely. :)

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    1. Yes it is. She takes good care of him and he is recovering.

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  17. That was a very beautiful and touching post and loved your narrative style...Kept me hooked till the end....Hope Seshu recovers soon and tells you more and more stories!

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  18. You can feel guilty but let's be fair. We all avoid people who we think are pests. Hind sight can change our point of view but that does not change the logic of the original act. So, no point punishing yourself.

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  19. A very moving portrayal! The implication is that one should be cautious while passing judgements on others. Life is, in fact too complicated.

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  20. I agree with The Young Bigmouth above. For people like Sheshu (i have a lady in my neighborhood with the same trait), if they had done their karmas properly instead of indulging in gossiping, perhaps this fate wouldn't have awaited them.!!..Btw loved the post.....:-)

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  21. Haha I moved back to Kerala after a long gap a few days ago, and Sheshu could almost be any number of recent acquaintances!

    Very enjoyable read.

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  22. We all have different ways of coping up with the situations/troubles and hard times. And not able to discuss our worries brings too much pressure on our brain. Its a life! Rather than worrying about what happened, we can look forward to the things that gladfully dint happen and shine everyday! Isn't it?
    May be his wife(who knew everything) was not able to give him the emotional support he needed, which he tried fetching from neighbours.

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    1. May be you have a point. I have not thought in this direction.

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  23. The post was so nice I couldn't believe you do not have as many comments or promotions like a few females enjoy in indivine.
    The post made me smile, made me think and made me write. It was awesome. Next time you meet Seshu, tell him there are guys like me who will invite him with open arms for any gossip of the world

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    1. Thanks and will tell Seshu when I meet him next. Support from all of you should make him recover fast.

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  24. Outstanding and indeed a touching one :) Keep writing !!

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  25. That pic speaks more than words. Awesome Hariharan!

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  26. Small things really DO matter in life eh?! :) Sweet post!:)

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  27. Very touching post. Often, in life, we disregard people because of our own schedules and busyness. All people are looking for is a connection, I guess. I hope Seshu feels better soon.

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    1. He is recovering slowly. We go and see him once in a while.

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  28. I have been thinking of words to comment but guess anything would fall short before such a well narrated article. It is written in such a simple manner and the story flows so very smoothly that it is only by the end we think of the twists and turns. Must say, one of the best blogs I read until now.

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    1. Thanks...one of the best blogs you have read! I am flattered.

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  29. Well articulated! One never knows, until one is in the other person's shoes. The post urges one to hold back opinions and be inclusive!!

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  30. Awesome post! We never know what a hides behind someone's smile. We do crave for someone's attention sometimes but fail to give when the same is expected from us.

    Very well written!

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    1. Yes, I feel guilty that I didn't give him the attention.

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  31. didn't know what to write....such a well narrated incident.. many times when people talk to us its only because they need some attention.. but we seldom know it.. sad..

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    1. Yes he just needed some attention and I feel guilty that I did not give.

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  32. it indeed was painful. But sir, in practical life, its impossible to cater to other people's eccentricity. I totally understand your feelings. I would have felt guilty too had I been in your place. But you did not know the reason behind his unbearable gossipy nature. Life has its way with each of us. You were there for him whenever you could :) Do not feel anymore Sir. Such is life. Acceptance is the best means of happiness :)

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  33. Hope seshu recovers soon and is back to his old times . nice post

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    1. He is recovering slowly. Glad that you have started reading my posts. Welcome.

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  34. Nicely written. Everyone wears a mask. Some hide themselves behind it and some wear it to portray a different look.

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  35. You are a gifted writer brother & you must be hearing that so often.

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    1. Good to get a feedback like this. Thanks

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  36. A familiar whiff of R k Narayan !!! Fabulous narration with an element of suspense- a refreshing read!

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