Perspective – short story

Preethi was anticipating a wild adventerous night ahead as she was picked up from her clinic by her friend Shilpa.

As soon as she got in her friend blared loudly, “you won’t believe what happened in the office today. I’ve told you what happens in the storerooms and restrooms. But today right there in the cubicle in the chair I saw two bodies so entangled that I couldn’t make head or tail of it. When finally disentangled I was shocked to see it was the prude Punitha. So how was your day talking to nutjobs.”

Preethi fastened her seatbelt and said “Usual, no surprises. Had a phone session with a patient. The brother is all concern and patient all praise for the other yet can’t stand a moment of each other.”

“Yeah, that is to be expected, guys with their inflated egos can’t stand each other. If it weren’t for us girs they would wipe themselves out.”

“I am supposed to be the psychologist since when did you become an expert.”

Shilpa shifted gears and accelerating said, “As for as guys are concerned having known them more intimately I am the expert.”

Preethi scoffed at this and said, “knowing more guys in the sack doesn’t make you an expert on them. Wouldn’t say to anyone else, the patient on phone poured filthy wounds trying to come first in a pity parade. Yuck, he is to drop in soon. Without our excursions I’ll go insane myself.”

Shilpa gripping the steering turned to Preethi and asked, “Which pub to hit tonight?”

” ‘Cheers’ is a definite no, after our stunts last week, doubt if they’d let us in. By the way we closely escaped situation like in ‘Hangover’ movie. Guys can afford it not us. Anyway I am not in mood for drinks as I am for charming handsome blokes so let us hit ‘Mayuri.’ ”

“Girl is it really you talking or you finally going to burst your cherry tonight,” said Shilpa and took a sharp turn to the left.

After sometime they were seated adjacent to each other in a table in a partially enclosed enclave. Diagonally across from them were a group of four, two guys and two girls.

Shilpa asked Preethi, “Are those guys of legal age? Must be for otherwise they won’t be allowed here. Why morose, cheer up. We are early, soon the place will swarm with good looking hunks.”

Right as Shilpa finished speaking Preethi nudged Shilpa’s elbow and pointing to the entrance asked, “What do you think of those two?”

“Wow, the tall one with heavily greyed hair is so handsome, so handsome beyond average that I’ll do all he asks. The short one not as charming but has a swagger and style   to impress. We are in luck. Pick one immediately.”

Preethi took the menu and looked at it as if pondering and said, “You pick, anyone of the two is okay with me.”

“Damn, that is a hard one but being easy prey of good looks I’ll take the tall, handsome one.”

The two guys settled in to the table across them and immediately ordered drinks without wasting time.

“Alright, I’ll settle for the stylish guy with swagger,” said Preethi.

Their drinks arrived at the same time as the drinks for the guys. The short guy downed his drink bottoms down and started mixing the next one. The four youngsters had started drinking and one girl gulped her drink and ordered the next and gulped again and reordered.

Preethi nudged Shilpa and said, “Did you look at that girl and the way she drowns drink after drink. I am struggling to overcome the taste and sip it grudgingly.”

The short guy downed his second drink, ordered more and sauntered to the table of youngsters.

“Hi, I am Velan, do you guys come here often?” he asked shaking hands and his gruff voice carried clearly to their table.

“We do occasionally,” said a guy and most others nodded.

But the girl downing drinks in rapid succession broke in and said, “No, we are drinking for the first time. We are college first year students.”

The short guy smiled at this and said, “Thought so. No harm as everyone has to begin somewhere. The thing is with experience we can drink rapidly roughly knowing how high we would be. But you guys better wait before next round as alcohol takes time to react. You girl have had enough in my opinion, just wait and you’ll definitely feel the buzz.”

The girl said, “Thought you might give a sermon or advice.”

“Those that sink not offending others deserve a drink, for hiding behind good habits can’t  evade death’s stink.”

“Is it Shakespeare?” asked a guy.

“No, must be Keats, Yeats or Shelley,” said the girl who’d been silent till now.

The short guy roared with laughter at this and said, “No, it was vintage Velan, me. I composed it just now while talking to you.”

He then patted the girl on the head and moved over to his table.

Shilpa said, “Hey, your guy is cool. What confidence to casually engage strangers in conversation disarmingly advice and move back. The way you’re gaping you must be taken in too. Wanna trade guys, kidding for I have a knack to know guys good in the sack.”

Soon there were a steady stream of visitors and disco began on the floor below visible from here. Shilpa and Preethi had steadily downed several drinks.

“Now is the right time. I’ll go over to their table and start with the age old line ‘Do I know you from some place. You look so familiar.’ Then I’ll call you and we can both join them at their table.”

“Wait, I am not yet ready. Moreover aren’t guys supposed to hit first. Aren’t we supposed to throw looks and puppy faces to show our interest,” said Preethi defensively.

“What age are you living in girl and you call yourself a feminist. If we don’t move now someone else might. I am not taking risk,” said Shilpa Vehemently.

“I need a few more drinks before I can do something like this,” said Preethi tipsily.

“You’ll be getting forever ready. I am making a move now,” said Shilpa and stood up.

But right at the same time the tall guy stood and descended to the disco. Shilpa looked at anger at Preethi and stuffed a few pieces of chicken in to her mouth. By the time she turned to look at the dance floor, she saw the tall guy swirling a lady in his arms.

“Damn, that was way too fast. Yet knowing he is a player I can approach him when he breaks. Bye sweetie. You’re on your own. Either sulk alone or join the cool guy before I return,” said Shilpa and left.

Preethi studied the short guy downing drink after drink without a care in the world. The way the drinks kept coming she wondered what was this guy’s limit was or after advising the girl is he going to collapse. She didn’t think so. She stood and went to his table without a plan. When she stood right over him looking at him, he looked up at her as if to ask what was the matter.

She stood blankly for a few more seconds and blurted, “Aren’t you Velan?”

The guy showed a bit of surprise at this and part raising himself said, “Yes, I am Velan and you are? Why don’t you have a seat,” and pointed to the chair opposite him.

Preethi remained standing and said, “Sorry, thought you were someone else. Thought you were Velan. My mistake, let me leave.”

Velan laughed at this openly and said, “I am Velan and may I know who you are and how you know me.”

“Me, I don’t know you, overheard your name. They said this pickup line worked like a charm all the time but why it didn’t work for me I don’t know,” said Preethi drunk and swaying a lot.

Velan laughed openly at this and said, “Doesn’t matter. Why don’t you sit with me for a while.”

“Can’t, feel funny inside. Stomach doing summersaults and heavy urge to puke that I am resisting.”

“In that case it is better to puke. You can drink later if you want. Allow me to escort you to the ladies room.”

He escorted her to the rest room and she emerged later looking very pale but a lot sober. She kept looking at her feet unable to look him in the face. He escorted her back to his table. She looked at the dance floor to see Shilpa and the tall guy dancing fast together.

“Don’t you dance?” she asked furtively.

“Not really, but I can accompany you if you want to.”

“No, I dance only when drunk but I am so sober right now. What do you do?”

“Businesses here and there, not much really. What do you do?” he asked evasively.

“I am a clinical psychologist.”

“Oh, interesting. Don’t you detest not qualifying as psychiatrist?”

That question burst open a dam within her and she kept talking and talking. He seemed knowledgeable about her field as evident from his sharp questions. He listened mostly as she talked nudging her mildly. She told him her life story and all her personal experiences. She couldn’t believe that she was telling all this to a stranger, things that she hadn’t even shared with Shilpa. But she simply couldn’t control herself as she realised he was her Mr. Right.

Shilpa came back and was introduced to Velan. Preethi expected her to sit down but she just went back to their original table signalling Preethi with her eyes. Preethi excused herself and went over to Shilpa.

Preethi stood over Shilpa and asked, “Seem a bit early. What happened?”

“I put a move on him but he smiled and said that I was old enough to be his daughter. I am no timid girl to not understand such clear message. I politely left. He is a nice bloke yet I can’t be at that table.”

“I think he is the guy for me. Might go all the way with him if chance permits.”

“Don’t be silly. The first time should be special. Don’t decide on a day. Take your time. Anyway go now girl, I’ll wait.”

Preethi went over to Velan’s table again and saw all the youngsters chatting and laughing with him and saying goodbyes as they left.

She said to him, “It is strange that I who hear others’ life stories and troubles should pour my heart out to you confessing my troubles. I know what drudgery it is sometimes to hear all sorry stories of all the nutcase. Hope you don’t think me like that.”

Velan just kept smiling at this statement and said, “Is it that bad?”

“You won’t believe, I just talked to a patient before coming here and he who was way older than me was pathetic near tears and asking my advice. I am sincere though and always do my best without bias but sometimes I’ve to escape all of it. What contrast you are so sure of yourself beaming with confidence. Do you like me, do you find me attractive?”

“Whoa, whoa, slow down, I don’t even know your name.”

“My name is Preethi and I run the Avanti clinic. Is this bio sufficient. Now tell me am I attractive? Am I your type? am I…”

“Wait, wait, the way you are coming on to me now or flirting with me is so unethical on so many levels do you realise that?”

“I wasn’t flirting but even if I was how does it become unethical? Is it because I am a woman? So tiny minded are you?”

Velan stood up smiling as the tall guy was climbing the stairs and said, “It is unethical because of the code of conduct between shrinks and patients forbidding any relation between them. I am the patient you talked to on the phone earlier today. My brother has arrived and I must leave. See you later at the clinic.”

Preethi hiding her face with her hands whispered, “How can I take you on after this. You won’t respect me. It won’t work, the deference needed has been shattered.”

“Maybe for others but I defer to others when needed and you’ll be professional I know. This is a story for both our grand kids. So don’t be embarrassed or regret this encounter. Turbulent rivers cause smoothest pebbles and roughest pebbles are found in clear calm waters. This is for our situation mull it over. Bye.”

 

The Sea Beckons – 9 – The Plunge

The sky was a spray of orange with the setting sun peeking from behind the clouds. It was darkening and the evening was quickly fading in to night.

Velan asked Stephen, “Where is the heart?”

Stephen looked blankly at Velan before answering, “Yes, I get you mate. Where is the heart in this ever heartless world. But buddy there still is lot of goodness in this world.”

“The heart is near the centre a tad bit to the left. It is not all left as people think.”

Stephen blinked and said, “What ever man. Why did you ask me to come over to your house and take your car and drive here. You could easily have come in a bike. Moreover why have you asked the two frauds to come here.”

Two guys, Nishant and Shyam had tricked Velan by saying they needed his ID proof for a purchase.  When he showed up they had made the purchase of a mobile on loan with his proof promising to return the amount shortly. They had out right cheated Velan and exploited him thinking he can afford it and let it slide by. Velan was a pushover until he is pushed too far. He had called them to join for drinks. Shyam was an ad film maker and Nishant was a good for nothing loafer with loans all over town. Shyam was the one who got the mobile but Nishant was the one who sweet talked Velan in to coming with the ID proof in the first place.

They came and were standing in the dimly lit side lane where the bar entrance was. The lane reeked of urine. Velan and Stephen were waiting in the car in the main road. Velan asked Stephen to remain in the car. He then stepped out and checked the long knife underneath his shirt. He went to the two and before either could open their mouth he took out the knife and stabbed Nishant in his thighs hard and twisted the knife and pulled it out. He then turned the knife to Shyam and asked him to give the mobile. Shyam silently in fright turned over the mobile. Stephen watched all this from the car.

One leg of Nishant’s grey pants had turned in to dark red and he was howling in pain. The sun had disappeared all of a sudden and it was totally dark yet the moon was nowhere to be seen hidden among the clouds. Velan calmly walked back to the car.

Stephen had started the car and was visibly shaking. Velan had earlier purchased this long knife from a iron and steel utensil supplier that supplied to butcher’s shops. He had got the details of the shop from Stephen without revealing what he wanted. As soon as Velan got inside Stephen rushed away. Not before a limping Nishant and Shyam threw expletives at them. Velan was shaking as he approached them initially but surprisingly enough after plunging the knife he became dead calm. It gave him such a high that for brief moments he considered plunging the knife in to Nishant’s heart.

 

The Sea Beckons – 8 – Quest

Velan was happy and content these days. The friendship of the sophisticated slum girl Mercy and the creatively alluring Deepa’s blog rapport made him happy. The days that extended endlessly with boredom now were shorter and sweeter. It had been several days since the first phone call with Mercy. He had talked to her several times since then and also met her in the beach on more than a couple of occasions. Similarly he commented regularly on Deepa’s blog posts and she too left comments in his blog.

Yet even in these wondrous times there was an ache in the back of his mind. He wanted to write a novel. It was his life quest. He had in fact written a potboiler thriller fiction novel. But it didn’t satisfy him. He almost discarded it. He wanted to write a character driven literary fiction. Yet having had a cloistered life and having slept idly for over a decade he had nothing much to draw from his life for the novel.

So he wanted to meet new people in different walks of life and interview them about their life and experiences. He bought a recorder for this. He already had a camera to take photographs. But you can’t simply go up to people and talk to them about their lives. At least he could not do so. He asked his friend Stephen about this and he had promised to arrange for meetings. But it was not happening.

Meanwhile under the guidance of his brother and his own efforts the non vegetarian restaurant was beginning to take shape. The kitchen and the kitchen team were ready. The interior decoration was done. Only the several other finishing touches remained.

Life was taking shape for Velan before his eyes. Yet the slow pace of these changes were almost maddening for Velan.

Then something hit Velan hard. Why wait for his friend Stephen to ask for introductions. He can ask Mercy and she will take him right in to the midst of the slums and right to the midst of the sea. But the problem was she might take affront to treating her and her folks as some pieces from the zoo. Yet the yearning for his quest of a novel outweighed these considerations and he called her. She picked the phone on the first ring itself.

“Hello Mercy, I have a favour to ask of you. But I don’t know how to ask.”

“We are way past these things. Don’t be shy,” prodded Mercy.

“I want to meet people of your slum and interview them. Go in a boat to the sea. All this for a novel I want to write.”

Mercy laughed loudly at this and said, “Thats all. For a moment there I thought you were about to propose to me. Consider it done.”

“Okay, I’ve got to go blog now. Catch you later.”

“So you are still running behind that blogging girl Deepa you’ve told me about.”

“No, nothing of that sort. We are co-bloggers thats all. Please don’t tease me over her.”

Velan ended his phone call and sat idly smoking and hearing songs. His mind was not in to blogging. He wanted his novel bad. Did he have it in him he wondered. The blog was filled with people of superior skills. Yet if they themselves couldn’t make it, could he? He had meagre talents that he can hone. But will it take him all the way. Something drastic must happen in his life to force his pen to weave a glorious novel. What will happen he wondered.

 

The Sea beckons – 7 – Phone chat

[ Velan a psychiatric patient meets an educated employed slum girl at the beach. He at the same time develops camaraderie with a female blogger]

Velan forgot about the slum dweller Mercy when he was blogging actively. He was intrigued and drawn to the blogger Deepa. Yet at the back of his mind Mercy always remained. He smiled as he thought idly that where would the world be without Mercy. He intended to call her but stopped short each time. They had willingly exchanged phone numbers so she wouldn’t mind his calling screamed his brain. Yet another part of him worried that she approached him out of sympathy and now if he called her she might get annoyed and brush him off.

He fidgeted with his mobile as he sat before his laptop in his room. Then finally gathering his courage he called her.

She greeted him warmly and said, “I had expected your call way back. What happened were you busy?”

“Me busy? That would be the day. If only I am as busy as the next person I would have no worries,” Velan replied.

“Don’t worry you’ll get there. How is the restaurant work going?”

“It is about to be completed. A week tops. Enough of me, what about you?”

“Me the same routine, work, home, work and fighting with my parents and brother. He doesn’t want to move out from the slums. He is used to being here. So we are not likely to move anytime soon.”

Velan stood up from the chair he was sitting in before the laptop. He was tense and nervous. He had already ran out of ideas, he couldn’t fathom how to keep the conversation going. Fortunately for him Mercy carried on the conversation unmindful of the pause.

She asked, “How do you spend time? You must be busy full time with the restaurant.”

“I do little, It is my brother who does all the work. My work shall start once the restaurant starts. I will be managing the whole show all the time. For now I am busy with  my blog,” said Velan.

“Oh, you blog. How nice of you. What do you blog about?”

“Many things but mostly poetry.”

“A poet. I should have guessed from the way you were sitting all alone in the beach. Your brother must love you so much to take care of you and set up a restaurant for you.”

“Oh, we fight a lot. Sometimes it gets near to being physical. But he takes care of me. Especially when I lose… my mind literally. I told you about my psychiatric condition, didn’t I? But I hate his guts.”

“I understand full well. Elder brothers can be tiring when they get all bossy and overprotective of you. My brother is also like that.”

“What does your brother do?”

“He is a fisherman.”

“Does he have a boat?”

“If that is the case we wouldn’t be in the slums. He works for a boat owner.”

“Can he take me in the boat to the sea.”

“Ha, ha, ha…” Mercy laughed heavily at this and added, “Of course I will ask him. You fix the time and place.”

“How about this Sunday at evening. For I wake at noon and mornings are not possible for  me.”

“Yes, it is a date. Err… by date I didn’t mean a Date, Date. Okay whatever Sunday it is then. If you wake at noon how will you manage the restaurant?”

“I am trying to wake up early.”

“Okay, my mom is calling. Keep calling whenever free. Don’t be a stranger.”

Velan after ending the call felt like he was on cloud nine. He was in no mood to sit before the laptop. He instead lied down on his cot and daydreamed about himself and Mercy.

The Sea Beckons 8

The Sea Beckons 6 – Blogging girl

[ Velan is a psychiatric patient who remains single because of that. He has met a slum girl, a graduate and employed one at the beach. After chit chat they swapped numbers]

It has been two days since he met Mercy at the beach. He had been meaning to call her but somehow it didn’t happen. He barged in to his room after a very late breakfast of Ven pongal and vada and a coconut chutney. He decided to check out his blog before calling Mercy. He had recently posted a poem that he thought was a bit rough around the edges but still beautiful and stunning. He had hoped for a few likes and comments before he returned from breakfast. He was in for a disappointment the blog post had only one like.

He had a hundred and eighty odd followers and his posts average at least five likes easily.  Some of his posts got a dozen or more likes. However he denied that the likes matter. But only the quality of his writings and the very fact he is writing more is important.

He clicked the Gravatar of a girl in a green floral print dress looking away from the camera. Her face wasn’t visible. An ugly duckling may be mused Velan laughing to himself. Though he laughed there was something enamouring in the elusive beauty of that picture. He fell for its indescribable charm. He navigated to her Gravatar page and through the website link there he went to her blog. Normally when visiting other blogs he used to read fast, skip, read, skip, read etc to get at the gist of the post and then like it. Not that anyone would quiz him about the post yet he did it as an etiquette. Some blogs especially poems enthral him and he reads them slow and steady. Her blog was of poems and self help features. It wasn’t dazzling but it was innocent and alluring. There were a lot of love poems and he hated such poems. He liked a few takes on pets, nature and her emotional distress. Especially some poems about her grief thawed his indifferent heart and made him cry. Her name was Deepa and she too had some sort of psychiatric disorder and was grappling with depression.

There was an emotional connect for him. There was a red ball near the bell on the screen indicating new message. She had commented on his blog.

‘You write well but why so sad in all that you write.’

He commented back saying ‘I am actually a fun loving person in real life but write thus as an outlet for negativity.’

He decided to write something brighter for her. Gone was the thought of having to call Mercy. In a blog world you don’t chat like you do in Facebook or other social media platforms. Here you interact only in the context of the blog.

He found in her blog a peculiar type of poem called Villanelle. Inspired by it Velan wrote a Villanelle of his own. He mentioned Deepa and her blog as the inspiration in his blog post. He provided a link to her blog from his blog itself. Then to his surprise Velan found her liking almost all of his blog posts and commenting on a few. Their camaraderie was improving day by day. Velan visited her blog often and spent time on it as much as he did on his own blog.

The Sea Beckons 7

 

The Sea Beckons 5 – Slum Girl

[ Velan was an unmarried 37 year old guy. He was unmarried because he had BPD, a condition which led to episodes of insanity for him. At other times he was normal and extremely intelligent. He had a brother Vishnu and a business partner of the family Sridhar. They were in the process of setting up a restaurant for Velan]

It was a Monday and there were very few people on the beach. Velan was sitting alone facing the sea. He wasn’t an ardent admirer of nature yet the sea always seemed to beckon him and he heeded the call at times. Far ahead in the distance a girl in a blue jean and white T – shirt was sitting alone just like him. She was facing the sea and Velan couldn’t discern the features of her face.

A kid selling groundnuts came up to him. Velan bought some groundnuts from him.

“Why are you here alone?” asked the boy.

“Why you must have seen many like me come alone here?” asked Velan.

“Not really, mostly couples and families come here or some come with friends?”

“There is a girl over there alone don’t you see her?”

“Oh, I know her. She is different. Want me to introduce her to you?”

Velan laughed at this and said, “You seem mature for your age. Are you studying?”

“Yes, I am in 8th grade and sell groundnuts only in the evening. Okay I’ll take care of business and see you around if you are still here,” said the boy and left.

Velan sat idly for some time staring at the beach. Then he took a cigarette and tried to light it with a match box. But the breeze was heavy and he wasted almost half of the matchbox trying to light up the cigarette. Velan was so busy doing this that he didn’t see the person hovering near.

“Give me the match box,” said the girl and sat near him.

Velan looked at the beautiful fair girl in the white T – shirt and blue jeans with astonishment. He gave her the match box. The girl deftly lighted a match and cupped her hands holding the light for Velan to light up. Velan lit it and dragged heavily on the cigarette and exhaled in joy and relief.

“How come…,” Velan started but was cut off by her.

“The kid selling groundnuts told me that you were sitting here all alone and depressed. I came to see if I could cheer you up.”

Velan smiled at this and asked “How did you light up the match?”

“I smoke here a lot that I am used to it.”

After a few puffs Velan offered the cigarette to her. Both Velan and the girl sat silently sharing the cigarette and staring at the ocean.

After a while Velan said, “I am Velan. A restaurant is being set up for me and it will start shortly. I live in Rajiv Nagar.”

“I am Mercy,” said the girl and cocking her head at Velan added, “I live here in the slum on that side of the beach.”

Velan asked in surprise, “But the jeans and T – shirt?”

“Why what made you think that slum dwellers can’t dress like this?”

“Oh sorry, do you study?”

“My studies are over I work in Diamond flowers, the artificial flower export company.”

That made sense to Velan for daily wage labourers, mostly girls with little to no schooling worked there.

“So you have studied till what grade in school?”

Mercy laughed at this and said, “What arrogant thinking? I’ve completed M.A English literature and am an assistant manager, customer relations, at Diamond flowers. I am simultaneously doing my Phd.”

“Then why do you still live in the slums?”

“It is my home. Moreover I got the job recently and am planning to shift with my parents and brother to a different proper rented house. My home is here therefore I loiter here but why have you come here?”

“I am mostly alone. I have only a couple of friends in this town. They too get busy with their families. Being single I don’t have anywhere to go. The sea calls me to come here at times.”

It grew dark. It was time for the girl to head back home. They both exchanged phone numbers and went in their separate ways.

The Sea Beckons 6 – Blogging girl

The Sea Beckons 4 – Insanity

Velan went with Sridhar and Kumar and sat in the front passenger seat of the car. Sridhar drove the car and Kumar was in the back. Kumar tried to indulge in some small talk with Velan but Velan blankly stared at him. They set out to Tirunelveli the city, adjacent to Tuticorin. Tirunelveli was a sort of junction city while Tuticorin was a port and beach coastal town. It was a 45 minutes drive. Velan tried to open the door of the moving car and was stopped by Sridhar and Kumar. Velan felt confined, jailed and near death in the car. It felt to him as though he was dead or that he will soon die if he was in the car.

They stopped at the hospital and Velan got down and lit up a cigarette. He always had at least three packs of cigarettes with him. He smoked four to six packs a day. He still felt untrustworthy of all things around him. Death seemed to squeeze him hard. He went to a  thorn bush. He was not in the habit of wearing briefs these days though he wore vests. He lowered his pants and defecated. It didn’t occur him to use the hospital’s facilities. It must be true that confrontation with death and great fear caused such biological reactions in people. He then buttoned up his pants without washing. He was admitted in to the hospital. There were lot of young girls working as nurses or sisters in the hospital. He was made to lie on the bed and was given an injection in the bed.

He slept like a baby and when the next day dawned his brother was sitting near him. His parents didn’t know how to handle him when he was thus insane. His father treated him like he was insane and a novice kid and told absurd stories when Velan asked him things. His mother just part ignored him. But his brother answered all questions as if he were sane. The mere presence of his brother brought around a breeze of confidence and sanity to him.

He stayed there in the hospital for a few weeks with his brother and his brother jested often making Velan smile. He was discharged and was back to home. Their home was built on ancestral property and the compound wall fenced in about 70 cents of land. The house was in itself a palatial single storey structure. In their home all four of them had individual rooms. His brother Vishnu asked Velan to sleep in Vishnu’s room for a few days but Velan refused and slept in his own room.

Days whizzed past and Velan settled forth in his old routine of waking late, eating late and sleeping late. He smoked continuously sitting all day long before his lap top watching movies and reading books. He ventured out intermittently to the merchandise shop near by in the shopping complex owned by them.  It was just a string of six shops in the street corner. He went to drink soft drinks and buy cigarettes.

Velan had a couple of friends with whom he often dined out. He always footed the bill. He drank at times occasionally with them. The restaurant setting up had reached near conclusion with a couple of weeks more to become functional. He hoped for a resounding success. He once wanted to be a movie director but now that dream was deemed not feasible and was out of the window. He instead wanted to be a novelist. He wrote along the same lines since he had little to write about as nothing seemed to happen in his boring life. But all that was about to change.

Continue to Sea Beckons 5

The Sea Beckons 3 – Role Model

Sridhar was giving away the weekly payments and salaries in his office since it was a Saturday. He ran a real estate and construction business. He did maintenance and repair of old buildings and construction of new homes as per client desires. He also built new readymade houses with standard qualities for sale to willing customers. He got a boost in life and moved away from his egoistic friend and erstwhile partner only after he joined hands with Karthik sir. Karthik sir was a retired professor and so was his wife Vani. Karthik sir was not involved with business and his eldest son Vishnu was the one taking care of it. The younger son Velan had problems and was drifting away with the money he got from home. Sridhar realised that Velan considered Sridhar as a sort of role model and tried to match the image. Sridhar was involved in a few real estate deals with them and was a partner in the vegetarian restaurant and Customs Freight Station with them.

Sridhar was 47 years old and had a son and a daughter. The son worked in Bangalore as an architect and was rooming with Vishnu. The daughter was doing her final year in Post Graduation. Sridhar had risen from humble beginnings to achieve this position. He now had his own house and two cars. He was now taking active interest in politics too. He was the ward representative of a political party in Tamil Nadu.

He received the call from Vishnu and after he cut the call, he wondered at the news, Velan seemed normal in the morning. He called his man Friday Kumar and set towards the port. He saw Velan sitting isolated. He apologised for Velan’s entry in to a restricted area and casually stated that the ex Tirunelveli mayor was his cousin. Soon after writing a letter of apology Velan was released in to the custody of Sridhar.

continue to the sea beckons 4 

The Sea Beckons 2 – The Caretaker / Brother

Vishnu tiredly climbed the stairs to reach the third floor with his laptop bag over his shoulders. It was almost 7 ‘o’ clock. His client meeting had gone well. He had been traversing through the irritating Bangalore traffic for more than an hour. He was 41 years old and in the process of getting a divorce. His younger brother Velan was 37 and unmarried. Velan had little chances of being married in the condition he was in mused Vishnu.

He opened the door to his very small two room apartment and placed the laptop bag on the floor. He was juggling two jobs at once. One was as a businessman in his hometown and the other was a job as a sales and liaison guy in Bangalore for a small asset management firm that his cousin ran from Madras.

He received a phone call from his friend in Tuticorin port trust informing that his brother Velan was in a confused and inebriated state in the port. Krishna thanked his friend and called his family’s business partner Sridhar asking him to take Velan from the port to the Psychiatrist or shrink in the neighbouring town Tirunelveli. He asked him to admit Velan in a hospital. He knew trains were out of question in the last minute and decided to catch  a bus, any bus that would take him to his hometown.

The news pained Vishnu a lot. Despite this being an almost frequent occurrence now he could never get used to it. It pained for him to see his normally intelligent and active brother in his affected state. Velan showed no signs of relapsing the last time Vishnu met Velan. They were in the process of setting up a small restaurant for Velan in Tuticorin. Vishnu and Velan fought a lot. He knew he tried to boss around Velan but Velan was not someone who submits to being pushed around. Velan might be pigheaded, indifferent, irresponsible and uncaring but yet Velan was his brother.

Vishnu had suffered a lot in the process of separation from his wife. No one supported his move to divorce especially his father who vehemently opposed it. Everyone took the side of his wife. At that time he was staying at his home in Tuticorin. When his wife pried open his private stash of greeting cards from his girlfriend long past he knew the marriage was untenable. She had began nagging him and accusing him about it. She was not willing to divorce and his father supported her. That was the time he moved out of his house and joined his cousin’s firm. Now it was ancient story. His almost ex-wife has been sent back to her house and the divorce was almost done with settlement negotiations going on.

He was a partner in a vegetarian restaurant and also more importantly a partner in a very lucrative container freight station in Tuticorin. They had ancestral land worth a few crores now. Money was not the issue for them. He knew Velan got as expense money almost Rs.30,000 each month. He spent almost all of it on cigarettes. He was a chain smoker. If only Velan heeded Vishnu’s words and took charge of his life instead of drifting off like this. He decided he had to be responsible for both himself and Velan. He needed to focus on business and hope to enrol Velan in the process somehow. It irritated him beyond limits that Velan didn’t act like an adult. His primary goal in life was to somehow ensure the safety and security of Velan by making him grow up and handle responsibilities. He packed his travel bag and headed out of the door.

continue to the sea beckons 3