Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Mentor

What a contrast my life in the campus was to the one I had in my college! While in the college I was always engaged in reading, writing and participating in seminars, now it was as if I had forgotten all these things. I used to have so many questions to the teachers in the college, often leading to fierce arguments, in the university there was very little of such activity. In fact, one of the teachers asked in the class openly not to read “Politics Among Nations” about which he was delivering a lecture. It was a different matter that I had read it way back while I was an undergraduate. A good teacher would never discourage a student from reading the original works. While in the college I had only a couple of friends, now I had too many. At times I felt life on the campus was purposeless, directionless and therefore useless!

We had another teacher who spoke in telegraphic language, for apparently he was not very comfortable with English. He would begin his lecture always with the headlines in the newspaper that day. He used to say it was for ‘refreshment’. He was teaching theoretical aspects of public administration, but during the whole year he never really touched the core of the subject. He used to ask students to have a set format for any topic – introduction, body, criticism and conclusion – in that order. But yet he was a very popular teacher because it all looked so easy to the students when he explained in his telegraphic language and gestures. Moreover, some of his jokes were below the belt in a very subtle way that caught the admiration of the students. Once Virupakshappa answered a question in Kannada and I repeated the same in English using the academic jargon. When he appreciated me, Virupakshappa in protested that he’d given the same reply. The teacher explained, “ See, one not good looking girl -in bad fitting clothes -nobody notice. But same girl wearing miniskirt and t-shirt, high heels- everyone will watch.” The boys understood the difference immediately and there was laughter all around.

There was another teacher, who was known to be very soft on girls and usually understood to be weakness for the fairer sex. The practice was to call the second names of the students while taking attendance. He began addressing the girls with their first name. We had watched Vani going very often to his chamber for god knew what. Her complete name was Vanishree Moraba and he used to call her Miss Moraba in the beginning. One day while taking the attendance, he called her “Vani” and I exchanged a knowing smile with Vijay and Bhaskar, which he noticed. He immediately gathered his notes and the attendance register and left the class.

Everyone knew it was because of me that he had walked out, so I had to go to his chamber to apologize. Upon my entering his chamber he said calmly, “Mr.Harsha, I know that you are well-read and intelligent. I cannot come to your standards. You better stop attending my class. I will give you full attendance, you needn’t worry.”

I was perplexed. Although I didn’t mean it, I said, “Sir, I am really benefited by your lecture. I didn’t mean to offend you at all. Please forgive me. It won’t repeat, I promise,” and I came out. Next day I attended his class and he acted as if nothing had happened.

Yet another teacher wore very peculiar combination of clothes. He was a tall man and his trousers were always an inch shorter exposing his socks. He wore a bright red blazer over off white shirt and sometimes a tie that was as wide as a handkerchief. He stood at the edge of the dais with his crotch thrust forward. He would frequently scratch his crotch too. He spoke good English although he tended to be verbose, but he spoke it as if he spoke in Kannada. He loved to use such words as ‘hooliganism’, and ‘pusillanimous’ and his language, mannerisms all looked comical to the boys. Once he rubbed the black board with his hands and scratched his crotch with the hands covered with chalk powder. Unfortunately he was wearing dark pants on that day!

Not that all teachers were bad or funny or uninspiring. One particularly was excellent. He had a highly analytical mind and very logically cogent approach and expression. He made matters so simple by his exposition that one could never fail to grasp the subject and it would be firmly settled in the recesses of the memory. He was witty too, but his humour was of a very high order. After attending one of his brilliant lectures, I understood what I had not been able to comprehend after years of studying political philosophy. Giving several illustrations, he asked us to approach any political philosophy with the fundamental question of political obligation, asking the basic question why people should obey the dictates of the state. He taught us to have a clinical indifference and impartiality towards the subject under probe and never to let our own values to interfere with our conclusions. His love, compassion and concern for the students too was well known and I felt to have been fortunate to experience it myself. He was a great mentor, beyond all doubts.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Peer Pressure

The second year started in the right earnest and now we were the seniors in the hostel as well as the department. I spent a month of my vacation after Virupakshappa’s marriage quietly at home, reading novels, listening to ghazals and watching Door Darshan the only TV channel that was available at that time, once in a while. Hot and humid summer with scorching heat turned into a pleasant cool weather by the second week of June when we returned to the campus for the second year. The campus I had left dry with bear landscape and leafless trees with the exception of a few sturdy varieties of trees, welcomed us fully covered with greenery and rich foliage. Admissions to the first year had started and quite a lot of new and anxious faces with dreamy eyes were to be seen in the crowds near the bus stop and the banks where the students were required to pay their fees.

Mohan and Bhaskar were very intimate with the clerk of the hostel and they managed to get three rooms for us in a row on the ground floor. I was to stay again with Vijay. Mohan and Bhaskar stayed in one room and Virupakshappa and Suresh Hiremath occupied the last room. I welcomed it for I had got used to staying with Vijay. He never touched anything that belonged to me, nor did I touch his things. Mohan and Bhaskar however, were in the habit of sharing everything, starting with a cigarette. I didn’t like to do that with anyone. If I were to share a cigarette, I would smoke the first half and then hand it over to Mohan or Bhaskar and never take it back for another puff. They perhaps never noticed this, for I would light another cigarette immediately. Pavan came to stay in the hostel but he got a room on the first floor and he had a new roommate, who was also from Ranebennur. He was in fact several years older, but looked younger than most of us, with his fair complexion, slender build, and clean-shaven upper lip. He wore very bright colours, which suited him well and he was a very ostentatious and spoiled dandy. He used to shave twice a day and never allowed even a micro millimeter growth of facial hair. Pavan used to joke that, Patel, that was the name of the dandy, might forgo taking bath, but would never miss shaving for anything in the world. He maintained an album, much like a model does, in which there were hundreds of photographs showing him at different locations in different poses, wearing a variety of clothes of all hues and colours, mostly bright. After completing one-year course in library science, Pavan had taken admission to MA in Political Science and Patel too had joined the same course. They were totally opposite to each other in all respects, but still made good roommates.

Suresh Hiremath was a very humble and servile person. He would address almost everyone as ‘sir’ and try to please all. He could be an errand boy, fetching water, cigarettes, bidis, and ghutka for all others and would not hesitate to act as a waiter to me, filling my glass with soda or water, carrying my plates and doing such things as a waiter is paid to. Everyone considered him a very gentleman at heart though poor, and kind and compassionate to all. Since he belonged to the priestly class among the Lingayats, before going to face the examination, Bhaskar and some others used to touch his feet seeking blessings. He was of average intelligence and had poor knowledge of English. And he needed my help to get the notes that he had acquired from our seniors, translated into Kannada. So he would do anything to humour me, please me and keep me in good mood to help him out.

Nagesh Patil, a classmate of ours was elected unopposed as the class representative as nobody contested his nomination. To my astonishment, Mohan too didn’t contest. Nobody wanted to do the donkeywork that a CR is supposed to do; to arrange functions, seminars and tours, and run errands for teachers etc. Nagesh was interested in becoming the General Secretary of the University for which it was precondition to be the CR first. Much later I came to know that Mohan had made a pact with a bunch of guys who wanted to install Nagesh as the General Secretary. What Mohan would gain by this, I could never understand, but I could see that he without becoming a CR, he could continue to do what a CR is supposed to do, for Nagesh wanted the larger stage.

I would write Mohan’s welcome speeches and vote of thanks, depending upon what he was called upon to do. He would just read them, but he loved to be recognized as a leader. He simply adored himself and liked to be appreciated. Who does not? But he couldn’t even write a sentence in Kannada without spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. He wasn’t alone to be in such a desperate state. Hundreds of students, I used to wonder, who came for a master’s degree, couldn’t read and write satisfactorily. Mohan could speak well, take decisions for others, but academically he wasn’t up to the mark. But still there was something about him that fascinated all those that he came in contact with. It might have been his looks, his robust voice, and his attitude. He never considered anyone unimportant and spoke to friends exuding real concern and care. That was how he could make friends in all the departments of the university and now aspired to be the kingmaker in the elections to the post of General Secretary. He got too busy in the hustings and only Bhaskar joined him. I never liked politics or election campaign, and was against such things being permitted in an educational institution. Moreover, I hated those spoilt brats of rich people, who flaunted their bikes, wind sweaters, jackets, and money. They flaunted their contempt for the pursuit of knowledge, the good students, with blissful ignorance. How could Mohan, who had great respect for my academic achievements, mingle with them? I hated him for that.

Every evening they would pick up the CR’s of most of the departments and take them to a bar and restaurant, and entertain them with drinks and food. I suspected that Mohan and Bhaskar were after free drinks and food. For nearly a month Mohan and Bhaskar were not around with us. It was Vijay and Suresh who were always with me and they shared my distaste for elections in the campus. Since the elections involved only the CR’s, largely the campus remained unaffected.

However, our group still felt incomplete and I pined for the presence of Mohan. Vijay and Suresh could not make up for his absence. Nothing could make up for his loud laugh, hilarious jokes and anecdotes. We missed Bhaskar’s wit and sarcasm too. I just hoped that the elections would be over soon and they will be back with us.

Nagesh, as expected got elected and on the day of the elections, Mohan took all of us along with him to the victory celebrations. The party was arranged in a small hotel and the followers, campaign managers and friends of Nagesh occupied all the tables. I congratulated Nagesh who received me warmly and felt guilty about not having helped him in the election. He didn’t seem to mind that I had kept aloof from the campaign. Our group, with me at the head of the table, sat in a secluded cubicle. The liquor was whisky smuggled from Goa. Chicken tikka and boiled peanuts were served. The honour of opening the first bottle was mine and as I poured the liquor for Mohan, Bhaskar, Pavan, and myself. Vijay, Suresh didn’t drink and Patel too said he didn’t drink.

Bhaskar placed a glass before Vijay and said, “Tonight Mama will also drink.”

Vijay protested. Bhaskar would not listen. He began teasing Vijay and Suresh. “Aren’t you both men? Even college boys drink these days,” he said mockingly.

“Who said they are men? Forget them,” Mohan added.

Vijay got angry and said testily, “What you people are doing now, I have done it years before you.”

Bhaskar laughed again teasingly and said, “Mama, you can’t even tolerate a single peg.”

“It’s been our policy not to force anyone to drink Bhaskar,” I reminded him.

“I am not forcing anyone Harsha. I am just voicing my opinion. You see these three don’t drink because they know they cannot,” replied he.

“Well, I can,” Patel said and pushed a glass towards me.

“Great!” exclaimed Bhaskar, and added, “See, he doesn’t even have a moustache!”

This didn’t have any effect on Vijay, but Suresh was irked. “Bhaskar, if challenged I can drink more than you,” he blurted.

“I am challenging you man!”

“Ok then. I will drink one quarter neat in one sip. Can you?” Suresh challenged.

“Ah, you can’t be serious Suresh. You can’t do it. But still if you want to do it, you will first face Pavan,” Bhaskar pushed Pavan ahead in order to escape and he knew that Pavan was used to drinking neat.

Mohan took the bottle from me and poured 3 pegs each in two glasses and kept them in the middle. “Now, let’s see if you can do it!”

Both Pavan and Suresh lifted their glasses. Mohan counted, “One, two, three. Go!” Both of them emptied their glasses in one sip and gasped!

“By God! I can’t believe Suresh could do it!” Vijay said with amazement. Suresh, although looking calm, was gradually getting the kick. He said, “Mama, you too must join now. Just one sip ok?”

Vijay not only had his first drink that evening, but he also smoked a cigarette. When we were all busy discussing election, teachers and girls, nobody noticed when Suresh and Pavan slipped out and came back relieved!

***  ***  **

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Real Surprise!

It was a very simple ceremony, the marriage of Virupakshappa. The bride was just about eighteen with a childlike face. Virupakshappa was very happy, though he looked embarrassed to face us. He wanted to wait till he lands a good job before getting married, but he had to bow to the pressure that was brought to bear on him by his mother.

It was a small village temple where the marriage took place, and attended by a decent crowd of not more than a couple of hundreds of people, mostly relatives and a small number of friends and acquaintances. Naturally, Mohan took the lead in getting the bridegroom ready, making several suggestions. Nirupama and Vani, surprisingly, didn’t mix with the women folk and stuck to our groups. Several brows were raised, for it was very unconventional to find unmarried girls in the company of boys, the village being very conservative in its outlook. There were whispers, and giggles. Some village elders stared at us with disapproval. The fact that the girls had stayed in a hotel had already traveled to the village and it was a no-no thing in a village. It would’ve been proper for the girls to stay in a house, under the supervision and watchful gaze of the elders. Much later, when Virupakshappa returned to the hostel for the final year, he confided in me that he too had to face a lot of unpleasant and embarrassing questions from the old folk. Right there, I could hear some people muttering with a sigh of resignation, “The times have indeed changed!”

After partaking feast with the hosts, and to the relief of Virupakshappa, we left for Mantralaya in a state transport bus. It was one of the worst roads I had ever seen; full of potholes and at some places the road itself disappeared. Since I was sitting in the last row at the back, I was, every now and then thrown up in the air, reminding me of Walt Disney cartoon movies. I never in fact was seated, but was constantly in the air, the seat touching my bum every now and then!

At Mantralaya, popularized by a Kannada movie in Karnataka, I saw that the summer had really hit hard. The river Tunga was looked like a small stream with muddy waters. Though it is considered that bathing in the waters of Tunga is equal to taking a dip in the holy river Ganga, none of us could think of bathing there. I being an apostate, hardly could bring myself to even touching the water there. The temple or the Rayara Matha was crowded. There wasn’t any architectural beauty in the old building. The priests asked us to remove the shirts, and I jokingly asked them if I had to remove my pants also. I spoke in Kannada thinking nobody would understand, but the priest glared at me. An old man who was standing behind me in the queue said, “Everyone understands Kannada here!”

Later at four in the afternoon, we caught a bus to Ranebennur. It was a circuitous route for me to reach Belgaum, but all my friends insisted that I should go with them, stay at Ranebennur overnight and continue my journey the next day, to which I agreed because I won’t be alone for at least half of my journey.

My legs had stiffened and body was aching when we alighted at Ranebennur, late in the evening, a while after ten. The girls took an autorikshaw and said good night to us. I didn’t care to ask where they went, for by now I had come to regard them as irritants since they grabbed most of the attention of the group. Above all, in them I could see my own failure that I dreaded most.

Ranebennur, though a small town, was and still is a vibrant town. It is a business center with a very large floating population. It had only a couple of hotels during those days where one could put up. We booked ourselves two rooms in a hotel, which had a bar nearby. I badly needed a drink, so did Mohan and Bhaskar. Compelled by us not to leave for his village, Vijay needed food equally badly. We decided to order drinks and food in our rooms.

“Tell me, wasn’t there any resistance from her?” Mohan asked after finishing his first drink. It was like a prompt to Bhaskar, who, as if waiting for it since the girls left, lighted a cigarette and began.

“There was really stiff resistance,” Even if Vani herself had invited him to the bed, he wouldn’t say so, thought I. “I knew that she was not going to allow me do anything to her. That is why I had chalked our a plan well before I went into her room.”

He would never come to the point straightaway. He would always have an elaborate introductory part in his narration. And the right type of dramatics to deliver it!

“I entered her room and closed the door behind me. She was wearing a nightgown and was sitting on the bed, pretending to be reading a book that she had brought. I pulled a chair near her bed and sat. She looked up and asked if I wasn’t sleepy. ‘I can’t sleep tonight. How can I when Mohan is locked up with Nirupama in that room?’ I asked her. ‘Is it any of your business?’ she asked me. ‘Of course it is none of my business. But it bothers me’ I told her. She sat silently for a while, and then asked, ‘Why does it bother you? Are you concerned about Nirupama or Mohan?’ she kept the book by the side of the pillow.” Bhaskar took a big sip from his glass.

“’Neither,’ I said, ‘I am concerned about me’ and took the book from her bed and asked, ‘What are you reading?’ She snatched it from me and said it is a book meant for girls. I said, ‘If you’d asked me, I’d have brought books meant to be read together by you and me!’ She blushed and I felt encouraged and took her hand. But she withdrew and said, ‘Don’t touch me. I am not like Nirupama okay?’”

Bhaskar paused to empty and refill his glass. Taking the opportunity, I said, “She must be just putting up an act buddy.”

“I don’t think so,” Bhaskar said quickly, for accepting my statement would take away the importance of his act. “I again took her hand and this time held it firmly and said, ‘Don’t be silly. What is wrong in being like her? Aren’t they enjoying?’ She angrily replied, ‘ I don’t want such enjoyment. Please go to Vijay’s room.’ I said, ‘Okay, okay, calm down. I will sit here for a while and then go.’ And sat there silently for a full five minutes.”

“So you sat there silently and then slept there on the floor?” Vijay asked mockingly, using the pause Bhaskar took to drink.

“Mama, why do you think I asked her to permit me to sit there for five minutes? It requires gray cells in your brain. After five minutes, I told her, ‘Vani, I have been in your room for more than 15 minutes now. I will walk out, but who would believe that I did nothing to you? Even I may tell all the people that we made love and that would suffice,” Bhaskar gave a wide victorious smile.

“Oh ho!” Vijay nodded with amazement.

“After that everything was simple. I climbed on the cot and kissed her, she closed her eyes and began to enjoy,” Bhaskar closed his eyes as if reliving the experience.

“Was she a virgin?” Mohan asked.

“Yes, I am sure she was. She cried out so loudly with every stroke that I had to shut her mouth…” Bhaskar said, “Just as we watch in a BF.”

“Right then, the second wicket has fallen!” was all I could manage to mutter.

Virupakshappa’s wedding was no surprise, but Bhaskar’s campaign certainly was!

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Virupakshappa's Wedding Surprise

The months preceding the annual examinations affected the routine for the remaining members of the group, yet for me it changed only a bit. Every morning by nine we all started visiting the university library. Though there were no holidays, nobody attended the classes. I had expected the master’s examination to be different from the undergraduate examination but it was not so. The same pattern of answering five questions out of ten in three hours time, with one or two questions mandatory to be answered, was followed. If one studied a couple of previous years’ question papers, one could easily find out that the questions covered only the first couple of chapters in each subject. The questions tested only the memory of the students and there was hardly any question intended to test the reasoning power of the students. It was amazing that even then the students feared the examinations and for many, the only aim was to get a second class by scoring fifty percent, for then alone they would be eligible for the post of a lecturer. Only a microscopic minority of students had a vision of undertaking research leading to the doctorate degree. I used to wonder why such mediocrity prevailed among the large majority of students and teachers.

Since all friends would be in the library, I inevitably had to spend much of my time during the day in the library, making best use of the opportunity to read whatever caught my fancy- encyclopedias, novels, philosophy, logic, sociology, and so on. On the stairs of the library where we sat to have some chat during short intervals that we took to refresh ourselves, I became a lecturer, answering the questions and clearing the doubts of my friends, not that there were many.

So, it was a very dull period for me till the examinations are over and on the last day of the examination, Virupakshappa invited all of us to his marriage ceremony to be held in his native village near Raichur. It was scheduled on the fifth of May and all of us decided to meet in Raichur, in the hotel that would be booked for us.

All others left for vacation following the examinations, but I still had to attend another examination, that of diploma but I didn’t want to stay alone in the hostel. Luckily for me, Pavan invited me to stay with him in his rented room, located not far from the campus. I thankfully accepted the offer, for he was a great company for spending the evening. This was the time when he became one of the close friends of mine. Although he had studied with Mohan and Bhaskar in the same college as they had, he unlike Bhaskar was not a follower of Mohan and for some of his eccentricities, he was shunned by both Bhaskar and Mohan to some extent. However, he certainly was a friend of theirs and could easily belong to the group, had he not joined some other department in the university, and had he not chosen to stay in a rented room instead of staying in the hostel.

On the fourth of May, I reached Hubli bus station in the evening and found out that the bus to Raichur will depart at 8 p.m. I had about an hour to wait and the best way to wait was to sit in a bar. The bars and restaurants near the bus station are always full and so noisy that I finished one and a half peg of my drink in no time, sitting on the bar stool near the counter. I decided against having my dinner and instead ate a couple of burgers in an Iyengar bakery.

The platform where my bus would come was crowded, and being near the lavatory, the air was stinking with the smell of urine. I decided to move away from the place and went near the main gate. A couple of ladies wearing heavy make up and bright red lipstick smiled at me expectantly. Without realizing that they were looking for customers, I smiled back, then immediately I moved back to my platform.

When the bus came to halt in its reverse movement, I was right at the door and was the first one to enter as soon as it was opened by the conductor. I sat by the window comfortably, purchased my ticket and when the bus started, was lulled into sleep. I was eagerly waiting to meet my friends in Raichur, but did not expect the girls to come that far to attend a marriage. A surprise, not a pleasant one, was waiting for me in the hotel at Raichur.



***

It was after three in the morning when I got down from the bus. Virupakshappa had told us that the name of the hotel was ‘Sindhoor’ and it was just five-minute walk from the bus station. The streets were almost deserted but for a few passengers who had come out of bus station hailing and alighting autorikshaws. In the distance, I could read the hoarding of the hotel Sindhoor. A fellow, who must have been the clerk of the hotel, was fast asleep on a bench there, covering his whole body with a black blanket and covering his head and most of his facial area with a monkey-cap. He responded the rattling sound of the grilled gate and sat up. On enquiry, he told me that I was to go to room number 121 on the first floor. I climbed the stairs and found that 121 was on the extreme end of the corridor on the right. When I knocked a couple of times, the door opened and there stood Vijay, rubbing his eyes, which had reddened due to lack of sleep, perhaps.

“Come on in. You are late,” he welcomed me trying to bring a smile on his sleepy face.


“ I couldn’t have come earlier,” I replied entering the room. It was a ten by twelve room with two beds, a dressing table, teapoy, and a chair. The bed sheets were white and clean. A ceiling fan was circulating the hot air in the room with noise. It was very hot, so hot that the bed felt like a frying pan. As I sat on my bed, I asked, “Who else has come?”


He sat in the chair and yawned, cleared his throat and said, “Mohan and Nirupama, Bhaskar and Vani”


I looked up at him, surprised by the way he put it. He continued with a jeer in his tone, “Yes, tonight they are couples. In 123, Mohan and Nirupama are staying and in 125, Bhaskar and Vani.”



“What!”


He seemed to enjoy the startled look on my face. “Yes, Bhaskar and Vani are having their first night!”


“My Goodness…” I sat silently for several minutes trying to absorb the shock. “So the second wicket has fallen,” I said at long last.


“But I don’t think it is the first match, neither for Bhaskar nor for Vani!” he replied with a grin.


“But how could it happen?” I queried although the reply was obvious.


“Three rooms have been booked. Mohan and Nirupama occupied one, Bhaskar and I came to this room and Vani was staying alone. Bhaskar went to her room about 2 hours ago and has not returned.”


“Of course he was drunk”


“Of course”


“Nice reception I had. I need a drink badly now”


“You won’t get even water to drink at this hour in this hotel”


“I expected it to be so. I carry my own drink,” I said and opened my briefcase. I had brought a full bottle of gin.


“You can just go to bed Harsha. It is very odd time to drink,” he said compassionately.


“No I can’t. I am damned tired. I will only have a couple of drinks, that’s all.”

I took the glass that rested on the teapot upturned and poured a large measure of gin. Vijay filled the rest of the glass with the water from the jug. I emptied the glass in just three sips and the liquid entered my stomach, burning all the way from the throat, but the anger, anguish, envy, rage, disappointment and disdain that I experienced burned me far more than the liquor did. Be cool. Be cool. I told myself as I poured another large into my glass.


“Go slow, what’s the hurry?” Vijay asked as he mixed water in the gin.


“Got to catch some sleep. What time are we leaving tomorrow?” I asked him in reply, an effort to change the subject under conversation.


“Virupakshappa said he would send a vehicle at 8 in the morning. He had come here last evening though he is not supposed to come out of his house after the Haldi Ceremony. He was enquiring about you.”


I quickly finished my second drink too and started perspiring due to the heat outside as well as within. “Damn the weather here!” I cursed wiping my forehead with the back of my hand. “Any one else is coming?” I asked Vijay.


“No, as far as I know. The school and college buddies of Virupakshappa have all come, and were staring at us, especially Mohan and Nirupama as if they were aliens. It was embarrassing.”


“Well, let them enjoy. Let us catch some sleep now,” I said as if concluding. “Right,” said he and rose to switch off the light.


I felt more comfortable in the dark. At least I won’t have to make any effort to conceal the expressions that might show on my face, thought I. Had I known that this was going to happen, I would have stayed away, called off my trip and kept peace of my mind. But I couldn’t have missed a friend’s marriage, could I? First Mohan took away Nirupama, now Bhaskar took away Vani. What do I mean took away? They didn’t take away anything from me. Nirupama and Vani are free individuals, for God’s sake, and they chose what they like. Why should I feel hurt or betrayed? Nobody had betrayed me. I won’t have any pleasure because of my own moral high ground, my self-rectitude. I do not deserve any pleasure. I have never been hedonistic. At best, I can congratulate Bhaskar for catching up with his leader. God, I hate myself, to be grieving over such trivial matters. I went on cursing myself till sleep took over me.


***