THE GIFT ( part 5)

Valsa and Sharada

Valsa and Sharada were friends since their school days. The friendship that had started in standard 1 had continued through college.

Sharda Srinivasan was the complete opposite of Valsa. A professor of English Literature at the University, she was as aggressive as Valsa was docile. A firebrand  activist since her student days, she could be summarized in the words “ Been there, Done that”!

Valsa was always in awe of Sharada. She admired her brains, her guts and her complete lack of fear or embarrassment  at  anything!

 Sharada on the other hand felt extremely protective about Valsa. She was constantly scolding her for not having enough confidence and being the “doormat”!

Both friends had remained unmarried- although  for different reasons. Where Valsa’s  spinsterhood was on account of her father’s imagined ill health, Sharada’s was because of her reputation! No man had had the courage to come anywhere close to Sharada for fear of being made into an intellectual pulp.

Sharada’s house was always humming with activity ! Students, nieces , nephews and aspiring  literary critics rubbed shoulders with each other discussing  books, politics and other social issues. Valsa  loved what she called “soaking up the atmosphere” in Sharada’s  home.

Today was no different!

Valsa watched her friend holding court at the centre of her drawing room pontificating on what she called “Popular fiction”.  She was saying something about how the portrayal of women in these books was terrible –reducing  them to just  physical beings.

She waited two hours for the “durbar” to end and the “courtiers” to leave so that she could bring up her little secret.

Then ,over crisp dosas and hot coffee she began tentatively to broach the subject about her “feelings” for Devasahayam.

“ And finally this Friday, he gave me an indication of his interest” she concluded with a smile.

“ Why? What did he do? Asked you to marry him” asked Sharada like a top counsel cross examining a witness in a sexual harassment case.

“No.. No..! Nothing like that. It is just that he gave me a hint” said Valsa with a blush.

“What hint?” continued the cross examination.

“He gave me a gift. Look!” she said bringing out the book and extending it towards Sharada.

Sharada pulled  up her specs from the chain dangling down her neck and peered at the book.

“ Fifty shades of Grey.. Wait.. the name rings a bell” she said getting up to go to her study as Valsa waited anxiously to continue with the conversation.

“Valsa.. this is really fishy. Look at the book review that was done by one of my students for her gender studies course” said Sharda as she walked back to the dining table, extending a typed document towards Valsa.

“But what has that got to do with this. The book may not be very well written but isn’t it the thought that matters” asked Valsa getting irritated.

“Valsa,  you stupid girl. When will you learn? This book is the most insulting thing that a man could have given a woman. It is the story of a man who wants  a woman to sign a document agreeing to be his sexual slave!”  said Sharada increasing her voice by a few decibels.

Valsa stared at her speechless! No, it couldn’t be! Why would Devasahayam do something like this to her? Her eyes started filling with tears.

“ Now wait, don’t cry. It is not surprising that he should do this. You say he is a widower. God knows what his relationship with his wife was like.  Guess now that she is no more, he feels like experimenting with sex and ofcourse, you have the right psychological profile to be the subject of something like this- helpless, docile..” said Sharada getting angrier by the minute.

Valsa could control herself no longer. She started sobbing loudly.

“Valsa, Valsa, how many times have I told you not to be vulnerable to such things. It was okay when we were twenty but now, you cannot afford to be like this” said Sharda hugging her friend.

“ Tell me what should I do” asked Valsa through her tears.

“Listen to me..” said Sharada

Father Toppo

Father Toppo SJ was   mentally exhausted!  He was praying fervently to the almighty to help him get through the day without losing his cool. What he had heard today from two of his most senior teachers was enough to turn  the few remaining hairs on his bald head grey!

The day had begun innocently enough until the end of the short break at 10.30AM when  the art teacher, Miss Valsa John had sought an appointment with him. A quiet lady who generally retreated into the background whenever she was in a staff meeting, he was surprised she wanted to speak to him about “something very delicate and personal”

Convinced that it was some female health problem he had granted her time, mentally thinking up of excuses about how to ward off questions on  extended leave. The mid term exams were due and he needed as many teachers as he could for invigilation.

But what Miss Valsa John had told him was beyond his wildest imagination! He had listened to her  disbelievingly before summoning the accused – Mr. S. Devasahayam.

His biggest shock came when his most senior teacher in the school admitted to what Valsa had narrated. Then began, a grueling one hour session when he had had to interrogate the fellow about his intentions.

After an emotional hour of angry words and tears, he had gathered the complete story. He was amazed that Devasahayam had behaved so irresponsibly! Thirty years of dealing with adolescent boys should have taught him something!

Tcha!! And imagine he had passed on something he had confiscated from one of the boys as gift to a lady!

Father Toppo was now inclined to believe Brother Dominic the librarian who often said that Devasahayam was severely lacking in imagination!

“But I need to close this issue quickly” he said to himself, coming back to the present. He did not want rumors to start spreading in the school. He was sure that his PA, Philip who was an extremely nosy man had created his own version of what had transpired behind the closed doors based on the little he had heard while he was eavesdropping outside.

“ For starters, I need to talk to that boy’s parents” he said reaching for the intercom.

“Philip, could you please inform parents of Amit Kumar of class 9 B that I want to meet them on Thursday afternoon” he said .

He put down the phone and gazed out at the school courtyard.    How he longed to go back to that tiny vocational training school at Palamau in Jharkhand! As the principal of that school he had had a fairly simple life where his problems were limited to teacher and student absenteeism. But this high profile school in a metro that the order had transferred him to was playing havoc with his blood pressure!  The Maoists lurking in the jungles beyond that school in Palamau were nothing compared to the complex problems that managing this school presented to him!

He looked at the offending object – the book and reminded himself to ask Brother Dominic to give him some background about this kind of writing. He needed the information in order to be prepared for that meeting!

( to be continued 🙂 )

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. KP
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 16:18:19

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this.You have several new tracks now each with its own interesting tale to conjure up an exciting novel.May be a short gist of FSG given as part of conversation will help readers enjoy more

    Reply

  2. krupa
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 19:36:19

    Hooked on to your serial story, thanks to KP. Great Narration. Real Interesting

    Reply

  3. Meera
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 22:12:46

    Thanks KP and Krupa. Glad both of you are liking it

    Reply

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