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SHEA Serial By Varalotti RengasamyEpisode 17
“Shalini, why don’t you join my Ashram and become a sanyasin? The trials and tribulations you have gone through have prepared you for the highest life of a yogin. If you are ready, I will initiate you on this new moon day, which is just four days away. You will never have a moment of grief after that. You will be giving yourself to God.”
Shalini was first shocked by Sharma’s statement. Then she thought over it. Her fortieth birthday was just months away. Twelve years of going in search of her identity, what did she find? Was there an identity within her that was worth these twelve years of search and all the trials and tribulations that accompanied it?
Shalini had an active life of another twenty five years to go. She did not yearn for male company as she did earlier. Even with Shylender she was prepared to accept his proposal, if at all he made one, only out of a sense of exhaustion and a deep sense of gratitude.
But for Shylender, who knows, she might have even been convicted of killing Raj Metha and either hanged or put behind bars for a life term. And during the two years she fought the case, she did not have anybody to talk to except Dr. Shylender. Coming to think of it he was more like her father’s friend sent by her father for the very specific purpose of protecting her.
In a way Shylender’s life has also been as stormy as hers. But in his case at least, there was a Swamiji to show the way. Swamiji had been almost a God to him. At times she thought of going in search of that Swamiji. But then abandoned the idea.
If Swamiji was Godsend for Shylender then Sharmaji was Godsend for Shalini. That thought gave her slight shivers. May be her mission was in renunciation and her identity could be found by reading the scriptures and abandoning the external world. Then should she give away her wealth to charities and assume the life of a hermit under Sharma’s tutelage?
A few months before she had met one of the girls who did CA with her. Aparna, unlike Shalini, came from a more conventional, orthodox background. Her father did not let her go for work even after she completed her CA. She was married off to a wealthy engineer. Within three years she became the mother of two girls. When the girls were old enough, her husband had let her set up her own practice.
Aparna and Shalini once met in the canteen of <st1:place><st1:PlaceName>Music</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType>Academy</st1:PlaceType></st1:place>. Over the hot Adai and Avial the women exchanged notes on their lives so far. Shalini told her without a tinge of jealousy, either in her voice or in her mind:
“So Aparna, you are now happily settled. Wife, mother of two children and above all a practising chartered accountant. Putting into practice what we studied. Should be one swell of a life dear. I am happy for you.”
Shalini thought that she would accept the compliment with a shy smile. Instead Aparna let out a sigh. When she spoke there was more of exasperation and resignation than enthusiasm in her voice.
“My life is a straight hell, Shal. Yes, I have everything, family, money and a profession. But I have to work both at home and in the office. My mother-in-law is very religious and orthodox.
“She wakes up at 5 in the morning for her puja. I have to be up at least an hour earlier to make the arrangements. Then cooking, waking up the girls and packing them off to school.
“Then to office where a mountainload of work will always be waiting. When I go back home at 7 exhausted, the entire family will be waiting for me. I have to then cook for all. The girls will be busy with their studies and would never venture to come a mile near the kitchen.
“My husband when he is home will be permanently glued to the TV. Many times I will have to carry his food to the bedroom.
“When I clean the kitchen and go to bed at 11, my husband will switch off the TV only to have a physical relationship with me. I will be so tired that I will not have strength even to say no.
“I will just close my eyes tight and pray it should be over soon. I will have barely four and a half hours to sleep. Then the alarm will go off. Another day exactly like the previous day will start.
“This is my life for six days. Sunday will be a holiday for all of us, except God. Even on that day, my mother-in-law will have to do the puja by five which means I will have to get up by four.
“The only luxury I have in life is the two hours sleep I have on Sunday morning after breakfast.”