Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Evaluation (13/7/1978 )

It was then that she had said it - "Do you believe that you are irresistible! That all these people love & respect you because of your charms? Your personality? Oh don't make me laugh Mr Ashok. The only thing interesting about you is your money.Without it you are nothing! Your flashy car and gaudy clothes  make you what you are. Otherwise you are nothing to all of them.You hear me! Nothing!-  and yet I love you for what you are- for your real self. But to you,I am another one of those chicks! isn't it lover boy?

Ashok was stupefied. No girl had ever dared to speak to him this  way. And yet here was this girl whom he had hardly known for a couple of days , looking up at him with a flushed face and eyes that seemed to be angry and hurt at the same time. Had he foreseen this outburst he would have cut her short at the first two lines and asked her to go to hell. But this was most unexpected.Now he felt that it was high time he spoke. "You don't really mean that Asha! I want that you eat back your words and......"
:No! no! I meant every word I said ,and I am not making any bones about it. I....
"Now, now, I request you to refrain from making a scene in public.If you are ready, I would like to take you home.surely there is no point in our spending the rest of the evening together." With that he silently moved towards his Mercedes Benz , allowed her to help herself on the other side. inwardly smiling at the thought of the lady's last drive in his expensive car.

As he lay back on his comfortable pillow,Ashok found himself extremely restless.That girl had spoiled his whole day.Aday that had started out so beautifully had to end in the most disappointing fashion.Well,there is nothing wrong he told himself in conducting an experiment to assure himself if not anyone else of his unique personality. He would go to a five star hotel in ordinary clothes  and see for himself how they treated him.It had to be a hotel where people did not recognize him.He generally patronized Hotel Hoysala and rarely for a change the Sudarshan hotel. In Taj International, he was sure that nobody would recgnize him as the poor rich boy that he was.It was at the Taj that a business associate of his had booked his room.He would be in town for a few days.It would be a good idea to go and meet him in a cotton shirt,an ordinary looking terry cotton pant and Hawaii chappals. He chuckled to himself at the thought of Mr Raghunath staring at him in Hawaii chappals.

The next day,having secured for himself the objects of his disguise he telephoned Mr Raghunath. He was informed by Raghunath that he would be in the conference hall for most part of the day but will only be too happy to see him in the evening.As he replaced the telephone in its cradle, Ashok was very pleased with himself .He told himself that  he would give the whole thing an authentic effect by carrying very little money and going over to the place in a bus.He decided to go for a matinee film show and make his grand entry at the Taj at 7  PM.

Ashok felt hot in the face and he almost felt like slapping the old man with graying hair and a dignified posture.Obviously the Hawaii chappal was not a hit in places like the Taj for most people were staring down at his legs. The old man was saying "He is not in his room.There is no reply on the telephone.He has obviously taken the keys with him." The words were harmless enough but they carried a trace of mocking in the tone which bit in to the interiors of Ashok's brain.
"So the conference is over?" he heard himself ask
"Yes it's over"came the curt reply.
He mumbled something like "Well.... it's okay then"and walked out putting all his energy with the only object of getting away from the terrible place. He let out a sigh at the gate and moved towards the bus stop more relaxed than ever.

Ashok had entered the premises of Taj International as planned at about 7 PM.He had walked casually towards the reception and asked to be directed to the conference hall. He was told to go straight ahead.So far so good. He reached the hall to find the door closed. He was in the process of debating as to whether or not to match strength with his wooden opponent when he heard a voice from behind.
"Excuse me, what do you want?"He had turned around to face the man with the graying hair.He informed him that he had come to see a Mr Raghunath . The man in his dignified manner was beginning to tell him that the conference was already over when Ashok informed him that Mr Raghunath was staying at the hotel.At this the man had hesitated a moment - "In which room?" he asked
Given the unwelcome atmosphere & confusion in his mind Ashok just could not remember the room number.
"Well, I think it is 246. I am not sure"
"Must be 426"said the man and signaled Ashok to follow him.
He then directed him to pick up one of the many telephones in the foyer and ask the operator to connect to 426.  He was requested by a cordial female voice from the other end to hold on a moment while she contacted the room.The cordiality he thought could be attributed to the fact that the girl had not seen him in Hawaii chappals. Meanwhile the man was getting impatient- "Well?... oh never mind put down the receiver "He took another instrument and asked to be connected to 426. "No reply eh? well alright"He had then turned to Ashok and informed him curtly that there was no reply from the room.

As he waited patiently for the bus,Ashok was shocked to realize how he had all the while been overestimating himself. More shocked was he when he thought of the nature of the people whose society he had kept for years- people who did not respect the individual but coat of arms,People who would sacrifice their self respect at the jingle of coins and would not hesitate to insult a poor individual regardless of his decency,education or principles.He was ashamed to note that he had been a party to the nurturing of such blood sucking parasites; to note that he had been spending Rs 9/ on a glass of rasam when a less fortunate person would have bought himself 3-4 meals with the said amount of money.

It was then that he thought of Asha. Asha! the girl who loved him for what he was. The girl, who was probably the only person who loved him in the strictest sense of the term.He remembered the tears in her eyes when she took leave of him and his heart felt hollow & heavy. Ashok was struck by a mad desire to rush to Asha wherever she was, take her in his arms and beg her to shower love on him like no lover had ever before on her beloved.He wanted to beg forgiveness for hurting her and dry her tears on the breast of his shirt .

He got off the bus and rushed madly towards a little house by the road side.But this time he did not think it a bird's nest.His whole world belonged there and he was off to a world of his own.

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