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September 17, 2014 / subramanyam

SOUL OF A STAR – Chapter 8 : To be or not to be


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SOUL OF A STAR

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Read the Previous part of the Story here Shattered Glass #CelebrateBlogging

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Chapter 8 : To be or not to be

Tara got up early and her hands instinctively searched for Shekhar. But, he was not there on the bed. The familiar smell of alcohol was emanating from the living room. She followed the trail and entered Shekhar’s study; a little closet where he spent most of his day. The Mahajong table facing the wall was the birth place for some of the epic poems, fantastic short stories and candid critical pieces his pen has produced.

“Wasn’t all that the glory of the past? Will those good old days ever be back?” Tara mused. For, she was greeted by an unfinished Johnny Walker on the Mahajong and an unconscious Shekhar whose hand was still holding a pen.

A few minutes later as Tara was easing him out onto their bed, she was hearing him slur, heyyyyyyyyyy Whatttttttt d’ youuuu think yourrrrrrrr ??????? Iiiiiiii luv’d ya, butttttttt dissssssss lifeeeeee it’ssssss killingggg and disss baddd worlddd.

Tears rolled out of Tara’s eyes, her arms and hands ached, they had a real bitter fight the night before, it’s not the writing contracts alone, Shekhar seemed to be losing his civility as well. The fights were now getting bitter and bitter, and the pain it gave was became unbearable. It might become physical anytime, Tara used to shudder.

Tara wanted to shut her mind from this and focus on something else. She wanted to fill herself with energy and jump-back into the day. Negative thoughts was something she abhorred right from her teenage days.

An hour later, as she completed her morning chores and ablutions, she realized that she was still battling the negativity that was building in her. She was feeling as if she was torn between two forces within her.

A part of her was asking her to rebel against her drunken husband, stand up to the reality, quit this pain filled marriage and be the “The Tara” that once took the world by surprise, the other part was craving for Shekhar, his love and his touch. While this first part was urging her to be that independent, carefree overachieving, the second part was urging her to stay and not quit the relationship in haste.

It was still eight in the morning and Tara decided to go for a walk, she left a note on the table for Shekhar and set out to walk around the gated community. Lost in thought, she was walking aimlessly, the soliloquy continued, the stress of indecision was catching up on her and she was desperate to get this out of her mind.

Her train of thought was interrupted by the sound of the conch and the asynchronous ringing of the bells in the Devi Maa mandir. They had a small yet elegant temple in their housing complex and Tara realized that she was few meters away from the temple. Tara was not a very religious person, she had never been here before. However, today she entered the temple merely to have a detour from the chain of thought that was troubling her.

The temple was a small one, the “Garbhalaya” or the Sanctum Sanctorum that had the Devi Maa’s moorthi was even smaller. There was some power in the marble idol that drew Tara towards it. Tara had a good Darshan and for reasons oblivious to her, she sat in the temple and was observing the surroundings. Her eyes rested on huge portrait that was hanging on the archway of the temple. Beneath the portrait in huge red words was the Text “Jai Sarbojanin Maa”

I have read these words before, Tara told herself. She remembered the place and time when she last read them, it was on her one and only visit to Kolkata and that took her into her memoirs…

 It was not even 24 hours since the Indian marriage Act pronounced them as Man and Wife, Tara was lazily sleeping in her bed that she realized that Shekhar was trying to wake her up. She did not want to open her eyes and was lazily turning over to the other side, that she found him kissing on her eyes…. She tried to pull him closer and…..

 “Tara we have a flight to catch at 6.00 A.M. its already 3.00 now, we ought to run and catch it , all this can wait till we reach Gangtok” Shekhar’s voice was teasing and provocative at the same time. She did not have an option but to wake up and get ready.

 “Helloooooo, the one beside you is better than the two in the air craft ” Tara was teasing Shekhar as he was trying to steal glances at the air hostesses in the Kingfisher aircraft. They were on their way to Kolkata which was a pit stop before they begin to explore the beauties of the northeast.

 “Come on, I was wanting some water and was trying to ask her for it.” Shekhar was trying to retort.

“Well, here is the bottle and there’s something called kidding.. you understand” Tara was beginning to grin.

 “By the way why are stopping in Kolkata for 2 days? Any special reason?” She was curious….

 “Well indeed there are many reasons and you will know them once we land there, ever heard of something called surprise” Shekhar grinned back.

 Tara knew that Shekhar’s forefathers were from Bengal, his mom and Dad were from Kolkata and he told her that he had visited the city quite a number of times. However she did not know as to what was playing in his head. Let me wait and watch was all she told to herself.

 It was 8.00 by the time they emerged out of the Kolkata airport, they spotted a cabbie who was holding the placard Mrs & Mr. Dutta and got into the car. Some thirty minutes later they were in the “Taj Bengal ”, a beautiful hotel located in arguably the busiest roads on Kolkata.  

You know what Tara, I wanted to check in to Lalit Great Eastern Hotel, that hotel holds the distinction of being the longest continuously operating hotel in India, It was continuously operational for the for 165 years. This was built in 1841 and was called Auckland Hotel back then. It was the place where the British Royals used to stay put when they visited Kolkata. It served many foreign dignitaries and many Indian celebrities. Well, it has lost a celebrity on its guest list today…. They say it is under renovation and will open. Shekhar was going on and on as they were checking in to the super deluxe suite in one of the top floors of the hotel.

“Well, this is not lesser than that by any means and I thought that your flirting was limited only till marriage, either ways we would check in there if it becomes operational ” Tara met her beau’s eyes.

 She was clearly awed by the splendor and grandeur of the place. The room they checked in was indeed big, measuring over 850 sft it was one of the biggest rooms in the hotel and views it offered were breathtaking.

I would have happily danced on this floor without adjusting a single move, Tara blurted out as they both were enjoying the sumptuous breakfast the room service has brought for them.

 “Turn left, right, yes here.. Stop here” .. Shekhar was guiding their chauffeur through the non-descript lanes of Kolkata, they stopped in front of what can be called a very small cloth store in the Goria Hut market .

Get down, you wanna buy something don’t you? Shekhar was teasing her again.

 As she got down, she saw a shop that was not even half the size of their hotel room even before her mind registered this , Shekar’s Voice was booming. “Dada, get some Baluchari Sarees for the madam”.

 The silk sarees that were brought in front of Tara were characterized by an attractive artwork. There were many characters weaved on them, it was as if those pictures were telling a story. The border of the saree was narrow and had floral and foliage motifs. She picked up the one she liked and as they were back in the car with that 25K saree in their hands, Tara looked back at Shekhar and asked him “what is so special about these sarees?” .   

“Baluchari Sarees are very traditional ones in Bengal, they have a history of more than 400 years. They stand as living examples of the high standards set up by the weavers of this nation, they have stories of Ramayana and Mahabharatha depicted on them. The borders of these sarees have real gold and silver threads woven into them. They were the symbols of aristocracy and royalty once. I have a queen to take care off and she is already asking me so many questions, bhai kisko bataayien” … Shekhar was mocking exasperation.

 They spent the afternoon going through the narrow alleys of Goriahat market place more than buying they were enjoying the time together. In the evening they visited the Victoria Memorial. Shekhar was explaining her the importance and significance of each artifact in the mammoth building and Tara was listening to him in apt attention and was admiring the knowledge of her betterhalf.

“Isn’t it ironical Tara that the dead kings have structures this big dedicated to them and the poor have to sell stuff on the roads to make their ends meet” Shekhar was now retrospective and philosophical as they were heading back to the hotel. “Real opulence is when a person’s heart is filled with generosity, an opulent heart is what the world needs” he thundered.   

The next morning she was clad in her new Balachauri and they went to Dakshineswar, the hindu in Shekhar was out and was in full force. They performed pooja and offered their pranams to Maa Bhavatarini and Lord Shiva. They sat in the huge hall opposite to maa and Shekhar gave her the story about the temple. He spoke of Rani Rashmoni who built the temple, about Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa the mystic who is associated with the temple and about his famous disciple Swami Vivekananda.

For Tara, the experience of the day was with small li’l girl, one who would have been 4-5 years old, as they were taking perambulations around a temple she came up to her asked. “Didi, you are wearing new saree, did you get married ?” Tara blushed and planted a kiss on the little ones cheek.

 They later visited Park Street, scouted for some books and CD’s in Oxfords had a great lunch in one of those fantastic restaurants there. In the evening he insisted that they visit K.C. Das for some Roshagolla and Sondesh after which they visited the Kalighat.   

As they were going back to the room, Tara asked the chauffer to stop the car, bought a few jasmine flowers and got back.

“Can’t your queen be fond of Jasmine flowers” she shot back at her quizzical husband.

Tara let’s go downstairs for dinner….. Shekhar’s sentence halted midway …

 In front of him was a danseuse who was all set for a performance. Without uttering a word he went settled on the couch and the dancer in the room took over. The dancer was dancing her heart out and it seemed as if every limb in her body was in perfect harmony with her heart. Every rasa(emotion) known to the mankind was getting portrayed, she was the boon giving divine feminine in one instance , she was the slayer of the demons in the next. She would be the protective mother in one song and a seductress in another. She was loyal friend in one instance and a scheming villain the next.

 For the next two hours the dancer had her mind body and soul performing in unison and the man in the room was not able to take her eyes of him , at the end when the music stopped, the dancer felt as if she was floating in the air, when she re-checked it, yes she was indeed floating . She was in the arms of her man and ironically his eyes were moist. Her Mohiniyattam made her the Mohini in front of her man.

 I was a fool Tara, I was a fool, I called you an emotion less wonder, you showed me the nava rasas, the shringara,hasya, karuna raudra,veera,bhayanaka, bheebhats,adbhuta and shanta to me. You did not get an opportunity to show them in your movies, your moves have all of them only your movies didn’t.

For Tara, all this did not matter. For the first time in her life she saw someone doing something for her genuinely and without an expectation. She was overjoyed, she did not know how to express it . It was then that the dance took over , she expressed her joy, her happiness, her love , her promise and her care all using her dance.

“Aunty”, you have very long hair, chowww beautiful . Tara was jolted back to her senses with these words. A small cute little kid was in front of her, an innocent smile flashed on her face. Tara was back in her reality, she smiled back at the kid, gave her some prashad that she had .She looked at the Devi Maa with satisfaction. She thanked her from the bottom of her heart.

“I came here with a question, you made me remember the happiest day of my life as the answer for it. I will not leave the man who gave me the happiest moments of my life, I will transform him, I will transform and bring the smiles back in our home, I promise this to myself and to you” … she uttered this and looked at the deity, she felt as if the deity was smiling back and was blessing her. Happy that the clouds of uncertainty have lifted above her, she went back to her home .

That was the decision that changed her life, she stood and fought the battles, she made the man of her life realize what fighting actually meant, she was the emotional bedrock as he got his success and life back on track . Years rolled on and the Almighty on his part showered some choicest blessings on them. Her life was beautiful again .

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Tara’s trip down the memory lane was interrupted by the loud ring of her office phone.

“Madam, we are from the Kerala government, we are looking for the pictures ” the voice on the other side was sounding anxious.
You will have them today, you will also have the advertisement plan and the script for the posters. I will make sure that they are sent to you today. Tara reassured him.

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Read the next part of the Story here Cocoon

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“Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.”

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