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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Musing on Sarikā’s Sari

Original in Telugu By - 'Hitasri'
Translator- GRKMurty

“Didn’t I say I will not respond if you call me like that?” said frowning Sarika.  

“Why not?”

“My pleasure.”

“Isn’t this word in your name?”

“So what?”

“Truly speaking, as per numerology, a three-syllable-word will not suit you. If it is a two-syllable-word it will do a fat lot good to you Sari…”

“You… again…”

“If five rupees are spent, even in college, striking out Sarika, they will change your name to ‘Sari’…”

“So nice of you…”

“For your friends do not know the meaning of Sarika; otherwise they would have teased you calling ‘goruvanka’”.

“You should have told them?”

“I shall tell them… That’s not the correct name of our Sarika. K. sari has just become Sari .k in the school register. OK!

“See! Mummy”, Sarika flew off the handle.

“What’s going on in the very morning!” shouted their mother from the kitchen.  

This has become a quite routine for Raghava and Sarika. Their father is a Telugu teacher in a school. Out of his love for classical literature and as a reflection of the hidden music in them, he named his daughter as Sarika.

There’s of course a cute incident behind how Sarika’s name became Sari for Raghava.
“This time around …must buy a sari for my birthday.” Thus created Sarika a big fuss four years back when she attained the age of putting on skirts.

“Oh! Don’t be silly”, said her mother.

“No way, I must have it”.

“Why sari this early?” snorted her mother. Sarika’s face cringed.  

“If there is no sari, I don’t need birthday party at all”.

“Shall I tell you an idea to get a sari?” said Raghava.

“Yes”, said Sarika longingly.  

“You remove that ‘ka’ from your name”, said Raghava.

Their mother laughed.

Sarika frowned. 

“Great of you…”

“Simply saying ‘Sari’ will sound sweet.”

“Oh! Great”.

“On the happy eve of your changing the name I shall recommend to dad to present you a sari…” said Raghava.

“Fine! I will not keep quiet if you say ‘Sari’… ‘Geeri’….”

“I would say Sari only…. Sari, Sari,  Sari.”

Yelling, “See Mummy”, Sarika flew off the handle.

Saying, “cool off” their mother went into kitchen.

Since then, it has become a routine for Raghava to tease her calling ‘Sari’ and for Sarika to be peeved at it.

* * * * * * *

Taking the tennis racket into his hand said, “Sari, pray for my win.”

“Finals today?”

“Yaha! In another half an hour I will be wafting all over the court in full flow.”

“Will you win?”

“It all depends on your luck.”

“Oh! My luck! That’s any way fine.”

“That’s it. Last time when I won the tournament in Guntur, didn’t they give me one thousand one hundred and sixteen! And, didn’t Sari have a red Kanjeevaram silk sari? This time it will be green silk sari.”

“Green sari!” Sarika’s face lit up at once.

“Yeah! Won’t you like it?”

Annayya”… she was about to say something.

“Go and pray God by offering him a coconut, it’s time for me…”

“You know… my friend…”

“What! One for your friend too? When it is free…”

“That’s not what I meant, but….”

“My friend has a similar sari, you know?”

“Your friend’s friend is going to buy a similar sari, you know?”

“Who is that”, asked Sarika innocently.

“A girl called Sari”.

“You...” said Sarika.

Raghava felt immensely happy to see the glitter in Sarika’s eyes. Love and affection over flew in his heart. An incident that happened two months back flashed in his memory. When he won the singles championship in the Guntur tennis tournaments, they presented him eleven hundred and sixteen rupees cash along with the trophy. He had been all along teasing Sarika by calling her Sari. He thought he should therefore present the poor kid a beautiful sari that could thrill her. He bought a bright red silk sari.  Calling her, “Sari” he opened the packet and holding one corner of the sari threw it into air. In surprise and joy, Sarika with her wide-opened eyes asked, “What is this?” Said he proudly, “gift”. He could never forget the love, affection, pride, joy and the surprise that reflected in her eyes then.  Putting on that sari on her birthday, when Sarika showed it to him he lost himself. That radiance, that charm, that display, that grace and love and the respect that reflected through them would always remain fresh in his memory.  
“Wish you the best of luck”, said Raghava.

“Wish you …you….the best of luck”, said Sarika showing thumbs up to him.

Whistling softly, Raghava came out to the verandah with racket in hand.

“Is Sarika in…”

Saying, “Yes, she is”, Raghava raised his head and looked.

Seeing her, he remained still like a statue.  Raising her head, she too looked. Shocked, she remained frozen for a minute. She couldn’t notice even the handbag and the packet slipping out of her hand. He was terribly disturbed.

“Sarika …. Sarika” she stammered. Seeing the things on the floor she picked them up.
Calling “Sarikaaa!” in a feeble voice he swiftly walked away from there.

Raghava was not at ease with himself.


He frowned. Either on seeing Komala or thinking of her, vengeance and spleen spewed out. Till a month back who was she to him and he to her! What a bad day it was! It took three years. Not that he wasn’t intelligent enough. But his whole focus was on tennis. Participated in many tournaments too. Won in one or two big tournaments also. After graduation, he had been trying for employment, but didn’t succeed.

As he gained fame in the tennis circle, many friends used to be around him always. Obviously, along with friends, new habits too had overtaken him. Being advised by friends that it was no wrong to have a drink once in a while, started visiting bars. Had been puffing cigarettes. The flattering by friends had only intensified his pride and arrogance.

One day he went to a movie with friends. Unmindful of causing irritation to the fellow viewers, they were commenting on the happenings on the screen and laughing loudly and created ruckus in the hall. During the interval they all went out, and as the picture restarted they slowly walked to their seats, struggling in the darkness. Accidentally, Raghava trod over the foot of a girl.

“Brute”, said she loudly.

Raghava was shocked. Felt like saying “sorry” to her, but the word used by her so pierced his mind that it refused to say sorry.

“I couldn’t see! Why are you so rash?” said he bitterly.

“Shut up”, said she.

Raghava’s face reddened.

“What is the feminine gender for ‘brute’?” uttered one of the friends.

“Brutee”, replied another friend.

“No… No… beauty.”

“Unless we give a police complaint, these roadside Romeos will not learn to behave”, said she angrily.

“Leave it Komala, why nuisance”, whispered the girl sitting by her side.

“Hey Raghava! Seek her pardon”, said satirically another friend, perhaps to provoke.
“No, madam only shall say sorry”, said Raghava.

It created a sort of commotion. Intervening in the matter, the neighbors pacified them.  After the show was over, the two girls were walking to their homes. Encouraged by friends, Raghava followed them. At a crossroad, Komala’s friend separated from her. In another two minutes, Komala reached her home and was opening the gate to go inside.

“Mam wait”.

Shocked, Komala looked backwards. Three boys were approaching her. She was overtaken by a sort of wild courage.

“What do you want?”

“You have unnecessarily insulted our Raghava in public. You must seek his apology”.

“Should I?”

“Yes, you must”.

“Is it to him alone, or to all of you?”

“Why to us, only to Raghava”.

“Then you all be a little away”.

Though they were confused by her style, they involuntarily moved back.

“What do you do?”

“Tennis player—champion”, said Raghava proudly.

“Good at service?”


“Mine too”, saying angrily she at once pulled out her chappal and slapped Raghava on his cheek, left and right, and dashing in, she slammed the door.

On this unexpected happening, Raghava was stunned. Friends were frozen. Raghava hung his head in shame. We must insult her equally, if not more, prattled his friends.
Next day, Sub-Inspector of Police sent a word for Raghava.

“See Raghava, certain Komala, B.A. third year, lodged a complaint. You know what happened. She doesn’t know that you are my friend. But in affairs of this nature, friendship has no role. I was shocked when she complained that tennis champion Raghava behaved like this. The esteem of you and mine are in your hands”, said SI softly, but assertively.

Hanging down his head with no answer, Raghava returned. Since that day the insult was burning him. Friends were inciting him. They were provoking him to punish her in such a way that she could never forget it in her life. “Yes, she must be punished”. So decided Raghava. “Brute! Yes, I must become a brute! Brute…!”

Ever since he saw Komala in front of his house, all these scenes were terribly disturbing his mind. In the yore, with the touch of Raghava’s foot a stone had become a Komali. Today, by the touch of a Komali’s foot, a certain Raghava is becoming a brute. He smiled sadly.

All through the match, these scenes were swarming over him. As he threw the tennis ball up to serve, the scene of Komala pulling her chappal and hitting him hard flashed in his mind, resulting in a double-fault.

Raghava lost the match easily—a match that he was so sure of winning. Friends taking him to the bar, attempted to console him. He was not listening to them. His mind was full of vengeance and anger.

Taking leave of his friends, Raghava started for home. His mind was thinking wickedly. Kidnapping her…Suddenly an idea struck him. So, Komala is the friend of Sarika. Perhaps a classmate. Using Sarika’s name she can easily be fooled. But he felt ashamed. No, must overpower her. Brute! Whatever might be the result! That’s it.

He thought that if something untoward happened to her friend, Sarika might feel sad. But Komala might sever her friendship with Sarika. Knowing who I am, Komala, behaving rudely with Sarika, and planting ill-feelings in her mind by using all kinds of abuses, might have gone away. Once I am home, Sarika might even question me about the truth! Even if she doesn’t ask, she might be fuming within at me. Anyway, who cares whatever happens to Komala, who did so much. With varied thoughts and plans, Raghava reached home. He threw away the racket to one corner. He saw Sarika standing with a meek face.

“Lost”, said he.      

“Yes”, said Sarika.

“Who is that friend? Came across while I was going, such a bad omen”, said Raghava angrily.

“Who, Komala? She is my classmate. What did she do, after all? For the first time she came to our house. Somehow you couldn’t play well. What is that service?” said Sarika.

“I failed”.

“As she came at the right time, though unexpectedly, I invited her too to come and watch the match. Thank god! She went away saying not interested”.

“Why no interest?” Asked Raghava searchingly.

“Come on, how do I know!”

“You trumpeted about me?”

“Is it the only work for me? Indeed I never say about our family affairs to anyone, however close they might be, you know?”

“Why did she at all come? What did she say?” said Raghava, looking at her attentively.

“Why friends come? Sometime back I invited her. Today is holiday. Moreover no one was at home. So she came. What she would have to say?” She looked at him in surprise.

“No one at home”, asked with interest.

“It’s only she and her mother in the house. They hail from a village. She came for education. Her mother left for village in the morning on some work. She might return after four days”.

Wickedness danced in Raghava’s mind. Suddenly his eyes saw the packet on the table.
“What’s that packet?”

“That! That….” hesitated Sarika.


“That’s a sari. Seems Komala has recently purchased it. Brought it to show me. I have also shown the sari you bought”, murmured Sarika.

“Then why hasn’t she taken it back?” saying Raghava opened the packet. He was stunned.

Green Kanchivaram silk sari!

About to say, “To show you”, but suddenly held back. Raghava’s face saddened. Sarika too felt sad.

At about 9 at night, Raghava reached Komala’s house. Light was on in the room. Door was partly closed. “Oho! Brave girl, didn’t bolt the door. If not that brave, how could she insult him that day. That night was an inerasable black spot for me Komala! For you this night… He laughed madly. He pushed the doors forcibly.

Alerted by that sound, Komala stared at the door, and at once stood up. There, Raghava with ember-like eyes!  She was puzzled. Throat was parched.
Raghava closed the doors.

Komala attempted to scream, but throat was choked. Looked hither and thither in fear. She attempted to move this or that side. Fumbled. Attempted to say, “Please”, but it got stuck in her lips.

Glaring at her cruelly, Raghava started to move forward. But he could not go even one step forward. Komala, sparkling in red, has really become a red lamp. Raghava was just staring at her without bating, as though mesmerized.  

His eyes are dazzling. He is not noticing  Komala though he is seeing.
That radiance –
That charm –
That display –
That grace –
Behind them that – that –
A smile flowered on Raghava’s lips. He has forgotten everything.

Staring at Komala without bating his eyelids, he murmured “Sari”, as a soliloquy.
Komala was puzzled.

“Sari” said again tenderly, affectionately.

Komala staring at him in confusion, said, “please”.

Hearing it, coming to senses, Raghava looked around. Looked at Komala once again. Then, suddenly opening the door, he walked away swiftly.

As Raghava, who came in like a tempest, walked out quietly, Komala stood frozen in shock and bewilderment.

*  *   *    *     *    *


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