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About the author:
BS is a graduate mechanical engineer from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi, and he interests himself in current affairs, sports, etc. and has an ear for Carnatic and Hindustani classical music.
What inspired you to write your book?
One may like to know that all my six fictional children, the eldest being Benign Flame were born out of my conviction that for fiction to impact readers, it should be the soulful rendering of characters rooted in their native soil but not the hotchpotch of local and foreign caricatures sketched on a hybrid canvas and in my translations in verse of the Sanskrit classics, I strived to make them as English friendly as I could. My non-fiction is an effort to delve into the anatomy of Islam and dissect the psyche of the Musalman.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Reaching home, Roopa pondered over Prasad’s missive further, ‘Why not I tear it and be done with it? But then, won’t he assume that I’ve read it. Better I return it to him as is where is. Yes, that would give him a clear picture of how my mind is closed to him, having been locked by Raja’s thoughts.’
Soon, having decided upon the mode of its disposal, she had hidden Prasad’s missive behind the bookshelf, and tried to forget about it. However, as the incident haunted her no end, she tried to divert her mind, and to rid herself of the embarrassing trespass, she took a romantic ride on the thoroughfare of her heart.
‘Had it been from my Raja, I might still be kissing the cover, unable to gather my wits to part my quivering lips from it,’ she thought endearingly. ‘Oh, while my eyes would have been kept in anxious waiting to read his outpouring, wouldn’t have my heart missed its beat in anticipation.’ However, as the reality of it all dawned on her, she thought melancholically, ‘What a tragedy that the first love letter I’ve received should’ve caused fright instead.’
Fed by her anxiety, she had a meager meal, and as though to push the issue into her subconscious self, she settled for siesta. But as if to spare her subconsciousness from the dilemma, her consciousness kept sleep at bay keeping the issue alive in her mind.
‘What made him think I would take it?’ she contemplated in all humiliation. ‘And I did accept it, didn’t I? It was a cat and mouse between us all along, was it not? In a way, was I not enjoying it? Of course, he could be expected to strike at some point, wouldn’t he? Strike he did and what’s so surprising about it? Now that he has thrown down the gauntlet, won’t I have to ready myself for the battle?’
‘If not for anything else,’ she thought at length, ‘I need to read it to avert the threat he might be posing to undo me, so as to have idea about his attack to fashion my own strategy? Well, it makes sense to read his mind in his letter.’
So Roopa retrieved the letter from behind the bookshelf and began reading it with apprehension.
“Roopa, my hope,
I’m aware that my move would agitate you. But how am I to portray the thousand deaths I died wanting to avoid distressing you.
All these days, I’ve chosen to suffer silently without making you privy to my predicament. Then, it dawned on me that I owe it to you to let you know that a poor soul is bathing in the warmth of love that is inspired by you. That apart, do I have any right to deny my love its legitimate expression and how does that matter even if it’s unrequited?
On that fateful evening, when I’d first seen you, I felt as if the flood of love that spurted out of my heart would drown me to death. Unable to hold on my own, I ventured to seek your hand for support. Thus, as I was nearing you, I’d seen Sathyam coming to you with those ice-cream cones. Oh, how my heart froze, fearing that you’re married. But then, when I realized that you’re my friend’s wife, I rejoiced at his fortune, and chose to bury my love for you in the depths of my heart. Since I am not supposed to love you as woman and as I couldn’t live without loving you, I forced myself to adore you as a sister instead.
But, it didn’t take me long to realize that the brotherly affection is too limited to reflect the manly love I feel for you. Possessed as I am by carnal passion for you, my suffocation in the fraternal garb has been demeaning my soul ever since. Don’t I know that you too haven’t failed to notice the pain I experienced in those ungainly brotherly shoes? Now that you’re privy to my predicament, my only hope is that you would be sensitive to my sentiment. Why, am I not nursing the love you’ve given birth to? Aren’t you aware I love you as a woman and adore you as a person?
I believe that my sense of dignity demands of me to disclose my love to you. And what do I seek in return from you for my devotion to your person? I only beg for your indulgence in letting me love you till my last breath. Since it’s in your knowing now, how I see my love acquiring a new meaning. If only you let me love you, I’ll feel rewarded no end for that. Were you to pity my wretched soul, I would feel vindicated as well? Either way, now I am at your mercy, and I know your nobility wouldn’t belittle my love and betray my secret. But were you to give away my sentiment to any to make a mockery of it, my blood would be on your hands. And cursing your insensitivity, my restless soul would suffer eternally in heaven living like in hell.
Dying for your understanding,
ever yours in devotion, I remain,
Prasad, the hopeful.
‘Haven’t I known that he’s lusting for me,’ thought Roopa, as though in hindsight. ‘Isn’t he trying to win my heart now by couching his lust with the sentiment of love?’
However, on second thoughts, as his passion for her seemed to reinforce her own draw, she wasn’t displeased with his disclosure. Besides, the feeling of being loved by him seemed to please her vanity as well.
‘Why, won’t it feel nice to be loved, to be wanted,’ she thought with a feeling of satisfaction. ‘In a way, I too like him, don’t I? But it’s not the way for him to have his way. Oh, it must be really hard on him, the poor man. And don’t I understand how miserable it could be for him? Can’t I see his plight in the light of my own pain? But how can it be helped?’
‘But, I can’t be expected to soothe every man who craves for my body, could I?’ she analyzed her predicament. ‘Maybe, I should’ve welcomed him, if only I’m not myself in love. Seems misplaced love is wasteful for it serves no purpose, save massaging the ego of the one who is loved. Perhaps, it’s another dirty trick of fate on my life – to keep the love I need hanging in the fire, and throwing in my lap the passion that doesn’t help.’
Perceiving herself in the same boat with Prasad, she was overcome with pity for him. ‘Am I not guilty in abetting his love with my flirtation, even though unwittingly?’ she thought about her own contribution to his woes. ‘Maybe, but how have I failed to notice his suffering, when he’s supposed to be in such a turmoil. Is he not play-acting love to worm his way into my heart? Isn’t it strange that the emotions of love and the afflictions of lust are look-alike, bewildering women from discerning the lover from a seducer and unfortunately for them the language of love and the dialect of lust have a common alphabet causing this confusion.’
‘Why not I test him to know his true character?’ it occurred to her at length. ‘If he were trying to pull a fast one on me, won’t he get his just deserts then? But what if he were genuinely in love with me? But, that would only compound his misery without me rewarding him in the end. Won’t that make it all so unfair to him? It is better he unfolds himself by and by. If his feelings are genuine, won’t I let him taste the affection of my love on the platonic plane?’
‘Why all that, why not I nip it in the bud, and be done with him,’ she began to think. ‘Then won’t I need to take Sathyam into confidence for that? Besides embarrassing Prasad, that would hurt Sathyam as well. Moreover, who knows, both of them may put part of the blame on me, and shame me in the process. It’s better that I handle him myself.’
‘Given my own agenda, am I all that innocent?’ it occurred to her in time. ‘Am I not scheming to draw Raja into my life? For all that, I could have been flirting with Prasad as well. Anyway, I’ve to ease out Prasad without alerting Sathyam. Moreover, I must ensure that all this doesn’t scandalize me with Raja. Won’t he shun me forever should he get the wrong message? Oh, why didn’t it occur to me all the while, what a risk I was running without my realizing it?’
It is the irony of woman’s life in that she tends to tango her reflexes with the nuances of male proclivities. It is thus, woman’s true feelings get camouflaged in her lullabies of compliance to let her man sink into the slumber of complacency.