THE HEART OF GOLD

By HEMALATHA GNANASEKAR

Young adult

Paperback, eBook

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478
6 mins

The Heart of Gold - First Chapter

1

Mukesh was in the midst of his bath, when he heard his cell phone buzz. But he hardly seemed to care for he was still not ready to talk to anyone. Mukesh was heart-broken and felt betrayed. His marriage lasted for just two months and turned out to be a total fiasco. All his efforts to save his marriage had been futile.

Mukesh had switched off his cell phone last afternoon when he learnt that his wife had left him and shut himself from the rest of the world which houses such cruel human beings. He wanted to be alone and decide his future plans. If only he had not been so lenient with her, things would not have gone out of his control. The damage had already been done and there was nothing he could do now except to try and bring about a change in his mindset. He was now answerable to his people for the tragedy looming large in front of him.

It was only early this morning that Mukesh switched on his mobile and entered the bath room. He was standing under the shower for a long time breaking his head as to how to save his skin. The chill water falling over his body only helped with washing the dirt of his body but did very little to cleanse his turbulent mind.

Slowly, Mukesh stepped into the hall toweling his body. Since the phone had been ringing nonstop, he lifted it but on seeing the name of the caller, immediately disconnected the call. It was from Nithya.Why was she calling him ? What is it she wanted from him now ? As if the mental agony he was experiencing on account of her was not enough ! But the phone continued to ring once again and Mukesh repeated his action. Irked by the continuous ringing, he finally decided to answer the call. In a gruff tone he asked, “hello, who is this ?”

In response, all he could hear was her sobs. Frustrated over this, he yelled again, “who is this ?”.

Amidst sobs, Nithya said, “Mukesh……please…. please..… don’t disconnect the call. Show some mercy on me. Am I not your wife ?”

“Oh ! Are you ?” Mukesh guffawed aloud.

Nithya was happy that he was at least talking to her and was not cutting the line. Evading his cynicism, she continued, “Mukesh….please be serious. I am in real trouble. None other than you can save me from this horrible situation I had landed myself in.”

“Oh, is that so ?” he asked sarcastically.

Nithya sniffled and after clearing her throat said rather impatiently, “Mukesh…. I beg you to forgive me and forget everything I have done to you. Now please note down this address and rush here at once.”

“But Nithya”, Mukesh said rather in a relaxed manner; unconcerned about her urgency, “that is none of my business !”

Nithya broke down vociferously and pleaded, “Mukesh, please……… this is not the time to take out your revenge on me.”

Further lowering her voice, she said in a hushed tone, “I cannot talk much now. I shall explain everything in person. I promise to be obedient and nice to you for the rest of my life. Now, kindly jot down this address and immediately come here and rescue me.”

Uninterestedly Mukesh started scribbling the address in a bit of paper and even before she could finish, the phone went dead……

Mukesh stared at the address blankly for a while not sure of what to do. After dwelling at length, he finally came to a conclusion. He crushed the paper in his hand and flung it into the dust bin. Cursing her under his breath, he said to himself, whatever predicament she was now in, the scoundrel deserved the punishment for her unruly behaviour and had to suffer. Really suffer !

The Heart of Gold - Second Chapter

2

“What the hell is wrong with you, Ma? Have you lost your senses ?” Mukesh screamed at his mother.

This was nothing new to Lakshmi. Whenever, she opened the subject of his marriage, Mukesh would lose his temper. Under one pretext or the other, he had been denying marriage all these years. Upset over this, Lakshmi broke down one day and Mukesh felt sorry for her. He had then promised her, “stop crying now.” Actually, I am expecting a promotion to the Manager cadre this year. Once it is through, I shall definitely get married. Three months after his assurance to his mother, Mukesh got his promotion and now Lakshmi was not prepared to wait any longer.

Moreover, Priya, her elder daughter who was settled in Coimbatore was phoning up to her frequently. Unable to make both ends meet with a single income, Priya had decided to go for a job. She was now requesting her mother to join her so that, when she was away at work, her mother could take care of her two boys who were less than five years old. But Lakshmi had been evading her request with the excuse that, unless she finalised her brother’s marriage, she would not be in a position to help her out. On hearing about her brother’s promotion,

Priya immediately called her mother and repeated her request and when her mother told her the same excuse, she was rather cut up. She yelled back at her, “perhaps your son is afraid of marriage and a committed life ! Now that he has got his promotion, what is holding him from getting married ? Don’t get cowed down by his threats and just go ahead and fix up his marriage. Things will slowly fall in line.”

It was this encouragement from her daughter that drove Lakshmi into action. She had at once registered her son’s name in a Match Making center even without informing him. Parvathi was the first caller who left an indelible impression in Lakshmi’s mind so much so that she wanted to meet her in person right-away and have an informal chat with her.

The next day, after sending Mukesh for work, Lakshmi went to see her. The two ladies spent almost half a day talking; sharing details about their lives. Lakshmi was also smitten with affection when she saw Nithya, her would be Daughter-in-Law. Nithya was just Twenty One years old, fair and beautiful and while speaking to her Lakshmi thought that, this exactly was the girl for her son. After promising them that she will visit again with her son during the weekend, Lakshmi left the house overwhelmed with happiness. Lakshmi was bubbling with excitement and as soon as Mukesh stepped into the house, she rushed to him with a cup of coffee and conveyed the whole matter to him.

And now, Lakshmi’s spirits became low. For Mukesh was as usual shouting at her. May be her daughter was right ! He was scared of marriage and a committed life. But this time, Lakshmi was steadfast in her decision, no matter what. She was bent upon finalising this marriage at the earliest and then join her daughter. Brushing aside his angry outburst, Lakshmi said, “Mukesh, I am not willing to listen to your grouches any more. Tell me one plausible reason for refusing this proposal and I shall never again talk to you about marriage.”

“Ma, don’t pretend to be so naïve. Are you not aware of the reason ?” Mukesh reproached her.

Lakshmi could not comprehend what he was telling and she blinked at him. Finally getting impatient, she said, “don’t build up my tension. Tell me what is wrong ?”

Mukesh explained, “Ma, this girl is ten years younger to me. Being immature, her level of understanding will be very different from mine. We cannot think and discuss things on the same footings. You must be really kidding asking me to marry her.”

Lakshmi heaved a sigh of relief ! At last, Mukesh was not denying marriage. This time his complaints were about the girl. Elated, Lakshmi started to convince him, “you must in fact consider the difference in age as a blessing in disguise. The girl will be respectful towards you and obey whatever you say. She will also do nothing against your wish. You cannot get along with older girls for they are sure to be overbearing and besides there will be frequent ego clashes between the two of you. You being a man of temper….”

Mukesh was annoyed at her silly justification but however did not wish to disappoint her. Trying to oppose her in a different manner, he interrupted her, “well, don’t you know that it had been my long cherished dream to be an ideal husband—to marry someone from a very poor family with no dowry…..”

Lakshmi had an ready answer for this too and she quickly butted in, “of-course, they had been rich until a few months ago but now they are broke. Last month, a theft had taken place in their house and all their jewels were stolen. They were all in a state of depression and when I comforted the girl’s mother that we are in fact looking forward to a simple marriage and do not expect any dowry, she held my hands and with tears in her eyes thanked me profusely.”

Though Mukesh did not contradict her further, he snapped at her, “you seem to have finalised everything even without consulting me.”

Smiling, Lakshmi said excitedly, “Listen Mukesh, this girl is so cute and when you see her, you will fall head over heels in love with her.”

“Ma, please stop building castles in the air. Whether I fall head over heels in love with her or fall flat is for me to decide.” Mukesh said curtly.

With pleading eyes, Lakshmi said, “Mukesh, there is no turning back now. I have already given my concurrence to them and please do not let me down.”

Not giving him an opportunity to air his views further on this, Lakshmi left the room. While Mukesh kept staring at his mother helplessly, she stopped suddenly and said, “this girl is the right choice for you. You will never regret the decision taken in this regard.”

The Heart of Gold - Third Chapter

3

Nithya was sprawling on the bed fast asleep. Mukesh stood there helplessly; not sure if he should wake her up or not. Wasn’t it unjust on one’s part to wake up someone who was in deep slumber ?

It was his first night and he had entered the room with great enthusiasm. Just then, his boss had messaged to him to call back. He had promised Mukesh that he would come for the wedding but had not turned up. Probably, he was calling to apologize, Mukesh thought as he punched his number.

Not understanding Mukesh’s predicament, he continued to beat around the bush. He explained to him that since the meeting at Mumbai was prolonged for a day, he was held up and was feeling very sorry that he could not attend his wedding.

It was after ten minutes that Mukesh entered the room and when he saw that Nithya had already fallen asleep, he became upset.

He dragged a chair noisily hoping it would disturb her from sleep and sat down on it. As he kept glancing around, he was surprised to see a few seeds scattered on the floor. Immediately he looked up at the plate containing the fruits. The bunch of grapes was reduced to half and so was an apple. He also observed that beside it was a glass of milk that was half empty. Was she so famished ? Or was she feeling so bored and was trying to keep herself preoccupied with something until his return ? Whatever be the case, she was a little caring for she had bothered to leave something for him too !

Mukesh took the other half of apple and started munching it. He then picked up the left over grapes and ate them too. Finally, he drank up the milk and placed the empty glass on the table with a loud thud. But nothing disrupted her sleep. He sat there for a while wishing that a miracle should happen so that Nithya would all of a sudden arouse and apologize for having gone to sleep before his return.

What a perfect baby sitter he was ! He thought as the time ticked by but there was no any sign of her waking. She was lying there like a log of wood and he at once realised that even a clap of thunder or bomb blast by her bed side was not going to awaken her.

He himself was feeling very drowsy by now and hence stood up yawning aloud. One of her legs was dangling outside the bed. He gingerly lifted it and placed it on the bed. He then turned off the light and lay down silently beside her.

His first night had turned out to be miserable and all this because of his boss. He controlled his growing agitation by telling that he was after all being modest in not disturbing his tired wife. If not on the first night, he could do it on the second night or the day after. Nithya was his wife after-all and he had the entire life ahead of him.



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