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Deep Within

September 4, 2013

Only two of you staying in the house. Then why sleep in separate rooms? He asked straight away.

By Neela Padmanabhan
Translated by J Ponnudurai

The bus is yet to come. It hardly comes on time. Even if it does, they detain the bus here for at least half an hour. Anyway, father is sure to get a seat.

After seeing him off I must meet Advocate Ramasheshan. It is my last appointment with him and I have promised him that I will make it. He must have kept all the papers ready. Sindhu too must be getting ready to go there. In fact both of us had been just waiting for father.

Sanjeev looked intently at his father. Though his face appeared serene, there was agony deep beneath his eyes. How soon his father had turned old. His magnetic charm was gone and was now replaced with all the signs of old age… dark circles around his eyes, wrinkles besides his mouth.

He wasn’t even sixty. Already he had enough problems chasing him like hounds, and now his son’s marital problem was added to it.

Initially Sanjeev had decided to part with Sindhu without his father’s knowledge. But later he had thought that it should not come as a shock to him. So he wrote a single line about it to his father. It was just a formality. He did not seek any help.

Only two of you staying in the house. Then why sleep in separate rooms? He asked straight away.

Only two of you staying in the house. Then why sleep in separate rooms? He asked straight away.

Soon he received a reply: Don’t be in a haste. I will come next week. We shall then decide. But though he stayed for three or four days he did not bring in the topic. And now he was about to leave in a few minutes. His silence was perhaps his approval of the divorce.

Another bus going somewhere else has come and stopped. The cries of vendors and beggars rent the air.

Sanjeev, in the last five years, both of you should have come to understand each other well and should have learnt to live in harmony. Hundreds of things crop up between husband and wife. I wish to tell you what I have inferred in these four days. And then I leave the rest to you.

The bus which had pulled up sometime back had now started to move.

What is father going to tell me? No great fight was there between Sindhu and me while he was there…

Only two of you staying in the house. Then why sleep in separate rooms? He asked straight away.

Nothing father. The mosquito menace in our house is too much. The odor of mosquito repellents doesn’t suit me. I get headache and nausea. So I prefer to sleep under a mosquito net. She feels suffocated inside a net… so no other go but to sleep in separate rooms.

All right, forget it. Do you remember the last time both of you quarreled?
What was father trying to get at?

Normally there were frequent quarrels and arguments… The tea is too hot… the idlis are stone cold… there’s too much chili in the sambar… the rice is half cooked. Father must be referring to one of them, thought Sanjeev.

Yesterday morning when you were reading the newspaper you called out to her. When she did not reply you went inside the kitchen and embarrassed her.

Oh that… Such verbal duels between us is quite common. When she is in the kitchen or bedroom or arranging her sarees in the almirah nothing falls into her ears…

Sometimes she just stands in the hall lost in thoughts. I don’t know what runs in her mind but she does not wish to share them with her own husband!

His bus has arrived.

What! It has come so soon?

Come, son. Let us sit inside and talk.

Father sat by the window. Looking at Sanjeev who was sitting by his side.

Look son, don’t think I am preaching. I talk from my long experience. It is up to you to take it.

Pausing for a while, he took a draught of warm water from the flask.

All human beings whether man or woman, have a secret world of their own into which they like to slip away now and then. They do not want to give it up just because they have got married. Either couple entreating to know about it makes life wretched for both. Between such couples mutual love, respect and regard dwindles and they never get happiness.

Amidst the incessant cacophony of noises of vendors and beggars fathers soft, calm voice entered Sanjeev’s ears.

Every one of us sometime or the other slips unconsciously into day dreaming. Some times we reminisce about the past, some times we fantasize about an unfulfilled desire, sometimes we dream about the future. In today’s rugged and mundane life it provides great relief, without which it would be perhaps impossible to go on with life.

Constantly goading your spouse to know about it is not fair on the part of anybody.

The driver was not back as yet. The conductor had started issuing tickets. When Father showed him his ticket he withdrew.

Father continued:

Son, girls have some desires of their own. They love to spend long hours arranging their sarees, jewelry, kum kum, silver vessels etc. Such urges are natural in them. Men too are secretive about money. Sometimes they like to spend it without the knowledge of their spouses or other family members.
So hair splitting about it is useless.

The driver had now taken his seat. Bidding goodbye to his father, Sanjeev got down from the bus and stood by the window where his father’s head could be seen.

Do not probe too much into it with her. Always speaking of quarrels because of it will make life hell.

The bus had now started moving. As Sanjeev waved to his father, he felt as if a big door which was a barrier till now had been flung wide open. He could feel the gentle breeze blowing on his face and the warm rays of sunshine touching his heart. All heaviness was gone.

About the Author

Neela Padmanabhan is a leading novelist and short story writer in Tamil. His short stories are on simple theme of everyday life.

About the Translator

J Ponnudurai is an editor and translator. He is a Program Officer in Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.


This short story was first published in (between 1999 to 2003).

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Today’s Motivation

<div class=at-above-post addthis_tool data-url=></div>Time is not just the calculation of transitory phases in years, but also the assessment of ACTIONS-the effort we make in life's works; FEELINGS-our state of emotional being and ACHIEVEMENTS-our realisations in life, of life, about life. 

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Time is not just the calculation of transitory phases in years, but also the assessment of ACTIONS-the effort we make in life's works; FEELINGS-our state of emotional being and ACHIEVEMENTS-our realisations in life, of life, about life.