Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Note!

IT WAS QUITE UNSETTLING when Nandini found the note stuck on the large and overwhelmingly brightly lit mirror of the spotless bathroom. The first thing she thought of when she saw Jayant’s sticky note, weirdly enough, was not about the context of the words on that sad little piece of paper, but the location that had been chosen. Being a bride fresh from the honeymoon suite not fifteen days ago, Nandini found it a tad unromantic that her geeky ‘Americanized’ husband – who hated being called ‘hubby’ - would leave a message for her on a partially foggy mirror.

Nevertheless – there it was. Scribbled on a yellow dog eared piece of paper were the three words Nandini had never expected to read the first thing on any day…

‘we gotta talk!’

Being what seemed like a million miles away from her cozy little bedroom in one of Bangalore’s thousands of sleepy neighborhoods with sleepier streets intersecting amid them, Nandini was still coming to terms with the ways of ‘You Yes of Yeah’. She knew Jayant well enough by now to realize it was definitely something important since nothing else could explain the presence of the much adored exclamation mark in it. Many a time she had noticed him making quick notes while speaking on the phone and almost every time, an important string of words would end with the same distinct symbol that brought her grandfather’s tilaka* to mind.

But then there was something scarier about this three word puzzle. Once the waves of sleep had started vanishing from her eyes, she started seeing lines of worry appear on her forehead. A flood of random thoughts popped up as she frowned and started making instant connections.

‘What does he mean ‘talk’? We always talk! Don’t we? I mean, how much more can a couple only 15 days old really talk? And what does he mean ‘we’? Why can’t he say something more meaningful like ‘I need to talk to you’ or something with the word ‘honey’ in it. I thought these Americanized fellows loved calling their wives that. Humph. What big stories I had heard about these people being oh so romantic and what not. And here it is – some stupid note with a message that doesn’t even make sense. And why doesn’t he use those smiley things? I thought these people were addicted to adding emotion to everything they write. At least that way I can know if it was a good thing or not!’

In her head, she had put her grandfather’s tilaka next to each of those statements. Despite her obvious attempt at over simplifying the case as just being the first of thousands of notes she might find in her marriage, she couldn’t help feel a little scared.

Just a little.

And so, to avoid spending the day with speculations longer than her mother’s list of complaints about the price of vegetables, she decided to give him a call.

She spent an hour trying to get hold of him but all she got was his answering machine that seemed to know about the note. There was something in that recorded voice … ‘…you’ve reached Jayant….you know what to do…’ that only amplified the distress in her already worried mind.

‘Do I?’ she pondered as she showered and made piping hot cucumber dosa for breakfast. ‘Do I really know what to do? What if I don’t?’ she continued as the sun rose to the zenith and started his usual descend. She kept toying with the note everywhere she went creating sporadic cobwebs of assumptions and educated guesses. ‘What if I am not the kind of girl he wanted? What if he is unhappy with me? Lord! How bad should I be if he is leaving meaningless and threatening notes in just two weeks? What if he has a wife already! And he wants to talk me into getting her to live with us! Impossible! Where on Earth do men find the courage to do things like this? I will pack my bags and leave if it comes to that. God forbid if he has kids with her…oh…I just want him to be happy…’ Her eyes welled up a little at this thought since her simple upbringing had not involved putting static messages on lifeless mirrors. It had always been about words – seen, spoken, heard. But apparently that was a life she was now no longer part of. This was an alien land with a communication culture that she was having difficulties recognizing, let alone adapting.

Jayant was a simple guy. There was nothing pretentious or self-obsessive about him. Despite having completed his Masters in the states, he still ate only strict South Indian vegetarian food at home and was still crazy about K.L.Saigal’s classics. His Sundays were always filled with ‘diya jalao’ and ‘jab dil hi toot gaya’ that had now started becoming a part of Nandini’s life as well. As much as she didn’t think much of Mr. Saigal or his nasal journey of music, she was beginning to feel glad that Jayant understood the subtleties of the unspoken word. He knew what ‘dil ka tootna’ meant else how could one appreciate that song anyway? Ah…the ideal platform for a solid marriage, she had concluded.

But this note had somehow created a faint yet quite prominent dent on that platform. Being new and inexperienced in the matters of the scribbled word, she was feeling a little shortchanged at this new culture Jayant was trying to introduce. And what a debut! Three simple seeming words but with consequences no mortal mind can accurately fathom.

And so, without a choice or a sign of getting hold of a busy husband, she spent the day pouting. It was probably a little after 6PM, when her pouting stopped and something bigger replaced it – fear.

‘Did you get my note?’ asked Jayant as he removed his tie and started unbuttoning his shirt.

‘Hmm…’ murmured Nandini as she folded his trousers, unsure of what to expect next.

‘Alright,’ said Jayant in a decisive tone and approached a visibly anxious Nandini.

‘I want you to sit down. OK?’ and then she did.

‘Now…I know it can be a touchy issue. And…God knows I have tried to ignore it for a while now…’

His words were starting to pierce her soft exterior. There was something about to surface that Nandini would probably scream at – but from within.

‘…and I want you to know how much this will mean to me…to us…are you with me?’

Nandini nodded.

‘It’s just that…’ and he got up to face the window ‘…I work really hard all day. And I am so exhausted at the end of it. I think its reasonable to ask for some comfort after that, right?’

Nandini nodded again, unsure.

‘…And I know…you must be embarrassed about it but listen, you don’t have to be. It’s a pretty standard thing these days. You’ll be fine in a matter of weeks and ….Jeez…God knows I’ve had to work my words to talk to you about it. And so…’

Saying this he pulled out a brochure from his briefcase and handed it to his pale looking wife.

‘…George knows this really great place and he says it’s a sure thing. We just need to make sure you are OK with this though. It will take a few weeks, he says, but its gonna work. So…what do you think?’

And there it was – written in bright red colors against a white and vanilla background attached to the fading image of a sleeping woman - ‘WILLINGTON’S SLEEP CLINIC – your one stop spot to drive away snoring problems’.

© Copyright 2008. All right reserved.

* Religious mark on the forehead primarily worn by Hindus / Brahmins

15 reflections:

Shubha said...

Wow,.. what suspense. Knowing your writing style I did realise it would something simpler than what the story was building up to. or nandini thought... but this is really anti climax..... good one.....

shakri said...


Thank you. :) I am glad you liked the piece. The most intense moments of our lives are sometimes the most simple yet most important milestones. Such is the scene with Nandini and Jayant.

Thanks for your words.


Ravi Kiran said...

Hey that was a clean one SK, got bowled in the end. As usual, the build up you gave all along made me come up with wired thoughts -:)
Good one man, liked the simplicity of your thoughts.

shakri said...

@Ravi Kiran

Thank you brother for taking the time to read this. I am glad you liked it. :) And yes - that was the goal. Trying to see if I can manage to hold the audience with a piece like this. Your words are truly appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Nicely written SK...good work, and i like the name nandini...(-:

Warm rgds...

shakri said...


Thanks Sangeeta. I am glad you liked the piece. Nandini's stories are very close to my heart so I always ensure she is part of only special ones. :) And yes - it is a beautiful name.



Anonymous said...

good one shashi!


shakri said...


Thanks Smitha. :) I am glad you liked this.



Ravi said...

That was awesome SK. I somehow knew that it would be something very simple, but you indeed made me think the guy may be gay. Phew.... good he is straight.

BTW, I had never heard of cucumber Dosa......where do you get this in Bengaluru. I want to taste it next time I visit.

Great Read.



shakri said...


Ha! Oh well. I wouldn't do that to Nandini. :D She is cool enough to keep the guy straight! ;)

Thanks Ravi. Glad you liked it. And yes - do try cucumber dosa. Very yummy!



Madhura said...

phew! it's snoring problem!!!... :D :)) Although it seems to be a problem of not so serious level in the story, it is pretty challenging for girls like Nandini, a young bride with a simple upbringing, without international exposure to get know about the culture, communication and the life style to be adopted in an alien land apart from getting along with an americanised husband in a real life situation.
Surprise, panic and suspense have been created and maintained very well throught the story.
Liked the way of narrating the thoughts that could possibly go through in her mind and the
consequences to be faced and the way the suspense was revealed at the end. Grand father's tilaka is just like an icing on the cake!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Shashi,

Good one..

Hmmm.... Indian Women.. They just cannot refrain themselves from feeling insecure about their husband for philandering.

Indian Men.. They just cannot keep things simple as they are..

Both of them neither evolve nor broaden their thoughts. :P


shakri said...


Thanks Madhu for the gracious comment. I am glad you liked the aspect of a simple girl juxtaposed against a more complex and alien culture. Its funny how we learn things about our self in various ways. This was one such example. :)

Your words are truly appreciated.



Susheel Sandeep said...

Nice one bro!
I even went to the extent of persuading Nandini to deodorant or to accompany Jayant to a Salsa class or asking her not to prepare cucumber dosas for breakfast!

Snoring problem was much effecting to provide a kickass ending! :D

shakri said...


Hahaha..good suggestions there! :D I dont think Nandini was 'out of class' in that way. I want to believe she was definitely educated and cultured enough to know what is not a faux passe. However, this was something she didn't have control over. So apparently it bugged Jayant. :)

Thanks for the response, friend. Much appreciated.