Monday, October 10, 2005

The Alibi - Part V (Final)

Please read this for background on this series. Thanks.

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The Alibi (contd.)...


“Do you want to rest now and talk later? This is not good for your heart. You know what the doctor said.”

“No, Suman. I’m OK. I have to do this now. It has gone on far enough.”

“Ravi, our family goes back ages into history. You know that, don’t you? We can trace our origins to the royal family of Saurashtra. Our ancestors were kings. They ruled large kingdoms and fought bloody wars to conquer other kingdoms. The legend is that one of the kings who ruled in the early part of the seventeenth century fought a war against the neighboring kingdom. He thought that the conquest would be easy. As it turned out, the war was prolonged and it took a lot of lives. Eventually, he won...

“Appa, are you telling us a story now? What has this got to do with anything?”

“Just listen to me! Don’t interrupt. In the course of the war, the enemies lost not only their king, but also the future heirs, leaving the queen widowed and childless. She laid a curse on our family. Our bloodline would never be passed on.”

Ravi stared at his father, his mouth suddenly dry.

Chandrashekar paused and looked at Ravi and Suman. Convinced he had their attention, he continued, “Sure enough, the king’s son, the prince, who eventually got married, was childless. He was forced to adopt the son of his sister so that the throne would have an heir. Later, it turned out that the adopted son fathered two children. Everybody was relieved, believing that the curse had worn off. But then, a strange thing happened. The next generation went childless again. This pattern has been unbroken for the past two centuries. Every alternate generation has to adopt.”

“So what you are saying is that you were adopted? And…I’m not going to have any children of my own? Because of a curse?” Chandrashekar countered the beseeching look on his son’s face with a slow nod.

“Suman, I am very sorry. Nothing I can ever do or say will ease the hurt we have caused you. I had no right to keep this from you or your parents. May be you would have had children of your own. This family is cursed. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

Chandrashekar sank into his chair, the weight of his guilt – heavier than the relief he felt at not having to hide the secret any longer – buried him deeper into the cushions, making him appear smaller, more frail.

Ravi sat back from the edge of the sofa, resting his suddenly aching back against the back cushion.

Suman lowered her eyes to the gleaming red oxide floor.

Silence descended on the house, broken only by steady ticking of the old grandfather clock.


The End

15 comments:

Nandya said...

u re quite a brilliant story teller....

ur description of the dinner table..superb..

te first four parts...brought me to the edge of my seat and the fourth part literally shook me up....but alas...i feel u did the story a whole lot of injustice by ur ending...if it was an attempt at humour or irony at the end...seriously...doesnt gel with the rest of the parts...

Shruthi said...

Beautifully narrated, Sujatha... the suspense was just right.

I guess you were inspired by the story of the Wodeyar Family of Mysore, right? ;)

Keep writing, you are good.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Very well written... enjoyed reading every bit of it!

Sujatha said...

Nandya, Shruthi and SF, thanks for reading the story and for your lovely comments.

Nandya, as for the last part, I don't think it was an attempt at either humor or irony. I was trying to present three different realities any one of which might have brought the three people to their present predicament...

Nandya said...

hmmm...ok..gotchya....nevertheless brilliant stuff..

wud luv ur critique of stuff that i am trying to write...

Ravi said...

Simply terrific, Sujatha! Keep 'em coming...

zambezi said...

Nice very nice.

Sunil said...

very nice! Good stuff...

Emma said...

Very nice... And thoroughly enjoyable reading.

Ambar said...

Very very nice!

Sujatha said...

Nandya, thanks and I definitely will.

Ravi, Zambezi, Sunil, Emma and Ambar, thank you for reading!

Truman said...

Sujatha :) this was brilliant. After I read the first part, I waited for the last 4 parts to be posted so that I could read it in one go.

To put it mildly, your story telling is very nice. Keep writing.

Sujatha said...

Thanks Aditya! I am delighted with the response!

Minal said...

Sujatha:

Owing to some hectic routines I finally read through the entrei story. I did not want to read it in parts as I knew I could lose the link considering my schedules and I hate it when I'm left strandled in the middle of a story as good at this.

Really loved the way you have written it, but I would have liked a different ending. It kind of was an anti-climax for me when the suspense had risen. Don't mind being honest:-)

Sujatha said...

Thanks Minal. I do understand your comment about the ending, but I guess I wanted to present all the realities (at least in the eyes of each of the three people) and have the reader make up their mind about what Suman and Ravi would do next. Would they tell each other? Would they tell the father and ease his conscience? Also, was it fate that Suman and Ravi got married to each other? How much do you want to read into the curse?

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