Harini stepped out of the saloon and immediately covered up her face and head to protect it from the blazing sun and was just stepping into her car when there someone called ‘You are Harini aren’t you?’
Harini had always been beautiful; she had been born that way. And whats more she took care about her looks, what she wore, how she looked. The person calling out to her was Keerthana; her classmate from school, a plain Jane and today too she looked plain in a cotton dress.
‘Keerthana, its you, such a long time since we met.’
‘Yes isn’t it? Look at you stunning as ever’, exclaimed Keerthana,’Come let’s have a cup of coffee’.
‘Not now Keerthana have to pick up my son from school’.
‘Ohh…Listen why don’t you drop at my place whenever you are free. I live in that complex over there, B building, flat 455. I am always free in the afternoon’.
Harini looked at the complex which Keerthana was pointing at; it looked posh. ‘Sure will whenever I get time’. She flashed a smile and drove away.
Keerthana stood at the same place for some moments. Memories flashing by. If her observation was right Harini had not changed. The same love for external appearances, the same materialistic attitude. But still she was a clean hearted soul, no shrewdness, no bitchiness, she spoke what she felt. Ahh it would be fun meeting up with her and reliving the memories.
Two days later the doorbell rang in the afternoon and Keerthana ran to open the door, It was Harini. ‘HeyYY welcome’.
‘I am sorry to come unannounced but I had forgotten to take your phone number.
That is perfectly fine, come on in.’
Harini stepped into a room in disarray and a woman obviously a maid sitting in the corner, writing.
‘Thats my maid Gulabi she is preparing for her BA exam, Iw as tutoring her and hence the chaos in this room,’ Keerthana exclaimed.
Tutoring? Harini sighed. Let the maid do her job and then tutor her thought she but did not say anything. Keerthana made tea(gave one cup to Gulabi) and they sat reminiscing their childhood.
‘Oh my,’ exclaimed Keerthana it’s already five, sorry Harini I have to pick up my kids from the dance academy.’
‘I can drop you if you want,’ said Harini.
‘Will you? Thanks a ton, I will get ready then. Meanwhile, have a look at my home.’
Harini went through the rooms. The apartment was nice, very airy and open. Very less furniture except the children’s room. It was big with wardrobes lining a wall, study tables, bunk bed, art corner.
‘Your kids room is huge’, she remarked to Keerthana.
‘Yes need so, I have four of them you see.’
‘Four kids!!’, Hariini was shocked, that’s why Keerthana looked so disheveled.
‘Yes Four. Listen, why don’t you guys come for dinner on Saturday. It will be good if our families would get to know about each other and we could chat some more.’
Harini agreed and so a date was set.
Saturday evening arrived, Harini came with her husband DInesh and son Kartik and Keerthana introduced her husband Anand Kishore and her children Ravi, Aditi, Shravani and Tanu. The house was sparsely furnished but Harini noticed how cosy it was and the kids were so well-behaved unlike her brat. And the food was awesome. ‘Don’t tell me you prepared this lavish spread all by yourself’. ‘Yes I did, the kids and Anand help me of course.’
It was while they were clearing the table that Harini took Keerthana aside and said,’ Forgive me if I ma intruding Keerthana but why you took such a step’.
‘Huh’, said Keerthana not quite understanding what she meant.
‘I mean your family is so illustrious, your grandfather an Industrialist, your father a District Magistrate and you eloped with….. with such a simple man. Yes he bought you a good flat but obviously cannot furnish it properly and whats more made you go through 4 pregnancies. Huh. Why,Keerthana, why did you not think before eloping with this man. Look at your fate now, look at your house, your clothes, you are just 38 but see how your skin sags with all this work. You can’t even afford a maid and….’ She would have continued for some time but Dinesh called her and she had to be at his side.
‘Lets go Harini, Dad is not well and its better we do not delay, he may need something’.
‘Hey you should have brought him along’, exclaimed Anand
‘He would have been bored’, replied Harini and they left.
‘Thanks a ton, Harini’, Said Dinesh while on their way home.
‘Why?’ said Harini.
‘YOU do not know?’ , Said DInesh.
‘This Anand Kishore is THE Mr. Kishore’.
‘Which one’, said Harini she was not able to follow what DInesh was talking.
Venture capitalist Anand Kishore whom I was trying to meet for so many weeks now for my business idea. Thanks to you I could meet him nd we have fixed a business appointment for next week.’
‘Venture capitalist..’ Harini’s head reeled. And what had I assumed and what I had sermonised.
‘What happened?’, asked Dinesh and looking at her face, took the car on a side and parked. When Harini explained, he screamed, ‘You fool, you always judge people by their looks, now gone is my chance of making some progress in life.’ and so on he continued.
Some days later Harini’s father in law wanted to meet his friend. As he was still very frail, she offered him to drive him to the old age home where his friend lived. While the two friends chatted she idled at the garden of the Home when she noticed Keethana and her family. She hid herself and peeped. ‘Any problem Madam,’ an attendant asked her finding her behaviour suspicious. ‘They… they what are they doing here’, she said pointing at the Kishores.
‘Oh they. They are the Kishores they do a lot of voluntary service here and at our orphanage. Both physical service as well as financially. You know once our orphanage was about to close down, the Kishores stepped in with money whats more adopted two kids too. They come here every Saturday to help us with our work..’ and so on he continued narrating the deeds of the Kishore.
On their return, Harini was silent, tears in her eyes remonstrating herself for her haste in judging others by their looks and chastising herself for her selfishness. For all in her 38 years she had never done anything for anybody.