Gently falls the bakula, written by Sudha Murthy, is a story of how a marriage loses it’s way due to critical self interests. It is a reflection of social reality.
In the sleepy town of Hubli, lived the two lovers Srikant and Srimati. They were neighbours and their families had been in a conflict since a long time. Srimati had a profound love for history whereas all what mattered to srikant was constant progress. Though the families didn’t go on well, the two were resolved to love each other for the rest of their lives. There stood a bakula tree in the centre of their veranda whose flowers bloomed and the fragrance of it lasted all year. Srikant was attracted to the bakula flower and Srimati always wore a flower on her hair. That bakula flower on Srimati’s long hair had made him fall for her.
After marriage, Srimati and Srikant moved to Mumbai, then called Bombay. Srimati was offered to study abroad but she simply denied the offer because of her dedication to her husband. She had given up her ambition, the first love of her life, history. Srikant was busy climbing the corporate ladder as fast as possible. He paid little or no attention to his wife and her concerns and would always drive away the idea of going to Hubli whenever she insisted. The pressure and rage inside srimati intensified. They had no kids and Srimati felt lonely. Her mother in law didn’t treat her the way she treated her own daughter.She had been bearing silently everything setting the example of a perfect wife. But for how long? Her talents were going futile. She had a hard working husband, money but what was lacking was affection. She wanted someone to talk to her, to listen to what she has to say and appreciate her for what she had done. Srikant treated her like a secretary, except she wasn’t being paid for it. Attending Srikant’s guests, welcoming them, doing his packing whenever he flew abroad, maintaining his schedule, all this was mocking her right into her face. And then came the time to put an end to this torture. She started picking fights, arguing, answering back at Srikant, flaring her anger, pleading and begging Srikant to take a few days off and stay home. His ignorant attitude towards his own wife had made Srimati take extreme steps. She corresponded with the Professor who had offered her to study abroad. She made all the arrangements and flew away, away from Srikant saying she isn’t sure when she shall return.The title fits the whole story perfectly. The bakula flower symbolises Srikant’s and Srimati’s love for one another. Since the flower wasn’t looked after well, it had fallen gently. Srimati going away came as a total shock to Srikant.
The story is written making use of straightforward language and simple, uncomplicated words. It pulls the emotional cords of our heart thus conveying the message. The beginning is dull where Sudha Murthy describes the school life of the two characters. It makes you put down the novel and pick another one. But if you decide to continue reading it, the events and the rising action makes you sympathize with the central character Srimati. It is an open ended story with no concrete conclusion. The narrative style is engaging and simple. I’d rate the novel 3.5 out of five because although it highlights the social trauma effectively, the plot moves slowly and the exposition drowns you into sleep. If the story had a conclusion of Srikant realizing his mistakes and getting back with Srimati, I would have been happier. It makes you doleful and emotional. If that’s what the author had intended to do, then I would say, great job!
Sun rays gently tap the serene sky as dawn descends. I haven’t slept for one minute the previous night yet I’m brimming with vigour. I think and over think the things I have done, the people I have hurt, unintentionally, or perhaps with bold intentions. I play the events of my life, from childhood to youth, in my mind, over and over again. I want another chance. For everything that I have done is wrong. Nothing feels right, nothing is right either.
I knew what I did was wrong but I did it out of habit. Out of necessity, maybe? Will all those pierced souls forgive me? Not in this world. I have hurt my enemies, my friends, my parents, my peers. Not one person connected to me have been left unhurt. And all along I have hurt myself.
I want to repent for what I have done. Asking for forgiveness is a characteristic of the weak. I am not weak. I have the courage to trample a lion. This is how I am. This is how I have lived. This is me. I ask myself, is there any reason why I should continue when all the humble gentlemen out there wants to vanish me, not giving me another chance to mend my mistakes? Those men with masked gentleness. At least that’s where my plus point lies. I don’t fake around. Playing the role of someone who I’m not. I’m bad. I show it and people know it. No denying it. No backstabbing.
I cry. Fresh tears run down my tear stained face. What do I do? Where do I go? Why am I doing this? I don’t want to face the world. I want to change. If I try to be nice, those nice people will believe this is my another plot to a greater ploy. I’m tired of this lifestyle. I go to the restaurant, to the club, to the garden, to the movies, to the pub, I see a group of people sticking together. There’s this group and that group with none giving me much of a glance.
My brother’s death has given me a blow I have never had before. It has changed me ever since. I was never this evil minded depressed person. A car had hit him and disappeared in the woolly weather. Spectacles gathered around the frozen body that had been lying there for 10 minutes. They oohed and aahed but no decent man considered it wise to call the police or an ambulence. Moreover nobody had seen the car come and to ask if they have noted down the car’s number would be a funny thing to say. If only they would have done something……
A life walked away in silence.
I hate everything and everyone. This being the reason why. I want to have my part of revenge. I want to teach this ugly world a lesson yet I want to show them what humanity really is. I want to take all their lives yet I want to be a better person. But who cares?
I’m toying with my sleeping pills. An overdose would kill me. Yes, I’m aware of that. To hell with it! I will consume all of them. I don’t wanna live in this mysterious world. Let my demise bring smiles on faces. Let darkness creep over with this rising sun. Let death rejoice over its victory.
(Note: this is a work of fiction. Theme and plot adheres to the writers imagination.)
So many years have passed; almost seven. Seven years and I’m still counting. Isn’t it the best thing I can do? To count.
I can sense her presence around me but my senses betray me all the time. I’m sure she still think about me and she is with me but will she be with me after this? I do not know and I do not intend to know either. I clearly remember her promising me the future, assuring me she will be with me till the end. What if tomorrow is my end? Will she know about my death? And if she does, will she know the cause of it? I’m being paranoid or maybe I’m over reacting. These thoughts keep prying my mind, frightening my lonely fragile heart that I have surrendered to her as long as I remember.
The first time I saw her was in my school playground with pigtails wagging on her head. To be honest, she never looked attractive in those. Who did, anyway? The time when I had fallen for her when we were incidentally at the same party. The moment I laid my eyes on her was the moment she became my reason to live. That red piece of cloth just above her knees and her brown hair which were in pigtails were now let loose. How could I forget? She looked stunning. I lured her into my friendship and then into my love.
Two thousand five hundred and forty one days have passed. I’m sitting on this unfortunate bench in this peaceful park where the strings attached between two souls were broken. She walked away from me and never turned back. Birds hummed along with the trees and the wind caressed my hair as if trying to show me it’s support.
I had promised her I would be waiting for her however long she took. I did. I visited this place every weekend the way we used to when she was mine. She still is, I hope. I knew it was my mistake but how could someone humane like her take so long to forgive me? Wasn’t I her best asset? I ‘ve tried to contact her ever since, never losing hope for once, but it was to no avail. If she was so stubborn in holding on to her ignorance, then so was I. I had become a recluse keeping myself away from the rest of the world always wishing for a day when she will realize my importance and come back running to me.
Today is not an unusual day yet I feel gauche, something is stirring inside me. The silence looks like the one that before a storm. I see a chubby boy around the age of three playing at a farway distance engaged in his little ball without a care of what’s happening around. He reminds me of someone. Seeing him makes me feel of my own children. It makes me feel happy. He kicks his ball and it lands on my bench. I pick it up and examine it. He comes to me asking me to return his toy. I hand it over to him inquiring, “what’s your name child?” He snatches the ball from me and runs away muttering something in shallow breaths. From what I depicher, it sounds, “Mama said don’t talk to strangers..” He goes to a woman and holds her tightly in an embrace. The lady turns around. I stare in disbelief! The same brown hair. The same arcadian eyes. The same rosy complexion. The same garden. But with a different man. I saw her. She saw me. Our eyes met. Her eyes didn’t reveal the slightest hint of recognition. How could she? Was I so changed after she left? The answers lie within herself. Gathering my thoughts I stood and walked away. The child was right,
“I am a stranger in a strange land.”