Continued from "The Questionnaire ... "
The next day was a good Sunday for Kannan and his friends. Kannan finished his morning routine by 7.40 a.m. He was reading the newspaper when he heard the chime of the calling bell. It was Balu who rang the bell.
'Hello, Good morning Balu! Please come to my room.' Kannan invited Balu with those words and showed him to his room.
'So early you have come! Fine! Do you like to have a cup of coffee with me, Balu?'
'We can go to the Bus Stand. We can have everything as we go to the Lake with our friends. They will be waiting for us in the Bus Stand.'
'Then all right! Please wait for me a minute. I shall change my dress and come.'
'O, yes, I shall be in the street waiting for you,' said Balu and started moving from the room.
First, they both walked to the Bus Stand near by. The town was still slumbering. There was not much rush in the Bus Stand too. The friends of Kannan were not seen there. They waited for their friends' arrival near a petty shop. There arrived two Buses and stopped.
At 8.30 a.m. Gopal came there and joined them. At 8.50 a.m. both Vaithianathan and Selvam reached them carrying a bag containing all the required things for the lunch they were all going to have at the Lake. Vaithianathan immediately gave that bag to Gopal and entered the Bus Stand compound. He went round the compound and returned back to them.
'I could not find any Bus going to our destination,' said Vaithianathan to them. He looked here and there. Each one started reading the sign board of every bus standing there. At last a Bus came slowly and stopped before where they stood. The sign board indicated that the Bus was going to some other destination via the Lake. Vaithianathan approached the conductor of that bus and got clarified.
'Yes, friends, we all can get into this bus, which is going to the Lake in a round about way. Anyway it is going to start in a minute. Let me purchase the tickets for all of us. Please get in and sit near the bus driver.'
All the friends got into the bus and sat near the bus driver's seat as per the words of Vaithianathan, who talked with good experience in that line. Then the bus started, got moving away from the Bus Stand and picked up speed no sooner had it crossed the town limit. The bus turned to the left and passed on the Main Road without minding for anyone. It did not stop before the cinema theaters, newly grown up colonies, Saw Mills and Agricultural fields. Then it stopped by the side of a petty shop near a small Temple.
A heavy rush of people entered into the bus and filled all the seats and the space for standing passengers too! Most of the people were fisher men and peasants. Then the Conductor rang the bell for the driver, who changed the gear and the bus galloped with full speed. Everyone jerked to the front, caught hold of whatever clamps and frames of the bus and held themselves in grip! The Conductor tore off the tickets from the book, gave a ticket to each one, collected coins from everyone and poured the notes and coins in his leather bag!
The smell of the fish, the coconut oil and the tobacco leaves filled the whole atmosphere of the bus. When the bus stopped in a small Commune after a 15 minute journey, a quarter loads of people dropped out from it, the other three fourth loads of the passengers adjusted themselves and sat with relief. Another twenty minutes passed in the journey. Then at the end of the Lake stream the bus slowed its speed in order to negotiate a sharp curve towards an old narrow bridge. When the bus stopped almost near the bridge, all the friends got down one by one and started walking on a road going along with the Lake stream.
From the end point to the source of the Lake the tar road was well laid along with the meandering course of the stream. One side of the road the stream was going and on the other side curious branches of the trees were seen gracefully dancing to the tune of the breeze. Hardly the friends could have walked a hundred feet where they came across a petty tea stall.
Immediately Selvam who was carrying the lunch bag in his hand gave it to Vaithianathan and entered the tea stall. He saw what things were displayed there in a small show case and came out of the stall.
He said, 'Come on, friends! All the items of break fast are available here. We can have a good break fast now. I am terribly hungry. Don't you feel so?'
'I had my break fast at 7.30 a.m. itself, Selvam,' said Kannan.
'I too had my break fast,' said Balu.
Vaithianathan and Gopal did not say anything. But they simply entered the stall and sat on the bench. Kannan and Balu also went into to see what the things were available there.
Calling all to sit near him Selvam called for the waiter. The boy approached him and stood ready to bring what he wanted. Selvam said, 'Please bring us boiled cakes, bread and butter and tea afterwards.'
Soon the boy brought them the items they needed. Kannan had one piece of boiled cake and tea. Balu followed suit. Vaithianathan and Gopal ate all the items supplied to them. Selvam ate slowly and steadily till he was satisfied and washed his hands on the wash basin. Vaithianathan consulted Selvam for a while and paid for the bill to the stall owner. Then they all started their jolly walk to the source of the Lake area on the same road.
The stream was occupied by ducks swimming in the graceful styles they could. The beautiful birds sang to the best of the tune in the language they only knew! The King trees, the coconut tress, the palm trees, the tamarind trees and the neem trees stood in a grand manner along the road. Here and there the Kingfisher birds were seen settling on the trees after a sumptuous fish hunt in the lake. A group of eagles was circling over the lake and a few of them flew converging on the surface of the water in a wonderful manner, dipped their beaks in the water and took off with a few fishes to the top of the air at a top speed! It seemed the natural splendor was at its best that day all over the lake!
Selvam ran rather than walked by following a step pattern in accordance with the tune of a folk song, which he sang to the top of his voice so as to plunge other friends in a most mirthful mood which the Almighty too would have enjoyed if He too were present along with the other friends of Kannan! In that joyful mood, they reached the area near the source of the lake. The Sun was slowly going to the Zenith. They left the road and reached a water tank attached to a passage directly to the lake below the main road. From the tank the water was seeping through a grove line, which supplied water to the agricultural fields in that area.
They came across a few huts and houses. There after they entered a garden of mango trees. The mud floor of the garden was covered with mango leaves. A kind old woman sweeped with a broom-stick a small portion of that place, where the shade was much and breeze was cool. Selvam requested the woman to bring water for them in a small pot.
In the meantime, they put a mat on the ground and arranged all the items of the lunch on one side. There were packets of playing cards, four bottles of beer, two packets of sliced bread, one quarter bottle of whisky and soda, five packets of chicken frays, five packets of banana chips and two packets of Wills Navy Cut cigarette. Then each one sat in a position he preferred on the mat. After a few minutes the old woman brought a pot full of water and three glasses, which Selvam and Gopal received and placed by the side of the mat on the ground.
Vaithianathan opened the lid of the first beer bottle. He filled up the glasses with Eagle beer. He offered the first glass to Balu, the second one to Kannan and the third one to Gopal. He took up the bottle itself with him. When he opened up another beer bottle, Selvam opened one Whisky bottle and a beer bottle. The captain of the crew, Vaithianathan held his bottle a little above the air, touched it to the glasses of Balu, Kannan, Gopal and the Whisky bottle of Selvam one after the other one by one. 'Cheers,' the unified voices of all the friends rented up the air there.
Another round of glasses of beer was also served in the same manner. The dishes, bread and other items were swallowed up by everyone within an hour! Selvam was still going on with his combination of Whisky and beer in his mouth rather than in a glass and was conducting himself to the best he could! The remaining items untouched were the cigarettes and the cards. When Vaithianathan mixed up the two packs of cards, Kannan picked out one cigarette from one pack and lit it. Then the cigarette pack changed from one hand to another hand till it fell on the mat.
Gopal lit his cigarette and the cigarettes of Balu, Selvam and Vaithianathan. With the cigarette between his lips, Vaithianathan put thirteen cards to each one. They played the game of Rummy for sometime and threw the cards in the bag. The drowsiness of the mind had changed to a hilarious state. They were quite enthusiastic to talk as freely as they could about anything and everything. Gopal broke the ice at last.
'Okay folks, let us talk now,' said Gopal. 'I find Selvam is very much advanced. Why can't he talk first and describe in detail about his recent past? I heard that he had visited a church near by his house and made a sort of confession to a priest there.'
'Is it so?' said Kannan with a great surprise. 'Well Selvam, don't you think that we are all your dear friends? Only those who do not believe in friends, seek the aid of a priest. Though born as a Hindu, Selvam seeks the help of a Christian priest means it is something quite strange! I feel very much ashamed of calling myself a friend to you, man. What's all this?'
'If I go to a church will I become a Christian?' replied Selvam with a question. 'I used to go to the church now and then with my neighbors. I was depressed for sometime about my future. I know the priest well. I just asked him to give his advice regarding my future. He advised me to take responsibility of looking after all the members of my family by doing the works being carried out by my father. He is a cloth businessman. After my Court activities, I am going to do business also in the evening. That is all, Kannan.'
'There you are!' said Kannan. 'Please keep it up. You have not gone away from the track you are supposed to be. Okay, what else to talk about now?'
'Let us talk about our personal developments,' said Balu 'I think, Selvam can give his opinion regarding each one of us.'
'This is the appropriate one,' said Selvam. 'We have to talk about this now.' With a thoughtful mood he looked at the mat, the mango trees and the Sky. Then he turned to Balu and said, 'Among the friends of this circle, I can say that Balu is a model to be followed by others. Before he finished his degree, he finished his LDC Exam, type-writing and short-hand exams. He got a transfer to Delhi. Now he is trying for the IAS Exam. These are all showing the stages of his development.
He has worked hard to come to this level. Passing the IAS Exam is not an easy joke for us. But he is trying for IAS Exam means he has the real capacity with him. He has to get married as his father feels now and settle himself in life. Whether he finishes the IAS Exam or not, he should not postpone his marriage affair.
As far as Kannan is concerned I don't know why he is hesitating to get married. He is a born businessman. Indeed he knows the art of writing as he knows how to inspire and encourage us in his writings. If he gets married he will become a respectable person in the society. This he should not forget and take the necessary action at the earliest.
I have to say that Gopal is wasting his time and energy. Instead of taking up a job and earning money for his family, he has borrowed money and passed the Law exam. He has to work hard to support his family. Most of the time I have observed that he is roaming about the place with so many unwanted fellows; and chit chatting with them anywhere in Pudhu Town. He has to stop all these activities and mind his family business.
As far as Vaithianathan is concerned, I have to say that he has to mind his words. He has to do what he promises us to do. He also never bothers about his family members. Being the eldest son of the family, he has to set right all the disorders there. I think he will become all right if he gets married soon.'
'Now,' said Balu after listening to Selvam's views, 'I think Kannan can give his points of view on the friends of this circle basing his observations about us.'
With a thoughtful eye on Selvam, Kannan expressed his points of observation regarding them. He said, 'Before I give my observations regarding the friends of this group, I have two things to refute in the observation of Selvam. I cannot accept the view that only Balu has the capacity to try for the IAS Exam. I can say that even Selvam can get through the IAS Exam successfully, provided he systematically follows a procedure and sincerely studies the subjects before hand. The difference is you all don't have the interest he has because you don't like to have a high aim and strive for it. The reason is you are quite bovine and bohemian in nature.
My second refutation is that Selvam should not have said that Gopal had wasted his time by taking up a course of study on Law. Law should be known by all. Especially, if Gopal knows Law, he can pretty well defend his own family property; can have honor in his illiterate family, if not today, some day he will shine in this profession because of his reasoning ability. Not only that, it is not his fault that he has to support all the brothers and sisters of his family. Each one of his family has to do some work to reduce the burden of the family and for that he will be in a better position now to suggest to them what they have to do basing his legal knowledge. Otherwise, the poor family could have been going on a wrong track. Now such a thing cannot happen.'
He paused for a moment to collect points to the surface of his mind from different levels of his consciousness. They all were very keen to listen to his words. In a well calculated measure, he proceeded, 'I feel, if certain habits and behaviors are curtailed and particular qualities of the personality are kept up with patience, the characters of the friends of this circle will become a commendable one.
First, take the case of Balu. As far as I have noticed, he appears to be mechanical and militant while he is tackling a problem whether it is a discussion with us or a study of his subjects. He is aspiring for a high office. So, his approach should be gentle and he should become a gentleman himself. Then I say he will achieve a better result than he usually achieves. My observation may be wrong. Think about it, curtail unwanted things and stick to the good and useful ones.
Next, let me take the case of Vaithianathan. As per his statement, he is an inspector in the tax office! For him facts should be very important. He should also talk facts not promise without any implementation at all. The prominent trait in him is his humor. He should use this quality at his best with his seniors and colleagues to get hold of the first hand knowledge of his profession and correct the usual mistakes of the business people and entrepreneurs and reform them by reforming himself first. It seems, he forgets about us no sooner he leaves us. He should communicate with us through letters so that he can understand us still better and make us understand him better too! That way he can really go a long way with us. His humor is the only weapon by which he can manage himself in any occasion in life.
Then we have Gopal with us. He is a separate character by himself. He knows how to put forth and explain many matters. That nature in him has persuaded him to take up this legal profession. He has the profound knowledge of men. He can judge any issue in a simple way because of his sincere and simple approach to any problem. If he masters the minutes of his profession, he will surely become a class legal practitioner in the Court. He has to maintain his sincerity and simplicity to the last. I have the confidence that he will come up in life.
Finally, we have Selvam, who is noted for his mischievous and funny activities. He should curtail this sort of activities and be serious in his profession. It is not sufficient that he has a legal degree with him. He has to become a professional. He should become serious while he is doing his work. Though a little bit difficult, if he takes a slight effort he can overcome his childish habits and can put others in wonder by his work later on.'
Immediately Vaithianathan spontaneously expressed what he felt. He said, 'You have joined the penmanship, Kannan. You go ahead with your writing profession. Our best wishes are always there for all of your efforts.'
'Thank you very much,' said Kannan. 'First, let me have your answers for the questionnaire which will help me to go ahead a long way in writing about our own circle which is the beginning of my effort of efforts in this line. I am going to do a better thing than I have proposed to do with this question which will become a pleasant surprise to all of you except Balu who knows what my plan of action is. And I request Balu not to reveal it to anyone of you till my material gets into the print. So, I think we can proceed with other matters.'
'Why can't you reveal the suspense, Balu?' enquired Gopal. 'I think Kannan has discussed about the Halo history with you. Can't you tell that to me giving a hint so that I can guess what it is?'
'It is about the form of writing of our Halo history,' replied Balu to Gopal. 'That is the hint, I can give. Rest you will understand it when the issue comes out of the print. As it is suspense, I don't want to say much now. It is quite interesting to me too. So, I am going to write answers for the questionnaire and send it to him no sooner I reach Delhi.'
He gave a pause to his talk and with a thoughtful mood he continued his talk with Kannan. 'I don't understand what makes you to say that I am quite militant and mechanical, Kannan. Can you give your explanation for this diagnosis about me?'
'O, sure!' said Kannan. 'While analyzing why you are militant and mechanical, I have got the inference that you are in a hurry always. To put it plain, I can say you are a hasty person. Why are you so? You want to achieve your objective with in a time limit whether you are in tension or free. So, out of anxiety you become quite mechanical and militant to complete your task successfully mostly under the grip of hastiness. No doubt, you achieve success in your venture. But that success is just a success and not a total one or a satisfactory one.
If you were lukewarm rather than cold or hot in your approach to the problem you would have been mentally relaxed and casually systematic in your preparations. For example, here I can quote one matter. I would like to quote your essays as an example. Generally in your essays you begin well, get along with your middle, but before it completes properly, you bring an end to it. Indeed, the essay is a good one. But it is not a complete piece. Please refer your essays; you will exactly understand what I mean. Please remember this and avoid such a thing while you are writing your IAS Exam. I leave other personal matters of yours to your own scrutiny.'
'My goodness!' exclaimed Balu, 'Your analysis is thousand times worth listening to. It is mainly due to you my sojourn bas become a very profitable one. It is a worthy day I have spent with you here. I shall remember your analysis and follow your suggestions.'
'Thank God!' said Kannan. 'I wish you all success for your sincere efforts.'
'Well,' said Gopal to Kannan, 'Your supportive reasons about my efforts are encouraging me much. I am not keeping myself silent regarding my family. I am trying my level best to set right our problems. I shall be brisk in my efforts here afterwards.'
'Now,' began Selvam his words, 'I have to give my resolutions also to complete the circuit. I understand my childishness. I shall work hard to become a real lawyer. But, Kannan, whatever be your explanations, you must get married; then only you can have relaxation and life will be fine to you.'
Everyone unanimously suggested to Kannan that if he got married the earlier it would look very fine of him. For that Kannan said, 'I am not a saint. I am also a human being like everyone. When the time comes for it, I shall talk about my marriage with everyone of you. There is no doubt about it. Please don't worry about that.'
The evening came and they packed their materials in the bag. They thanked the old woman who was looking after the garden and left for the main road. The lake was cool. The worn out boats were on one side. It looked that there was no one to set them right. The friends of Kannan stood near a bus stop for sometime. A town going bus came there and stopped before them. They got into it and left for the town.
Next day Balu took leave of the friends and left for Madras to catch the Grand Trunk Express bound for New Delhi. Finally as per the advice of Balu, all the friends agreed to meet as in the past on every Saturday evening in the park. The proceeds of the following meets indeed served as a grand epilogue to their get together once and for all!
Without fail the week end also came. A letter from Balu was waiting for Kannan in the evening. The sooner Balu reached Delhi, he wrote a beautiful response for the questionnaire. The letter mainly contained his answers which were quite interesting for Kannan to read again and again. Balu's answers confirmed the answers of Kannan and Copal for the questionnaire. It revealed the fact that it was literature that united both Balu and Kannan as friends. The word Haloen was coined by Balu. To overcome family worries and to get encouragement Balu sought the friendship of the Halons. He had also supported originality and friendship as the motto for the Halo. The discovery of his talent and his development to the stage then were possible mainly due to his discussions with all the Haloens in person and his analysis of various subjects with Kannan in letter correspondences.
Kannan met Vaithianathan, Selvam and Gopal that evening in the park. They got together every week end and discussed many vital matters as in the past for about two months. Vaithianathan did not fail to turn up for almost all of the meets though Gopal and Selvam could not do in three or four occasions. It was possible by Vaithianathan mainly because he was transferred to the Pudhu Town division from Cuddalore tax office. He maintained their capabilities to the best they could. Though the beginning of the end of the meets had started in the first meet itself the meets of the two months were quite interesting and incredible too!
It was impossible for Vaithianathan to place his pen on the paper and make his stagnant mind flow like a running brook. He asked Kannan how it was possible for him to write fine matters after a day's tedious work in the factory. Selvam too agreed that it was not easily possible for him to express thoughtful matters on the paper, which put him under frustration and that he could not entertain the idea of writing beautiful matters to get pleasure even though he strived for it many days till he broke down in his efforts. Gopal also supplemented their views that he could write something on the paper only when he had substance and interest. But Kannan simply explained them that if they followed a good routine they could overcome any difficulty.
For example he took his own case and revealed to them the fact that he sought the aid of writing mainly to put down on the paper what depressed his mind and thereby transferred his heavy weight from his head to the paper. The heavy weight was the problem to be solved, which he discussed from different angles and tried to solve on the paper and such solutions generally gave birth to an essay or a poem. But he attempted on that venture regularly after his works each day till he totally released himself of his mental pain. So, the routine he casually followed was the secret of his success. In conclusion in the first meet, they arrived at the point that the knowledge gained from experience served as a great catalyst to anyone to express easily the experiences one had in words whether in discussion or in writings.
In the second week end meet under the insistence of Selvam due to the absence of Gopal, Kannan agreed along with Vaithianathan to talk on The Art of Conversation though the topic had already been dealt with by them in the formative period of the Halo.
From the talk of Selvam, it was inferred that it was due to the tongue many problems had sprung up and man had to coup with many difficulties in the world. He said that people had to learn a lot of lessons from the fables of Aesop.
In a suggestive way Vaithianathan gave a hint of a small portion of a story from Panjatantra; 'Python hisses, never utters a word, but swallows everything without a word. That is the way the world is going on nowadays here too.'
Then Kannan gave his view on the topic that to understand the world, to understand men and matters, the art of conversation ought to be learnt by everyone. Through conversation many useful information were disseminated to the world. Through communication problems were settled and peaceful coexistence was established for the common good of all.
In that context, he quoted two personalities ' Jack Brown and Parker, whom he had the opportunity to meet when he was working for The Treasure magazine. Those two men, he said, were best at conversation. They know how to inspire, encourage and create interest in the minds of the listeners and make them participate in their discussions on various matters both connected with their business and life in the modern society. The reason he found out for such an achievement was that both of them were ardent readers of best novels, listeners of radio programs and fans of best Pop singers like Jim Reeves and Tom Jones. Finally, Kannan concluded his talk saying that conversation was meant for leading a lovely life and not leading a life on barren grounds.
In the third meet, Selvam did not turn up till the last minute. Vaithianathan came only in the middle. Gopal and Kannan waited for the other friends for sometime. Instead of them another friend of Gopal, Balan by name met them there in the park by a fluke chance and joined them in their conversation on 'Malpractices and Corruption in the Public Sector.'
They were all totally dissatisfied by the officials who managed the public administration activities. They all agreed to the point that the then officials were for too much money and power. The officials noted for their procrastination, though they got the salary sufficient for their work, did nothing in the office and if at all they took any effort to push a file from one table to another or to sign an attestation of a true copy for any certificate they expected their paws to be greased with 'something'. By such deeds they not only put the values of morality under their foot for temporary material values but also they simply handled the lives of their citizens as they did with the scribbled papers which were meant to be crushed and thrown into the dust bin!
In that meet Vaithianathan contributed nothing but simply listened to their criticism with nothing to refute or approve of. They all unanimously came to the conclusion that the illiterate politicians, who were responsible for that sorry state of affair in the country, had to be educated by the people who voted them to power to save them rather than to enjoy life in that way at the expense of the voters.
In the fourth meet also Selvam was not present. The other three friends gathered together near the fountain in the park. That time their talk was about the hypocrisy of the people in general.
In that context Kannan said basing Shakespeare's words that the world had become a great stage and men were playing the parts they assumed rather than doing what they were supposed to do in reality. For that Vaithianathan suggested that when everyone was acting rather than living what else they could do other than taking a role in that drama and acting the best they could.
But Gopal attacked the very statement of Vaithianathan and said that any brainless person would say that because others were doing that we too should do that. His contention was that it was in their hands to expose the hypocrisy and correct the mistakes of the society. Vaithianathan immediately put a question to Gopal that how it could be corrected. By correcting, Gopal said, the mistakes of the top level people, that is the ministers the society governed by them could be set right. Then Vaithianathan sought for the view of Kannan, who gave an eloquent talk on that topic and concluded the discussion on that meet.
He said, 'To reform the people, first, we have to find out the answer why the world has become hypocritical. There are honest peoples who wish to live according to noble principles. They are also part and parcel of the society. If they meet with failure, it is the most tragic thing in the world and their mental agony is quite impossible to describe in words. All are having problems. But all the problems are not the same. Why?
Even Rousseau has said that though man is born free, he is in chains everywhere! So, a particular person or a group cannot be blamed for a failure in certain thing because it is not the mistake of the failed that he is chained to persons and circumstances. He or a group is supposed to depend or believe on others in certain critical circumstances or period. If one has to take the blame for no mistake of one's own totally, it is quite horrible to pull on the days in this world.
Then the only inference I can make out basing all the available known facts is that something is wrong somewhere in the system in which we all operate. This is not the whole truth of the sorry state of this hypocritical world. This is only an empirical conclusion. There are so many things such as position, personality, opportunity, psychology, jealousy, inferiority complex, malpractices, corruption, narrow mindedness, etc. in the tool of the system that affect not only one person but all the persons in general. We have to take a vow to curtail our mistakes too. Then only we can lead a real life of our own self by ourselves, if not so long, at least from now on.'
In the fifth meet there was no discussion on any topic. They had a walk round the place. They went to a new restaurant near the secretariat building and had tiffin and coffee. They spent their time in seeing the changing hues of the Sky, waves and motor boats there in the beach. Here and there they met some old friends of the school or the college and chatted with them about the life and activities of other people at random. Indeed, it was a refreshing day for the friends in that evening!
As in the 5th meet, all the friends gathered together at the usual place in the park for the 6th meet also. Vaithianathan was very much interested to go to a movie with the friends. As Gopal was having some official work with his senior lawyer he took leave of them there itself. So, the other three friends only went to the Radha cinema theater to see a movie called BLUE MAX. During the intermission time of the movie, Kannan casually enquired both Vaithianathan and Selvam how far they had completed answering the questionnaire.
In response, Selvam said that he had crossed half way; and when he had completed, Vaithianathan blamed for his poor memory which did not help him much to give a fair answer for the questions! Anyhow he too promised Kannan that he would supply complete answers for the all the questions and send it to him during the course of a month or so. Blue Max was nice for them to see and they left for their respective destinations after the movie ended in a grand manner.
In the next meet Vaithianathan was not seen in the circle of Kannan. Selvam also informed him that he found it difficult to attend the meets because he had to discuss that day's Court case matters on the following morning in his senior lawyer's office. It meant that Selvam wanted to be free from all activities at least once in a week i.e., on Sundays. Kannan could not press him much. Gopal came there after half an hour was over and told them that he was busy with some work in his house and after an hour he had to meet his senior lawyer on an urgent case matter. Kannan readily said that they had to mind their professional matters first and other things afterwards. Then they felt that they could talk on Marriage that evening. It was Kannan who had to start the discussion on that topic.
'Marriage,' expressed he, 'is one of the important functions in any man's life. Each one has to select a bride who will cooperate, support and assist him in all his life ventures. It is a question of perfect match between the minds of the bride and the bridegroom. Even Russell has said that to live a good life one must be inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Therefore, the couple should have knowledge about love, life and a profession helpful for them to lead the life they start afresh after their wedding ceremony is over.'
In that situation Selvam abruptly opened his talk that after the marriage it would not be possible for him to meet the friends as they were doing then.
As a sort of counter measure, Gopal said, 'Selvam talks as if he is regular in participating in all the meets and if he gets married it would not be possible for him to come here as usual. What an excuse!'
For that Kannan too said, 'First, degree was an excuse, then office work was an excuse and now, marriage is going to be a grand excuse! That means he is going to say 'Good Bye!' to our friendship. What a friend you are, man!'
Then Gopal posed some of the problems which are very much debated then. They were 1. Problem of dowry, 2. Intercaste or inter religious marriages and 3. Registered or love marriages.
Selvam simply replied that dowry system in the marriages could not be abolished as the society was traditionally following it and that intercaste marriages and love marriages were not a common thing in the society.
Gopal said that he could not encourage the first part of Selvam's answer whereas he could accept his view for the second and the third problems.
Then Kannan said that people were interested in having changes in the traditional method of conducting marriages and in general the selection of the brides and the marriages were conducted as per the wishes of the individuals.
Selvam refuted him by saying that they could talk of new changes in discussions only and such things would not be possible in practice. Gopal disapproved of that view. In that context Kannan posed a question to Selvam, 'Why do you get married, man ' to live with wealth of the bride or to live with bride for life?'
Selvam said, 'I don't want to be a burden to my parents. So, I want to get married in the traditional way in order to solve the problem of economic expenses I incur to them.'
'That means,' said Kannan, 'instead of taking up responsibility of maintaining yourself on your own accords you want to shift that burden from your parents to the parents of the bride by accepting dowry in the traditional way. If you do so, you can go on happily in your life, you think! Is it so? What is marriage then, man?'
'Our forefathers,' replied Selvam, 'and our own parents have done that and have come up in life. We are also going to do that only. That is why we all get married. Marriage means that only.'
'My goodness!' said Kannan, 'Marriage means not that one. It is a commitment. Whether you accept heavy dowry or less dowry or no dowry you have to live according to the commitment you make by your marriage. That is your another life in your usual life, man.'
There were some more arguments about the dowry matter among themselves as before they did. Due to the shortage of time they somehow finished their discussion on Marriage in that evening and left the place to attend to their other engagements.
In the last evening of the final meet, there was no one in the park except Kannan at the usual time, 6.30 p.m.! He felt he would not achieve anything worthwhile in company with those friends. However, he waited for them in order to decide upon his future course of action.
After an hour or so, he saw Vaithianathan, who joining him said that the parents of Selvam were seeing a bride for him and that Selvam would not attend the meets. He enquired Kannan of the proceeds of the previous meet. Kannan briefly expressed him the outcome of last meet's talk on Marriage. Vaithianathan said that the poor fellow like him could not think of getting married and living a peaceful life without accepting dowry. Kannan came to understand the view of Vaithianathan too on Marriage.
Then he asked him for the response for the Halo questionnaire. Vaithianathan then clearly told his position regarding that matter to him that it was beyond his capacity to do that as he could not recollect anything much or useful about his own activities in connection with the friends in the Halo! Kannan got doubly confirmed that he could not get any worthwhile facts either from Vaithianathan or Selvam.
Therefore, though Vaithianathan was interested to read the history about the friends of the Halo, Kannan declared that writing a history about the Halo friendship would be beyond his capacity but he would produce the details regarding them by surprise one day in the future. Vaithianathan also wished to see such a production of Kannan at the earliest.
Finally, Vaithianathan also told him that it would not be possible for him to meet him there thereafter wards but Kannan could meet him if he wanted in the morning hours of the Sundays in the Venus Cafe. The friends, then, left the place and the evening meets came to an end once and for all!
Continued to "The Surprise : The Halo Dreams"
The Halo Dreams:
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