The first thought on waking up was the call of last night, and she felt a surge of fear for just a second. Though she avoided falling into a trap with that Vishweshwaran and Manikkam, she knew from the stories she had heard that things could become unbearable if they set their hearts to it. Her friend Shobana told her of struggling dancers either toeing their line, or vanishing into oblivion. Those who resisted had powerful support themselves, with money to back them up. Bhavani regretted the day she decided to become a dancer, giving everything else up.
She freshened up and went for her early morning walk. She kept her cell phone with her, a habit she started since Sneha was two years old.
She jogged through the nearby park, taking in the fresh air and enjoying watching the dawn break through the sky. She felt this one scene was enough to kindle her creativity. She sat for a few minutes after her jog and stretches in a nook that she found screened her from prying eyes. She called her sister Lalitha who lived in Bangalore. She would be sleeping, but this was the best time for Bhavani to make a relaxed call. Bhavani missed her sister terribly. They were very close and living in different cities did nothing to diminish this closeness. But being available within walking distance would have been nice. She had literally fought with Prabhu, her brother-in-law, on their moving to Bangalore. He had simply patted her on her head and told her she could move in with them.
She loved Prabhu like a brother. Lalitha and Prabhu had been childhood friends who had just naturally become husband and wife without much fuss. This, added to the fact that success and life in general had not changed him one bit, made him dearer to Bhavani. She was as comfortable with him as with Lalli. And, calling Lalli at this hour ensured he would also be around.
As she expected, Prabhu picked up the call and wished her a good morning. “So what are you going to gossip with your sister about so early in the morning?” he asked.
Bhavani giggled. “About you. Happy? Now give the phone to her so I can be sure you are not ill-treating her.”
He made a sound that indicated indignation. “And what about my being tortured?”
“You deserve every bit of it for taking her away. As if you can’t work in Chennai!”
He groaned. “Not that again!” and he promptly gave the phone to Lalitha, who sounded very sleepy.
“Couldn’t sleep the whole night. Madhav was coughing,” she explained. Madhav was her three-year old son.
“As if otherwise you are up by now,” Bhavani joked.
“So you called to rub it in – that you are up early and I am not? As if I don’t remember the days you had to be rolled out of the bed to open even a wink,” Lalitha bickered.
Bhavani felt light after such bickering, but she didn’t have all day. She said, “Okay, if you are sufficiently awake now, I called because I am disturbed about this call I got last night… That man Vishweshwaran called. You know, Manikkam and he…?”
“Oh my god! Are you okay? What did he say? Again, indecent proposal?” Lalitha whispered furiously, completely awake now.
Bhavani affirmed. “But that doesn’t bother me as much as what I thought this man was implying… Agree or else…”
“Listen, don’t remain there. Shift to Bangalore, and I am sure you can make a career here,” Lalitha repeated her offer.
“And live off you guys. As it is, it is bad enough that Prabhu and you keep sending us money…” Bhavani said irritated.
“What is wrong with that! I am as much their daughter as you are! And Prabhu earns well. So he can do his bit without much song and dance,” Lalitha said, equally irritated. “But, coming back to the issue, you sure you don’t want to give in?” Only Lalitha could have asked Bhavani this question and not expected an explosion.
She giggled as Bhavani said, “That boar! What a bore! Anybody younger and handsome…” and the two melted into laughter.
“But, what do you intend doing?”
“Some politics, for a change. What little I can manage. I really wish I knew how to play it properly,” Bhavani said regretfully.
“I know. Probably you would have got the better end of the stick if…”
Bhavani made an impatient sound. Not that, always. “Anyway, let me get back home before parents worry. Don’t let them know of this…”
Though no solution had emerged - Bhavani had not expected anything – sharing itself made her feel better. She was now ready to face the day.