Mauli Abheek - Book 2 - The Origins
BOOK OF MAULI - MANGALAMBA 05-08-1977
Stella Mary College, was where all the young boys of Vizag, lined up at. The famed, Missionary college was popular for the richie rich students who came to study there. And the best part was, it was an all girls college.It was rumoured that even the poorest student in Stella Mary could turn fortunes of boys around.And most boys, who waited outside, did not just do it, to admire the beautiful girls, but hoped that Lady Luck would fall for one of them.
Srinivas Bommakanti was one of them. Srinivas figured early in life, that hardwork was….well, not for him. Study till your golden years are lost, marry a girl your parents find and slog the rest of your life for your wife first and then kids…..what sort of a one sided, system was this? No, he didn't care for girls. He loathed the female of the species. They always wanted more, judged a man only by the gifts he could offer. They were despicable creatures-women. But, finding the right girl, would mean opening the doors of good fortune. So, he visited Stella Mary everyday and studied all the girls he could.
Mangalamba Pasupati Raju was born with a golden spoon,the only daughter of Krishnam Raju Pasupati Raju, the biggestSteel magnate in all of South India.The heady combination of wealth and beauty gave rise to another potent attraction in young women - arrogance. For what is beauty, without attitude? Mangala, as she was popularly called, was the diva in Stella Mary, the girl to get. She cared for no one, had only a couple of friends, who she moved around with and was the girl, even the lecturers did not want to upset.
And so it was, that, Srinivas Bommakanti crossed paths with Managalamba Pasupati Raju, that fateful day. She was speeding in her car, he was crossing the road looking distractedly at the wealth of beauty passing by him, the two worlds collided, sparks flew and Srinivas vowed, that he would rein in the temper and arrogance of Mangalamba. Opposites attract and when the baiter intends for you to fall for him, opposites attract hard. One thing led to the other and before long, Mangalamba was head over heels in love with Srinivas Raju.
Having accomplished step 1, Srinivas quickly moved to step 2. News travelled to Krishnam Raju Pasupati Raju. The father raged furiously and did all in his power, to protect his daughter from the impending disaster. He put an embargo on her college, ferociously monitored any time she spent outside of the house. Restrictions were placed on who she met and where she went. Even the air Mangalamba would breathe had to be monitored.
Yet, those were the times of rebellion. She cried, refused to eat, vowed to starve herself to death and attempted suicide. It became increasingly difficult for the Sr Raju to keep matters hushed up. Society, relatives, friends asked prying questions. A decisive step needed to be taken. Father and daughter negotiated -if Sr Raju agreed to meet Srinivas, Mangalamba agreed to abide by whatever his decision would be. Such was Mangalamba's confidence in Srinivas.
Srinivas was duely summoned. He borrowed a suite from a laundy shop near his house and some expesive shoes from his friend. He would hold out a bargain for the Sr Raju, which he would be unable to refuse. Both men met in the huge lobby of the Rajus. Just the distance from the Gates to the door step, was large enough to house the entire street, where Srinivas lived. He was stunned at the opulence of the Rajus.
He had heard and read about the magnetic personality of 'the' Krishnam Raju, but was least prepared to meet this mountain of a man, towering at over 6' 2 in height and a heavy built body to match it. Krishnam Raju had a deep booming voice, which would intimidate even the strongest of men. Srinivas was petrified and shocked at the aura Krishnam Raju possessed. His inferiority complex, triggered instant hatred and jealousy for the tall, well built man in front of him. On the exterior though, he pretended to act with great respect and humility.
Krishnam Raju expected to meet a dusty, rowdy, gold digger, but was pleasantly surprised to see Srinivas dressed up for the occasion. He was floored by his decent, down to earth attitude. Srinivas had not made any effort to hide the fact that he came from an underprivileged back ground, nor did he have any qualms about admitting, that he was in no way worthy of Mangala. But he assured Raju that he would do everything in his power, to provide a decent life to her and asked from Krishnam Raju, only for his blessings. He stated that besides that, he did not need anything.
Krishnam Raju was impressed. Depending all his life, on advice by his close confidants, Krishnam Raju was hardly the wordly wide man. He took everything at face value, as he was neither capable nor tolerant of deceit. As a final test of Srinivas' charecter, Krishnam Raju asked Srinivas, if he would be willing to abandon his own family and adopt the Raju's surname and come to live with in laws. Without batting an eyelid, Srinivas committed, "if this is what it takes to make Mangala happy, I will gladly forsake my family." Krishnam Raju was won over by Srinivas's earnestness. And so, Srinivas Bommakanti became Srinivas Raju.
On her wedding night, Managalamba realized the blunder she had committed. Srinivas Raju had no interest in women. He was gay and refused to consummate the marriage. Crest fallen and unable to come to terms with his deception, Mangala tried put up a brave front. Everything had played out exactly as Srinivas had planned. He knew, that Mangala's pride would not allow her to speak to her parents, about his betrayal.
Soon, Srinivas joined Krishnam Raju at work, and slowly gained his trust. As time passed, Rangamma, Mangala's mother, worried about her daughter's marriage. She tried speaking to Mangala, who would violently refuse to discus her 'personal life', as she called it. On the other hand, having gained Krishnam Raju's trust, Srinivas slowly started siphoning off sums of money, for his gambling and racing habits. Every time he went undetected, he got emboldened.
Whilst this continued, Krishnam Raju, collapsed on a trip to UK and returned in a coffin. The company he had signed the deal with, pulled out, as there was no one to lead the group. All the sums of money that Krishnam Raju had borrowed for this huge deal, now mounted as debt. Creditors regularly came home,demanding their money. The situation showed no sign of improving, as Banks too refused to help.
Srinivas was simply not good enough to handle the huge empire, which had now diversified into plastic, fertilizer and consumer goods segments, all too rapidly. Left with no choice, and under pressure from the investors, Mangalamba stepped in and steadied the business. But, although the business got the much needed stability, the group constantly struggled to stay afloat.
At home, Mangala was confronted by the open and brazen attitude of Srinivas. He began bringing young men home and would sit around them, boozing and flirting with them all day. By night, he would take them to his bed room and continue his affairs behind closed doors. Mangala despised Srinivas.
Rangamma, a woman protected throughout her life and not used to facing hardships, could only console her daughter that one day, all would be alright.
As time passed, Srinivas got more and more abusive. At about the same time, Sourav Bhattacharya joined the Pasupati Raju group. He was a brilliant Chartered Accountant, whose sound accounting knowledge, combined with an almost intuitive ability to predict future through numbers, greatly helped Mangala navigate through the maze of the corporate world.But, her personal life prevented her from achieving her full potential.
On one occasion, when she returned home late from work, she found Srinivas waiting for her in the lobby.Although husband and wife, Srinivas and Mangala rarely spoke to each other.They lived their separate lives, albiet in the same house. "What took you so long?" demanded Srinivas. Managala did not even look at him. She went to the sofa and slouched on it,exhausted. Srinivas, frustrated at her reaction to him, went to her and slammed her hard across her face.
Rangamma who was looking on, roared from the landing on top of the stairs. "Srinivasu!!" she screamed as she thundered down the stairs and slapped Srinivas hard. "Inkoka saari naa kuturi meeda cheyyi padinda, champestanu (If you touch my daughter one more time,I will kill you)," she warned him. She then looked at Mangala, her eyes blazing with anger. "To marry this creep, you fought for days with your father. What happened now? Where is that fighter? Don't you have any self respect? Throw him out of the house right now," she raged.
Sensing the tide turn against him, Srinivas pretended to repent. He fell at Rangamma's feet and begged for forgivens. For one last time, he was to be forgiven.
The only time Mangala could forget Srinivas' betrayal was when she was at work. Especially, after Sourav had joined the group, coming to work had become, something of an escape from the reality of her life. Mangala and Sourav worked together day and night, making sure the burden of debt was brought down slowly and steadily. However, the empire was plagued with too many problems, especially in the steel plant.
The steel plant was the mainstay of the Pasupati Group. It was their major income generator, as well as the reason Pasupati stood where it did. But, off late, it was turning into a white elephant. There were problems everywhere, coal, union, production line. And it took Mangala all her wits and intelligence, just to maintain status quo.
As if there were not enough problems, a new challenge confronted Mangala.She got pregnant.Rangamma though, did not care to find out how or why or who. For her, it was enough that there was now hope.
A few months later, on Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi thithi or popularly known as, Maha Shivaratri, Mangala delivered a baby girl. Since she was born at the Lingodbhava kalam,the time when Lord Shiva is said to have unveiled himself as a Linga, she was named "Mauli" the crest, the pinnacle. Thus was born Mauli Pasupati Raju.
As soon as Mangala had conceived, Rangamma barred Srinivas from entering the main house. He was put up in the out house and all access to Mangala was denied to him. Rangamma, now began attending to business matters,so she could stand in for Mangala, when the time came. She employed the tools of tact, quick learning and deft multitasking, all skills she had acquired as a home maker, to stand in for her daughter.
Rangamma's disgust for Srinivas was so potent, that she squeezed him for every penny he took. She refused to pay his bills, denied hm access to bank accounts and literally made his life hell. To Srinivas, the root cause for all his problems was the illegitimate child. He detested the unborn child, secretly wishing, that the child would suffer some ill fate and not come into the world at all. But his wish remained just that-a wish.
When the child was born, he was not even invited to look at it. His hatred multiplied. Srinivas wanted a child of his own, but knew that was not possible. At one of the many Races he went to, he heard of a new development in medicine whereby childless families, who did not want to adopt, could now have children.
It was called by a funny name. They called it "Test Tube Babies". Once he got this information, he pestered Mangala, to visit the US and undergo the procedure for having an Invitro baby. He pleaded with her, emotionally blackmailed her and when all else failed, he threatened to expose the fact that Mauli was not his daughter.
Mangala was caught in a moral dilemma. She did not want to tarnish the reputation of her family further. She had already made a grave mistake by marrying this slimy man. She did not want any further disrepute to her family, because of her mistakes. She agreed reluctantly.
6 years after Mauli was born, Mangala and Srinivas consulted a doctor in Bombay and the IVF treatment began. Few months later, was born Urvashi Pasupati Raju. Srinivas was proud of his achievement. He finally had an aim in life. He would give Urvashi all that he was deprived of. He would spoil her silly.
Mauli was a rude reminder of his failure to give Mangala a child. He absolutely hated Mauli and wanted nothing more than to have her eliminated from his life. All that mattered to him was Urvashi, Urvashi, Urvashi.
As a 6 year old, Mauli always looked to her Nanna (Dad) wishfully. She would want to cuddle up to him, but he would only shout at her. Once, Mauli mustered the courage to hug him. Srinivas tore her away from him and pushed her so hard that, her forehead had to be stitched up.
The only consolation in her life was the little time she got with her mother. Those were the best moments of her childhood. Her mother would hold her close and gently kiss her on the forehead. "You are the light of my life ra kanna," she would tell her. Mangala wanted Mauli to succeed her in taking over the business. In fact, she saw in Mauli, traces of her father. She would make it a point to tell Mauli stories about her grand father, how his presence would scare everybody but how he was a gentle giant.
Mauli understood that her mother missed her father very much. She could understand that feeling, for although her father was still alive, he did not love her. The times her mother was not home were the darkest for her. She was by now scared of her father. Even if she stayed away from him, he would find some excuse to hit her, lock her in the bath room or at least scold her with the choicest of abuses.
Unkown to Mauli, everyday, Mangala and Srinivas had arguments and fights about her. Mangala was appalled every time she was told Srinivas had hit Mauli. She could not understand his hatred for the small child.
Rangamma, was the anchor in Mangala and Mauli's lives. She managed the household, while Mangala was the bread winner. Srinivas was busy splurging all the money in gambling and his male companions. To the outside world all seemed hunky dory, but it was a truly dysfunctional family.
Rangamma was strict with Mauli, as she did not want her to be docile or weak. As it was, Mangala was doing a good job of pampering her beloved daughter. She inculcated and demanded strict discipline from Mauli, although she was just a child. She was keen that Mauli became independent as quickly as possible.
Mauli loved her grandmother, for she always defended Mauli when her father hit her or scolded her. Little Mauli believed, that no one loved her father and she was determined to make him lovable to all. She figured all she needed to do, was win his love over and then everything would be fine. Everything Mauli did was aimed in that direction. But the more she tried, the more Srinivas despised her. Mauli kept away from her father as much as she could. She convinced herself that something was wrong with her and worked extra hard to be exceptional at whatever she did.
By the the time Mauli grew up into a 7 year old, she hardly came out of her room, except when her mother was around. Her encounters with Srinivas became more and more violent. Srinivas left no chance to hit Mauli and it became increasingly difficult for Rangamma to protect Mauli.