There Were Two Shades Of Her… But How Could She Tell The World?

Women don’t come in shades of black and white. Sometimes they come in shades of grey. It’s not a crime- it’s just who you are, and you should own it.

He gently caressed her face setting her body ablaze with his longing eyes. The air was electric with passion. He shifted closer planting a kiss on her luscious lips…

“Preeti! It’s late. Go to sleep!”

“Yes, Bua!”

Preeti didn’t want her aunt to see her reading from a romance site in secret. She was a student of literature at the prestigious ABN college, the same college where Sudeshna Bua taught Sanskrit. Bua was a sprightly woman in her early fifties, a well-respected professor, and extremely popular in her Satsang group. She had never married; she claimed that she had never met the right person. When Preeti’s father got a foreign posting, her parents left her with her aunt, so that she complete her studies without disruption.

Preeti had discovered magicalromance.com by accident and gotten hooked. It featured steamy stories and passionate romances written by an unknown author. The content could rival Mills & Boon’s books with stories that brimmed with poetic dialogues and epic declarations of love. To add to the enigmatic allure of the site, no one knew who the creator was. All they knew was that he went by the name ‘Vishesh Kumar’.

Whoever he was, he certainly knew what women wanted. Vishesh Kumar had a huge fan following in Preeti’s college. One of her friends wanted to marry him. On Instagram, there was even a ‘We love VK’ page. Talking of Insta, Preeti was busy scrolling now.

Bua, have you heard of the blogsite Women-Web? They are organizing a poetry contest with the theme ‘love’. I am going to attempt the challenge!”

Bua nodded absentmindedly.

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***

Three weeks later, Preeti checked the Women-Web page. The winners of the competition had been announced. She hadn’t won, but one name caught her eye.

First-prize winner: Sudeshna Vishwanath, for her poem, ‘On love and loneliness’. 

“Wow Bua, you are a Chuppa Rustom! This is amazing! Congratulations!”

Sudeshna blushed. “I must go to my class now. Talk to you later.”

Preeti was excited for her aunt. She would message all her friends. But first, she would savour her aunt’s masterpiece. She clicked the link and froze.

Lonely were my days until you showered me with your love…. like the first rains, my parched Earth quenched its thirst.

Preeti winced.

Where had she read these words before?

She went to magicalromace.com and looked up a story that she had bookmarked. And there it was…. the very same poem! It was part of the a love story series between a lonely princess and a soldier that was earlier published on the site.

Was her aunt guilty of plagiarism? Her blemish-less, could-do-no-wrong, God-fearing aunt? And how did she even access a site like magicalromance.com?

***

That evening, Preeti found her aunt speaking on the phone. Bua paled and kept vehemently denying something. She disconnected, trembling.

“Bua, what happened?” Preeti demanded.

“It’s the Women-Web team. They are withholding my prize, subject to further investigation. They have received complaints that my poem was written by someone else. They think I cheated.”

She burst into tears.

“I want to show you something.” Preeti clicked open the website. “How is your poem identical to this one?”

Sudeshna wiped her tears. “Preeti, I have to confess something.”

“You copied it in a moment of weakness….”

“What? NO! I would never cheat. This is my poem and my website……I am Vishesh Kumar. My nom-de-plume Vishesh Kumar is derived from my full name, Sudeshna Vishwanath Kumar.”

Preeti gasped.

Her naïve and pure Bua, a sensual writer? It made little sense. 

“It started a year ago. I was tidying up your room. You had left behind your romance collection. I read one book, and then another. A part of me insisted that I could write better than this!”

Preeti sighed. It was a common practice to hide trashy novels from young children. But hiding them to protect an aunt from corruption was a first.

“I tried my hand at writing a romance story. I always loved to write when I was younger. My first story read well; I was pleased with my work. Soon, I wrote many stories, and I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t want to leave them lying around on paper or have them published because of the risk to my reputation. I didn’t show them to a single soul. That’s when it struck me! Why not a digital collection? Some years ago, I attended a course on web-page development. I created a website and uploaded my stories there so that I would have a personal collection. By mistake, I set the view settings to public. When I woke up the next day, I was astounded that my first story had received 4000 likes and over 100 comments.”

“Wow!”

“The validation has been addictive. I couldn’t stop. I have written over hundreds of stories by now. Sadly, when I submitted to Women-Web, I made a mistake by forgetting that I had used a poem in my story already.”

Preeti was processing her Bua’s revelation.

“Bua, who are you?

“I’m still your same aunt. I love doing pooja, teaching at collegeattending satsangs, and talking about culture and tradition. But I also have a side that is romantic and poetic. It is not what is expected of me, But it makes my heart happy.”

Preeti began to understand.

“Everyone around me fits me into boxes. To them, I’m either this or that. I am a teacher, and I am supposed to be a pious soul. God forbid I even touch a romance novel. I am also an aging spinster. If I even mention the word ‘love’, they label me amorous. Why can’t I be both? ”

“Bua, Women don’t come in shades of black and white. Sometimes they come in shades of grey. It’s not a crime- it’s just who you are, and you should own it.”

“If I tell the truth, the news will spread. I may be fired. My clique of friends will ban me. The life I built will be over. If I don’t, I will be labelled a cheater. I don’t know which is worse!” Sudeshna sighed.

Bua, We can fix this. Just give me the password to your website.”

***

The next morning, Sudeshna’s phone rang again. She attended the call and rushed to Preeti.

“Preeti, The Women-Web team called. They are reinstating my prize. How did you do it?”

“Look at your website.”

Sudeshna opened the website. On the front page was an announcement banner.

Dear Readers, 

This confession is for the team at Women-Web. The poem titled ‘ On Love and Loneliness’ in one of my stories is NOT my original creation. It belongs to a former teacher of mine, Ms. Sudeshna. I used it by mistake because it is one of my favourite poems. Many of you have reached out to me and Women-Web, accusing Ms. Sudeshna of plagiarism. I want to clarify that she is the original author, not me. Apologies for all the confusion caused. I will credit Mdm. Sudeshna in my story as well.

Yours,

Vishesh Kumar.

Sudeshna teared up. “This is brilliant! Thank you, Preeti!”

“No problem, Bua! Perhaps, you need to disclose your secret and come out. You are so talented!”

“I am not sure if the world will accept me for the two personas I carry. But I will come clean, someday. When the world is ready, I will be too.”

***

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About the Author

Lalitha Ramanathan

Lalitha is a blogger and a dreamer. Her career is in finance, but writing is her way to unwind! Her little one is the center of her Universe. read more...

54 Posts | 73,806 Views

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