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THE MADRAS AFFAIR
BY SUNDARI VENKATRAMAN
Sangita Sinclair was not always this successful & passionate lady heading the NGO “Penn Urimai” for downtrodden, abused and homeless women….
When Sangita catches the eye of Gautam Sinclair she is a simple, homely girl; utterly unaware of her charms & capabilities. She has the devil’s own time in overcoming her inhibitions, hesitation, and her family’s orthodox and outdated rules before recognising her love for Gautam.
Will Gautam be able to solve Sangita’s Dilemma or will she be forever trapped in her past?
THE MADRAS AFFAIR
BY SUNDARI VENKATRAMAN
The TTK Auditorium in Chennai exploded with thunderous applause as Sangita Sinclair took the podium. Mike in hand, she patiently waited for the audience to settle down. The head of Penn Urimai – an NGO for battered and downtrodden women, especially housewives – Sangita had come a long way over the past decade.
The claps came to an end, finally. Sangita smiled as she caught sight of the four people in the front row, sitting towards her left. They were the last to stop applauding, her close-knit family. There was her husband, Gautam, his blue eyes glowing with pride. Sandeep, her first born, was a strapping young man of nineteen. His dark eyes were focused on his mother, while his hand held his father’s in a tight grip. Gina and Sam were thirteen and ten respectively, just beginning to understand the impact of their mother’s work. They were very excited being part of the award function.
“Good evening my friends!” A pin could have been heard dropping as Sangita began her speech that lasted for exactly twelve minutes. The passion in her voice struck a chord with those present, more than the words she uttered. To say that her short speech inspired many in the audience was an understatement.
A spontaneous, standing ovation greeted her as she finished speaking. Sangita accepted the large bouquet and medallion presented to her, her eyes bright with the sheen of unshed tears, her heart overflowing with gratitude towards the man who had made it all possible, the man who was her husband.
She walked down from the stage, her eyes on Gautam as he nodded his head in appreciation. Sangita went and sat next to him, surrounded by her three children.
The programme continued for another fifteen minutes before everyone rose for the National Anthem. A number of people wanted to meet Sangita. With a smile here and a nod there, she kept the talk brief, mindful of her waiting family.
A young lady approached her and shook her hand, “Hello Sangita Ma’am, I’m Aarti from a website called Women’s Freedom. It would be an honour to interview you. I hope you’ll be able to make time for it.”
Sangita nodded at Aarti before saying softly, “Sure.” She handed the younger woman a visiting card. “Call me tomorrow.”
“Err… ma’am, will it be alright if I send you my questions by email?” asked Aarti, checking the card to see if it mentioned an email ID.
Sangita nodded again and said, “Of course,” before taking her leave.
The five of them left the auditorium; Gautam’s arm secure around Sangita’s shoulders. While an innate shyness stopped Sangita from indulging in a public display of affection, it never stopped her husband from behaving exactly the way he pleased. He loved his wife and never hesitated to show it at every opportunity.
“You’re simply superb, my love,” he whispered in her ear, sending goose pimples down her body. Sangita gave him a searing look that spoke volumes. Gautam’s body tightened in response as he hugged her closer, giving her a brief kiss in the car park.
They got into the car to go to the Golden Dragon at Taj Coromandel, their favourite restaurant, for a noisy, family dinner. There was so much to catch up with Sandeep, who lived in Pennsylvania nowadays, a student at the state university. Gina and Sam couldn’t get enough of their elder brother’s attention.
It was quite late when they reached Shraddanjali, their bungalow in Besant Nagar.
Later that night, Sangita shut her laptop and turned around to see her husband still working on his. Her eyes glowed with love for him. Even after knowing him for fifteen years, she felt her heart melt every time he looked at her. Gautam seemed to sense her gaze and turned around to look at her, a smile on his face, the dimple on his right cheek prominent. “Are you done?” he asked, stretching his arms over his head.
“Hmm,” she said, walking up to him. She put her arms around his waist and rested her head on his chest. “And you?”
“With you holding me like this, you really think I wanna work?” he asked, pressing his lips to the top of her head, his arms going around her.
Sangita giggled like a little girl, snuggling closer. “Love me,” she whispered, pressing her lips to his chest, pulling at the buttons on his T-shirt. Gautam didn’t need a second invitation. He lifted her in his arms and walked towards the bed.
The next day, Sangita opened her email to find a questionnaire from Aarti. She downloaded the document and perused it. Her eyes stopped at the third question. Aarti had asked, “I have noticed that NGOs that are successful are usually driven by passionate people. And that level of dedication occurs from their life experiences. Is there any particular incident from your life that inspired you to set up your NGO for downtrodden women? Especially those that don’t get help from the law?”
She had a valid question there, thought Sangita. Her passion for Penn Urimai indeed stemmed from her own experiences. She got up to make herself a cup of coffee, not wanting to disturb the cook as he was preparing lunch. Walking out into the garden, Sangita sat on the grass to relish her coffee, enjoying the light warmth of the early morning sunrays in the cool weather. Her thoughts went back to her life before Gautam…
Even as a kid, Sundari absolutely loved the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome as she grew up reading all the fairy tales she could lay her hands on, Phantom comics, Mandrake comics and the like. It was always about good triumphing over evil and a happy end.
Soon, into her teens, Sundari switched her attention from fairy tales to Mills & Boon. While she loved reading both of these, she kept visualising what would have happened if there were similar situations happening in India; to a local hero and heroine. Her imagination took flight and she always lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years.
Then came the writing – a true bolt out of the blue! She could never string two sentences together. While her spoken English had always been excellent – thanks to her Grandpa – she couldn’t write to save her life.
All this changed suddenly one fine day in the year 2000. She had just quit her job as a school admin and didn’t know what to do with her life. She was saturated with simply reading books. That’s when she returned home one evening after her walk, took some sheets of paper and began writing. It was like watching a movie that was running in her head – all those years of visualising Indian heroes and heroines needed an outlet and had to be put into words. That’s how her first novel, The Malhotra Bride, took shape. While she felt discouraged when publishing didn’t happen, it was her husband who kept encouraging her not to give up.
In the meanwhile, she landed a job as Copy Editor with Mumbai Mirror. After working there for two years, she moved to the Network 18 Group and worked with two of their websites over the next six years, as Content Editor.
Despite her work schedule, she continued to write novels and then short stories and had them published in her blogs. She also blogs voraciously, writing on many different topics – travel, book reviews, film reviews, restaurant reviews, spirituality, alternative health and more.
Her first eBook Double Jeopardy – a romance novella – was published by Indireads and has been very well received by readers of romance.
In 2014, Sundari self-published The Malhotra Bride (2nd Edition); Meghna; The Runaway Bridegroom; Flaming Sun Collection 1: Happily Ever Afters From India (Box Set) and Matches Made In Heaven (a collection of romantic short stories).
2015 brought yet another opportunity. Readomania came forward to traditionally publish this book – The Madras Affair – a mature romance set in Madras.
Links to Sundari’s website, blog, books, etc.
Amazon Author Page:
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Sundari will give away a .mobi version of THE MADRAS AFFAIR to up to five lucky readers who comment on her Karen’s Killer Fixin’s blog. Thank you, Sundari, for sharing your story with us
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!