What Can Be Done with a Stalled Plot?

Our story begins with a Dr Rahul Gulati, a son of Punjabi immigrants to the United States. Rahul was born and raised in Washington DC. He has been married before. He fell for a girl he met in college and she apparently married him for a green card. She was quick to divorce him, leaving him embittered.

Mrs. Gulati, a concerned and interfering busybody of a mom steps in. Her greatest desire is to see her only son happily married. She starts scanning India Abroad’s matrimonial section for prospective brides. She isn’t too ambitious, her son has been divorced once so she only circles the names of women who have been divorced before.

She initiates correspondence with the mother of a girl who fits the bill. Photographs are exchanged and a reluctant Rahul is persuaded to look through the photographs. He likes one of them. He starts a virtual relationship with a girl he believes is Harleen.

On the other side of the globe, we learn that Harleen isn’t the least bit interested in marrying again. She is driven by a desire to build a career for herself and her passion and dedication to her studies is inviolable. The girl corresponding with Rahul is actually Loveleen, Harleen’s married but lonely sister, a mother of two. She is married to Anand, a military man stationed in Mizoram.

The moms on either side of the globe are moving fast with their plans. Rahul’s entire family is invited to Chandigarh to meet Harleen. Loveleen learns about these plans and panics. She never thought it would go so far. She believes she has no choice but to confess to Rahul. She sends him a letter of confession and an offline in Yahoo Messenger asking Rahul not to come. But Rahul has already boarded the plane before he receives either correspondence.

The Gulati family arrive and are greeted by Anand, Loveleen’s husband who has just arrived from Mizoram. Loveleen is also around, waiting on the guests while the guests inquire about Harleen and are told that she isn’t home. Anand and Rahul know each other, they were teenagers and classmates together before Anand ended up getting expelled from school. His family had left the US, unable to bear the disgrace. Rahul had also suffered minor consequences due to his association with Anand and Mrs. Gulati spent the entire visit staring tersely at Anand. When Harleen finally arrives she spends a few brief seconds greeting the guests before rushing upstairs to her room. She had no idea who the strangers were, why they were there. Expecting resistance from her, her parents had never told her about these plans. They had thought she would come around when she was told.

The visit had ended badly. Rahul couldn’t believe how curt Harleen was with him in light of the romantic virtual relationship they had developed. He returns home, dejected. He finds the offline message and the letter of confession from Loveleen upon his return and his whole world seems to shatter. He understands the reasons for Harleen’s behavior now, she didn’t know him. Loveleen had made a fool of him, used him for fulfilling her fantasies.

He plunges himself into his work. He works long hours at the hospital and vows never to be bothered with les affaires du coeur. His resolve is shattered when one night he runs into Harleen at his hospital. She has been appointed the hospital administrator for the hospital at which he works. They greet each other. He reminds Harleen that he had actually been to her home in Chandigarh. She remembers, embarrassed. She had only spent a few brief seconds greeting him then. She had been too preoccupied finishing up her studies and preparing to move to the US.

This is where we left the story several months ago. What should happen next? It is clear that a story that doesn’t involve all four – Rahul, Harleen, Anand and Loveleen – would feel lopsided. Their lives are intertwined and a resolution can’t leave any one of them out. If this was a real life situation what might happen?

Rahul and Harleen are thrown together now. Rahul has shared virtual intimacies with Harleen’s sister Loveleen. He fell in love with Harleen’s photograph and Loveleen’s words. But Loveleen is a married woman with kids and Harleen knows nothing about him. Besides he is still very annoyed with Loveleen for her deception.

Loveleen is clearly not happy with Anand; she seeks love elsewhere.

This is where the storyteller’s beliefs come into play, I suppose. I think a marriage that is so hollow from inside shouldn’t continue. However, Anand and Loveleen need to be honest with each other and talk about their difficulties. However, communication is often fraught with pitfalls. No matter how hard one tries talk often degenerates and amplifies all dysfunctional aspects. This writer has observed this particular human failure time and time again.

Rahul and Harleen, should they fall in love? Harleen is mentally less preoccupied and more settled now. Rahul thinks she is beautiful but he knows nothing about her heart, her mind. He’s been burnt twice before, he’s reluctant to initiate anything. But he is going to cross paths with Harleen often enough. What could this lead to? Perhaps Harleen will have to be the one to draw him out again.

What if Loveleen and Anand split up due to irreconcilable differences? What are the possibilities then? Will Loveleen make a move to the US in the hopes of getting together with Rahul? Where does Anand fit in? His character needs further definition. Perhaps he will realize how important Loveleen always was to him and make every attempt to woo her back. Maybe he’ll follow her to the US and his jealousy will reignite his passion for his ex-wife? What would be an ideal ending?

I do want to complete this mixed up, potboiler of a story even though I had just started it for a larkk and no real plans. Some people have taken a liking to it and they are haunting me and taunting me (you know who you are 😀 ). So let’s see what we can do!

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