It is a dull and warm Friday summer afternoon and I have consciously caged myself in my first floor bed room which also accommodates a few hundred books of different authors, ranging from thriller books to Spiritual self help books talking about past life regression and similar stuff. I can spot a few Bengali books too but my handicap of not being able to decipher the Bengali script keeps me away from taking those out of the book shelf, though I make it a point to dust them every now and then. I have an old Samsung television set which has never been switched on since we came to this house which was 5 years back. I really do not know the reason why! 2 set of wooden closets having dozens and dozens of both gender clothes- one barely able to accommodate mine, over flowing from the wooden doors and every day I look at it, I promise to myself I will arrange this mess the next day..The next day is then deferred to the next to next day and the saga continues. May be I have begun to like this mess. The other wardrobe has washed, ironed and arranged lines of male clothes, leather belts, few old square shaped diskettes which were used till a decade back as a storage device which has the stories done by my husband for different channels, a Nikon DSLR and a few lose pictures and an Archies greeting card dated 02 Sep’2003. My birthday- my first birthday card after my marriage which I open after every few days, read it, smile after reading and carefully put it back where it belongs.
Married to a journalist is remotely romantic and I am sure I can find many more partners of scribes echoing this sentiment! It was an evening before my birthday and I was carrying my first child then and was still in a confused state of adjusting to a new culture, new food, distinctively remember how I puked at the sight of a trout’s eyes being mercilessly gouged out by my dark and over grown Bengali cook. The confusion was also a pleasant state of exploring and discovering new things that I willingly accepted in my life just few months back. Well, coming back to my first birthday with my bloated belly having a 7 month piece of mass breathing inside me, at times scratching and kicking too, me and my husband decided to go for a fancy dinner to be followed by watching a movie. The dinner was quite exorbitant at a well done and dimly lit cozy place.
Since I had lost my appetite due to my pregnancy I did not eat much but was excited to know which movie were we going to after the meal. We were at Priya Saket Complex in New Delhi and the movie hall was just a few steps away. My husband wanted to surprise me and I was more than surprised to know he too believed in Surprises ! Wow, my dream of that perfect partner was turning into a reality and I could see and feel that tinge of romance in him, I could visualize the car parked in the parking area has numerous gifts packed in fancy gift papers which were thoughtfully picked up by my better half, each having a gift which would make me smile and shed a tear simultaneously, the birthday cake waiting in the refrigerator waiting for the clock to strike 12 with the sound of balloons bursting, fragrant candles, lovely music in the background, a new satin gown spread on the bed, may be over the rajnigandhas used for decorating the bed, or perhaps a picture of us framed and put on the side tables…and when a young bride (who by then had almost forgotten she would be a mother in a few months!) imagines, she imagines to the extreme crossing all rational barriers, even forgetting she is still married to a JOURNALIST- a Bengali JOURNALIST (the word Bengali is not in caps, to be noted!)…While I was sketching this fairy tale story with all astonishing props, I realized my husband has already bought two tickets for the movie. The movie was called ‘Gangajal’ ! It is an amazing movie based on bihar mafia ! And my dreams were cruelly shot at by the goons in the movie. Since it was a late night show, we could not return home before midnight. My hopes were still alive, waiting for the clock to strike 12 and I was certain the night had more (to be read ‘better’) surprises to offer. Like every day the clock struck 12 and then 12.05, 12.10 and 12.20. At 12.20 I could see INTERVAL written on the screen which I hoped and prayed could turn into ‘The End’ but prayers are seldom answered ! My engrossed husband discussed in the Interval what a great movie it was, could relate to few of the similar stories he has covered in his career while he looked at his watch and shook my hand to wish me ‘Happy Birthday’. I politely thanked. The drive back was a torture with me looking at corners to see if that packed gift is hidden some where. A diamond does not need much space and can be kept in the smallest corner but I was not able to locate that corner !
We reached our place and discussed a bit more about the delectable food and such an amazing watch and slept. The disappearance of the refrigerated cake, colorful balloons, satin gown, rajnigandha, music made me shed a tear…though not accompanied by a smile. The next morning I woke up with a cup of tea that my husband had prepared (for the first time in his life!) and this card in the tray kept at the side table, with him holding my hand and whispering ‘Happy Birthday, Sweetheart’…and this time he did manage to bring a smile on my lips along with that twinkle in my eyes.
We can not hold on to people but we do live on their memories. I lost him on 18th Dec last year but I still have that card with me today. It is by no means his replacement, but it does keep that love and hope alive in me.
It tells me to carry on with the same smile. This is how it reads-
Thank You for-
1) Being in my Life
2) Not letting me sleep
3) Not letting me sleep (alone)
4) Sharing your (and my) miseries
5) Allowing me to believe that Loneliness is a passing Phenomenon
6) Bringing a smile to my parents face
7) Thank you for ummm…well (Turn Overleaf)..
For Giving me the not so insignificant joy of fatherhood.
Add all (or even half of these) thank you’s and you might come across a 4-letter word called- L O V E
PS: Oh yeah, Happy Birthday ! (written in one extreme corner!)