WordPress reminded me it is my 2 year anniversary today. To celebrate that, 8let me share with with you all a story I wrote today. After all, the primary reason for starting this blog was to become a better story-teller. Let me know what you think!
Never let go
It was the spring of 2009. The winter chill had not yet gone from the suburban air, but summer was slowly making its presence known. People had begun to turn on the ceiling fans.
For the past few days, thick dark clouds hovered over the small, independent houses as soon as the clocks ticked four. The air would suddenly stop moving. There would be a momentary hot phase. Then the cool winds would start rushing in. The trees would bend with its vigor and the clouds would look darker than ever. They seemed to be carrying deep, dark secrets. Only, the rains would not come as fierce.
In the newly painted Mukherjee house, Supriya was pacing in the balcony. She was frustrated with the clouds. Why couldn’t it rain and be done with? She desperately needed to make a move. Tomorrow, the boy’s family would come to bless her. Probably, the final plans of marriage would also be chalked out tomorrow. Ever since her uncle brought news of this probable match, her mother had been extra cautious with her. She would not let Supriya go anywhere alone. Even her phone calls were monitored, Supriya realized. They would not let her go to the roof even to pick up clothes in the afternoon.
“You are getting married in a month,” her mother said. “I don’t want to wear you out with all these chores now. Just rest and try to look perfect for your wedding.”
But no matter how hard Supriya tried, she could not get rid of the dark circles under her eyes. No matter how hard she tried, she could not close her eyes in the night.
Her mother would notice her restlessness and run her fingers through her hair.
“It is for good, this marriage,” she said. “The boy is an accountant. He can take care of you.”
Supriya tried to think about the boy. Arohan Banerjee. Tall, fair, well-mannered. His hair was neatly combed and he wore a distinctive perfume. He liked books, he had told her. Yes, if her heart was not someplace else, she could willingly marry Arohan Banerjee. She could probably fall in love with him too.
But every time she thought about Arohan, the simple eyes of a dark face would rake through her mind’s eye. Yagnik Roy. Her first love, her heartbeat.
They met in college. He was one of those rare people who was rowdy and polished at the same time. He fought with the guys in the football field when they called names. He answered every question the professors asked with deep thinking and always said something that no one else in the class seemed to come up with.
The beautiful Supriya Mukherjee was initially duly ignored by Yagnik Roy. But once they started talking, everything seemed pre-determined to Supriya.
But Yagnik was not the one who let his feelings be known first. It was just after the Durga Puja holidays in the second year. She had not seen him after the college closed for vacation. Unlike every year, Supriya did not enjoy one day of the glorious festival. Not seeing Yagnik bothered her more than she had thought.
After the college reopened, she had called him after class, held his hand urgently in her hand and told him to accept her. He seemed surprised at first at the urgency of her emotion. But then, the gentle pressure of his hand in hers told her his answer.
Yagnik was a passionate lover. Ever since he discovered love in Supriya, it seemed something in him changed. He became more polite outwardly, but would be very upset if Supriya did not turn up for college one day. It seemed that he wanted her every moment he could have with her. If he saw her talking to some other boy, he would grow tense and refuse to talk to her for days. The said boy would definitely get into some kind of trouble afterwards.
When Supriya finally confronted him one day about his behavior, he simply said, “You are my need. I need you completely or not at all. Your choice.”
As she paced up and down in the balcony, Supriya thought what Yagnik must be going through now. They had not spoken in ten days. He was appearing for job interviews. He had known Supriya’s parents were looking for her marriage and that bothered him.
The last time they had met in a tea shop near their college.
“Give me two months, Su. I will not disappoint you,” he had said. Her hands trembled in his. Had they been in a more private place, they would have kissed.
“I cannot live without you,” he said when they said their goodbyes. “You know I can’t. You have to wait for me.” Supriya almost had tears in her eyes.
Surpiya needed one chance to speak with him. She needed to tell him she was waiting. He could take all the time in the world he needed, she would still wait for him.
The winds stopped blowing. The clouds vanished. The sky grew dark with evening. The womenfolk began to blow conch shells. The Mukherjee household was preparing to receive the would-be son-in-law and his family the next day.
Arohan Banerjee had loved Supriya the day he had set his eyes on her. She had looked absolutely stunning in the blue, checkered sari she had worn when they first came to see her two weeks ago.
Today, however, as she sat on the sofa in front of Arohan and his family, she looked tired. She would not meet his eyes.
Nonetheless, it was a big day for Arohan. Besides his father, mother and younger brother, his grandmother had also come to see the would-be bride. Madhulika Banerjee put her thin, crumpled, trembling hands on Supriya’s chin and said, “Such a lovely girl. You will be loved more in our house than your are in this house. I, the groom’s grandma guarantee this.” She put her hands on Supriya’s head now. “Don’t look so sad, dear. You will not miss this home at all once you step foot in our house.” She gave Supriya a small golden coin. “My husband gave this to me on our wedding day. Small token from an old woman to the Banerjee family’s would-be daughter-in-law.” Then the old woman kissed Supriya on her cheek.
Supriya fought hard to resist her tears. Somehow, she felt a connection with the old woman. She felt like she could tell her all her troubles. Something Supriya did not even feel about her own mother.
Then the moment passed. The servants brought in food. The elders started discussing possible dates.
Arohan tried to speak to Supriya. But she could not answer any of his questions. His brother, Anuran, was a different case though. He had already started calling her Boudi, the name reserved for sister-in-law. He was still in school. He made her take him into the house, show him around. He looked at Supriya with interest and a happy smile. Clearly, she had been a huge hit with him.
“When you come to our house, I will eat only what you cook. Dada said the fish you cooked the other day was delicious. My mom makes horrible fish. You must cook for me.”
Supriya laughed at the young boy’s innocent demands. No wonder she would be deeply cared for in the Banerjee household. She saw herself in the evenings, watching TV serials with her future mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law while Anuran studied in his room. Arohan and his father would not have returned from work yet. Supriya would be cutting the vegetables as they watched the television drama. Suddenly, her mother-in-law would say, “Careful, Supriya! You would have just cut yourself.” And then she would take the knife and the vegetables and start chopping them herself. She would not listen to any of Supriya’s entreaties to let her continue.
“Just watch and learn. You will have to do this for many more years, silly girl! Enjoy while the old ladies can do the work for you,” her mother-in-law would say.
Four hours later, Arohan’s family left. Supriya’s father beamed at the hospitality the guests had shown towards Supriya and her family. “Such lovely people! Supriya Ma, they will really take good care of you.”
After many days, Surpiya had a good sleep that night. Towards the morning, she was dreaming. In her dream Arohan’s grandmother was patting her head, giving her the gold guinea. Then she was in the bedroom. She was lying on the bed. Arohan came inside and shut the door behind him. It looked like they had been married for some time now. In her dream, Supriya was happy to see Arohan. She was smiling. He came to her and hugged her. His lips touched hers. After a brief moment, when he let her breathe, she looked into his eyes.
And then Supriya woke up with a start. She felt like the dark pair of eyes was still on her, looking at her with pain. Slowly, the pain became disgust. Supriya struggled to breathe. A deep sense of shame filled her entire body. She felt like she had cheated on Yagnik. She felt certain that he had known her deceitfulness and would never accept her again.
“Please. I love you and no one else,” she entreated. Beside her, her mother shifted in the bed, not quite awake yet.
That morning, it rained like it had never rained before. Supriya was completely drenched when she knocked furiously on the blue door Yagnik had shown her. She had never been inside his house.
“Coming, coming,” Yagnik’s voice came. “Don’t break the door please.”
Yagnik was surprised to see the drenched woman at the door. His lips curved upwards in a smile.
“About time,” he said, holding her hand and pulling her inside. “Let me get a towel. The Mukherjees don’t have umbrellas or what?”
“Wait,” Supriya held on to his hand, stopping him from getting that towel. “I ran from home.”
“You did what?” Yagnik cried.
Supriya looked into his deep, dark eyes searching for an answer. Was he angry? Would he make her go away? What would she do then?
For a moment, Yagnik looked into her wet eyes. Then Supriya felt the familiar pressure of his hand in hers. Her heartbeat relaxed. Her body felt limp as he pulled her into a hug. “Good thing is,” he said, “I have a job now.” His lips kissed her hair.
Copyright © 2017 Arpita Pramanick