Thursday, June 23
Between love and a mosquito.
Bankabihari needed sleep.He dismissed the idea of keeping his eyes open. The sudden increased brightness of the tubelight was hectoring him,were his eyes finally giving up ? Even the respiratory apparatus emanating from his nose was egging him to depart,his health had already failed.No one liked a dying person,fewer wanted to be near one.
His sons and grandsons and grandaughters and their children were all waiting outside. The "visiting time" hadnt started.
His thoughts moved around,lamenting that incorrigible habit of snuff which led to his demise,to the half drunk glass of
supplementary drink on the table, to that fly or mosquito which was flying around the glass. If it was a fly, he wouldn’t drink it. Maybe he did not have to. He tried to jerk off these thoughts.
He had heard that death ends life, but gifts in his eyes, a minute or two theatrical view into a man`s mundane life. All the memories worth going through, for the last time. He didn’t want to re-visit his life. His last wish was Kanchana, a glimpse of her. He hadn’t seen her face for one full week now. Some lost soul was playing a trick, denying this dying man his last wish he thought. A sudden thought perched in his mind. Kanchana had been with him for more than 30 years now. More than Sridarshini,his dead wife. Each and every night after he closed his eyes they met near the Doba-pukur, in raas-mela, in haat-bazaar and all the places of Srirampur. The daal-muug, the singaras and the ledikini that they ate together, and the shy smile of her as he washed his hands and brushed his face against a corner of her saree using it like a gamccha. He never dreamt those earlier days when she was ten and played kit-kit with him ,before she had left Srirampur, to be an actress.
Bankabihari had slept an average of eight hours a day, dreaming about her, for the last 84 years of his life,so he presumed ,his infidelity, which was an unforgivable felony in the court of god, would deprive him of a berth in heaven. He had never uttered her name ,let alone reveal his love to Sridarshini, lest his wife would leave him. They had a happy married life , but not a long one. Sridarshini died giving birth to his seventh child. Tears rolled down the old man`s cheeks. Children, the living examples of how he had cheated his wife ,every single time, how the only image that had swallowed his mind , sometimes against his wish, was that of Kanchana`s smiling face.Traitor . Till her last breath she had not known of the girl that her husband loved.More than her. Not once had she doubted as they went to see “ Premer agnisakkhi” “ Koto Dhaane koto Chaal” “ subarnolata” all starring a particular Kanchana devi.
He had tried to meet her once. When he wasn’t married.While she was shooting for a hindi film. She was dancing in a park full of roses, with a charming personality of Bengal cinema. His slightly protruding pair of teeth ,along with his dark complexion, a result of working in the sun, wouldn’t help, he knew. He had returned with memories and a delineation of his love that he wanted to imprint on each of his dreams forever. This world had not given her to him. But in my dreams, she is mine, he consoled.
His heart skipped a beat. And then two. He knew the time had come. He heard voices.That of his family .” Baba, chole jacchen” .sobs. He didn’t want this austerity of not seeing her for the last time. He tried to figure out her face. He knew face of the true love was the last thing that a man saw. But alas as his lungs stuffed out the last puff of air, all he saw through the eyes of his imagination, was a blurry vision of a house-fly perched on a glass. Or was it a mosquito ?