Punyasloke Bose



Punyasloke Bose


Nest in a Disarray

Nest in a Disarray

7 mins

An old song from the time of the seventies was blaring out of the radio and keenly listening to it was an aging man. This man was Ratan Lal Karmakar. A diploma engineer by education and a contractor by profession now happily retired. Ratanlal was a civil contractor and did all types of government and municipality work. He had made huge wealth from these works as people of his profession who were smart enough did.

Before hanging up his boots or rather his tools, Ratanlal had built a big spacious house. The house he built was beside the flowing river in the newly developing area of the town. It was on premium land and very people could afford it, Ratanlal being one among them. He poured his heart out in the construction and it consisted of choicest materials acquired from all over. Naturally, he was very proud of this creation of his. Ratanlal had built many such houses for wealthy clients in his working life spanning four decades. Now providence was smiling on him as he flaunted his creation. A marble plaque in vernacular adorned the entrance bearing the word "basha" in Bengali meaning 'Nest'. So, Ratanlal was very happy and whiled his time relaxing in his big drawing-room listening to yester year's melodies on his radio and gazing ruefully out of the big window towards the flowing river. He was more attached to the radio than the television which he called the idiot box.

Ratanlal and his wife Bimala of three decades raised a big family of two daughters and two sons. All now were married and settled in their respective domain. Sabitri, the eldest daughter was married to a man named Prasad, also a civil contractor. Prasad was the son of an associate of Ratanlal and as their families were close to each other the relationship was cemented with the marriage. The younger daughter was Gayatri and she was married to a lawyer. Ratanlal had struck all the relationship with his erstwhile acquaintances. Because that way he could know the authenticity and the pedigree of the families with whom he had to have lifelong bonding.

The two sons were younger. One was Rahul and the other was Sanjay. Rahul had become a civil engineer like his father and he further developed his father's construction business. He was married to Kamla the daughter of one of the biggest clients of Ratanlal. This marriage enhanced the financial capability of Rahul. The younger son Sanjay who was the better in studies became a doctor and specialized in surgery. Sanjay married his classmate Anita who studied Gynaecology. Incidentally, Anita was from a family of doctors. Her father, brother and his wife all being doctors. Anita's father had a private nursing home of his own where Sanjay was also attached. This nursing home was built on the guidance of Ratanlal. So Ratanlal had a pie in every relation that he patronised.

As the saying goes, now for Ratanlal, his 'Nest' was complete. He likened his complete family to a nest and was very boastful, proud, passionate and also protective about it.

But every thing may not be perfect although it may appear so. Even a clear sunny sky may turn dark with black clouds from the horizon no sooner than the blink of an eye. The household of Ratanlal was also headed that way. The source was Sabitri.

Being the eldest among her siblings and the arrival of the second sibling being delayed all the love and attention was undivided over Sabitri. In a way she was pampered. This made Sabitri feel that she was more than equal to her siblings and occupied a special place in this Karmakar household. So even after marriage she was a frequent visitor to her parental home. One of the objectives of her visit was to extract any thing of value for her personal consumption or acquisition. After her brothers marriage, Sabitri was mindful of the idea to let the new brides know their position in the family. She made it clear that the position of women was not at par with the men and were always under their mercy. That was the women's sacred duty. Her objective was to constantly find faults in the brothers wives and keep nagging with her mother Bimala to scold and reign in her daughters in law. As a result Sabitri was an unwelcome guest to the two wives Kamla and Anita.

Although there was no fight or argument between them, but Sabitri was always hell bent to extract her pound of flesh. The patriarch Ratanlal tried to reason with his daughter but it had little effect. Ratanlal was worried that this constant nagging may lead to the breakage of his beloved 'nest'.

As luck would have it her husband Prasad income was not any match to her brothers.

Rahul and Sanjay were both hardworking and smart so as a result they had phenomenonal income. Sanjay being a surgeon, his income was definitely commanding. Rahul had multiplied his dad's business many times over and his money flow jingled all the way to the bank.

Sabitri slowly became envious of her brothers. She always henpecked her mother Bimala and tried to influence her thinking and feelings driving a bias against the two daughters in law. As a result there was quite a cold War like situation in the inner quarters of the house hold. Over the top all seemed fine but below a game was being played as there was an uneasy calm. Kamla and Anita both had come from families with substantial means so they could easily move out with their husbands and lead their own independent lives. But such a drastic step would leave their father in law Ratanlal grief stricken. This was what kept them from sacrificing their freedom. For Ratanlal such a step would defeat his idea of the nest. The nest would go in a disarray. So life continued this way.

As times were changing the people also had to change. Prasad, the husband of Sabitri who was a government contractor was opaque to the changes. The contracts which were earlier based on manual tenders with lowest bids and were awarded to close contacts were now dispensed with. E-tenders had replaced the earlier sealed tenders and all participants had to bid on line. Prasad not being tech smart missed out on many contracts and suffered huge losses. His bank borrowings stopped being serviced. Debtors failed to pay back in time and creditors were breathing down his neck demanding immediate settlement. Due to this he went into depression. Sabitri was very worried for him. At the same time she was jealous of her brother Rahul. Because Rahul being smart was being awarded one after another contracts by participating in e -tenders and Prasad was missing out on.

Then one day an accident occurred. Prasad being depressed as it is suffered a heart attack. Ratanlal hearing it ordered Prasad to be moved to the nursing home where his younger son Sanjay was attached.

Things became very sensitive for Sabitri. All her haughtiness vanished. It was life and death situation. Full recovery for her husband was doubtful. At one time when there was need for blood, both the daughters in law, Kamla and Anita volunteered and donated. After quite a long stay in the hospital and with recovery almost full but with conditions, Prasad was sent home. The hospital bill was not made known to Sabitri and was borne by Ratanlal and his two sons.

Sabitri now became fully engaged in taking care of Prasad. Her earlier adventurism vanished. She became more repentant and apologetic after realising how wrong she had been. How she had misjudged people. It was for her jealousy she was almost driving a wedge in an otherwise happy family.

Ratanlal and his family now were much relieved. Peace had finally returned to the NEST which had gone in disarray.

After a long time, Ratanlal tuned on his radio and became engrossed in the melodies of the fabulous seventies. The view of the river from the window looked very happy.

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