Piku and Bhashkor Da
Piku and Bhashkor Da
Bhashkor Da has always been a poking figure in the house. After the death of his wife, he became a bit more rookie and a lot more dominant on his daughter, Piku.
The family was culturally rich in in their Bengali tradition and were typical of that region. Their house in Chittranjan Park, South Delhi was built soon after the demise of Piku’s mother after which Bhashkor Da wanted to live with no strings attached. His wife never wanted to leave Kolkata’s ancestral house. There was tussle of ideologies throughout their married life. With all the love they had for each other, they never settled down to a common decision. Once, she wasn’t present to hurdle his wild imaginations and ambitions, Bhashkor Da took her seven year daughter and fled to Delhi to live an adventurous life, free of society’s judgement and responsibilities other than her daughter.
Though this one responsibility wasn’t pulled off by him excellently, as Piku considers. She remained an introvert, for having lack of a proper family and a father so busy living his own life. Though she remembers her father always fulfilling her needs and celebrating her birthday. Yet, a daughter enjoying a birthday party solely with her father despite all the cake and decorations were mundane. Humans are social animals yet, Bhashkor Da never liked involving with other humans. Strange and peculiar nature, he harbored, non-interactive with people was okay; rather he would always confront them for their thinking. If someone wouldn’t agree with his point of view, that meant a long unfruitful debate leading nowhere other than bitterness in his mind for the person and nothing more. Piku gradually grew learning all this- her genes were more inclined on her mother’s traits.
But the college life spurted a pretty atypical character in her. She became more short-tempered and a rather blend of her father’s annoying qualities. She would strangle a person out of his sanity with her temper to prove her point. She never agreed to anybody else’s opinions. Her notions carved in her brain would remain so strong and rigid. She somehow realized that she was way too stubborn and crotchety and this was increasing day by day, inch by inch. But found herself helpless at her own mercy. She knew no vent. Her father soon retired and being all the time at home was more provocative to Piku. His pin pointing nosy attitude drove Piku half-crazy. Anyhow, she completes her education and joins in an architectural firm. But Bhashkor Da becomes possessive of Piku now.
“Baba! It was an official party, not a friends’ reunion or so..... Why do you expect me to be back according to your time schedule?” Piku often comes at loggerheads with her father.
“Why? Do official parties have no rules or time boundaries? If not, then there should be! You should be the revolutionary one to set it up!” Bhashkor Da finds another futile issue when Piku doesn’t return according to his time table.
Bhashkor Da now is inflicted with diabetes, muscular cramps, hypertension and many more signs of ageing in an average man. His diseases have broken down his strength to live as he did in Delhi, save his stringent attitude and snooping around in matters. The ditzy being in him pokes Piku always. At times, she rebukes him and at times let it go off unnoticed. Now suddenly, this fissure of thought of Piku’s marriage soon had created a rift between the parent and the child. Piku is ambitious and focused on her career and neither finds the prospect of marriage fruitful. While on the other hand, Bhashkor Da craves for Piku going to her in-laws so that he wraps up from all his duties in life. Piku and Bhashkor Da keep having wasteful debates because both have same intensity and enthusiasm to defend their viewpoint.
Piku, further, feels insecure to leave her father when his health conditions are deteriorating every day. Not every husband is supportive. Her own parents’ wedlock couldn’t be considered very successful or happy. He is just managed by a middle-age man, Binod, who constantly nurses the seventy year old. Piku could very hardly arrange for him extra money to make him stay put. Her father kept on irritating him on petty issue; complaining that Binod didn’t deliver medicines on time, Binod couldn’t manage his meals, Binod is incapable to assist him to toilets and bathroom, Binod steals from household!
Piku was assured by Binod that nothing of such sort happened ever, Piku is aware of her father’s personality and believes the man. She is convinced of Binod’s dedication and work and so craves for his presence to help her father out. Bhashkor Da has no visitor’s in his house other than a few family members who come on holidays. Only two grandads in the neighborhood have good friendship with him and they meet at every evening at their home. Bhashkor Da would have never gone to other’s home every evening. Seldom when he is invited to his friends’ place for occasions, he is find to deliver sermons and preach his thoughts and philosophies. Piku always found hard to drag them out from such situation which undoubtedly becomes embarrassing. On returning, she would scold him for his behavior. But he was Bhashkor Da.
“What is wrong in speaking the truth- if facts hurts someone’s sentiments and none can stand my views than that is their problem, not mine.”
“Why do you have to, then, push your opinions down other’s throats? And there’s nothing wrong in speaking truth but hurting sentiments is not good. And we live in a society, baba, we’ve gotta have some good relations with people around. We’ve already squandered our relations in Kolkata, none in the neighborhood and no prospect of mine getting involved with any man- why? Because, your damn time-table! No get-together with old friends, no coming late from official parties, keep nudging me and asking my whereabouts, my eating patterns, my goddamn menstrual cycle and above all checking my phone! Which Father does this?”
“I am concerned about my daughter and it isn’t bad!”
“It is unacceptable to me- I need a privacy over certain matters! I’ve always been lonely and feel that’s what I will always be!”
“But you aren’t agreeing for a marriage! If you agree, I will today itself begin thee quest for the perfect man......”
“Please, don’t! After my marriage how will you manage on your own?”
“So that’s why you don’t want to get married! Piku, you will be there for me. Our house is so big. You, your husband and two kids will stay here!”
“Yes, Why? Why only woman leave her house and care for her in-laws? Even men are capable, you husband will come to help his in-laws. Sorry, just one in-law. His father-in-law!”
“Baba, why do you wish to get me married so soon? You got married- nothing good, no happiness.”
“No, Piku! We loved each other a lot. We were similarly strong opinioned couple.”
“And that’s what dissolved everything! Your marriage had been arranged and then you found out that you to aren’t compatible! I want to choose the person, test and then proceed. No haste!”
“Test! Test? You mean his manhood- his libido and so!”
“NO, Piku. It is so wrong in my eyes! Testing his nature is important but not his.......The man will live with us and so we need to know him in and out and for that; arranged marriage, a matrimony proposal advised by a relative is the best option. I want it quick because I want to get rid of all my responsibilities in life- And this test and all..... No more parties and all. Late night definitely cancel. Lifelong!”
“Baba, what is this? You just can’t do this to an above twenty eight year daughter. Not acceptable. And what responsibilities are you actually referring to? You left them all in Kolkata and as a father you have failed in my eyes! You’re a bone stuck in my throat. My life is miserable and this short-temper because of which none can befriend me is partly my genes and partly your post Delhi eccentricity. You never wanted responsibilities and the one you had, me, you are still trying to get over it as if I am a certain liability.”
“Hey, Piku, I was always there for you, am there for you. Your birthday, you school meetings, your college fest, all your memorable occasions had my presence. I care for you and so put restrictions on you......... No late night outside adventures and no love interest without my prior permission and a just a few more of them and that’s all. You are dear to.....”
Piku gets up, walks towards the door, carrying her tote bag and casually saying, “I am going out, might be late. You’ve had food, better sleep peacefully!”
“..... Oh, Piku! Come back, Piku. I warn you. Piku? Piku, I care for you. Always want your happiness. You were the only responsibility in my life that I wanted to take up. I take interest in your life whereas most parent give birth and forget their kids. Piku? I know you are standing by the door as you would when thirteen. Piku, Come here! Piku? Are you gone?”
Piku reaches a lounge and meets her in-charge. He was a senior in her college and helps her as a friend. Piku understands him and takes counselling session from time to time from him. The boss is nowhere close to a typical boss. He is more of a friend she ever wanted. After lots of talking and discussing and pondering over, she is advised to take a break from work and try to assess and talk with your father. As it is, she never had much of talking with him as a mature lady, she should now. Her talks of wedding and him thinking her as a liability and responsibility should be confronted which she always shied away from. Piku, finds it useless to have any talk with him because of his sturdy views and rigid mindset. She finally wishes to take a break and try this too. Some mature conversation with him might sort something.
She reached home late at night and found him sleeping on the sofa itself. She feels sorry for him and ashamed and irresponsible for herself. The next day, she wakes up late and lives her day for herself and according to her sweet will. She is constantly asked by Bhashkor Da about her behavior. She is extremely calm and happily replies her week off from work. His father, puzzled, queerly follows her activities. He once or twice even pokes questions to her but seeing her neglect them and casually humming, he remembers previous night trifle and chooses to remain shut for some time.
Neither of them have opened their hearts yet. Appears as if everything happening in a normal household, not at all like what happened here. Yes, Piku appeared blooming all over. She, Bhashkor Da and Binod decide to go on a lunch date in a mall. All happy and elated. Piku dismisses, for the first time since his joining, Binod for a week to give him some personal space and break too. In the evening, she performs lively tasks. Gardening, stroll in the park, visiting the nearby Kali temple, shopping groceries, paper planes, she even takes out her mother’s sarees and wear them for the first time. Thanks to YouTube tutorials which helped her for she had never worn them. Clicking and posting them online. Many people commented; today she took pains to reply them back which she had never before. She herself text a few people she had lost touch with. A sudden burst of an extrovert amidst her secluded soul was felt by Piku. She rejoiced. She felt like living.
But the purpose of the break had been to talk with her father. Therefore, she decided to break the ice and hoped for a positive result. The next day dawned and mundane afternoon chores; she had been preparing her words and drawing a flowchart in brain of all that could erupt in her conversation. Towards finishing the dishes Piku heard a doorbell. A broker to meet Bhashkor Da. Piku couldn’t figure anything out.
“Namoste, Dada. You had requested for the papers and stuff. Here!”
The broker presents the papers and Bhashkor Da scrutinizes them. All done and some more talks. He departs. After this, Piku, questions her father about this broker and papers.
“Ah, who’s invading privacies, now?” Bhashkor Da taunted smirking.
“Baba, I’m worried. Suddenly a man visiting when no one comes....”
“Same are my thoughts when you do something about which I feel fishy!”
“It’s not about fishy and I want to know......”
“He’s a broker whom I have been contacted since a long time to sell my portion of Kolkata property!”
“And, exactly why?”
“Because it’s useless for us to have it. That money will be instrumental in your marriage.”
“I thought you had changed; or at least were trying to. But NO! I wanted to have a conversation with you, but I guess a healthy fruitful conversation between us is not destined to occur.”
“Arre, what’s your problem Piku?”
“Why are you wanting to sell it? It’s a single house, half of it being sold means destruction of all the aesthetics of the house which uncle will inherit. How can you do this to him? And he has maintained that house, your potion included, for years, looked after it and preserved. It calls for money to maintain a home and here you want to sell it. Mummy never wanted us to leave; wanted us all glued to each other with love and today you desire to raise a wall and sell half of it? Wrong!”
“Piku, be practical! Being emotional is worthy only at certain walks of life, not all you life. We will profit from it and further who is ever returning to that place?”
“Why do you want to distance yourself from there?”
“Because people always judged me, questioned my choices and instructed me which I didn’t desire over there. Connecting with people means their words are going to hurt you. I left it in the first place for these reasons only. I have no inclination of living or being to Kolkata for long. Nothing bad to the community or place, just the people I knew hurt me.”
“Baba, I didn’t have opportunity to interact with them so much, a hazy image of them. Few of whom visit us here, are hardly able to bond good. And, in case we ever wish, Or I wish to go to my paternal house, my people, where will I go?”
“Your uncle’s place! And it’s not worthy according to me....”
“Baba, You are wrong to uncle. If a similar case would have happen to you then you would have created a raucous fuss and humiliated him. Baba, in process of fighting people’s judgmental stare, you have destroyed your reputation and character. I won’t let the place go in broker’s hand.”
Silence and a tranquil evening, the night settles them with an unpeaceful sleep. Piku, talks to his boss and explains it to him all the fuss. She thinks her father will never let her live a pacific life she wants. He consoles her and asks her to try next day. Alas! the next morning, after all the toilettes, Bhashkor Da requests Piku to book a Taxi for he wishes to go to Kolkata!
“Kolkata by road? Why?”
“Because I want to give those people a slap in the face by showing what a fruitful life I am living on my conditions. Also, I want you to at least once see your natives and birth place; your roots. Who knows what will happen next, whether you’ll go or not. If I’ll be there to show it you.”
“Selling the house is confirmed?”
“I’ll see, once I see the place myself. If your Manu uncle had taken care of it in a proper manner I might just take a little toll and hand him the property.”
“Yeah, practical. I am a practical man.”
Piku and Bhashkor Da prepare for their road trip to Kolkata. Piku hopes something good, something soothing befalls in her life. A week, they are ready to go. A taxi is booked for about 1500 kilometers. A tiring journey and soon Howrah Bridge arrives. Those yellow taxis and hand-pulled rickshaws flood the roads. Durga Pujo is about to commence and so, a religious bustle of magnificent cultural pleases Piku. The trams and those local stores of exquisite eatables fill Piku’s hearts with serenity unexplainable. She tries to recall all those blur and hazy memories which trickle down her memory lane as the taxi pulls near the paternal house. Bhashkor Da was seen with a little frown on her forehead.
Manu Uncle and Moni Aunt welcome their family members with a wide smile. Bhashkor Da is as always gregarious and outspoken. Moni Aunt is bit upset with his words, but Manu Uncle is very excited to be with his elder brother. Fun frolic mingled with taunts and mental injuries of past. Many sweet and sour moments are erupted which resolve in love. Drama is in full swing but none condemned it. It was conversation clearing doubts and misunderstandings. Bhashkor Da and Piku go on a trip across Kolkata. Famous places and spaces with memories. He constantly was sharing stories with Piku and making her fall in love with them. Moments of happiness. Stories from past rejuvenating present. Piku’s first school, her dance classes, her maternal house, many childhood spots were shown to her by Bhashkor Da. Some close relatives visited them and they visited a few of them. Piku also visits the modern city. Days pass like this, all giddy and high in spirits. It was like everything was forgotten. No worries. She indeed needed a break. Turns out Bhashkor Da was the one who needed a break more sorely. He felt liberated.
After being away from his childhood and youth days, for so long, he felt refreshed. He never wanted to come back but he appeared more enthusiastic on being back. His persona had a drastic change. More like a normal type, Bhashkor Da now was more likeable. Piku felt relieved; the vent she needed. They both needed a holiday for so long, to be among with their loved ones, in their native land. This made them realized there was so much in life that they were missing. Piku had talk with her father which she would have done so prior. Bhashkor Da couldn’t agree to all her words but initiated no argument.
“Piku, live how you want to live! Even I wanted this to happen...... These shackles irritated me. And trying to live on my own and shape my daughter my way; I forgot that I was hindering your way which I condemned always....... Huh, my bad!”
Piku finds liberation and feels very happy to hear them. She hugs him. Little drops of tears welded in both of their eyes. The bond looked very special and wholesome.
“I wish to spend rest of my life, here, in Kolkata!”
Piku couldn’t believe what she heard. She agrees to his wishes and promises to be there for him. She leaves back for Delhi and Bhashkor Da willingly stays back. A tranquility pervades in lives of Father and Daughter. A journey to the past, constructive exchange of views and a much needed break of mundane routine resolved entangled threads of relations and personalities.