Smell of Lavender
Smell of Lavender
Coming back from work, Sreemoyi was sipping her evening tea, sitting at her favourite spot- the window of her bedroom from where she could see as far as golf course which appeared like a lonely but distinct patch of greenery amidst the buildings of the city. Come evening, when the city would deck up in shimmering lights and far away when the bridge over the river would dress up in tiny dots luminous like a beauteous damsel in a flowing gown, Sreemoyi would just look at cityscape as visible from her window. The window to the world outside. If it rains she would try to sit there for awhile till Riddhi would come home.
Despite being married for eight years, her marriage to Riddhi had not brought any child to her lap. She and Riddhi could have explored other possibilities but with the passage of time , the eagerness to bring a child home had died down considerably. Riddhi being always busy with his office tours thought it to be quite suitable not to extend the family further barring they two. Initially she had implored Riddhi to explore other possibilities , from medical to adoption . But she had noted how Riddhi had accepted their destiny and how he never showed any utmost sincerity on his part to make a family proper. So they had lived so far like two persons sharing rooms , living together, doing their respective works, a married couple. Sreemoyi also perhaps thought it a way to lead a life without hassles of bringing up a young one. But the season of rains brings in sometimes a slight tinge of melancholy, specially when she is alone in the flat with no works to do at home.
The season which makes the world greener, fertile and colorful, makes her often to think of her past. Just like this evening. Sipping tea and playing with her strands of hair by her fingers she was looking absentmindedly to the scenery outside. It had rained heavily in the afternoon. Now the rain having receded, a cool breeze was blowing. Sreemoyi suddenly thought she got a smell of lavender. Lavender was the scent of body powder that Bodhiswatta wore in summer and early monsoon afternoons. After the final class at the university when they would walk side by side till the main gate of the university campus, sometimes the whiff of air would bring the scent of lavender from Bodhiswatta. Sreemoyi recalled how one late afternoon suddenly they were caught unawares in a storm followed by heavy downpour. They took shelter in a makeshift abandoned tea stall near the gate of the campus. That evening the rain kept them waiting at the shop for half an hour almost. That evening brought them closer.
They talked, laughed and chuckled. The warmth of their bodies standing close and wet brought strange feeling in her. In Bodhiswatta too. Sreemoyi could never forget that curious sparkle in Bodhiswatta's eyes. That evening which opened new vistas for them apparently could have been a really memorable one , had love blossomed in them . But even before it could have bloomed proper, Sreemoyi's parents brought Riddhi, an executive engineer working in a multinational construction company. Bodhi was still a student then with his widowed mother and two sisters to support by meagre means of giving tuitions to students. A private tutor can never vie with an executive engineer. Bodhi called his quits. He started avoiding Sree despite her pleadings. How miserable she felt then.
One day out of agony she even insulted Bodhi calling him a coward and a loser. But Bodhi being Bodhi only smiled. A helpless smile. A heart wrenching smile. Then suddenly he disappeared. Literally he disappeared. After the final exam Sree went all the way to Beleghata to Bodhi's rented house. His mother and sisters were there and they informed Sree that Bodhi had left the city looking for a job. Sree was given an address. A postal address. Sree wrote at least three score letters before her marriage to Riddhi. No reply came. Seven or eight months after her marriage, one evening, Sreemoyi was returning home from work. Riddhi was with her too. At an eatery near Russel Street, where Riddhi stopped his car to takeaway some food home, Sree got out of the car and was waiting on the pavement before the eatery. She noticed someone looking at her. A man simply clad in a white shirt and grey trousers who came out of the eatery stopped a few yards before her to light a cigarette. After taking a puff he just looked at her. At that precise moment Sree's eyes also fell on him. Bodhi! She thought she was seeing ghost of Bodhi.
The man neither smiled nor moved. He just kept on looking at her, quite strangely with a certain air of idiocy. Just then Riddhi returned. As Riddhi asked Sree to get into the car, she looked at Bodhi through the corner of her eyes. For a moment she thought she would ask Riddhi to wait a bit. She thought she would call out at Bodhi and introduce him to Riddhi. Riddhi was already at wheels, the engine was purring. 'What are you thinking?' Riddhi asked her, finding her standing near the door , somewhat perplexed. Bodhi had taken a walk by then through the pavement. The neon light that flashed the name of the eatery in sparkling orange and red had drawn magical patterns on the pavement, on people passing by, on their faces, backs. Sreemoyi noticed then how the neon sign made wonderous patterns on Bodhi's white shirt. Sree was suddenly taken aback by the ringing of the bell at the door. She glanced at the watch. How she had spent two hours sitting at her window thinking of nonsensical things. Riddhi had come home. Sree rushed towards the door, cursing that smell of lavender.