The Banerjees9 mins 205 9 mins 205
Promila, where’s my handkerchief?’
‘It's on the bed’.
‘Okay okay, I got it. Now, where’s my pen? why do you keep moving things from their place?’
Just then Promila makes her way to the room, goes towards his table, and hands over the pen to Debashish with a dialogue,
‘You’re getting older day by day and change the number of your spectacles’. She leaves the room with a smirk on her face.
This was a daily ritual in the Banerjee household. Silly taunts and pulling each other’s legs which made their lives easier to pull through in their old days.
Mr. Debashish was a retired banker and Promila, a retired teacher.
Promila loved children as they were not gifted with a child whom they could call their own. Debashish wasn’t fond of kids much and found them quite annoying. Because of her love for kids and a natural maternal instinct in her, she chose to become a teacher so that she could always be in the company of children, teach and nurture them as her own. Kids too loved her and always looked forward to her classes.
Time flew and both of them retired after a successful stint in their own respective careers. Debashish was a voracious reader of books and often found himself lost in a world of his own and in the company of literature. He loved books so much that he made a library room in their cozy villa that was away from the noise and chaos of city life. Promila was fond of baking that often their home was filled with the aroma of cakes, biscuits, and muffins. She would bake for every occasion that came by and Debashish savored all her treats lovingly and often praised her skills.
Their neighbors, the Varmas and the Nairs often dropped in to exchange pleasantries and also to indulge in the lip-smacking treats made by Promila and she always made sure that they did not leave their home without some treats that she would always pack for them with love. Promila would be visited by her ex-students often as they adored her even after so many years of her retirement and they would always bring in gifts for their ‘dear’ teacher.
Debashish spoke less and was tough from outside but very soft from inside. He could never see Promila sad. Her smiles and hearing her chirpy talks and happy face made his days. During their intimate times he would read to her romantic lines from his favorite poets and she, in turn, would giggle and blush and reciprocate by comparing him to soft muffins and hard biscuits which would melt on one bite and a touch!
Promila loved knitting and she would make the most beautiful sweaters and mufflers for Debashish before winters would set in the dainty little town that they lived in. He in turn would grumble and would be reluctant to wear them stating the number of winter clothes that he already possessed yet he would wear her creations just to see her smile.
Days, months, and years went by. Life went on for this couple as usual as nothing new or different ever took place in their monotonous yet peaceful lives.
Like any other year, Debashish’s birthday was here and Promila had planned to bake his favorite cake. Like the usual routine in the morning, they had tea and breakfast together and Promila wished him a very happy birthday and gave him a kiss on his cheek, and presented him a muffler that she was knitting for months. As his birthday fell during the month of December, the frosty and winter season made everything look even more beautiful due to the snow laden mountains, chilly mornings, and nail biting severely cold nights. She had also planned a cozy dinner in the evening and called up her neighbors to join them for a quiet celebration along with them.
She later drifted towards the kitchen to bake his birthday cake and he, as usual, after reading the newspaper went on to get immersed in his world of books that took him to a different place altogether. He would hardly know what’s going on in the house once he entered his library. He was very excited to start reading a new book that he had placed an order for last week and it arrived exactly on his birthday. A new day and a new beginning it was for him. He settled down comfortably on his couch to begin reading and in no time he was enamored by the book and was marveled with the proficiency of the author and was transported to another world.
Hours went by when suddenly he realized that the house wasn’t engulfed by the aroma of freshly baked cake. He did hear a thud sound during his reading session but thought that a bag of flour would have fallen down as it had happened several times during her experiments while baking. He did call out her name but as she did not respond he thought she’s too engrossed in making the cake. He went on to read further while subconsciously he did realize that he wasn’t getting the whiff of the cake being baked inspite of hours of she being in the kitchen.
Just then he got up from his seat to check up on her and tiptoed to the kitchen. She was never fond of him entering the kitchen and making a fuss when she would be busy in her works.
He reached the kitchen only to find white powder (flour) spread on the floor and Promila was lying on the ground lifeless. He ran towards her to wake her but she was cold from head to toe and did not respond to any of his calls and shakes. She was ice cold. He ran to the Varmas and narrated the incident losing his breath now and then. They came running along with Debashish and dialed the ambulance. But she was declared dead on their arrival.
Debashish was heartbroken. He was shocked beyond belief. He felt his world had come to an end in the spur of a moment. His Promila was gone forever. He didn’t know to live a life without her by his side. He felt his future days sinking into oblivion. He became a stone with a heart that just beats for the mere purpose of staying alive.
After the rituals, he was alone, all by himself in a home that was filled with her smiles but not her physical presence. He would often stare into blank spaces not knowing what to do. He would open up her cupboard and touch and feel her starched cotton sarees that she lovingly draped and which made her look elegant. His eyes often welled up in tears when he would go into the kitchen and glance through the baking trays and all the ingredients that she would carefully stock up to surprise him every time she baked something new.
He would always wear the muffler to feel her presence with him. The Varmas and Nairs often dropped by to enquire about Debashish so that he doesn’t feel left out and lonely and would end up talking about Promila every single time on their visits. Such was her charisma and grace.
Often they would invite Debashish to their homes for lunch and dinner or send across food for him. But Debashish did not want to become a burden for them in any way so he ordered food for himself at a nearby restaurant that would deliver to his place and for which payment was to be done on a monthly basis. But without Promila by his side, he hardly could eat anything and nothing really interested him anymore in life.
But his books were still a savior. It gave him solace during his lonely days. But every time he came out from the world of books to reality, he found himself sad and pining for Promila.
Days and months passed by but her absence created an unavoidable void in his life that could not be filled up by any number of books he read. Promila was the reason for his existence but he could not accept the fact completely that she was no more in his life.
A year passed and yet again his birthday approached. He remembered this day, a year back, on the very same day, she was gone from his life.
He woke up, made a cup of tea for himself, wore the same muffler that she had last knitted for him. A drop of tear fell on the soft woolen fabric. The neighbors came down to wish him and left for their chores promising for a get-together in the evening. As there was nothing much to look forward to he walked across to his library to finish reading a pending book that he admired a lot. Hours went by.
Evening approached. The neighbors along with his favorite food rang the doorbell so as to spend time with him. As it was an exceptionally chilly winter evening that day everything seemed frozen and still. They didn’t receive a response from Debashish to their ringing of the doorbell. The Varmas had a spare key to Debashish’s house. They got worried and entered the house. It was totally dark inside. They turned on the lights and called out to Debashish. Still, there was no response to their calls.
They walked into the library only to see him on the couch with a book in hand. As they approached him, his body was cold and showed no kind of movement. He was no more. He passed away on his birthday. As they removed the book from his hands they noticed the name of the book, it was coincidentally titled, ‘Promila’ and Debashish had underlined every single line that had the name, ‘Promila’ in it.
Debashish passed away on 20th December, his birthday fell on 20th December, he was on page 20 of the book, and Promila, his dear wife passed away on December 20th, the previous year.
They were united in heaven. Debashish celebrated his birthday with Promila with God showering blessings on them for eternity.
No one could ever separate them anymore. They had met in a beautiful world called heaven where they could live on forever amidst angels and where Debashish could recite ballads of love to her to see her beautiful face glow with smiles and happiness forever.
Here's a poem to match with the story... ( The Banerjees)
Away We Go…
We’ll travel to land,
Holding each other’s hands,
Where everything’s so grand,
Like a fairyland.
We’ll live in a cozy home,
Our garden will have cute gnomes,
Amidst nature, we’ll roam,
Where the clouds resemble foam,
And by the river pen various poems.
As night falls,
The fox growls,
We’ll sit gazing at stars with oats in our bowls,
And take a quiet stroll,
Feeling calm and adoring each other’s souls.