-What are you doing, dear?
- Nothing special, darning for the same worship and other rituals.
-Just completed my breakfast; now I am just yet to serve. Then I have to mend the lunch. Oh! I may forget the reason for the phone. She also went out yesterday.
- Around four in the afternoon and returned after one and half an hour.
-Very weird and what about dada?
– He will not deem anything.
–Let’s stop, you need not tell anything, leave it to me. You have to keep your lip tight and don’t divulge anything to dada.
- But I am now very much worried. Is Maa in any affair?
- Boudi stop thinking. I may be in the next month then the entire matter may be shaken-up.
Ruma, the mother
The balcony is very suffocating and Ruma feels lonely here. But it happens nowadays only. The surrounded towers and skyscrapers are very penetrating. It has absorbed the fresh air and candidness. The bigger you are the lonelier you would be. Her son Bimbisher is married and Bouma Shruti has come. It is their love marriage, and when Ruma heard about them, she alone gave them permission. Shruti was non-Brahmin, not of their caste,
After Basab’s death, Ruma and her son Bimbishar were trying their best to live in this two-storey house. Her daughter Bidipta came only twice after her father’s death. It was not abnormal for her. She came only once in a year after her marriage, and Basab was living then. Basab used to ask her and she replied, ‘Baba, I wanted to come but your jamai couldn’t manage and this time is very competitive. For a narrow space, her promotion might be dropped.’ Basab understood everything, or pretended to understand, bobbed his head and silently perceived the physical severance from one person to another. Immediate after his death daughter Bidipta came but her husband Pronay couldn’t, or had not. Bidipta came to Ruma and in her sobbing tone said, ‘Maa, your jamai wanted to come but couldn’t manage for an unexpected task.’
It was an obituary occasion but the entire house was very crowded. Ruma liked it very much. Loneliness is always horrible for her. But she has to adopt a lonely life.
Bimbi goes out at the office at nine every morning and after that, the entire house becomes a dome for her. But no one could do anything. Bimbi goes out in the morning and returns at evening. Ruma spends her time by fiddling books, and by roving in her memory lane. She sporadically watched the black and white album of her marriage and remembered the days with Basab.
They together roamed by the river near their town. She also remembers how Basab said, ‘In my dearth, try to feel my touch in this flowing brook. I would be always with you, not physically but in this flowing brook.’
It was Saturday and Basab was born on Saturday. After his death, Ruma remembered everything and was waiting for the last Saturday of the month. On that day she gets ready and at four pm she comes out and sits beside the river. She dangles her legs and feels a sensation. She closes her eyes and feels a breath of Basab. Her locks fiddles in air, it seems Basab himself is making love with her, kisses her on her neck and forehead, and says, ‘ make me immortal with a kiss.’
That is her pleasure, that is her panacea potion for battling with her seclusion. For the first two months after Basab’s death, she goes once in a month then she decides for a fortnight after. And rest of the days she has to engage for that fifteenth date. After six months on a Sunday evening Bimbishar says, ‘After father’s demise I am brooding over your matter, and very afraid too, now it seems you have recovered the stage, I am quite happy with it.’ Ruma smirks and replies, ‘The first few days were really disturbing, I could not manage the solitariness. Now I am trying to solve the equation. I feel your father is with me, and he directs me every time.’
Bimbi and Bidipta or Bouma
– Dear, may I share you something? I have been thinking for a couple of months but cannot manage the courage.
– Okay, don’t swindle be straight and say.
- Once in a fortnight your mother goes somewhere, leaves the home in the afternoon and returns in the evening. I asked her several times but no reply.
–What is the need for your questions? You also roam like a bird and I hope my mother has not asked you anything.
Shruti hesitates and replies, ‘This is true, but something odd struck me.’
– You need not think much, the dead shouldn’t bury dead.
Shruti frowns and replies, ‘you know what has happened for Kanak’s mother, buzz spreads like open fire, and we all must be cautious if your mother...’
–Shruti! Don’t cross your limit.
Bimbishar gets angry. But he controls himself and says, ‘be straight of your words, I don’t want to live on the half plate.’
-Have you put any prior attention to my any consent, for you, I am just a know-nothing lady, and it is not me, your own sister is saying so.
- Oh! You are not unaccompanied. Manthara is also playing the cube.
– You may revert, but your sister is very pragmatic and practical, no one can believe you two are from the same womb.
- Now tell me what have you discussed?
- We were neither condemning you nor your mother. But we are all very afraid of her. She is leaving as her wish. Your mother is still very young and further her cycle is still going on.
-You two are of a dirty mind and don’t know how to tribute the elders. Probably it is your lineage and custom. My sister too is getting nasty.
–Yes, I am nasty, in our area just two streets away from here, one lady of your mother’s age fled with a young boy. She also has her son, daughter moreover grandson and daughter too.
Bibbishar shows his indignation but does not make any reply at once. He waits and then says, ‘It is better for you to switch for a job, and also ask your sweet Nanad for the same venture.’
Bimbishar or Bimbi and Maa
Everything is very mysterious. Bimbi does not ask any question. Ruma leaves the flat without mentioning anything to anyone. Bimbi is in the room, he immediately asks, ‘Mother, are you going somewhere?’
Ruma is not ready to answer. She has been fumbling and hesitatingly replies,‘Yes, I have a work to do.’
-Will you go by bus, or should I drop you?
–No, No, you need not be worried; I could manage by auto and by bus. You should take rest now. Ruma leaves at once, but something aggravates her. The situation is not welcoming; he has not asked anything till date. Does he doubt something, if it really goes, then what? ‘Mother is in a relationship.’
Ruma smirks. Should she reveal everything?
What might they think if the actual fact comes in the light? They all are children still, or kids.
Everything is getting hazy, not a single thing can be understood, and every equation is coagulating and becoming mysterious. When Baba was alive mother was also very jolly and no dubious matter could be perceived. Bimbi could not recollect any incident of broil between them. Mother tried to look after the family like her own shadow; even she recovered herself from the verge of mournfulness after the death of the father. There is hardly any question of an extramarital affair. Then! Is she in any part-time job, no it cannot be, she has a huge bank balance, and further if it is a part-time job then why is it only on Saturday? Is she in any course, computer, yoga, or something else? No, Bimbi cannot think more. If it continues he may get insane. Then! A family discussion is much needed now.
Dipu, Bidipta, the daughter
Ageing is very dangerous, it can make a man mad, and it spoils the mental stability. Otherwise such incident may not happen. Mother, at present, is the head of the family, goes out in her wish. After any misfortune or accident, they have to hide their face. Moreover Pronay neither likes this home nor like to come here. Her two daughters are teen now. They two are in the hostel; there is no question for vacation. If any incident happens everyone has to face the ditch. Boudi is paying heed but I don’t know how much Dada may pay attention. I have to go there otherwise the situation may be worse; any bicker may crop up between dada and Boudi for maa. She needs a serious discussion.
Dada Boudi and Nanad
-Yes, I have heard what you all say. One thing we all have to feel. What are we discussing now is based on a simple assumption; there is no concrete proof, at least what I have understood. Even we cannot directly ask our mother, then what to do.
- Now it is your turn to solve the riddle, we have just introduced the matter before you, but mind it, we have to face the battle if any discrepancy comes.
– Now say what can we do, mother is also aged now, she has already crossed her fifties, and this age is very threatening. Any unduly excitement can be fatal for her.
– No, there is no question of any dispute, just hear what your sister says. Your Maa goes out somewhere on every Saturday at three thirty to four of the afternoon and returns at the evening. Now we all have to fetch out the matter. If we follow her then the matter may be resolved. We will take another key and mother may take another, then we….’
- How does she go?
- By bus or auto.
– How do you know?
– One of our neighbouring Boudi once says this to me. She asks your Maa, but she avoids answering.
Maa, what are you doing, sitting in this dark river side? You may catch cold.
Ruma hears everything but does not reply. She heaves a sigh. Dipu her daughter stands beside Bimbi, she asks ‘Maa, please reply we are in great trouble and worried for you.’
Ruma exhales a deep air and starts to reply, “Just after one month of our marriage your father said, ‘You can feel my touch in this flowing brook. When your father was alive I did not find any relevance for his words but after his death, I have no option left but only to abide by his words.’ When I touch this flowing river it seems your father touches me. Though the river is getting thin by the paws of skyscrapers, its cemented steps have also been broken. Still it is my only ventilator of grief. I still love my husband.’
Evening pants over the afternoon and they all are waiting on the bank of this brook. But even the evening cannot understand if there is any droplet of brackish water in the eyes of anyone.