Subhadeep Bandyopadhyay



Subhadeep Bandyopadhyay


Those Five Minutes

Those Five Minutes

5 mins

It was Seema's birthday and also it was her first birthday after marriage. She expected Rajan to remember it and do something special for her. Rajan got a job in a multinational company, in the trying times of Corona after much deliberation and persistence clearing training and showcasing the aptitude level required for the job. At first, things went well as it was a work from home opportunity and both of them shared responsibilities of setting up the home in order after the completion of job roles. Seema was an independent woman and she never wanted to be a burden on her husband. She had made her point clear before marriage. Though Rajan was a bit lucky, Seema was not so. She got a job in Grameen school which was far from her residence and she had to commute by auto, taxi, and train to reach the village.

Being in the company of orphan boys in school used to give her happiness as she thought she was not only doing her bit for the family income but bringing the light of education to poor orphan students and fulfilling her social obligation as well. With strict restrictions in place from the school authorities she had to check the answer sheets, conduct online classes as well as be part of teacher-student interaction through skype. She visited the school thrice every week to attend staff meetings, talk to colleagues helping them in the setting of the syllabus, or for taking the salary.

In school, her colleague Ratna was her best buddy and she confided in her happiness and sorrow and her expectations from life as well.

Meanwhile, Rajan used to be busy for 12-15 hours every day and couldn't do much apart from calling her through cell phone, sending Good morning, and Have your lunch on-time messages.

The parents of both sides were happy to see their children preoccupied with their occupation.

Seema and Rajan could see each other's faces only during the night with the body tired and revolting and it was quite natural this was affecting their conjugal life as well. In the morning when Rajan would wake up Seema would hurriedly make the breakfast, keep some food for Rajan in the fridge, pack a lunch for herself and leave for school with a smile while when she would return in the evening Rajan would be fixed to his laptop, taking conference calls, talking to clients, discuss business proposals or giving presentations. In very little time  they understood the value of five minutes in their daily life.

One day Ratna asked Seema if she was happy with her married life. Although she replied in the affirmative but deep down something was revolting.

They both wanted to run away and would fancy a dream vacation for a honeymoon but in the present circumstances, it appeared a faraway dream.

Very soon Seema was expecting a baby and they both agreed that running after money was all the more important because the expansion of family would bring additional responsibilities.

Seema reminded Rajan who was 15 years senior him that the day was special for her and not to forget today was her birthday. It is true in arranged marriages the union of the family becomes all the more important but it takes months to years for couples to understand the true place of each other in their lives and often tiny things could give rise to conflicts. The same was happening to Seema and Rajan as well.

While Seema wanted an off from school, Rajan requested leave from the office which was duly rejected. So Rajan in turn decided to book flowers from an online store and send it to her in school to show her that he cared. While Seema ordered food from Jimmy's dhaba so that they could enjoy moonlight dinner in the homely setting but destiny had other plans for them.

When Seema reached school, she was called in the Principal's cabin and told due to COVID, the governing body had decided to close the school for an indefinite period. To put it simply she lost her job. Though the flowers arrived at school on time but  by then the joy of the birthday had evaporated and signs of tension could be seen on Seema's face.

When she reached home she was startled, the home looked tidy with everything in place, her favorite cuisine on the dining table and Rajan holding her in an embrace and wishing her happy birthday. As she cut the birthday cake she fondly remembered how her father would bring gifts for her on her birthday when she was at school with his savings. This brought tears to her eyes. She couldn't disclose that she had lost the job to Rajan lest he would get tensed. She thought she would do that the first thing in the morning. In bed, another surprised waited for her when Rajan told that he had resigned from the job following an altercation with the boss and requested Seema to support her financially for some time till he found a better opportunity.

Seema was stunned. She couldn't understand if she should laugh or cry and how fate can be so cruel. Since both were jobless with the expectant baby those five minutes of togetherness lost all its hue.

At that very instant the calling bell rang and as Seema got up to open the door it was Seema's and Rajan's parents, who have heard the good news of the baby's arrival came to visit them to share their happiness.

Both of them shared the truth about the developments that had taken place and said they would again try, without accepting defeat to get back into sound financial condition. Also, their parents' presence helped them to revisit their life and discover their lost zeal and enthusiasm.

Sometimes life brings us to the crossroads, to test whether we can make the best of the five minutes we all have in our lives. Seema and Rajan could do that because they had faith, love, and longing for each other. To fight or surrender, if an option, they decided to fight the times together arm in arm to bring in a new tomorrow!

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