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Susmita Banik

Abstract


4.5  

Susmita Banik

Abstract


Will I Be All Alone?

Will I Be All Alone?

14 mins 381 14 mins 381

Today was my sister Leela's marriage. Or should I say “is”? Technically, it should be “yesterday”, as the date has changed. But I have not yet slept at night. So, I cannot say it is tomorrow. Did I confuse you? Fine, I will clear all the confusion once I have got them sorted. Again, there are a lot of other things that I am still confused about. Such as, why my brother Bhaku has been playing hide-and-seek for the past three years. Leela told me that he has become a star. How can so large Bhaku become a small star? I think she is lying. Also, why my younger brothers go to the office and I play at home with my friends, who are actually my nephews and nieces. Let's leave all that confusion. It is not good for me to be worried about these. I am only 40 years old. I need to grow up and when I will go to the office, I will sort out all the confusion. I will let you know when it is sorted.

Do you know something? Leela might live with her husband Ajit from tomorrow. She will go to her “Shoshur Bari” – whatever that is supposed to mean. I told the mother to try and see if Leela and Ajit can stay with us. Ajit is fun to play around with. Before today's marriage, he used to come to our home at least twice a week and play with us. Leela used to see him and laugh from her room. I think Leela used to be jealous that Ajit was having fun with us. Whenever I talk to Leela about Ajit, she blushes. When I ask my brothers about this, they keep laughing. Now, I told you...this is another confusion. Ajit always brings toffees for me. But Leela does not let me eat more than two toffees a day. She says that I will spoil my teeth. My mother's teeth have been spoilt. I have never seen her eating toffees. Leela is a fool. But only I can say that because she is my sister and not yours. Mark my words.


Actually, Jatin is the guy with whom Leela was supposed to get married earlier. In a way, it is good that Leela is not getting married to Jatin. Ajit is better because he plays with me. When Jatin was around, my younger brother used to tease Leela about Jatin and she used to blush. Jatin was a bad choice for my sister, if I may say so. He never brought chocolates for us. He used to bring flowers for Leela. Why did he not understand that we already have a garden adjacent to our home? There are a lot of flowers there. In fact, he always brought red roses only. I told my mother to use the rose petals in food. She refused to do so and rebuked me. My crazy sister used to save those flowers within newspapers. And when they were dry enough, she would again transfer them to books. I was always of the opinion that they should have been used in food. It would have tasted sooooo good. And one day, she threw away all the dried petals. The dried petals already became wet with her tears. She was crying so much that day. It was her birthday. She was supposed to go for a movie with Jatin. She dressed up for that. She wore the new red dress that the mother got for her. She was looking like a princess. She is actually the princess of our home. I am always at her beck and call. And that fateful day, she came down the stairs. Jatin was ogling at her. She came down and Jatin said something in her ears. She blushed and laughed. They were talking very softly. I tried to eavesdrop, but could not hear anything. When I asked Leela “What did Jatin say?”. She blushed, smiled, and asked me to fill a bottle with water so that she could take it with her. I went to the kitchen to get the water. Now I know that I need to wash the bottle before filling it. Mother always says that we should stay away from germs. While I was washing and then filling the bottle, I heard Leela screaming. I was taken aback. She was giggling a couple of minutes ago and now she is shouting. By the time I came to the living room, I saw that mother, my elder brothers, sisters-in-law, and my eldest nephew were already there. As soon as I entered, Leela saw me and started howling at Jatin. He was standing like a thief. Serves him fine. He never brought chocolates for us. My mother asked my eldest nephew to take me upstairs and play with me. But I did not want to miss the action. Leela looked like a witch while she was crying and everybody else's expression was quite serious. Alas, I had to go upstairs because mother forced me to do so. I could hear Leela shouting and crying for the next 15 minutes and then everything was quiet. She must have left for the movies. I came downstairs to have lunch in the afternoon. There was pin-drop silence in the house. The door to Leela's room was closed. She has this bad habit of closing the door when she leaves for somewhere or when she is sad. I had a simple dal khichdi for lunch. But my sister-in-law told me that if I sleep in the afternoon and don't disturb anyone, then she would make begun for me in the evening. I had my lunch and went off to sleep. When I woke up in the evening and came downstairs, the house was still quiet. Leela was sitting in the balcony and throwing away the rose petals. My eyes were puffed as I had slept too much. But Leela's eyes were swollen. I asked her if she had slept during the movies. She did not reply. She can be quite arrogant at times. Again, only I am allowed to say that because she is my sister. I went to my sister-in-law to ask for the beguni. She said that she has forgotten and she would make them for me tomorrow. For today, she asked me to settle with a chocolate milkshake. I told her “OK.I will settle for that, but you will have to give me beguni tomorrow.” Let me tell you a secret. I love chocolate milkshake, too. But I reacted as if I don't like it much, so that my sister-in-law will make beguni for me tomorrow. I came to the balcony and saw that mother was consoling my little sister. She said “There are certain things over which we have no control, my child. If he did not understand you, that is his fault. Your brother is in-nocent, not in-sane. If Jatin did not understand his innocence, that is Jatin's fault. Don't worry. Life will not come to a standstill because of this. You have your entire family and your lovely brother (must be me) with you. Jatin's perspective and your perspective did not match. Leave that chapter of life aside and go ahead..... See your brother has brought chocolate milkshake for you” and she smiled at me. Oh my God! Would I have to give the milkshake to her? I do not want to give it to her. I had to offer her because the mother had already told her. But I moved my hand away from her. All of a sudden, she started smiling and told me that she does not need it. I could have the entire glass of milkshake. I asked her how was the movie. She said that she did not go to the movies at all. Now I understood why her room's door was closed in the afternoon. She was crying, and so her eyes were swollen. Jatin must have done something very bad. So, she was angry with him. Leela has this wonderful talent. She can cry and be angry at the same time. I can cry when mother beats me. Or be angry when Maa stops me from eating. But, I cannot do both together. After two days, I asked Leela if Jatin would come to meet her that day. She replied that Jatin would “never, ever” come to our house and she would “never. ever” get married to him. I was happy that Leela would not go to Jatin's house in the long term. He is a miser as he never brought chocolates.


But, after a few months, Ajit came to our house with his family. I particularly remember that day because the food was so good. I kept on gorging until Maa forced me to get up from the chair. After a few weeks, Leela started going out with Ajit. Unlike Jatin, Ajit used to spend a lot of time with us - playing, giggling, and chatting. But, he could never get my wicket in cricket. He always dropped the catch or bowled wide balls while playing with me.

A couple of weeks ago, Maa called all our family members to her room and told us that Leela's marriage was to be on today's date. Ajit would have to leave for another city as he had switched his job and his parents want him to be married before he leaves. So, everyone was given responsibility. I kept on asking that what would my responsibility be, everyone asked me to stay quiet. When I threw tantrums, Leela told me that I would have to taste all items and sanction whether they were fit to be fed to all the invitees on the day of the marriage. I was the chief approver. She also said that she had another important job for me. But she could only tell me that on the day of the marriage. I asked her so many times, but that selfish girl said that she will not tell that to me before the day of marriage. So be it. Foolish girl. On her day of marriage, would I be looking after the guests and approving food, or waiting for the chores? She does not understand anything. She is too immature. From the week before the marriage, I had so much fun. So many relatives had come from all over India. They had lots of children. I played with them all day. The food was not cooked by Maa or my sisters-in-law, but by cooks who had come from elsewhere. There was so much food and that too so tasty. I loved it. If only we could continue this forever. I went to Maa with the proposal. She answered that she would lock me in the attic if I uttered nonsense. I am afraid of the attic. So, I came back to play again. We sang and we danced for almost a week. We had so much fun. Maa bought new dresses for me. And the most important thing is that Leela was so happy. She is my younger sister. I love her too much. I like it when she is happy.


On the day of the wedding, we were all too busy in merry-making. All of a sudden Leela started crying. I was surprised. Then I got to know that the blouse with her wedding saree was too big for her. She was dieting for the past few weeks. Hence, the problem. I told her to eat all this while. Had she listened to me, she would not have landed into this trouble. That is the reason that you should always listen to your elders. But this silly girl did not listen to me. Now, she will suffer. Leela is my younger sister. I don't like it when she cries. Maa told her to stop crying and my sister-in-law would make the adjustments. Leela started howling as she could not find the thread of matching colour. Maa called me and asked me to get the thread. I went to the market and found a shop that sells threads. But it was closed. It remains closed on Thursday and today was indeed Thursday. The next nearby shop was at a distance of fifteen minutes by auto. Maa told me to walk fast and get the thread. So, I could not board the auto for getting to the next shop. I walked and reached the shop for more than an hour later. I was panting. The shopkeeper offered water. But I told him that Maa has asked for the thread urgently. I took the thread, paid the money, and returned home. My legs were aching. But I still kept walking. Leela had to look nice on her wedding. Finally, I reached home. Leela scolded me for being so late. Dada slapped me as everyone was worried about me. If they were worried about me, why did he have to slap me? Next time I am worried about Dada, I will pinch him too. I sat down and started massaging my legs. My right leg was swollen. Leela saw me and asked where had I been. I told her the entire story. She started crying again. But I had already brought the thread. Why was she crying now? Leela told Dada and Maa the entire story. I could see teary-eyed Maa saying - “What will happen to him after I am gone?”. Not sure which trip she is planning for. Maybe I can coax her so that I could accompany her. Dada, who slapped me earlier for being late, brought sweets for me. They were delicious. I was tired after walking and eating and went off to sleep.

When I woke up in the evening, everyone was getting dressed for the wedding. I too wore my new kurta and pajama. Leela was looking so pretty – decked up in a red saree (the blouse already adjusted) and the jewelry. She looked like the prettiest girl on earth. Maa kept looking at her and my sister-in-law was putting kajal behind her ears. The marriage ceremonies started. Leela still did not tell me what were the chores she had planned for me. One must be getting the thread for her on the day of the marriage. What was the other one? I tried to reach out to her, but she was busy at the mandap. Then I saw that she was trying to find someone in the crowd. I raised my hand, but she did not see me. My youngest brother came searching for me. He told me that Leela had some important work for me. I went to the mandap and she told me that I was to go ahead with the ceremony of kanyadaan. I did not know how to do it. She told me that the pandit would tell me what to do. I sat at the mandap. Everyone was staring at me. I felt like a V.I.P., if I may say so myself. It must be a very important task. The pandit asked me to repeat after him all the hickory-poker gibberish that he was saying. Once I said all of that he asked me to pour water. I love playing with water. Now I understand why Leela wanted me to do this. Then I had to throw flowers. I like throwing things. Yeeaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! This was fun. Leela told the pandit that I was the person who was always with her and cared for her. So, kanyadaan should be my privilege, even if I did not understand it. True, Leela always wants me to have fun, and throwing flowers and pouring water is always enjoyable. Kanyadaan is done. All this while people kept staring at me. Maa was teary-eyed

(yet again). When I asked her the reason, she said that she was overwhelmed with joy. I never cry when I am happy. Maybe only Maa can do that. She is actually God, you know. The dinner was very good. Leela would leave with Ajit after some time. But I was sleepy because I had to do a lot of important work. I came upstairs to sleep.


The next day when I woke up, I found a letter with my toys. It was from Leela. It said “Dear Brother, I am going to live in a different city with Ajit. It will be months before I meet you again. I will forever love you and will keep thinking about you. Call me. I will miss you. From your little sister Leela”. Leela was gone. She would no longer be living with us. She would come after months, stay a couple of days with us, and again go away. What would I do now? I could not play all day as my nephews and nieces need to go to school as well. I used to spend my entire day with my little sister. I started throwing away my toys. I did not want any of these, or maybe I wanted only one or two. But I needed Leela. I could not stay without her. I started crying. Neither Dada nor my sister-in-law could stop me. I was angry and tearful at the same time, like Leela. I will have to tell her that I can also do it now. No, I won't tell her anything. I will not even talk to her. Selfish girl. She left us and now will stay with that Ajit. In the last few months, Ajit played with us because he wanted to learn the games and play with Leela later. Bad Ajit. Awful Ajit. Ma tried consoling me. I cried. She kept on consoling me. My cries turned into sobs. Maa kept talking to me. I stopped crying. But I was still worried that what would I do all day. My Leela had already left me. Bhaku also left me three years ago. Earlier I used to play with my brothers. They too had stopped playing long back. Maa says that someday, my nephew and nieces would also stop playing with me. Would I be all alone? And cry every time someone left. Would Maa be the only one who will stay with me or is it true that she will also go to Bhaku someday? I do not know. But I am confused about what will happen to me. Can you answer my questions? Someone? Somewhere? Anyone? Anywhere?



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