The Photograph

The Photograph

5 mins 2.0K 5 mins 2.0K

It was taken just after they got married. They lived in the period when girls were still shy to hold their husband's hand in public and so Bani had blushed all over when Aman put his arms around her while posing. It was one of those happy moments and the photographer had captured the very essence of their silent love. Now, when Aman looked at it, he could not believe what had just happened to him. His entire world had collapsed right in front of his eyes. No, Bani was not dead nor had she left him for someone else. The situation was way more complex than this. After all, it was 1947. The year which took everything away from so many families.

In a small state in Punjab, Aman and his family lived happily. Well, as happy as one can be living as slaves in their own country. Aman was a cloth merchant and his main work was to sew the clothes in a designated pattern. The intricate work was his wife's department. He never believed that women should be confined to the four walls of the kitchen. This was one of the few things that made his wife love him and respect him more than anything in the world. All in all, they had set an example for the couples living around them. That fateful day, Aman was about to leave for Kolkata to sell their stock of clothes. Bani was busy in the kitchen making snacks for her in-laws and her 4 year old girl and Aman was getting extremely late. He hated it when she made him late. He always hoped she would understand that he hated delays when it came to work. When she finally came out of the kitchen, Aman had had enough.

"'Don't you understand that if I miss this bullock cart, it won’t be available for another 8 hours?". Aman was fuming in rage but Bani did not say anything.

She handed him the packed bundle of merchandise and another bundle which had his clothes and food and water for the journey. Looking at it he asked curtly," I hope you did not forget to keep it"?, when she confirmed that she kept it, Aman just gave her a look and started on his way. Bani smiled and went back to tend to her chores. She knew her husband well enough. He was impatient and even though he seldom showed, she knew he loved her and so she never minded his chiding. After all, what is love without a few hiccoughs down your way.

In another part of the country, talks were on to announce the independence for India. Everywhere, people were happy and celebrating and Aman was on his way to Kolkata, unaware of any such news. When the information finally reached him, he was already halfway. He had to reach back to his family at any cost as along with the news of independence, the talks of partition were floating too. No one was ready to give a lift back to his place. It was few days until he caught hold of a bullock cart going to his place. He had to pay triple the fare and all his merchandise but by the time he finally arrived near his village, it was too late. The die was cast. His village was now a part of Pakistan and he was stuck here. His home, his parents, his wife and kid, all gone due to this separation. He was not the only one. Till date, there is no count of the families separated during partition. It’s extremely sad to even think about something like this happening to somebody but that's life. You never know when it will stick a burning rod in your heart and pull your entrails out.

Aman sat on the bed of the guest house remembering his home. Silently, he opened the small bundle of clothes his wife had packed. He was still musing over the loss of his entire world when "it" fell down. He couldn't control his tears looking at it. It was the photograph of his wife blushing. He remembered how rudely he had answered her during their last conversation. At that point, all he wanted to do was somehow go back and apologize to her. Unfortunately, that was something not possible at all. He knew that she would care for his parents and his kid selflessly. He knew she would step up to be their son when they would remember him but he did not know who will take care of her. Who will pacify her when she would silently cry in the pillow at night. He knew he had to get back to his family somehow. The photograph served as a constant reminder of his mission to get back to his family. He tried several ways to get into Pakistan but it was the time the deadly riots broke out. The Hindus were busy killing the Muslims and vice versa. You couldn’t even trust your own shadow.

Every night he used to pray to God to keep his family safe and everyday he used to wake up with a rejuvenated vigour to see his family once more. This continued for a long time until one day he coughed blood. The doctors confirmed that he had acquired tuberculosis and it was very bad. For a second, it felt like some big fat joke was going around. It was as if someone was conspiring against him and was not ready for him to meet his family at all. Aman came back and slid into the arm chair. His eyes moistened at the thought of his family. And then he looked at the wall in front of him and smiled. His wife blushed back from the photograph. He couldn’t stop smiling. He was not the person who was going to cry hearing he was going to die. He was strong and whatever days he was left with, he was going to spend it in the remembrance of his loved ones and continue to find ways to reunite with them. It was as if the photograph was giving him an unknown strength. No, he didn’t survive. He lost the battle against death but till the end, he was the strong resolute person his family knew him to be. Yes, he couldn’t be united to his wife again but not all love stories have a happy ever after ending. At times few memories are enough to leave their fragrance for many centuries to come and sometimes it’s just a photograph which keeps you going till the end and beyond.

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