Tapan and Meghna met at the Mumbai Airport. Thirty years have passed. Meghna Agarwal loved Tapan Dasgupta. She felt dejected throughout her life and harbored a feeling of hurt because Tapan apparently looked upon her more as a sibling, or as a friend. The four feet Meghna was very smart and good at everything she did, like painting, sawing, cooking; she was good at studies too, but she never got the kind of attention she expected from Tapan. Reason? She never asked.
Tapan was her and Mrinal’s friend. Mrinal and Meghna were twins. Very big Marwari family; the eldest brother Sanjay was in the US, then Mrinal and Meghna followed by another twins, Rajesh and Rina. Strange that both Meghna and Rina had the same height, but were successful in whatever they did, be it studies or acquiring vocational skills; from gardening to keeping the house clean to learning Japanese, they showed early signs of ideal homemakers. Their parents were divorced long ago. While Mrinal and Meghna stayed with their father in a rented flat in Deshapriya Park, Rajesh and Rina stayed in their mother’s huge bungalow in Gariahat with her.
Tapan was Mrinal’s and Meghna’s classmate, he became a part of their family sooner than he could imagine. He found it rather interesting that despite being divorced, Mrinal’s parents literally stayed together all the time. It was really a privilege to be in the middle of such an emancipated couple, he thought. While Mrinal's father wanted to involve Tapan in their family business in Kolkata, his mother also took a liking on Tapan; she would write beautiful poems in Bengali which she’d expect him to edit. Tapan always obliged.
All the members of the family, including Sanjay, thought it was obvious for Tapan to be a part of their family, which he was. While the two were talking at the Airport, little dialogues kept popping up from the past, as silent ghosts.
‘Meghna, I want to tell you something. There’s this girl called Madhumita.’
‘Who Tapan? The one in our class?’
‘Ah, you got it right… I think I am in love with her.’
‘Okay! Great!, but don’t forget she is also Bhattacharya, you had a miserable experience with Shipra some months ago…and you said you were done with the Bhattacharyas…remember?’
‘Ha ha ha!! Maybe it is pre-determined! But other than that, do you approve?’
‘Yes why not?’
Meghna’s family had a huge farmhouse in the outskirts of Kolkata. All her friends, including Madhumita and Tapan went there to spend some time; it so happened that Tapan proposed to Madhumita in her farmhouse. Before their marriage, the Agarwals invited the couple in the BRC (Bengal Rowing Club).
Rajesh asked Madhumita, ‘You have your father and brother? What does your father do?’
‘Yes Rajesh! My brother is in Class IX. Father is working in a Pharmaceutical company; as a General Manager.’ answered Madhumita.
‘So… how well do you know Tapan (smiles)?’ asks Rajesh.
‘I know I am not his first love, neither is he mine.’ replied Madhumita.
Rajesh was taken aback and he said, ‘But we feel cheated.’
‘Cheated?’ Tapan intervened, he didn’t understand. He asked, ‘why do you say so Munna (Rajesh’s ‘pet’ name)? Who has cheated you? Please let me know. I cannot see the family cheated.’
They sat at the Airport looking at each other, didn’t take much time to rewind and talk in their usual way. Meghna, like most of her siblings, except Mrinal, never got married. She is an event Manager; others have set up a firm in Rajasthan; they have all left Kolkata. Her mother still lives in Gariahat, visits the children off and on, writes poems, perhaps still expects someone to edit them. Her father is no more; he died not as a husband, but surely as the most perfect father and probably as the most beloved best friend. Meghna still thinks like Rajesh. Deep inside she feels Tapan should eventually have to repent. Just before leaving:
‘Oh I forgot to ask, how is Madhumita?’
‘She’s fine. Thanks!’
‘And how’s your daughter?’
‘She’s fine too…thanks Meghna…it was great catching up with you… a BIG hi to everyone in the family!’ Saying this he hurried towards the gate… couldn’t listen to her last question though:
‘What's your daughter's name? Is she tall?’