It is Tail—I Won the Toss
It is Tail—I Won the Toss12 mins 17.2K 12 mins 17.2K
One winter afternoon at Sahara Prestige Apartment in Kharda, in suburban Kolkata, Sanjay rang the doorbell of Flat no. 203 of Shristi Tower. He felt being viewed from peep-hole; door got opened. Maya could not recognise him at once with the obstacle of thick beard-face. "Whom do you want?" Maya enquired with her commanding voice which ought to compel anyone to be timid. "I am Sanjay, Palash's school friend, staying at Barua-para."
Sanjay was hesitant; am I in the wrong building or flat? Time had not tattered her confidence, appearance and sadistic gesture. "Undoubtedly it is Maya…"Sanjay solemnised himself. Maya scrutinised her both random access and read-only memory. "Oh! Sanjay-da, come in, how are you? Where are you nowadays?" Sanjay smiled and glanced at the drawing room. Not much change in arrangements- bookshelves, showcase, wall hanging, Bishnupur's terracotta horses and set of Tabla1 on divan were as before except absence of Tanpura2 and re-positioning of sofa and divan.
He could find his untitled painting (title could be ‘Contemplate') drawn while studying in Indian Art College. The theme was copied from a Russian artist's masterpiece and Indianized. The painting depicted a young lady at the door of her village hut with a nervous and apathetic gesture to appease the never- ending time for beloved. He had gifted it to Palash as his marriage-gift; was still placed in the adjacent corner of the drawing room and dining area. Sanjay sat on a sofa and politely dodged, "All fine! What about you? How are Sejuti and Sayantika doing?" "Are you not in touch with your friend?" She enforced without sagacity. Before Sanjay could guess the milieu she articulated her alacrity with assurance and confirmation.
Sanjay recollected the evening almost four years back. Sejuti was in class four and Sayantika was in class one. Being a vagabond bachelor (as Palash addresses him) Sanjay seldom visited Palash's home. It was his struggle phase to establish himself as a painter. Therefore, he was not well aware how friends were doing. Palash was happy to see him. They revived old memories. Palash proposed to play the Sarangi he was abinitio disciple of a renowned guru in Kolkata. Palash's father was a folk singer;, music was in his gene. He occupied playing the raga ‘Ahiri'. It was Greek to Sanjay, he only knows there are six Ragas and each having six wives i.e. thirty-six Raginis. Palash played almost for fifteen minutes with closed eyes and devotion. It was somewhat melodious. Sanjay cherished the effort and hurried to make a move. Palash propounds to have supper with him. Sanjay was in a willy-nilly situation, could not disprove the heartiest gesture.
Sejuti and Sayantika were studying in the bedroom. Sanjay pointed a photograph inside the bookshelf, ‘Who is the beautiful lady with your daughter?" Palash enthusiastically conjured, "She is Miss Malavika, my daughter's dance teacher, completed her master's in dance from Rabindra Bharati University with a gold medal." He paused, "She belongs to well-known Mukherjee family of ‘Mukherjee para." Sanjay was least interested about the teacher's background. Talks continued for another half an hour in diversified subjects from music to art, politics, and economics...with cigarettes. Out of the blue, Maya appeared like Goddess Kali and busted without preamble, "Are you a responsible father? Do you know that your daughters are having the cycle test after two days"?
She continued, "You want to have a fun time with your friend by denouncing all your family responsibilities?" It was enough; Sanjay felt his stomach was full with food of different tastes; hot, sweet and sour. The floor was dangling. He stood up at once and proposed to leave with explicit determination. Palash pulled his arm and asked him to stay and coolly replied to Maya, “I know my duty, would accomplish. "Maya left like a hurricane. Sanjay had the most embarrassed and distasteful dinner in his life and relinquished at 10 pm.
A lot of water flowed in the Ganges during last four years. Sanjay is somewhat a familiar name among art-coir. His schedule subverted with multi-directional acumen, from art to bread, love to hypocrisy. He rarely met acquaintance like Nandan, Aniruddha, and Sudipto, they are devoted husband and dedicated father within the professional cocoon. He heard Palash is passing thru family fracas, yet could not show adequate curiosity to share the joy and woe of a good friend. Therefore, he could not even extempore as Maya ventured without preface, "Do you know Malavika?" Sanjay could rewind his fainted memory, ‘the lady dance teacher of Palash's daughter'. He could equate some affiliation with Palash.
She is young, fair, beautiful, educated, dynamic, intelligent and professional; a damn contrast with Maya. I stumbled, "Perhaps…." She emphasised, "You might have forgotten." Sanjay ought to shake his head. She continued without vigour inconsistency."What the hell is going on between my husband and that bitch?' Maya's patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst. Sanjay knew that she was serious. 'Look, Maya. There is nothing going on between the two of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I'd say. ‘Flirting, a healthy flirting, Really Sanjay ...?' she rolled her eyes in disgust. 'That's what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man.
Healthy flirting is a term introduced by perverted men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.' She got up from her seat and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to her. Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, 'Did my husband sleep with her? You are his friend. Did he ever tell you anything about it?' Sanjay was speechless, by observing his flabbergasted gesture. Maya's wilder desperation got further ignited. She continued with ruckus pitch, "Palash pondered, I do not know anything, his indifferent attitude towards me and family is intolerable..." Sanjay looked at Maya with curious promulgation and tried to soothe, "Actually..!" Maya boiled up furiously, "Please do not advocate for your hypocrite friend. He always takes benefit of a doubt with innocent appearance and intellectuality…"
She paused to rejuvenate her thoughts in perfect order. "There is a long list of shabby occurrence and awkward happenings rather healthy flirting in your words; I can prove his involvement and tactical style of seducing and sodomising the women." She took a deep breath, "Don't you remember what happened in Mainak's reception, Palash was hugging… “She broke down. Sanjay fumbled between devil and deep sea. She may reach to any extent; unless justifies her grudge. Sanjay is neither interested in console nor to get into conjugal impasses. The exclusive way to get rid of; be a good listener instead… Suddenly Maya realised she might be overreacting or revealing her weakness, she should not expose her obsession.
She made an unexpected U-turn and proposed, "Tea or Coffee?" Sanjay grabbed the spot of light around the darkness and deciphered an escape route. He acted instantly, "I am in a hurry." He paused, "Actually, my Mother expired on 17th of instant and her spiritual ritual would be commenced on 30th. Maya reacted diffidently," I am sorry I did not allow you even to put your concern rather imposed mine" Sanjay succumbed," Nothing wrong, my attire and pose do not reflect the gratitude of my grief, I did not take Dhara4nor am I observing any rituals barring self-contained restriction." Sanjay owned, "Basically an obituary with near and dear followed by a dinner." Maya gesticulated with inability. "Your friend is in Delhi to attend guruji's recital, I do don't know whether as a participant or as an audience!" She shrugged, "I ought to run the show with my daughters."She exhaled her grief, "I have opened a boutique in the society near the main entrance of society; you may…."Sanjay glanced at Maya and drawing room and bid an adieu.
Sanjay could spot a signboard ‘Sejuti Boutique' and shop; it is Palash's garage, but where is his car? One middle-aged man was cutting cloth and a young lady is busy stitching. Two swing-machines were idle. There is no approbation of a flourishing business. Sanjay could align the jig-saw of past four years.
A year later Sanjay met Aniruddha in Kharda railway-station; the destination for both was in opposite direction. In course of short talk, Aniruddha revealed Palash's conjugal relationship has touched the bottom. Palash had purchased a flat in posh society near Garia, where he stays alone and engaged with music other than his professional existence. The announcement of the departure and arrival of trains did not linger the talk. Sanjay took Palash's mobile number.
Months passed he could not manage or felt the urge to disturb Palash. One morning Sanjay's mobile rang continuously, after two missed calls he attended. A sharp but confident echoing voice from either side jittered, "Sleeping so late." I murmured, "Who is it?" "Saala, I am Palash, don't you remember me gaarol?" An untainted Palash's sentenced amalgamated with slangs. He promulgated his peppy presence as ever. "No actually, I…slept late..." Sanjay replied with bewilderness. "Why you are fuzzy and pleading with austerity… listen to this Raga first, then we would talk." Palash's affirmation did not allow Sanjay to speak further. Sanjay had left no other option than to listen by suppressing the natural urges.
It was Raga ‘Vairavhi' which continued more than five minutes. However, he could find it quite melodious, balanced and confident. Sanjay's love with classical music has shaken his senses, he becomes spellbound and mesmerised. Palash poked, "How was it?" Sanjay replied, “Incredible, marvellous! ”Look now I am the disciple of Guru…" Sanjay, exclaimed, "How could you manage to get into his touch?" This is a long story I will discuss with you later. Tell me how you are?" "I am fine. Please excuse me, for a while; I shall call you back after some time." Sanjay replied instantaneously. Palash did not pick the call after half an hour. At seven in the evening, he received a call from Palash, "I am back from office; I shall celebrate my musical Saturday evening music engrossed with the drink. Before I enter into my world let us talk a while." Sanjay hesitated, "But..?" "I know you have a lot of questions and queries, might have some information, and let me be brief." Palash's voice became little shady. Sanjay retained silence.
Palash revealed how their conjugal life had a roller coaster ride with skeptic vacillation by Maya. All His movements were scrutinised under suspicion. Friends, relatives, and acquaintance have kept away. Even his daughter stood against him. He was dragged into police station twice, later released by the generosity of well-wisher as there was no circumstantial evidence. Maya tried to invoke the people from the parental home area, Shaktinagar but could not succeed. She approached higher authority in Palash's office with her brother and a less reputed political leader to expose his cruelty to draw sympathy and share a major chunk of salary.
All her desperation had gone in vain. Despite all turmoil, he never stopped depositing a handsome amount of money for monthly expenses, school, clothes and ceremonial expenses (like Durgapuja). Ultimately she has moved for legal action. After listening quietly Sanjay enquired with modesty, "I do not understand why and how all these began?" Palash took a breath and explicitly uttered from Manusmriti, "Triya charitram, Purushasya bhagyam, Devo Na Janati, Kuto Manushya… (I.e. A woman's character and a man's destiny, even gods can't gauge)" Unhesitatingly I enquired, "Where is Malavika" Palash was not ready for the question. He reassembled the thought and replied, "I feel pity for the sober lady and her family, whirlwind and dismay of my family has damaged her social and family reputation too." Sanjay exclaimed generously, "But how?" "Maya visited Malaika's home at least thrice in my absence and knowledge, in course relentlessly rebuked her parents even with slang." Palash paused. "A month later she got the job of a dance teacher in Sagar, MP in a residential school and shifted." "Have you tried to contact her?" Sanjay asked. "Her parents denied giving her address and contact number when I visited her home for an apology."Palash deluged with grief, "She should be happy." Summarize unexpectedly with a big subversive laughter."Now I am practicing music and facing too; Aaamar bhitor bahire antore antore, aacho tumi… (I feel your presence and spirit within me and in eternal world…), time is running out, let me drop now" Palash cut the call.
Six months later Sanjay visited Garia to attend cousin's marriage. He made a call to Palash pretending to stay the night with him as he invited many times. Tomorrow is Sunday; therefore none should be in a hurry. "I have a musical gathering with some of my acquaintances with drink; hence I shall call you tomorrow." Palash declined and cut the call. Next morning Sanjay received a call, " I hope you did not mind" He paused, "Let me share some information , I had a heart attack three months back, may have more as per doctor" he laughed. Sanjay screamed, "Do not take it easy!" Palash cohered," Life is short, why not to make it shorter, thus I have started living for to-day." Sanjay had no further words to console or advice. "My divorce is at the brink, may be the matter of month or two." "Malavika is back, she serving in Barrackpore Central School as a dance teacher." Palash ridiculed.
Three months passed Sanjay received a call from Aniruddh, "Do you know Palash is not more?" Sanjay Exclaimed, "How?" "He died ten days back due to massive heart attack, might be in the night; maid discovered the body next morning on the bed. The door is open Sarangi laid on the floor; half-finished whiskey glass, Joy Goswami's latest verse collection on dining table" As per Palash's last wish Maya and his daughters were not informed."Malvika received a call from Palash's mobile made by the neighbor and attended the funeral. She informed Maya thru her neighbor about Palash's demise, but none turned up.
Sanjay received a call from Mr. Dipesh Datta, lawyer of Barrackpore court, "Please attend the MrPalash'ssraddha(obsequies cum obituary).There is a will framed by Mr. Palash Das which is to be unveiled. You got the power of attorney for implementing the will." Shraddha was organised in Palash's elder brother's home. Mr. Datta disclosed the will; Shristi apartment flat was given to Sejuti, Garia flat was given to Sayantika and his retirement and demise benefit would be divided within four. Both the daughters would get one part each, one part would go to Maya and the fourth part is given to Malvika to set up her dance academy.