Monday, June 29, 2015
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Monday, July 23, 2012
Friday, July 6, 2012
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
It had been raining since late night. Sritoma woke up to the sound of mellow rumbling of clouds and rain drops whispering outside the bed-side window. The incessant rain through the night had metamorphosed the sultry summer night into a cool and pleasant morning.
Sritoma, 15, stared outside the window with sleepy eyes soaking in the flavor of the early morning rain. “Toma! Are you up yet?”, Anuradha’s voice from the kitchen brought her back to reality. The morning was supposed to be beautiful, but instead it seemed shrouded in gloom. A lot had been going at home since the last two days. Dadu was ill, very ill, more than he had been all these years—compounded by his whim not to be taken to a hospital and “left to rot”! Finally, they did manage to coax him to a nursing home, but by then he was too weak to protest. And then there was this man….“Come, get your breakfast dear! How much longer would you take to get out of bed?”. Sritoma pulled herself up.
It was a virtual holiday. It had been raining in Kolkata since the past week—relentlessly, like some curse had befallen on the rain gods. The streets were water logged, transport hindered, and she knew she was old enough to bunk a few days of school. She loved the rains, did Sritoma, loved to listen to the sound of it, and soak in the smell and the romance that surrounded it. But this time, it was a bit different. Doctors said that it was the sudden rains and temperature dip that had caused dadu’s latest illness. However, there was another dark cloud built up inside her—darker and deeper than those in the sky.
As she entered the dining room and stood by the table, her eyes met the man sitting opposite her. Eyes she knew only too well. The face, too hadn’t changed much, except for the carelessly grown beard. It made her weak in the knees to think that it was her own father sitting opposite to her—the first time in eight years they were so close to one another. “Good morning” said Srinjoy looking admiringly at his daughter. Sritoma took her eyes away. “You aren’t going to school today, are you?” ;“No”;“Which class are you in now?” ;“12th” “Oh, big times ahead, haan?” Sritoma nodded tentatively.
The rest of breakfast was quiet, except a couple of short enquiries and even shorter responses. Srinjoy was trying to be coy, feeling for the place that he had so carelessly let slip all these years. Anuradha was being polite, and contained, not willing to step into the unknown she had so long ago shunned from her life in search of solid ground. Sritoma could feel the cloud intensifying inside her, sometimes jumping up to her throat and threatening to spill out.
She never quite understood what had happened eight years ago. She was still a child then. She loved her parents, yes, she loved her father, and she felt he loved him too!! But then, one day her father went away—she didn’t know why, and somehow didn’t want to either. All she knew was that it made her mother cry, it made her cry too. But slowly, she felt the picture of her father, his eyes, his smiling face, reassuring touch—melting away into oblivion. As if the colors of the canvas had been slowly washed away with rain, or teardrops—whatever you prefer to call it. It was a place she could never go to now, even if she wanted to, not even touch or feel, however desperately she craved for it—it had become a dark deep cloud floating above the earth and below the sky, hidden in between the lines of her reality.
It was dadu’s ill-health that had brought them together today. Apparently, her grandfather was very fond of his son-in-law—Sritoma remembered vaguely how the two of them used to spend long hours playing chess when they’d come to visit dadu from Barasat. Anuradha had recounted sometimes, how they shared a common passion for gardening.
The day before, dadu had wanted to see Srinjoy—“ekbar”, he said, holding his daughter’s hand in his. Anuradha strangely, remembered the phone number even after all these years, and when she rang up, she was half-relieved to be able to recognize the voice at the other end. That was yesterday morning. Srinjoy drove up all the way from Barasat braving the rain and the half-flooded city. After spending the evening at the nursing home, when they came out, it was raining. It had rained for most of the day, and in the present condition, it made no sense to try and drive back all the way. “Stay back tonight at our place” offered Anuradha. “I wouldn’t want to impose..”said Srinjoy “Wouldn’t be a problem”. Srinjoy said no more.
The rain had stopped quite a while now. There were even little drops of sunshine peeping through the clouds that still looked ominous. Sritoma walked lazily to her favorite spot in the house, the chair and table by the window of her room. She sat there dreamy-eyed looking out into a world that seemed so oblivious to her presence. Inadvertently, her hands picked up the bright red exercise book on the table, as she had so often done in her moments of deep sorrow, joy or realization. It was her little book of poems, one she treasured, loved and lived for. She was lost for a while as she painted with ink the pictures in her heart—
I was lost in sleep when I should have been awake/ Awake to the sounds of laughter and joy/ Awake to the sunshine that let the flowers bloom/ Yet I slept,/ In deep ignorance and deeper innocence/ Only to wake to the thunder, storm and rain/ To an emptiness deeper than pain…
“Toma, what are you doing dear?” Sritoma quickly replaced the book hearing her mother’s voice. “Nothing maa, just sitting around; you need anything?” Anuradha cast a cursory glance on the exercise book. The significance wasn’t lost on Sritoma. She never could understand her mother’s aversion to her passion for poetry. Knowing her mother, who was a very understanding and liberal parent, it didn’t quite make sense. It was a newly acquired passion for Sritoma, one that she had discovered a few months ago—the urge to express her feelings in a deeper way than she could confess to any person she knew—and it was kind of addictive! But she also loved her mother more than anybody in the world, and tried her best not to hurt her in any way. “Your father is leaving…he wants to talk to you..” Anuradha broke her chain of thought. Sritoma looked into her mother’s eyes for a moment. She suddenly sunk her head into Anuradha’s arms and wrapped her own around her. For a few seconds they didn’t talk. Anuradha caressed her daughter’s hair, “Don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine…”.
Sritoma stood at the doorway long after Srinjoy had driven away, disappearing like the invisible whirl of smoke from the exhaust pipe. There weren’t any life changing words said between them, no apologies or complains or anger or joy, but there was something else. A sense of harmony. Sritoma looked up at the sky. Harmony. Between the sun and the rain—two sides of the same coin.
Anuradha was lying on her bed, book in hand. Sritoma knew she was only pretending to read. She always did that when she was upset. Pretending to read, and thinking of something else. But she knew better than to intrude upon her now. Back to her room, by her favorite table, she found the note left to her by Srinjoy. It was a small piece of poetry, handwritten, the words were clear and the effect disarming—
“ Rain Dance
The words that formed, but never came out/ The dreams I dreamt but never woke up from/ The pictures I drew but never painted/ The songs I made but never played out/ The clouds that formed but never rained/ The place I took but never made my own/ Today they all came pouring in/ In hundreds and thousands, like each little raindrop/ They drenched my soul/ They took me out, to the place I belong/ And danced the eternal dance of rain.”
Sritoma stood there motionless—holding the note in her trembling hands, and just as the rain engulfed the world outside again, she felt the dark cloud burst inside her and tears began to flow…