Guest Story – Known Strangers – Short Romantic Stories
Hard eight months have elapsed by now. Aditi stays separated from Sekhar with Rohan, her three year old son. Aditi had to be strong enough to take such a firm decision when nothing was really working fine between her and Sekhar. She had been trying for a decade almost to adjust with the robotic IT Manager, but of no use. And that was one wrong decision she had taken when nothing could she fight back anymore to stay under the same roof along with her machinelike husband. Kind of experimentation, she thought of conceiving which might help the couple to glue back together like before. But even that failed. “Instead of worsening the life of this innocent child amidst such regular screams and punches and fights, it will be at least better to stay apart”, quirked Aditi’s heart to her. And after her last fight with her cold man, she left the house on the very next morning and moved to her parental house along with her son.
The orthodox views of her parents could not save her initially. Hence they ended up crying and sobbing. They could not swallow the fact easily that their beloved ‘married’ daughter had left her husband’s house and decided to settle down with them. They were more concerned about the neighbours and the relatives and also about what would play in their minds once they would come to know about the truth. Aditi failed to let them understand that staying single may turn up a success rather than pretending to be staying as a couple of no relationship and emotion. They were more scared of being blamed for the break-up by their daughter and everybody as it was an arranged marriage. Daughters are still accounted as liabilities even after man’s landing foot on the moon. But Aditi was mature enough to understand the fact that it was not their decision but the nature of Sekhar that had taken the two in the doorway of finishing up everything. She has always believed in the destiny and the lucky stars adoring it. ‘Who knows if she wouldn’t face the same if married to Purab?’ She knows it’s the only way she can console herself that her life with Purab after a tie could also turn the same turmoil-mechanical ‘habit’! Her sight gets blurred as her eyes become wet with tears.
Weekends are the only days of the week Aditi is allowed to do whatever she wants to. The rest is dedicated to her office. But weekends — strictly for her beloved cutie pie. Frolic visits to shopping malls and fun-rides on escalators or in elevators make the duo’s day a fulfilled one. Or even surprise dates to some nearby restaurants and grilling themselves in tasty milkshakes or ice creams just cannot have a substitute at all. Sometimes pleasure plans also roam around freaking amusement parks or movie theatres. This week Aditi decided to surprise Rohan with a visit to the city-zoo. Rohan was super excited to venture to a zoo for the first time with his mom. For him, nothing can be more fun and adventurous than a day out with his mother.
Aditi has successfully erased up little Rohan’s past memories with Sekhar and clambered the status of a single parent satisfyingly. She most significantly plays the role of both the father and a mother at a time without much difficulty. The best part is how easily she is always being able to switch over from one to the other and becomes the only faithful pole for her son in his own world of dreams. She dreams him to climb up the future with ease, de-struggled. Aditi believes Rohan is the best compliment to her life added as a part of her journey she has begun to move to the bigger slice of the life. She knows, Rohan will be the ever loyal partner of her life to reach to the challenges she has decided to take further. Her bundle of joy is the only one who through his innocent appeal and notriety helps her instilling new hopes within, promising her dream world to be in reality soon. Rohan is presently the only reason for her to live.
The winter holidays at Rohan’s school started the day before. The following Saturday morning was little lazy being under the warm quilt. The thin mild sunbeam refracting through the glass slides of the adjacent balcony, bathed parts of the cosy bedroom. A few streaks touched Aditi’s closed eyes warmly too. She frowned and turned towards the table clock on the side table. Her half-closed eyes noted the time…Nine! Rohan was sleeping peacefully in the warmth of her breasts and the comfort of the wool quilt. She ran her fingers through his hair and planted her regular morning kiss on his forehead. Aditi got down off the bed and went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. The newspaper was still hanging on door lock outside. A mug of hot coffee in one hand and a glass of milk on the other, Aditi raced inside the bedroom and tried waking up Rohan of his whining cries. She knew the bait of taking him outside would ignite little Rohan certainly.
Rohan was excited to see the crowd of people outside the zoo. It looked like a colourful fair, with balloon sellers and ice cream pedlars around. They took their turn in the queue and got inside the zoo. Almost after a long twenty years, Aditi made her way to the rendezvous. She still remembers how they had so much of fun visiting this place again and again every year during her childhood. Reminiscent of her early days, Aditi took Rohan to her favourite cage of the monkeys to the near left. The joy of relating all the animals to his scrapbook was clearly reflecting on his bright face and shining eyes. Every moment, Aditi fell for her lust of discovering this arc of smile on his lips and her return gift – surprise kisses from Rohan every now and then!
Being little tired after excited walks from cage to cage and exploring animals, the mother-son couple decided to hang on a few licks on their favourite ice cream cones and waddle near the bird cage. The blue peacock had just taken his valour to display his beautiful tail and mesmerise the visitors. Messy crowd with big eyes and astonished comments had sheathed the cage. Aditi was not able to let her little Rohan take a look at the beauty. Aditi along with Rohan was getting restless of having their eyesight trapped in the mob. People were getting busier to not miss a single moment of his stature. And so was the tall man with a hat on his head. He seemed to be a professional photographer from some magazine or so. Aditi twice and thrice tried to tap him on his back to move on the other side and let his son experience the wonderful sight of the peacock in his full bloom. But her strength could not win the rowdy crowd. Rohan turned a sulked face and looked at his mother.
‘Let’s not go there now. After a while we can again make it in there and enjoy the peacock and birds. Huh, Rohan?’ Instantly replied Aditi, trying to console her sad son, patting on his back.
‘But then the peacock will go to sleep. He will be tired and we will miss his dance!’, complained little Rohan being unsure of his mother’s promise.
‘Worry not dear. Momma will again make him dance. We will give him ice cream and he will show you his tail and dance. Doesn’t that sound cool? Huh?’ Aditi smiled and said and kissed on his button nose.
‘Hey ADITI!!’ a very known yet an unidentified male voice poked in the conversation.
Aditi looked up with her eyes broadened. As soon as she looked up, her eyes frowned in disbelief. ‘PUR-A-A-A-B???’ The silent scream in her heart echoed as she uttered the name.
‘The same sparkling eyes, the same messy jungle of hairs, the same bright shining smile and the same appeal in his voice’ — her Purab after a decade. The only thing that has added to his attire is his unshaven beard, possibly to hide the dejection from life and love.
‘Chatterbox_4u’, that was how Aditi got introduced to Purab. The virtual world of fantasy and social networking relationships made the two young hearts meet in their college days. After a many prolonged chats for just two months, when they both surrendered to each other that they were getting addicted and possibly falling in some unnamed relationship they decided to meet. The thin tall young Purab could only attract Aditi with his nonsense chirps and stupid jokes. The aimless Purab had only one reason to live in – his inexpensive camera. He always wanted to capture every moment of his life and steal the zest by his camera. And few stunts of Aditi’s wide dark eyes were also captured many a times casually. Every exciting learnt of Aditi’s life from smoking a cigarette for the first time to take a sip of beer or hanging out at the city’s darkest theatre to bunking college for the first time began with Purab’s assistance and guidance. Her first kiss or her first passionate goose bumps were also stimulated by the first touch of Purab on the first showers on an afternoon after the summers. ‘Purab’ though never would match to the significance of his name to many, but he was like a bright sunrise for Aditi. The first ‘name’ that would come to her mind to whom she could share her unspoken thoughts was always her capricious ‘Purab’. An uncalled longing used to tie the two for each other. It was Purab who even at the middle of a heavily raining night did never bother to race to the hospital when Aditi’s father was admitted for his cerebral attack. And it was he who at that crisis period of his life never even cared to donate his blood to her father. Father was saved. But tied was Aditi —- with Sekhar ! Aditi was not even intimated about all the formalities her father had volunteered for her marriage to the handsome salaried Sekhar. It was too late for the jobless penniless Purab to woo Aditi’s father in some way for the marriage. Sekhar flew his newly married bride to the country’s most expensive city Chandigarh to settle down his life and wife.
A consistent gap of long ten years never seemed too much being absorbed in her newly married life. Purab faded away slowly like a setting sun and was left on the lees of her thoughts. Her unconscious mind did never let thoughts of Purab impinge in her newly made relationship with Sekhar. Being retarded by the fact, Aditi somewhere in her heart wanted her little Rohan to be as jubilant as Purab. Suddenly it knocked Aditi: ‘Purab is so silent! Where has gone that effervescent Purab? I miss you Purab’ her silent eyes struggled to speak aloud and reach his ears, ‘I missed you so much! Why couldn’t you come to take me away forever and ever with you?’
‘Does this little man belong to you?’ Purab broke the realms of Aditi. Rohan frowned to his mother due to the unnecessary poking by the stranger.
‘He is Rohan. My guardian!’ Aditi smiled mildly.
Rohan felt proud and looked with an incising eye to Purab.
‘Hey do you want this?…ummm..Mr. Rohan?’ tried to bribe the little boy with his shinning black camera still hanging round his neck.
Rohan’s face at once turned bright and blushing. He moved fast to him and very curiously asked, ‘What’s that Uncle?’
Aditi felt good somewhere inside. Her eyes were following the two, how her old sweetheart best friend was mingling with the kid bridging the new bond with his same old warmth and amity. She dipped in the sea of memories. She remembered the naughty leg pulls and stupid pranks on that afternoon at Purab’s house when his parents were out for a weekend trip. The prank turned to passion. She still remembers when she had closed her eyes and Purab softly planted his wet kiss on her velvet lips. Aback she opened her eyes; Rohan was still in the project of learning photography.
‘So now you are a celebrity? Huh?’ stroke Aditi with her words as they started to walk briskly to the zoo cafeteria.
‘ Naaaaa…. Come on! Nothing’s like that. Just that I have been hired by them. The company is big doesn’t mean I am big too…’ Purab squeezed an eye to Aditi.
‘And… ummmm… I mean… Family?’ Aditi uttered in a low voice. Aditi wanted to say ‘wife’ but promptly managed to replace the word with ‘family’.
‘Baba and Ma met with an accident three years back. Baba died there itself. Ma could not survive for more than two days. She had several organ failures due to the accident. Prabhu is now settled in the U.S. Last year he got married to an American lady. And me?… I am still striving through my hard earning bread and butter and…..’ Purab sighed. Aditi tried to post-mortem his silence.
‘…and…LIFE!!!’ replied Purab followed by a roar of laugh.
Something was missing in Purab. He laughs alike, but lifeless; he stares bright, but with queries; he talks words, a silence that is only heard! He is vacuum. Aditi several times tried meeting her eyes to Purab who kept himself involved with Rohan. Aditi wanted to answer his so long unrequited questions, but Purab was silent. Aditi wanted him to take her in his arms and hug her tight like before, like when she used to be in low mood; but Purab was indifferent. Aditi chinned down to concentrate on the pavement, her teary eyes blurred her sight. Her sobs wanted to burst out and overflow her heart and lungs. She felt heavy. She had mislaid Purab. She had left him astray. And she didn’t even know why she was lamenting today. It was she who could not go to the top of her father’s choice with the onset of her journey to her new life. She had lost him now forever. Purab had changed himself to like any other common person in her life, or a just a mere passerby on the same busy road — ‘A known, but a stranger, all anon!’ Aditi tried hiding her tears rolling down her cheeks, as she closed her eyes to take a deep breath. She looked at her front — the site of the new bond and togetherness of Rohan and Purab exploring the camera ameliorated Aditi’s weep. She headed in haste to follow them to the cafeteria.
About the Writer – Jayeeta Ghosh
I am an executive by profession in a private concern in Kolkata. A few of my English poems have been published as part of anthologies namely TRIPPING ON WORDS: A Literary Atlas and THE WORDS ON THE WINDS OF CHANGE. Presently, I am also featured in the Editor’s Pick column for my write “My Would-Be” (a flash non-fiction) in the e-zine Scratch my Soul. Recently I have been announced as one (only one from Kolkata) of the three winners at the Heart Talk Poem Competition, organised by Oxford Bookstore, India for the month of May 2012 for my poem On An Illusive Moment. I love writing and reading especially short fictions and poems.