( This story is again a timeless plain fiction, Any coincidence is beyond little human imagination. )
Like always 8 O’ clock morning, we both were busy. She had to go for the radio station and me for my office. She was taking bath after finishing her kitchen chorus. And for me, as car wash was already over the most difficult task was still left – I had to do. Ironing my dresses was still to be done. I spread the iron board and started ironing the shirt.
She came out the bathroom winding the pink towel around her hairs.
“You look beautiful only two times.” I said ironing my shirt.
“Really” – she smiled. Wiping the wet hairs with the towel she continued – “But only two times, so again you started your puzzle ! But why only two times ? ” – she seemed as if she did not cared for it.
“Is it needed to tell ?” – I winked .
“Ohho , wouldn’t tell ! Then keep in your heart.” – And she moved to the mirror.
“And when both the times combine up – than you look the most beautiful lady ! ”
“Tumi ki chup korbe? ( Would you keep silent ? ) – She was getting angry on my senseless chatters. And like always she got angry, what I wanted.
“Yes I will keep silent – but want to tell one line – just one line. ” – I said.
“Huh ! Just one line” , she told and she was arranging the flowers in the vase near to me . She added- “Can you keep quiet after telling just one line ”
Now I understood she wants the puzzle solved.
“First time, when you come out after taking bath and second when you get angry.” – I winked and again ironed the hand cuffs of my shirt.
Putting the flowers vase in the place , she could not stop moving forward – “Aakash, you did not changed a bit.”
A symphony of four eyes – and whole poetry was created.
“Dekho ami chup achi ( See I am silent now )” – I smiled.
After minutes I added ” Should I Change ?”
“Yes you should ?” And she picked up the iron, which was still lying on my hand cuffs and by the time we saw there was made a permanent brown spot with the shirt. The shirt was burnt to brown without any smoke.
“Ah Sorry !” – I was feeling bad and switched the iron off. This was the shirt which she bought on my last birthday. But that morning again something made a permanent seal on the shirt.
” Hey, no sorry, it was great ! ” And she complimented for the context.
“Aakash, can I ask you one question?” – She looked serious, that I didn’t want.
“Only one ! I guess, this is your thousandth one like this. Not just one ?” – I made the moment lighter.
“I guess you will answer honestly” – she lightened her hands around my neck.
“Honesty and me ! – Anyway I compromised for now – just for you ! ” – I giggled.
::———————:: Part 2 ::———————::
“Again I will ask you the same thing ! Can’t we plan spend this Puja at home. May not you take up your US project only after November ? If you wish, can’t you think this way ? ” – She was looking into my eyes. I didn’t expect this question this way.
We already had few arguments regarding this – as she wished that I continue with the India jobs for the time being. And on the other hand it was my long cherished US position – the America Online’s new project was depended on me now. I have been seeking such chances of exploration since many years back. All creativity and technical showmanship with a great team was to be done at full fledge. Leaving apart from Dollar pay-packages and all the high position facilities – I wanted to learn from the new kind of work culture. And on other hand, she was a die-hard Indian – a perfect admirer of our scientist president A.P.J Abdul Kalam.
But she was never an easy giver. She knows all the ways to convince me. Her hands were still across my neck.
“As I believed like ever, you may get better projects next time. If we are leaving by August – we may not return by next year. Aakash – see last year too, during Puja we could not be present at home. And Ma alone did every thing at home. Don’t you think, when everyone is with full family at Puja place – you are missing something for your ‘projects’. Can’t we make her project fruitful this time? And you know na, I wish to have a visit to Purano Kali temple this time. And at last, if you say I can take up the job of program coordinator with Radio Mirchi FM next month.” She was telling at the stretch without blinking her eyes.
Since last night I did felt that she wants to say something – but she was searching for a perfect moment to say all these.
She continued “Yesterday from office – when I called Ma – She was telling about the School’s affiliation works too. I think you can meet DM this time there and help her too. The building department too needs some clarifications.”
I needed sometime to think about all these things over. Sometimes it become difficult when two conditions wants to take same place. And I was not ready for this time. I wished she goes to home and be with ma. This chance for US, I should not miss, as last week too, I was able to convince Ma about my professional commitments this time.
Kissing her forehead – I said her – “Okey, give me a call before you leave today from office. I guess today I can pack up all projects early – we will sit at Renaissance Café. ” In reality, I didn’t reply her question. And she too knew well that I will not reply at once, so she didn’t ask for the answer again.
“Kintu madam amar shirter ki hobe ? ( What about the shirt Madam ? ” – I asked her showing my shirt’s the burnt cuff.
Leaving the anchor around my neck, she picked up the shirt from board and moved to the cupboard. She took out the thin stripped light sky shirt, again her favorite one.
We had our breakfast. I prepared the juice and she packed her lunch. And within 20 minutes , we drove out our Viplav Villas. Her Red FM station was relatively near to our house but I had to drive some 35 minutes further in the morning traffic of Bangalore.
Though she was also looking for a change but in fact, she was not willing to leave the RJ job at Red FM, as she knew the pulses of listeners very well and program manager liked her listener handling skills very much. The best thing was her coordination with her co-RJ Rahul, that everyone appreciated. Many a times in the lunch hour, I used to record her audition in my mobile FM and turn out her critique in evening – needless to say she liked them but hated to change her tone – when she used to repeat words twice and a deep breath taking sound, which I could mark easily.
As we neared her office, some telephone wire was being laid, so digging was being done near to Pizza Corner. I stopped the car. Her office was at just two minutes of walking distance from there. She got down the car giving her same dimple smile, that meant a lot for me. I took the left turn and shifted the gear.
I put Country music in the player. Evening was going to decide my career as well as my family life.
::———————:: Part 3 ::———————::
I was a bit late that day in the office. As I entered the office, Shubha was there –
“Good Morning…” she added. “Awaiting sweets in the evening!” And she entered her cubicle.
“Good Morning..” – I was puzzled but I knew her humour well.
In the VP’s room, I was sitting within the big glass walls, which is said to encapsulate the transparent decisions.
I was to take up the leadership of the new US project and it was a strategic move of company. I myself waited for this chance for long. This time my US dream was to be realized. Next month I had to leave for US.
First person I wanted to meet was, Ritesh, my colleague as well as a good friend too.A friendship – that is rare in competitive corporate world. I went to meet him in his cubicle. He congratulated me and we did some on the hand tech planning too.
“Aakash next time, I do hope for the Singapore project” – he told and our hands were tied. There was something in the bond that we both could understand. Actually he too eyed for the US project but management had decided me as most of us in office guessed too.
The day at office was great. There were notes of congratulations as well as a bit nostalgic faces of few of my team members. Specially Mamta – who last month almost shouted on me – “Aakash, do you think, that much of reports can be generated in 4 days”.
And I had replied – “Take your time, just complete 1/3 of that – rest I will allocate to others? Only that much part you do .. but Happily, Cheer up! ” And next day morning I saw in her work status. Surprisingly she had completed 1/4 of reports in one day only and started working on the next reports. Managing the target was really difficult for me as well as for each of us. But that had to be done keeping a environment around.
Since last four years, the office was my second home.
I was at my cubicle drawing timelines and all reports analysis. I was happy but no so inside. It happens to me many a time. The US glare was shown to me but the small town Durga Puja was there.
It was our lunch time. And this time as Anamika was still in mind, I wanted to record her audition. She has been the popular RJ of “Hungama Hits” program. After lunch, I could listen only towards the end of program.
In my mobile, I tuned to 98.4 FM, and pressed record button. Hungama Hits was going on. During the last line of recording Anamika’s voice I was dumbstuck with one line she told. As my recording was over – I played back the words.
At the end of program the last song was “Aapke dil mein thodi si jagah chahiye..” .. and she continued the rhythm with her voice. It was like this..
“Aaaaapke dil mein thodi si jagah chahiye….. aur…. Humein aapse Vida hone ka ijjajat chahiye, Friends see you tomorrow at the same time at the same place… Hungama Hits at your own 98.4 FM. Tomorrow Rahul will be accompanied by our Bindaaaas, our sweet Jagriti…….. Stay tuned to 98.4 FM….” And Rahul summed up her.
Hearing the name of Jagriti for the Hungama Hits program, I could not get the point right.
“Jagriti !!” For the Hungama Hits program will she be the new RJ in place of Her. Jagriti was the RJ of “Good Morning Bangalore” program. Why she was allocated noon time? Some kind of puzzle – that I could not understand. May be because of morning talks, she decided to leave the job or a sudden shift of programs.
I thought to call her later on. I restrained –as I knew there must be some genuine reason. And other reason was I had to wind up office works early.
Something was already decided at her end – I was sure.
Around 7 O’clock evening I called her up. She was at Bangalore Central – for some shopping with her friend. So I decided to pick her up from there. Seeing her at Bangalore Central in Pink ethnic top and Denim Jeans I stopped the car. She came in bidding her friend bye. A carrybag in her hand.
“Ki kina kati holo? ( What did you purchased ?)” I asked her.
“Something, crazy shopping like ever?” – She replied but I failed to guess.
In the car I asked about her announcement of Jagriti.
“So today you again recorded?” – And she smiled to continue. “Will tell you… lets sit there at cafe”
She put the packet on the table. I took out her ever fav. Rose bud from my pocket and put on her packet touching her fingers.
“Anything special today ?” – She asked picking that up.
“Yes you” I smiled.
“Thank you, really cute” She kissed the rose and put the back on the packet – “Hope this shirt too you will like!”
“So this was the crazy shopping, Okey, this time I will iron it carefully!” – And we laughed
We ordered the waiter. He knew about our Cappuccino and veg sandwich.
She asked me to take out the laptop. I took out the laptop from the bag and switched it on. When she tells to switch on the laptop it means she want to check her mails.
“You can check mails from home too.” – I suggested as I had a lot of things to tell her so to hear from her.
“Please login to Air Sahara?” – She said “Aakash, actually I have to go Delhi in morning”
Now the puzzle for her announcement in radio program was getting clearer. But I was not prepared for this.
“But ..” I was still incomplete.
“Aunt again fainted today slightly, Gopal called me up around 10’O clock morning and told me, though nothing is serious” – she told in continuation to assure me too. The things were getting clearer to me.
Her Aunt was her second Ma. Since childhood she stayed with her in Delhi. Aunty had no daughter and she grew in their home. After masters in Public Relations, Anamika opted for the IIMC and all under her guidance. Though Aunty’s sons were taking care for her to the best, but she was never any less concerned for her.
On the coffee table itself, the onwards journey ticket for the next morning was booked. She told me to book the return ticket too. Now she changed the no. of passengers to 2. She will take Aunty back to Bangalore for her complete checkup at Apollo Hospitals here, as Delhi is hotter in summer.
At coffee table we talked about Aunty’s health and so many other things. We talked about our US trip too, at length. Though she was not happy, but she knew she can’t do much once my decision is made. This Durga Puja home going plan, we cancelled again.
While returning from supermarket we did some shopping for dry fruits and some things like Agarbatti as she always carry, while she goes to home. Dinner was packed from the Punjabi dhaba.
At home, we packed up her journey items.
It was around 11 O’ clock she went to bed before me as her flight was at 9:15 am in morning.
For both of us, the day was hectic and unexpected but still we were able to manage the things.
I was still on my laptop doing something for what I was really felt tense still.
“Good boys sleep early” – She murmured behind the pillow. She did not sleep still.
Every time before any one of us had to leave for some place, we did sleep together. I shut down the laptop.
Looking her closed eyelids – seemingly innocent child, I switched off the bedside night lamp. Putting my palm on her arm we slept.
May be around 2 am I woke up to drink water. I was restless but I slept again as in morning I had to go to the airport.
The next morning, before the birds could twitter, I got up. I was again on my laptop – like the addiction ever.
She got up around 6 am. After she prepared the tea, she came to me. I was printing the e-tickets. Keeping the cups on the table, she picked the e-tickets up.
“Aakash these two tickets are for me, okey?”
I nodded in affirmation.
“And these two more tickets for two passengers.” She continued, “From Bangalore to Kolkata… for whom ?”
“Check the dates?” – I said taking the cup from the table.
“October 13th” – telling she was looking towards me with a surprise.
“Wouldn’t we go for Durga Puja ?” – I smiled.
She eyelids became static and the lower lip under her teeth .
“Aakash, your US trip?” – she asked with surprise.
“Yes I have thought. I wouldn’t go” – I said “Will suggest management to send Ritesh there.”
She pulled the chair nearby and was looking up the tickets. She was silent. And her silence meant more than silence itself.
“The tea is nice – it makes my day.” – I was trying to break her silence.
“Aakash, you are a kid.” – She winked.
“Thanks, chocolates for the kid please.” – I quipped
“Ohho! chocos” – and her lips greeted my left cheek.
I directed her eyes towards the west horizon. There was a beautiful rainbow.