There are many defining moments in one’s life. Each one of them having the ability to change the entire course of it. But, what if when the first of those defining moments arrives, you are told you are not ready to take a life altering decision and you should trust the more experienced ones in “helping” you make that decision? And, what if in that first very defining moment, you commit a blunder. There’s also a third option-not doing anything about it-just letting the show go on. Probably it’s the easiest thing to do. Probably we think it to be the easiest option, because nobody will be able to blame us for a “wrong” decision. Most of us are lucky enough to not realize that a defining moment has arrived until it has passed by, and then there’s nothing much we can do about it. But She was not one of those lucky ones. For her, she knew exactly when one of those defining moments arrived, she knew exactly when she committed the blunder, and she knew right then what her life was going to be.
Having a scientist as her father, her first vivid image about science were the indiscernible wave-forms known as the sinusoidal waves. And these were not happy images- for she knew that those wave-forms were accompanied by complex equations with weird symbols in them, and though they looked fancy, by then she had realized that everything fancy comes at a price.
While on one hand, she would be fascinated by the likes of Dickens, on the other she was told, that calculus was much more captivating. Wile on one hand she would understand the complex equations, on the other she would appreciate the intricate human emotions captured by Maupassant. With the continuous conflict in mind, went by another two years and she reached probably the biggest fork of her life-the fork tht would determine the course of her life’s journey-the one that would decided what she would be doing for the rest of her life to earn a living.
It was not a difficult decision. Her parents had already made it for her-by a simple rule of thumb-she was good in mathematics and physics, she had obtained pretty decent grades in those subject-and nobody could blame them for having an erroneous judgement, and thus, it was decided that she would be an engineer. And all she had to do was go up to her parents and state that she thought otherwise. Her parents were not dictators, they would obviously understand her viewpoint, and take her decision into their consideration because at the end of the day it was her life they were thinking of.
Just as she mustered enough courage and went to them, she saw her parents having a relaxed cup of coffee after a really busy day. On her approach, they turned to her and said “Nikita (who lived two floors above them) had got through the prestigious Delhi University, but the poor girl had got admission in Philosophy. If only she could have done better in her science subjects like you, she could have also gone for engineering.” And their eyes glittered with pride at their little girl’s achievement.
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Romantic by heart, she had always imagined that a knight in shining armor was there for her somewhere-the one with whom it would seem that the pieces of the jigsaw would fall together. She- a beautiful young girl who had not seen much of the outside world was ready to embrace it in all its glory- was shocked when her marriage was fixed with a very studious serious looking young man. For no specific reason that she could point her finger to,she had this feeling in her heart that this was so not meant to be. She being utterly carefree by nature never gave a second thought to her grades, he on the other hand was pursuing his doctorate in astrophysics while working as a professor. While she would like to discuss about the latest movies, he would like to talk about the “Theory of Relativity”, while she would devour the likes of Ray and Bibhutibhushan, he would turn the pages of IEEE Transactions. But, he was smitten by her beauty and her fiercely open nature. She on er part did not know whether to be thankful for the personal space he was providing her with or to be scared by his ever present somber expression.
Being the pampered child that she was, being matured was new to her and she was not handling the pressure well. After some initial adjustment issues, he felt that the two of them needed some time together-away from the rest of the family where neither could one make her feel sorry for herself for having to do the household work nor could one make her feel sorry for herself for having to do the household work nor could one point out her mistakes at the tiniest little things that she did. Upon landing in a strange city and entering into the strange house that he had rented for them, she went to freshen up. In the washroom she cried her heart out not knowing how she would survive in this strange city that was so far away from her home, how she would survive in this strange city that was so far away from her home, how she would manage the household-all these things were new to her. Never before had she come out of her comfort zone and this was not only coming out of her comfort zone but also living in it for God knew how long. After having spent the better part of an hour being immersed in the thoughts and fright of what her future had to offer, she came out of the shower to find her favorite food- chilly chicken and hakka noodles laid out in front of her on the table with her husband eagerly and patiently waiting for her.
The look in his eyes made her take a vow to herself-she might loathe every moment of this new life, but she would try to adjust and not let her inner sadness become a hindrance to this new phase of her life, even if she did not know what maturity was, she would try to act matured.
The two of them sat down to eat from the disposable plates and cutlery to start a journey more permanent in nature.
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On the way to Coffee House as they sat in the very last row of the bus, Aivi said, “I think we should go out together and see how it works.” Ranadip looked deep into her eyes, failed to read the sincerity in them and tried to laugh it away but looking at her somber expression he realized she meant what she said. “No, I don’t think that that’s going to go well. We are friends who have just started to know each other. I hardly know anything about you…..” True it had been just two months since they met in their office and it had just been just a few weeks since they had gotten acquainted beyond the formal “hi”. She bit her tongue. However coolly she had pretended to throw off the proposal as a mere idea, the fact remained that there’s a reason why girls don’t usually propose-they are way too emotional for handling rejection. And here, yet though she was rejected, she had to maintain het outward cool appearance and pretend that nothing had happened. A fiend of theirs to whom she had to confessed her feelings about Ranadip just the night before also started pretending that nothing had happened. This was the first time that she was seeing him outside the office walls. She had imagined hundreds of things they could talk about in their first informal meeting. She had played their scenario a dozen times in her head hone of them in which she had been rejected. Soon they got off at the busy Sealdah station where a couple of Ranadip’s friends with whom he went to college were waiting. She had just tagged along with him in order to find an opportunity to let him know how she felt about him never once having given a thought of the hours she would have to put up with, the awkwardness of it all arising from that one simple rejection if it so happened. Meeting his friends, she thought she found the reason for her being rejected- Olivia. Olivia with her extreme openness of nature seemed to be really close to him-rather a bit too close which Ranadip didn’t seem to mind at all. With each step towards the Coffee House her doubts regarding the two got stronger and although she was amidst a group of six people, her thoughts were only on two- Olivia and Ranadip. On their way return, Aivi felt Ranadip was uncomfortable around her, a quick retraction on his part if his arms brushed against her hand, let aside holding her hand while crossing the busy road- a thing which he usually did until then without putting much thought in to it. A stiff good-bye and each boarded their own train. A couple of days passed and each to heighten their pretense of being completely normal each in the presence of the other they got decided to go for a movie with a couple of other friends. As luck would have it, in a group of five people they ended up sitting next to one another. Throughout the entire movie nothing much was said but the increasing amount of discomfort could be sensed each sitting stiffly within their own perimeter for fear of grazing even each other’s arms. Gradually when it increased to a level where one could touch it they decided to take the first step. Her feeling for him was ruining their friendship, and not only theirs, if things progressed as they were, the others would sense the discomfort too and gradually the group of friends would no longer be able to hang out together. Giving him time to reach home, she took her phone and dialed his number. “I was kidding- just pulling your leg, I am not into you, don’t get so worked up for nothing.” She said with a laughter in her voice and tears in her eyes. “I know” he said and disconnected the call. She took her pillow ready to cry herself to sleep when the phone beeped. “I love you too….just didn’t know whether you meant it, until you said you were kidding….” was the text message sent by Ranadip.
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অফিসে বসে থাকতে থাকতে আর ভাল লাগছিল না অভির। আর ক-একটা দিন ত বাকি মাত্র পূজোর । এসময়ে কি আর কাজে মন বসে। সেসময়ে আচামকা কানে এল কাথাটা। এগিয়ে গেল সে আলোচোনার দিকে, কথাটা প্রথমে ঠিক সে বিশবাস করতে পারে নি। আসলে এসময়ে এরকম একটা মারাত্মক ঘটনার জন্যে অভি তৈরি ছিল না। কিন্তু গিয়ে শুনল না ঘটনা টা ঠিক-ই। এখনি সবাই যাচ্ছে, আনিচ্ছা থাকলেও উঠতে হল আভিকে। কিন্তু আর গিয়ে কি হবে যা হবার তো হয়েই গেছে।
আভ্রা-র গাড়ীতে বসে যেতে যেতে একটাও ক্থা বলে নি অভি। চুপচাপ বসে ভাবছিল নিলয় এর ক্থা। ছেলে-টা এভাবে চলে গেল। নিলয় বলেছিল সে একটা মেয়ে কে ভালবাসে । এখন মনে এল সেই মেয়ে টার নাম টাও অভি জানে না।জিজ্ঞাসা করার প্র্য়োজনও মনে করে নি কোনোদিন।মাঝে মাঝে নিলয় বলতো সে চুপচাপ শুনতো তার ক্থা। কোনোদিন পাল্টা প্রশ্ন করে নি। নিলয় বলতো মেয়েটার নাকি মাথায় গন্ডোগোল ছিল , তাই তার বাড়ির লোকেরা সেই মেয়েকে মেনে নিতে পারছিল না। অভি তখন বলত তো সেই পাগল মেয়েকেই তোকে বিয়ে করতে হবে, আর কি কোনো মেয়ে নেই। নিলয় চুপ করে যেতো, মাথা নিচু করে বলতো সবাই এই কথাই বলে।তারপর একভাবে চলে যেতো নিজের ডেস্কে।কিছুদিন আগে বলেছিল ওর দাদা নাকি মেয়েটার বাড়ি গিয়ে যাচ্ছেতাই বলে এসেছে, তাতে নাকি মেয়েটার বাড়ির লোকজন ওকে অন্যকোথাও রেখে এসেছে আর ফোন টাও কেড়ে নিয়েছে। ওদের মধ্যে ক্থা এখন পুরোপুরি বন্ধ। অভি বলেছিল ছার না তোর মেয়েটাকে এবার। অন্যকোথাও বিয়ে করে ফেল , সব ঠিক হয়ে যাবে। ঠিক অবশ্য হয়েই গেলো।
শশ্মান থেকে ফেরার পথে একটা প্রশ্ন বারবার মাথাচাড়া দিয়ে উঠছে অভির মাথায়। সেটাকে সরিয়ে রেখে সে ভাবতে চেষ্টা করল আজকের ঘটনার ক্থা। নিলয় রাত ৩ টের সময়ে আত্মহ্ত্মা করেছে। সুইসাইড নোটে যা পাওয়া গেছে তা থেকে বোঝা যায় নিলয় অনেক চেষ্টার পর আগেরদিন পলা-র সাথে ফোনে ক্থা হ্য় । হ্যাঁ মেয়েটির নাম পলা। নিলয় পলা কে বলে যে তারা দুজনে পালিয়ে বিয়ে করবে। পলা যেনো তাকে ঠিক পরের দিন রাত তিন টের মধ্যে ফোন করে। আর যদি না করে তাহলে নিল্য় আত্মহ্ত্মা করবে। তো সেইদিন রাতে ৩ টের সময়ে নিলয় গলায় দড়ি দিয়ে আত্মহ্ত্মা করে। কিন্তু তার ফোনে প্রচুর মিসকল ছিল, তবে সবকটা ৩ঃ০৫ এর পর থেকে। না, আবার সেই প্রশ্নটা মাথায় উঠে এলো মনের মধ্যে “আসলে পাগল টা কে ছিল?পলা,নিলয়, নাকি আমরা যারা বলেছিলাম যে এই মেয়েকে বিয়ে করে কি লাভ তারা”
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