To Ma ( Mom) with love...

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
This story is in the form of a letter , in which Arindam the protagonist , writes a letter to his Mother who is already dead . In the letter he tells her mother about the hardships that he had to suffer after her death , how he was betrayed by the girl he loved and lots more...however one question is left for the interpretation of the readers ...whether Arindam really wrote the letter , or was it just another dream...

Submitted: August 13, 2010

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Submitted: August 13, 2010

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To Ma with love…
 
 
Ma ,
Today you might be surprised to know how your little Tukai has grown up and become a man who proudly stands at his Boston apartment to face the sky…the infinite..the unkown…the sun which traces its way from the occident to herald a new day.Notwithstanding it …there is a feeling of emptiness..an eternal loss ! In this jungle of concrete , everything seems so artificial..so inhumane…so inanimate…something distinctly antagonistic to the sweet smell of clay..those lush green fields…. the village fair.. women blowing their conchshells… clouds sailing like moistened cotton wool ..
Everything seems like a dream…gathering rust …bruised by the whims of Time !! Those westerlies..rustling of banyan leaves …have become like something inherited from previous birth..
 
Today I am happy to be what I am .. (or is it really so?) . I lost you , when I was still lisping …little did I know when I was playfully clinging on to the end of your sari… that suddenly one day I would have to encounter your silent stare at the deathbed.. I was astonishingly stoic that day…tears refused to roll down.. I called you repeatedly “ Ma wake up…I am feeling hungry…I want to go home..” You did not reply…. Didun was sobbing inconsolably…” Tukai…your Ma is gone forever…she will never come back “ .My incongruous answer ..” But didun Ma is sleeping..isn’t she …” could not be soothing enough to comfort her .
 
A man was sitting motionless in a corner…when everyone around him was sobbing…most of which seemed to him like crocodile tears..in his eyes there was a lot of despair… mistrust …frustration.. After that day he was a little more than a moving corpse… the man who would take me to school everyday ,fulfill all my insatiable desires…was very much different from the man whom I fondly called “ baba”. Your death virtually made me an orphan…
As I was growing up your memories began to fade ; slowly but surely… , before going to school I used to stand before your portrait and seek your blessings…it was not that I enjoyed this practice very much!!...Baba had made it a compulsion…I used to protest and that resulted in heated up arguments between us…My behaviour was becoming increasingly intolerant and unruly. Even on your death anniversary , I went to play a local tournament in order to sponsor my own ticket of the evening show of the latest movie in town..without baba’s consent…
 
As I became more and more mature …there was a significant change in my attitude…I became more polite , sober and considerate.. I could understand baba’s grief , his anguish …to some extent at least . Everyone expected that I would do well in my final examinations.. Master- moshai used to tell baba “ Your son is quite intelligent and bright “ Baba used to reply modestly “ He resembles his mother in this respect… Shumona was also a student of yours …no one knows this better than you do “…Master-moshai’s eyes became moist…Shumona was still her favourite …
I never anticipated in my wildest dreams that I would secure the 2nd rank in the district…I did not know whether I deserved that much…for baba it was a big day in his life…he distributed sweets among the villagers …all of a sudden he was transformed into the same jovial , carefree and exuberant man of my childhood years
 
Baba wanted me to go to Kolkata in order to pursue my higher studies…Mastermoshai readily agreed to it….I was a bit reluctant in the beginning …but had to give my consent…Mastermoshai made all possible arrangements for me to obtain a scholarship ..
 
I made my journey in quest of the unknown…in search of eternity…the desire to seek , to know , to discover …which since time immemorial has battled against satanic forces…the evil tempest…the clouds of calamity…the messengers of death! I stood mesmerized…is this Kolkata ? The city of my dreams!! Multistoreyed buildings …deluxe restaurants …Fort William ..Victoria Memorial ... I stood at the heart of a land which its inhabitants called “ The City of Joy “ …despite the poverty …the neglect …the inhumanity …it was the place where dreams came true …where immigrants from various parts of Bengal worked day and night like human horses to earn their daily bread ! Kolkata comprised the plight of the impoverished…the resolve of the resolute … the lavishness of the rich…the struggling middle-class.. It shouldered the dream of every passionate Bengali…their hopes …their love .. their trust..
 
….” Babu , College Street …. ”…the conductor literally shouted at me….from the surreal I quickly landed on the realm of reality …I was lost!! … I had no clue where I was heading to … I was like a clueless mariner in a huge sea of population …perhaps heading to an unknown ,uninhabited island…no land as far as the eye could see …! After wandering like a vagabond in the middle of the busy city …throughout the day …at last I found my destination …” Hindu Hostel “ …around ten minutes from Presidency College. The manager of Hindu Hostel was Mastermoshai’s classmate at school …he was kind enough to make all the necessary arrangements …
 
For someone who has spent his entire life studying under the thatched roof of the village school…”Presidency College “ was bound to be like a mystery…an enigma …I was no exception …I was enthralled …
Students…hawkers …booksellers…men selling candy , bangles ,…it was like a small town at the heart of Kolkata … …I wanted to be rich…really rich …I wanted to be successful…baba’s dream , mastermoshai’s hopes …everything was crystal clear …like the hero of our times , Uttam Kumar I said to myself … “I will go to the top …to the top … to the top …”
The first few months in college were really tough for me…I had been mocked , humiliated …to my classmates I was merely an object of ridicule…so many irrelevant questions asked with unbelievable curiosity …” Have you ever taken a bath in the village pond ?” …” Have you ever taken the cattle for grazing?”…” Have you heard of Marlon Brando ? “
 
Most of my classmates were from rich Bengali families…proud of their lineage…to them my rural origin was itself an issue….in their opinion … I had this distinct smell ..in my sweat …in my blood ,which would distinguish me from the rest of the class…a smell which would refuse to go even after using the costliest of perfumes ..I don’t know how many times I thought of escaping from this brutality.., this inhumanity …to my village where I belonged … whose distinct smell made me exist like a stranger in the city of my dreams , Kolkata ! So much intolerance … ridicule …something which I had never experienced as a carefree villager … I realized that your death had left a bigger void than I had ever imagined…..tears rolled down my cheeks…alas! I had no mother who would absorb all my sorrow …. heal all my wounds… . it was Destiny I thought …
 
Shubendu was perhaps my first friend at Presidency College…he also stayed at Hindu Hostel.. .a student of Physics …Although he was Bengali…he was born in Jamshedpur…he did his schooling there … his father worked in a government office.. his mother was in the teaching profession …he belonged to an upper middle class family…unlike me…in the words of Shakespeare “ A perfect foil”I am always softspoken…Life for me is like a tryst with destiny…a never-ending struggle … in spite of being made of flesh and blood …I led a robotic existence…I had sacrificed my passions , conscience , likes and dislikes , so that they could never be stumbling blocks in my journey of pursuing my dreams …on the other hand Shubhendu is full of spontaneity , enthusiasm , passionate …like the fresh morning breeze …he writes poems.. listens to Mozart and Beethoven…
 
It was Shubhendu who took me to the Racecourse … the zoo …New Market.. Park Street…Victoria Memorial …I was no longer a stranger in Kolkata …the immortal city …where dreams were sold…dreams were bought…dreams were shattered…yet and yet…My English pronunciation improved considerably in Shubhendu’s company…I learnt how to wear shoes..before going to college I spend fifteen minutes looking at myself in the mirror .. little did I know how the little village-boy Tukai was transformed into Arindam…I shave regularly…read books on Marxism and Leninism…that distinct village smell was gone… I did not belong to my village anymore..!! New life…new friends…new thoughts … I was very happy and thanked destiny for it to happen ….In the game called Life which so much resembled my favourite snakes and ladders…there were ladders I could see…but suddenly a major setback…I received a letter from village…written by Mastermoshai…baba was no more …!! Final Exams were sniffing on my shoulders…I rushed back to my village…Shubhendu accompanied me…
 
I realized that my inner eye had been blinded by the ruthless battery smoke…I was deaf to the sweet sound of conchshells…the village westerlies did not caress my hair…to them I was a stranger…the lush green fields.. the moist smell of the village clay …the azure sky…everything seemed artificial..lifeless …ordinary . Baba’s death came as a shock to me …I was mature enough to understand what Death actually signified …Death …yet so different …baba looked peaceful , calm , composed…no stony stares , no pains , no regrets…I cried like a baby… for baba , …for you…Mastermoshai tried to comfort me “ Don’t cry Tukai …I am still there for you..”
Shubendu was always there by my side…at the time of performing baba’s last rites…to the welcoming of guests at the funeral service…. I will always remain grateful to Shubhendu ..I still miss him … even in Boston …
 
Shubhendu had changed a lot since I first met him…he had completely immersed himself into politics… I tried to tell him a number of times that lending your voice for the propagation of Marxism and Leninism won’t earn you your daily bread…you need to think about your future…about yourself.. about what you want to become in life…he always gave a rather cold reply “ I want to do something for my countrymen .. for the poor ..the needy .” I didn’t want to argue with him …he lectured me on his philosophies, his theories of life and existence…I remained a mute listener..as always…
It was in the middle of our MSc years, when suddenly Shubhendu left for his pursuit of happiness and a perfect utopian life…without informing anyone .. he left a small note for me on my study table…
‘ Arindam ,
 
I have lectured you a lot on my philosophies of life…which perhaps you would never follow…sorry to bother you mate! Remember, no man can exist like an island …but you should also learn how to be self-dependent and self-reliant…I was never fond of Physics … May God fulfill all your desires and dreams…wish you a bright , happy and a brilliant future…
 With best love ,
Shubhendu .’
 
I was not too surprised…Shubendu was always like this…he led his life according to his own whims , choices ..impulses … his own instincts…I wanted him to become a good human being .. a man for others…but I would n’t completely agree with him…no one knows about solitude better than I do….I never relied on anyone to lead my life…I lost you…baba’s death …I have always existed like an island…
 
Neela came to my life with the freshness of the first monsoons…my canvas which was all about black and white was splashed with red , green and golden hues… for me Neela was like a speck of sunlight amidst the frosty Caucasus …Now I write poems…listen to music..which seems to me like the vernacular of the human soul…
 
The first time I saw Neela was at a College cultural function…she was a student of second year…Bengali Literature …such a wonderful voice…her beautiful rendering of Rabindrasangeet ..was something beyond the material world…Neela ‘s eyes were dark… inscrutable …with crescent eyebrowsas if created by the gentle strokes of an artist…an effortless smile…it was pure , divine…yet mysterious.. with a thousand stories to tell…
 
One of my friends introduced me to Neela …I could barely utter a single word…just managed to say my name.. …somehow…I could not look at her eyes…they were too deep , profound for an ordinary mortal like me …
 
After a few restless months had passed , I met Neela at the Coffeehouse ..
“ Will you mind if I sit here ? “
 “ No ! Not at all … “ I replied
“ No one would believe that guys are so shy unless one meets you …”
 
We started meeting each other quite frequently … initially at Coffeehouse…then at the Theatre ..Nandan….Gariahat…I still remember the day when I first clasped her hand…….I kissed those eyes…those lips … I surrendered my love …my passions…my emotions…my conscience …Neela loved to get drenched in the rains…as for me monsoons were an excuse of having excessive khichdi and fried papad …that night I too got drenched…with Neela …for Neela.. till now I had slaughtered my passions , my emotions , my conscience …living like a hapless parasite …in the dingy , damp room of Hindu Hostel …I have witnessed my humanity slowly stumbling towards death…Neela like a fairy touched me with her magic wand…my passions , my love which had remained dormant so far erupted like the old Vesuvius…for once the softspoken Arindam broke all the shackles.. conquered all the restraints …
 
That night was beautiful…yet so dangerous…The streetlamps ..likeGreek warriors…shielded us from human civilization…
Both me and Neela found ourselves in Jibananda’s poems..in Srabostinagar…perhaps in a silent alley of Mesopotamia…perhaps in the heart of the Mediterranean…College Street …Kolkata…was left far far behind…I was exploring Neela like a devout pilgrim…Neela’s body was a pilgrimage…a mythological temple…which had sheltered a tired , bruised …wounded soldier …defeated in the battle of Life
 
…After some days …I came to know that I had been selected to do my PhD in Boston under the supervision of a scientist of international repute …Neela was very happy when I broke the news…however she felt sad at the thought of separation…I promised that once her final year gets over and I am settled , I will take her to Boston …there we will again enliven our dreams…paint our passions…
 
It was the first time I saw Neela crying…she was always adventurous , brave and outspoken…my last resort , my strength at times of despair …. I could do nothing to comfort her…
 
My flight to Boston took off at the scheduled time… the Kolkata of my dreams ,my love Neela were left far far behind…
 
…Prof Kim , my PhD supervisor gave me a warm welcome , he was very happy to have me in his research group. He was a big name in Particle Physics …but still remained a child at heart…always cheerful.. I was very busy with my research work…hardly getting any time to breathe …sometimes when I am free I write to Neela…but she hasn’t replied to any of my letters !!!
 
As far as I can remember it was the 3rd of February …it was the first time in two years of my arrival in Boston that I received a letter from India … it was one for which I had to spend many sleepless nights …These two years have seemed like ages …Neela has finally written to me …She had called a long time back… even then there was uncertainty in their voice …perhaps she wanted to tell something but ultimately couldn’t …
 
‘ Arindam
  I hope you are doing well…I could n’t reply to any of your letters …please forgive me …My wedding has been fixed this September …My fiancée is the son of a family friend…good looking…tall.. engineer by profession…I could not tell about our relationship to mom and dad…it was too late …Everything seems to be like a dream..but dreams as you know seldom come true …I shall send you the invitation card in a few days time…
Yours
 Neela ‘
 
No ! I did not have the courage to attend Neela’s wedding…I had bought a Grandfather clock from London for Neela and Sanjay as their wedding gift…perhaps it has reached them by now…
How could I forget Neela…she will ever remain a part of me…her memories will always be treasured …those incessant winter rains…coffeehouse …college street signified my very existence …As for Neela …Sanjay was her dream…her present … her future …for her Arindam ceased to exist…
 
 …When I stand at the balcony of my Boston apartment , look at the western sky turning crimson red …I try to restrospect …those eventful childhood years…simple village life…Presidency College with all its might and glory…perhaps Shubhendu was right …perhaps he still survives on Marx and Lenin … as for me…a life full of solitude …leading a mundane..meaningless existence …like a vegetable .
 
Last night I had a wonderful dream…so many people I knew were also there …some seemed like strangers …you were there …baba was there …mastermoshai was there …our village was there …Kolkata was there …Presidency was there …Hindu Hostel was there … Shubhendu was there … perhaps Neela was also there …There was so much fun and frolic ! You were cooking payesh for me… Shubhendu was writing a poem…Neela was singing that song …but where was I ?
You called “ Tukai come fast …or else your payesh will become cold .”
Shubhendu called “ Arindam …won’t you listen to my poem”
Neela called “ Why are you not listening ? Don’t you like the song ? ”
 
Tukai…Arindam…everything seemed to slowly fade away…for ever and ever…
 
It was the harsh noise of the calling bell that woke me up in the morning . I opened the door still rubbing my eyes.. Professor Kim was standing at the door …he was jumping in joy…our hardwork had at last paid off…our project on Particle Physics had been sanctioned and we had also got ourselves a reliable sponsor …there is a lot of work at hand … the letter shall remain incomplete …
 
I still love you Ma …I miss you a lot
 
Yours affectionately ,
Arindam (Tukai)
 
 
 
Meanings
 
Ma means Mother ..Bengalis refer to their mothers as Ma
 
Payesh means porridge
 
 Baba means Father ...Bengalis refer to their fathers as Baba
Mastermoshai means Teacher
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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