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Golden Treasure

It rained the whole day. It stopped raining only towards the evening. Things were arranged with much difficulty including the car, flowers, dress and a headgear for my brother's wedding. I, as his companion, managed to get some space to squeeze myself into the car. Our home was inside a small lane, so the car had to be maneuvered to reach as close to our house as possible. In the process, one of the wheels of the car got stuck into some mud and we had a hard time rescuing it.

I am talking about the year 1974 when a car was a precious commodity. In our locality, only one family had a car. My brother was an Army officer. My mother had longed to see her daughter-in-law before her death. So when my brother came home on a two month leave, we hurriedly arranged a match. I, too, had accompanied my brother to see our would-be sister-in-law. She was not at all good looking but tall and slim. Somehow, she was not to my liking. Anyway, it was not my marriage. I wondered how she could be a match for my brother who was tall and handsome. I was sure that my brother would reject this match without a second thought. Perhaps life is stranger than fiction. My brother gave a green signal for the marriage and even today, I fail to understand what made him say yes. 

I was in my first year of B.Com and followed the fashion of the day. I was in the car with my brother. We were followed by a bigger party. On our arrival, we were welcomed by the in-laws family and we were given some refreshments. The marriage was to start around 11 p.m. The preparation was afoot for that and I was introduced to some of the invitees who had come to attend the marriage. My attention was drawn to a 13 year old girl who also came as an invitee with her family. She was wearing a silk saree of peacock blue color and had big attractive eyes. I looked at her but could not take my gaze away from her. I experienced a wonderful feeling in my heart and I wondered, perhaps this could be called, ‘love at first sight’.

Finally, we spoke to. We instantly liked each other a lot and it felt like we had known each other for ever. I was 22 at that time and she was only 13. Even after 34 years, I remember that day vividly. My brother's marriage ceremony went on till 4 and we were busy playing carom, talking, singing and looking at each other endlessly. Now and then, I was called inside to perform some ceremony as a part of my brother’s marriage.

Next day about 11 in the morning, she invited me and the youngest brother of my sister-in-law to their house. We walked the distance. We felt so close and so much in love that other people accompanying us seemed non-existent. I do not remember today what we talked about but one thing I still remember is the feeling of warmth and the fragrance of her sweetness. They had a joint family and were in dental treatment business. The house was quite a big one. The first floor was used by them and the ground floor was given to a tenant. There was a mango groove in front of the house. This natural surrounding gave the house a wonderful ambience. It was nice to see that all her family members accepted me with a smiling face. I took it as a good omen to this beginning of a never ending love story.

Our first rendezvous was planned in a temple, near her house and on my way to college. It was drizzling that afternoon. I thought she may skip this programme but I was wrong. She was present with her sister. Every time she looked at me, it would churn my heart and I would forget the world around me, except her. Her innocent look gave me a great joy and it would linger in my memory till we met next. Such a great thing happened because of my brother’s marriage and this was a new chapter in our lives that opened all of a sudden. We wondered how we could stay away from each other in the coming days.

With the help of my sister-in-law I arranged a birthday celebration in a restaurant. Prior to this, I had never been to any restaurant as my home food kept me satisfied. That evening, there were many invitees but a look from her was enough for me to sustain till the next fortnight. At least in every 15 days, we would meet either at her house or in a park. This way, we came very close and our love took a seemingly concrete form.

As a token for her love, she weaved a small flower on a handkerchief and presented it to me on a moonlit night. Thus our love was sealed but who knew at that time that we were destined to part from one another in a matter of two years, once and for all.

The next major incident I remember was going out together hand-in-hand to visit Saraswati Puja Pandals in Schools and Colleges. Time was flying. Both of us felt that life was very beautiful and that we would never fight. I took her to our college puja pandal and gave her prasad. Reluctantly, we had to part company for the time being but not before promising to meet very soon.

In the meantime, my examinations were soon approaching. I had to prepare hard and being an honours student of Accountancy, the going was tough especially without any tuition. Moreover, I was selected by the local Congress party to be one of the representatives from the Commerce section. I won the election with majority votes for two years consecutively. After this win, the party wanted me to stand for the post of College President. I had to decline politely as I had lot of studies to catch up with. I was managing by borrowing books from the library or friends. But the part II examination needed much more serious studies and I had to buy a few books.

In the midst of my studies, I would take out sometime at least once in a week to meet her. For me, she was an inspiration to forge ahead in life, a beauty to look at, an innocent face hardly to come by. One day I had gone to their house and only the three sisters and their grandmother were there. The rest of the family members had gone
out to attend a program. She played a few Hindi songs from the movie ‘Abhiman’ on their music system. I was sitting in the balcony on a chair. Every thing was quiet. She came silently and stood close by. I called her and she came. I held her closely to my bosom and she remained there silently. Every second of that time remained in my life as a golden treasure.

After that event, my life moved very fast. I had to go away to Nasik after my graduation where my brother was working. Going to a new place put my life into a new track and I lost all contact with her. Although I remembered her everyday and was deeply in love with her, I did not want to disturb her thinking that it was not possible for me to materialize this into marriage. I want her to be happy wherever she is. But I am sure that we will meet someday, sometime, somewhere. I am waiting for that time to come.

Contributing Story Teller Sukhendu Roy Chowdhury   [email protected]

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