Last day at Kolkata

Date: 25th October 2015.

Time: 2:15 p.m IST

Place: My home at Kasba, Kolkata

 

“Have you booked the cab?” my dad enquired in a stern voice.

“No dad, I am trying.”

“Do it fast. You are always late. You have not even put on your dress.”

“Yes dad, let me first book the cab. I will dress up after that.”

“Fast, you mother has worn a saree already. Don’t miss your flight this time.”

“Done. The cab is coming. Can you please receive the call when I am getting dressed up?”

“Yeah, please go.”

Mom came out of her bedroom saying, “This guy is late as usual.”

I dressed up in a light green T-shirt with white stripes and blue jeans. “I am ready”, I declared as I saw dad talking on phone giving directions to someone. This must be the driver.

“Today is Durga idol immersion. There might be huge procession”, my mom said.

“Yes mom, let me bring my bag.”

“The cab has entered our complex. Take care of yourself son and don’t think so much about all of these.”

“Yes mom, you too take care of your health. Don’t think too much. We have done all right things. I have nothing to worry about.”

“Take care of yourself son”, said my dad, caressing my shoulders. His voice broke in between and his face turned sombre.

I have never seen my dad crying. I didn’t want him to cry at the same time I didn’t want him to loose heart. I patted his back and said, “Dad don’t be weak. Be strong. I am worried about both of you.”

Then we started our journey towards the airport.

 

 

 

Date: 25th October 2015.

Time: 5:11 p.m IST

Place: Kolkata, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport

 

As I completed my security clearance, I got a call from didi. She asked me not to worry and that things will be ok soon. I asked her to share a common friend’s lawyer contact number. She replied that the contact was not available.

The last I spoke with her was on 15th October 2015. After that, I haven’t received any call from her. Nor did I call her, angry at the way in which she had talked with my parents.

Second by second, 10 days have passed. Will she call, will she not? I was repeating the words among the cacophony of announcements and human talk.

Let me call.

“Hello” in a questioning voice.

I wondered if she has even saved my number on her phone.

“How are you?”

“Haa…. I am good.”

Good, that too in an enthusiastic voice? Staying away from husband whom she had said she loves?

“Good?…” I stammered a bit.

She continued in her same tone which became eventually complaining, “Yes, what can I do? You have left me here for Durga Puja. I spent my Puja all alone.”

“Leave it. I think your health is back to normal. I had called you because I waited for your call till the last moment but you haven’t called. Didn’t you knew that we are both flying out to Bangalore today?”, I said.

“Yes, but you have not done your duty as my husband”, she complained again as usual.

I interrupted for some useful talk within whatever time is left, “Why didn’t you call even in the last minute?”

“After what happened on that day,”…. A momentous eerie silence at her end, “I felt very bad that your dad wanted me to sign that paper.”

I wanted to interrupt but thought it would be wiser for her to talk.

She continued, “I might have flaws but tell me one thing. Did I do anything for which I have to sign that paper?”

I couldn’t help but interrupt, “You should have seen the date on the paper. It has the things you did on Dwiragaman night.”

She said, “Yes, but I have been there with you and your parents. Have I done anything unusual or have I repeated anything like this in Bangalore? Why to bring that paper again?”

“No, you haven’t repeated them again. But it is just for you to remember, not to do those things again.”

“No, I don’t think that is justified. And I expected that you will at least call me once after the incident. You didn’t even call to know the truth. I am married to you. What kind of responsibility you have?”

“If I haven’t called, what stopped you from calling me?”

“Yes, but you are my husband. You should have called me once.”

“I was waiting for your call whole of Friday. For once, I thought, you probably haven’t gone to your home. When I called mom in the afternoon, all she said you have gone and called them up. I expected you to at least call me. I got to know about the things when I called home in the night at about 10.30 p.m. Till that point, I thought you might be too happy to meet your folks, so much so that you forgot me. What did you do in the 12 hours after you left my home? Couldn’t you even inform that I am leaving?”

“That would have been like I am protesting.”

“No, it is not. What stopped you from informing at least that you have reached? And I was waiting like a fool for at least one message!”

“When my mamaji called you, you told him about my etiquettes? Why did you talk badly with him? Why did you talk badly with my mother? You have left me alone in this house for full Puja time.”

“Even I was alone in Puja. I had told you earlier that we will have fun if you stay here in Puja vacations. Your mamaji called when I was driving. There was so much loud noise that I couldn’t hear properly. I raised my voice to talk to him. I did not talk badly. Not make up things.”

“You talked in an inappropriate way with him.”

“No, I did not. And I am right about your manners. Why did you argue and leave my house after misbehaving with my parents? You could have talked nicely. What have we not given you, love and pleasure till what we can afford? What else do you want? And, dad had already told your mom that our doors are open for you. You can come if you want. Why you didn’t come?”

“I did not use offensive words for your parents. I felt so let down when I saw that paper. I was just talking to them.”

“There is a big difference between shouting and talking. In-law’s place is always assumed as bad place by daughter-in-laws. On the other hand, my parents always treated you as their daughter. Still you were abusive to them? You will accuse us to what extent? First you accused me of marrying you because I am sexually weak. Now you accuse my parents of treating you badly. I wouldn’t doubt if you are proved wrong even the second time. Tell me why didn’t you return back when my dad told to your mom that you can come whenever you want.”

“Did you tell that to me?”

“Your mom knew it. She must have told you. You must have known everything from her. Then why you didn’t come?”

“How could I come? You guys were visiting Puja pandals.”

“We didn’t visit any puja pandals. We visited our family’s puja.”

I continued, “Anyway, I thought you would call me at least now since the flight time was approaching, but you didn’t. They are asking me to switch off the phone. Bye.”

“Bye.”

I switched off the phone, put on my seat belt. I noticed that my co-passengers might have overheard me. I don’t mind though. The air-hostesses have taken their positions explaining the safety instructions. I just thought I would sleep as usual. But this journey was different. I did not get sleep, I could not have slept.

She has been accusing me since we got married. She will accuse me in future too, for no fault of mine. I didn’t leave her at her paternal home, forget about leaving her alone. She was the one who told she will never come back. That was her decision, not mine. She accuses me of not talking responsibility as a husband. What is her responsibility as a wife? The list of her double standards doesn’t even end here. She pointed finger at my father and shouted to both my parents. And she blames me for disrespecting her mama and mother? In fact, she had not called me even once after getting off the train.

I saw the couple in front of me, supporting their heads over one another. I thought I would cry and I stopped. The aeroplane engines gushed the air with so much pressure that I could almost feel them. I saw outside the window, pressing my face across the pane. The airport terminal was looking marvelous, twinkling like a Diwali night. I was held back by force, and the buildings, grass and runway were moving behind me, gradually small clouds went past me.

I kept looking down the window, to get a glimpse of what is best known as “Sundori Kolkata” (Beautiful Kolkata). The city was looking like small pieces of gold and diamond thrown around. The sky was getting dark and I kept on looking till my eyes can take me, into nowhere and oblivion.

I leaned back my seat and made myself comfortable and tried to sleep. I closed my eyes to try to sleep for a while. Lights dimmed by, the music got louder and chit-chatting around me came to naught.

“I just talked with your parents, did not use any offensive language.” Her words kept echoing inside my eardrums. My dad trusted her so much that he wanted to share our back account details with her. It was me who stopped him. Afterall, how can I trust a girl who broke all hell loose to clear her silly doubts, humiliated and mentally harassed me the fourth night after bou bhat? I know my parents very well and I know her very well too. I can tell who is telling the truth.

“I have told Tanmoy babu that we don’t want anything. We don’t want any goods, money, jewellery or property. All we want is a good bahu who will stay as daughter. We want your girl to love my son and stay with us happily.” My dad’s voice kept coming to my mind. Now I could not control water coming out of my eyes.

I leaned my forehead on the front seat, keeping my eyes closed. “Is this too much to ask for?” I asked myself. “We have everything by the grace of god. All we wanted was a little bit more of happiness. Oh Mother goddess, what have you done.” From my childhood, I always wondered why people are called god fearing in English textbooks. Why fear the one who made us? I always loved Durga, as a kid, I called her Mummy whenever I prayed to her, though it is common for people to call her ma (mother). I have kept my faith all along, though I have fought with the almighty many times, complaining about petty issues in life, but I have grown out of them. I have tried to keep my heart warm amid difficult situations in the past. I thought there is something good in this world**.

“Does she even like me? If I put all bad words told to me by other people in one room, it could not match her criticism in the last three months. What did I or my parents do to deserve this mummy? Are trust and love so valueless?”

A drop of water fell on the jeans. A moment later, I could feel its warmth on my right thigh. Some more flowed. I have an abundance of them now.

 

 

*mama is Maternal uncle and ji is used respectfully to mean the same.

*Dwiragaman is a Hindu marriage practice i.e. 2 nights after the reception when newly weds go to the wife’s parent’s place. They have to stay there for 2 nights, complete some formalities and come back.

*Durga is a female deity in Hinduism, often associated with being the mother of all beings.

*Puja is prayer

* bou bhat is the reception 2 days after marriage ceremony.

*bahu is your son’s wife or daughter in law.

**From The Two Towers (Lord of The Rings)

 

 

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Her Lumia Mobile Phone

8th August 2015, Kolkata

At my home.

We went to our bed as usual expecting a good night’s sleep. She had already lied down in the bed. I came next, closing the door behind us. She was typing on her Microsoft Lumia Mobile Phone. Out of a husband’s curiosity, I tried to peek into her phone. She was chatting in an online group. Shreshta, I saw a name in the chat list. I asked if she was using hike. She replied in positive and complained that Whatsapp is not working on her phone for some days.

Who is Shreshta? Her friend must have come for the wedding. I was trying to recollect fast. Is she the girl talking the most on the day of Bashi Biye? It dawned upon me that she was the one who decorated my face before Bashi Biye. I took a deep breath of respite that she is chatting with her friend’s group. Shaoni had told me that Shreshta is part of her friend’s circle which started from their regular visit to the gym.

Should I interrupt? Her husband is lying next to her and she is chatting with her friends? Oh common! There was a nice full day to chat with her friends.

I said to myself “Let me wait for sometime as her conduct over last few days was abnormal.”

While chatting with them, she was getting messages from someone else too. I could not resist my curiosity at this point of time. I enquired her about this new person. She showed me the chats from a boy. She said that he had proposed her. I asked, “How do you know him?”

She said, “The tuition classes I went, had boys studying there too.”

Even though, the answer was not definitive, I decided to not dwell into it. I was of the view that she should disclose more to dispel any negativity or doubts in my mind. After all we just started a new relationship and I am not that nagging.

“He had proposed me.”

“Let me see his photo”, she gave me the phone and I checked his photo. “Were you in a relationship with him?”

“I said no to him. He is dark and looks alright. But he is doing business. I would have never married him.”

She had told me she likes dark guys. I wondered what made her decide if he is not the guy she doesn’t like. Is it his looks or profession?

“Why are you chatting with him now? Doesn’t he know that you are married?”

“I didn’t invite him. I replied because he pinged me.”

How does it matter if anyone pings or wants to talk to someone if that person is not interested? Well, the underlying point is if the person is not interested. So, what about the person who says she is not interested but is replying to the messages? Is there nothing called priority in life? If we talk about manners then, she could tell him nicely, look I am married now and not interested in you. As a husband, I would surely mind my wife keeping in touch with her ex-boyfriend. Pardon me if I took the liberty to call him a boyfriend but he tried to be one.

She kept getting 3-4 pings from the boy after this. She replied to the messages. Post that, she just checked messages in her friend’s group. I wasn’t really happy of her chatting with the boy but I didn’t want to express my feelings. She can act strangely when anxious and tensed but I am a different person. I want to know the truth and for that I can suppress my feelings.

She kept aside her phone and I went closer, put my arms around her and there we go!

*Bashi Biye is the next half of Hindu Marriage which generally happens in the next day. A religious wedding is considered complete only after this custom.

Intolerance towards tolerates.

Since BJP and allies came to power with a thumping majority at the Central Federal government, there were many types of voices. Some welcomed the right wing Hindu party for its aggressive and liberal policy towards economy, an economy which was shedding its weight thanks to a previous puppet government. Some people were afraid of the anticipated challenges facing religious and cultural freedom. Some people were confused at the results itself. What really matters is that India voted for a decisive change after 10 years of mismanagement and poor execution.

India, in the year 2014 was in the crossfires of cultural and religious amalgamation. While, age old values and beliefs were being questioned, new western thoughts and practices were being accepted without asking any questions. This meant diminishing old superficial thoughts and more personal independence. Eventually it also started reducing the importance of some institutions which were thought of as the pillars of the Indian system.

Roughly 18 months after the new government started impacting our finances, corruption, foreign policy and personal independence, many notable artists and authors started returning the Sahitya Academy awards. The reason they cited was growing intolerance in the country. The news has been making headlines for some personality or the other, but I didn’t bother. The good thing in them returning the awards was I started knowing these people whom I never knew existed.

Incidentally, today on 7th Nov 2015, I had to go for some medical tests sponsored fully by my life insurance company. The place was about 3 kms from my place, though I didn’t know it existed. I entered the tech park with a copy of the email sent by the company. I wondered what made them set a pathology lab inside a tech park!! The moment I was entering the building, a person wearing a big white kurta and light pink-white turban entered the building. He looked almost Indian but dressed like an Arab. The guy went past me when I was enquiring at the reception. The place was huge contrary to how it appeared outside. After I completed the formalities and entered the waiting area, I could see many men in similar dress and women in black burquas sitting there. They were talking in a language which appeared Persian. I have never seen so many Arabs in India at a single place, that too here in a locality dominated by Dravidian Hindus. While I was in my thoughts, I was called for fasting blood sugar test. All I cared about was if the injection would hurt me. I sat in a nice chair and looked at the walls. Most of the instruction was in a language which appeared Urdu. I was surprised and wanted to ask the pathologist what is written there. Finally, I didn’t.

Once, the blood was taken, I was asked to get urine sample from the restroom straight across the corridor. As I walked passed the hallway, I could see all women workers in sindoor and mangal sutra, while some men had chandan tilak. The room names were written in English but some handwritten instructions were written in the same unknown language in 3-4 lines. As far as I know, instructions are meant to be written in the local language (Kannada), English and then in other languages including Hindi. And this is bound by the age old commerce laws which are not strictly enforced.

After keeping the urine sample in the restroom, my hunger started overpowering my curiosity. I went back to the reception lady in salwar kameez and wearing chandan tilak and sindoor. She courteously pointed me to go to the cafeteria and get breakfast. I looked up and found nothing on the wall as it is usual for establishments with Hindu ownership to put a small puja area near reception. I went upstairs to help me with a nice serving a delicious poha and incredibly tasty tea to which I added extra spoon full of sugar. I was happy to sip my tea and look down at the patients waiting for their turn through the glass wall. I cannot help but notice that majority of them were Arabs or Muslims.

Where is Intolerance? Here, in front of me, I could see an army of Hindu workers, lab technicians and doctors attending a majority of Muslim patients, hired by probably an atheist or secular owner(s). I wouldn’t be surprised if some employees are from different communities too. I didn’t see anyone complaining or raising slogans against use of Urdu like language on the walls, while there was no Hindi anywhere. Tolerance is not just being inclusive to people of different religions or cultural backgrounds. It is also to acknowledge that something is done to heckle the barriers which divide humanity. You won’t get any newspaper article for my or similar experiences. Now, anyone can ask for beef in the cafeteria questioning my theory. I would say, leave the goddamn meat for one day and it will not reduce your protein or your personal choice! If the Arabs can sacrifice it for a day, why can’t so called liberals, Muslims and Christians, all Indian?

Talking more about tolerance, I don’t mind my Jain or Buddhist friends eating only veg items alongside me, a fish and meat eating Hindu. I don’t mind Muslim colleagues going to prayers while we slog in that time. I don’t mind when my dad says they don’t believe in god. I don’t mind visiting a Gurudwara and eat the lungar. Why are people like me not in the news? Talk about intolerance and we are already indifferent. Or is it just plain business, being mean at the helm of affairs to retort only what sells, and what sells big – freedom. Anything which attacks our freedom is seen as an instrument to repel the influence of western civilization by the all-powerful state.

I don’t deny that there are no religious issues all over the country. Even the majority Hindus are facing it. But all of them happen in pockets, as in many other countries. All such intolerance must be gone in a modern world but incidents like these should be left to the administration. Why not accept the logical facts rather than satisfy our emotional ego based on some news here and there? The answer is that we have not upgraded our thought process. At the onset of cultural invasion, we just accepted things which were packed to look good. Let us accept it; we believe only the side of story being served well. The deep understanding of what really benefits western world have still eluded our inconsequential thinking. We still believe that what looks good is actually good. What we haven’t invented is that we need to do a lot of hard work and digging to get the best. Unmindful rejection of some thoughts and acceptance of somethings else reduce our power to get the best of both worlds.

Let us come back to returning of the prestigious awards. What kind of scientific investigation and logical interpretation of the available data was done to conclude that we are going back in time? It need not be mentioned that the ways of Science and to some extent logical reasoning eluded Indians till British amended our education system. Have all the distinguished artists and authors done a fair homework before returning the awards? When will these pseudo liberals and neo-fascists leave their comfortable homes and help the real victims, irrespective of their religion or thought process? Too much has been talked about intolerance these days while I could see the opposite around me. Being emotional and mean can project you to the headlines and are too easy these days. Are we the real Indians who were virtuous once upon a time? Are we the same Hindus whose Manu smriti holds the king and leaders responsible for fair judgement?

I don’t need the so called distinguished literatures who protest by insulting a prestigious institution. We need more of people who work for the better future. We need more minds who will give a fair trial to Intolerance in India. Because, when I see this word, I feel the liberals around me are Intolerant to the Tolerant me.

Change it! Return the money compounded annually to Sahitya Academy too.

“Those who plead their cause in the absence of an opponent can invent to their heart’s content, can pontificate without taking into account the opposite point of view and keep the best arguments for themselves, for aggressors are always quick to attack those who have no means of defence.”

― Christine de Pizan, Der Sendbrief vom Liebesgott / The Letter of the God of Love

I will end the volcano like eruption in my mind with the prayer which is still sung from time immemorial in most of the Indian schools:

Asato ma satgamaya. Tamaso ma jyotirgamaya. Mrityorma amrutam gamaya. Om, shanti, shanti, shanti.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishads

From lies, lead me to the truth.

From darkness, lead me to the light.

From death, lead me to immortality.

Om, peace, peace, let there be peace.

Following phone call…

I called home a bit late than usual today. It was 2.33 pm, 14th October 2015. “Mummy, what did you eat?” “Fish curry honey”. “What you had today? There was chicken right?” “Yes mom, my friend took a plate but he won’t eat, so I took a piece from him”. Today was no different. Mom was sounding depressed from some days.

“Her mom called in morning. She was supposed to come today you know right?” “Yes mom, what did she say?” “Her mom said, she is down with cold, cough and fever. She will be taking rest for some more days and then come. Then she said, even she and her husband are down with fever. That’s all nothing much.”

I said, “I think she won’t come. I think she wanted to not come at all. That’s why she has made a scene out of everything.” “Probably”, said my mom.

“Both of you had been very good with her. We didn’t even ask for dowry. We didn’t even mind her serious accusations 2 days after marriage. All of us had always treated her properly. If she cannot appreciate it, then that is her problem. She has made a drama every time she enters our home. Let us wait and watch over her next move.”

Dowry is a common social problem affecting India. Many times, boy’s family asks for an amount or assets as dowry from girl’s family before marriage. My parents never exchanged dowry that is about 40 years ago. They were very sure that they won’t ask for any in their son’s marriage. I, having read in school and watched campaigns on TV, always believe that dowry is a social malice and must be eradicated. Marriage is a bond between two individuals and their families. Dowry makes it a business. Sorry, but our lives are not articles on sale, we are spirits in human form. I am proud that we took a firm stand and rejected such a corrupt practice.

“Ok boy, you don’t think much. You take care of yourself.”

“Thanks ma, both of you too.”

The phone call left me with myriad feelings about my future. Just a few days ago, things looked quite different.

Doctor’s Prescription

It was 7th August 2015 around 8:00 a.m. We had got up early at my wife’s Madhyamgram home. We were getting ready to return my home after Dwiragaman. I was both tensed and feeling a bit relaxed. I wanted to see my parents as urgently as possible. Shaoni came to my room and offered me tea and biscuit. She embraced me and said that I have to talk very carefully with my parents. She said that her dad has arranged for a car for us to go. Only both of us were supposed to go, not her dad. When I asked her, she said that her dad will be there to emotionally support her.

“Look, in this situation, someone from my family will anyway go. They will not leave me alone. Prakrit, my mom will not leave me if you don’t see a doctor.” Who brought the situation anyway? Also, I was the one who got ready to see a doctor at once, I am confident of myself.

She asked me to sit in her parent’s room if I am done with my tea. After I completed drinking my tea, I was getting bored, thinking what to do next. The walls of her house were closing on me. it was already getting hot. I thought if I should switch on the AC. Anyway, I went downstairs to her parent’s room. Her dad was sitting on the bed. I sat on a chair next to the bed. He did not seem to look at me eye to eye.

He said, “This problem which you are having, did you know about it earlier? Did your parents know about this issue?”

I nodded my head in a “No”.

He was quick to nod his head indicating the same. Then, he repeated the same “No… right.”

He continued, without giving me any chance to speak, “This is the most important thing in married life. This is going on from time immemorial.” He paused for a while, looked tensed and then continued, “You have put a pillow in the middle of bed for honeymoon night. What is it? You have studied so much and still don’t know anything about it?”

He perplexed me. You must be joking dad-in-law, the most important thing in relationships is love and care. Everything else including sex follows, not the other way round. And why should I advertise about what I know just like your daughter does. Oh wait! I could hear Shaoni talking through her dad, the same important stuff she told me the night before.

I said, “The pillow was put by people who made the bed, not me. Your daughter should have known this before sharing this. And what you are referring to is not a problem. It is quite normal. Shaoni is saying that this is a problem.” I continued, “It is like my hairs. I have small hairs which is normal. It is not abnormal if someone doesn’t like it.”

He nodded again, stopped just halfway into either a yes or no.

I continued, “I told her to check it in internet but she didn’t want to. She told people like us write in internet.” I stopped short of asking how she knows more than “others” about a man’s sexual organ?

At this moment, someone called him. He held his phone close to his ear and started talking. I could overhear the caller saying “mama” and then something else which wasn’t very clear. They talked for a while. Her dad said, yes we are going there and will see a doctor. My grey cells were working fast enough; I thought this might be his eldest sister’s son. We had met during marriage. I was trying hard to listen to their conversation but could not understand because of blurred quality of audio.

Anyway, after sometime, he said the car is ready. We started walking towards the main road where the car was parked. One person who was introduced as her father’s friend was walking towards us. He asked her father if we are returning after Dwiragaman. Her father said positive and then asked him to go home, “Ratna is at home. You can go there.” Ratna is my wife’s mother. I wondered why he asked the person to go home. The person then turned to me and said, “Shaoni is like my daughter. I saw her from her childhood. Look at her, she didn’t even bring you to my house. Go to my relative’s place in Bangalore. I will send their addresses, they will be happy to host you.” I smiled at him and told, “Sure uncle, it was nice meeting you.”

As we reached near the main road, I saw the vehicle was a “Tata Sumo”. Her father sat next to the driver and I sat next to her, behind the driver. I said in my mind “Hanuman chalisa” and started the journey. She was holding my hand all along the journey. Has she realized her mistake or she has double standards? She did not mind insulting and mentally harassing me in the middle of night. Is she having a golden heart, the sort of women they portray in movies?

We were almost silent throughout the journey. The driver did not take the usual route. He took us through Rajarhat indicating that we would reach home early. A Friday morning can be devastatingly busy so I agreed in principle with him, though I regretted that idea later. The road was empty, both sides on this new area are empty and sultry too. I could hardly see any life around. Shaoni’s palm appeared to me like a dead branch on my palm, lying there just for the sake of it. Nevertheless, we reached Kasba home at around 10.30 a.m.

I knocked at our door. My parents were ready to welcome us. My mom gave us a big smile and my dad looked happy too. I was tensed from that moment- both my parents were so happy. What will they think when they will hear what their daughter-in-law has raised. All that could come to my mind was “Let truth and only truth win.” I went inside; never minding who all came with me. As I entered into the hall, my mom went to kitchen, saying “All of you sit; I will bring some snacks and tea.” My father asked my father-in-law to sit on the dewan bed. I thought I could not talk to my dad, so I entered the kitchen.

“Mom, this marriage is not successful.”

Within myself, I could hear me crying but at the exterior, I could feel what an insensitive lad I had become of the moment.

“I realized something is not right the moment I saw you. Tell me clearly what happened?”

“She says that my penis is small like a kid’s.”

“How can she say that? When did this happen?”

“On Dwiragaman night, I don’t know mom how she knows that. But she made a big issue out of this. She already told her aunty.”

“What?”

“Mom, we will go to the doctor and find out if everything is alright. I will go to the hall now.”

I could see my mom loosing eye contact with me. Suddenly, she appeared fragile. I supported her with both of my hands. I made her sit on the chair kept nearby. She put her hands on her head and she closed her eyes. I knew that her blood pressure would have shot up. But I also knew that a glass of water and the chair will be better than me standing there. It will help her slowly catch up with her breath. I was worried that she, already hospitalized just 5 months ago is not in the right state of mind to hear this.

I went to the hall where my father, father-in-law and my wife were talking. Without thinking for a while, I asked Shaoni to go look after my mom. She would have anyway finished talking. Wait! How can an Indian woman, considered shy and weak talk to my dad about my private parts? Shaoni obeyed me and went inside the kitchen.

I saw my dad has taken out a lot of hospital papers. He coolly directed me to look at a doctor of medicine with an M.D. He said, let us verify this issue with the best doctor. My father-in-law agreed to that. Finally, we rounded on a doctor whose visiting hours was earliest. I called the hospital and appointment was fixed. We were supposed to meet the doctor at about 2.30 p.m. By this time, my mother had walked into her bedroom and lied down on the bed.

My father-in-law said to my dad, “Now I should go Diganto babu.” “Why?” my dad enquired.

“I have to leave the driver. Otherwise he will charge for full day.”

“Ok, you ask him to leave. You can eat here”, my father said.

“No, I will take bath at home and will reach the hospital on time.”

Then, my father agreed and told him to accept the charge for the vehicle. My father-in-law continued, “Since you are insisting, I will ask for the money. It will cost Rs. 3000 for round trip.”

Without asking any more questions, my dad gave him the money.

After he left, my mom served the lunch. She was feeling better by now but was obviously worried. We finished our lunch and left for the hospital, three of us – me, dad and my wife. I asked my mom to stay at home and take rest.

How does it feel to drop a diamond ring from a mountain cliff? Not worse than how it felt to face this situation at hand.

In the hospital, I paid the registration fees and consultation fees totaling to Rs. 600. I wondered who was supposed to pay it, should it be us or them. Who raised the question anyway? I am here to clear her doubt by an expert and save my marriage. She was here to just clear her doubt. She had anyway told me that the red vermillion (sindoor) does not mean anything to her. The whole process took me years back into my hostel hood. That was the time when so called friends would ask for money, take it and won’t return it back. I wouldn’t be surprised if her family is like that. If she can show her real side on Dwiragaman night, her father can also show his true self anytime.

We were waiting in the OPD lounge of Desun Hospital Kolkata. The wait was getting bigger by every minute. Dr. Moloy Ray hasn’t arrived at his usual time. My dad was sitting at some distance. She said, “Relax, I think you are tensed.” I asked, “Do I look tensed?” She said, “Yes, you are sweating.” My skin is oily which makes me look like I am sweating. Then I asked, “Are you tensed?” “No” she said. I wondered if that is her confidence or she stays that calm.

After a while, there was some murmur in the passage way. I overheard someone saying that Dr. Moloy Ray is shifted to another room opposite to where we sat. My dad went there and enquired. The doctor has still not arrived. I was looking at passerbies and wondered why they would have come. Why scholarly articles from google aren’t enough to clear her doubt. Oh my god, it is just her doubt but what is the basis for that?

Meanwhile, her dad called her phone. She told my dad that Mr. Tanmoy Mitra has arrived. My dad went to the ground floor to pick her dad. I saw her dad coming with a sense of urgency, eye brows curved, face tensed. He asked “Prakrit, everything alright?” I wondered if that was meant to be humor. He sat down with my dad and both of them were chit chatting, though I saw my dad more interested to initiate conversation.

The doctor had come now.  We were 3rd on the list of patients. She was standing with her arm around mine in the waiting queue. The gesture itself appeared that she is supportive or that she loves me. Only I know how much I felt cheated. No true self would display their emotions while working otherwise.

I informed my dad when our turn was about to come. Both of them stood up in the queue. Shaoni told me that she will feel shy to talk about the issue so, it will be better if I speak. Well, she did not mind talking about this my dad. She and I entered the doctor’s chamber. My dad and my father-in-law tried to enter behind us. The doctor demanded them to wait outside in a strong voice. I sat on the right side of the doctor while she was seated next to me, opposite to his left side.

“What is the issue?” doctor asked.

“Where do you work? Where do you stay?” he enquired.

I said that I work and stay in Bangalore.

“Actually we got married on 31st July 2015. She is raising questions about the size of my sexual organ since then”, I said.

“31st July? 2nd August must be your honeymoon night. Today is 7th August daytime. So, you spent only 5 days together”, he said.

“Why did you involve family in this?” he asked in the same strong voice.

“Sir, it started from Dwiragaman night. Actually she informed her family all about this”, I said.

He turned to her and asked, “Why did you inform your family in this? Does someone involve family in these matters?”

He looked at me again, with his piercing eyes.

“You mean you spent just 2 nights together?”

He then turned towards my wife “What is so urgent in this matter that you had to call family? Can’t you see he is as tall as 6 feet? Can’t you see he was strong manly characters – his body hair and his facial hair? How do you know so much details about the penis size? Leave him if you don’t get along with him.”

He continued, “For sex, size does not matter. Neither does it affect sexual satisfaction, nor does it affect pregnancy. Do you want a penis size that of an elephant?”

Both of us smiled and I wanted to laugh. “But I thought he should get a hard on as soon as he sees me”, my wife said. I noticed that she was talking with her eyes not meeting the doctor, quite unusual for her.

The doctor continued, “Do you want him to go around in the market and start meeting other girls? Or do you want a guy who will stay with you. Consummation of marriage, as known in Indian legal system, takes a maximum of 1 year for 99% of arranged marriages. For you, it is just 2 nights. Why don’t you give him sometime? Why are you in such a hurry?”

“Look at what you have done to your husband. You are putting so much pressure on him. Some people become too angry when accused. He, on the other hand has closed on himself. Give him sometime and cooperate with him.”

He continued talking by looking at my wife, “Every man is different. Sex organs are controlled by the brain. Man is not a machine, you can’t say start and he will become erect. It is a complicated process of sense, touch and many other things. Some men get aroused by looking, some don’t. You can’t call some sort of men ineffective. By brain, it means that both of you should be emotionally attached. Did both of you go out before marriage?”

I replied, “Sir, it was not possible as we were in different cities. We have talked on phone for about six months.”

He said back, “Then go out, watch movies, go shopping, go to your honeymoon. If you like each other’s company then everything will be alright.”

He asked, “Do you want to know anything else?”

My wife nodded her head in negative. I also said I don’t have any more questions. The doctor said that he will write no medication needed in this case. He said that both of you should give each other sometime and see how it goes. He wrote it in the prescription.

We got up and I said “Thanks”. I closed the door behind me. As I came out, my dad was standing in the front. I told him that the doctor has said everything is alright. I called mom and informed her the same. I saw Shaoni is with my father-in-law some spaces away, talking among themselves.

I went with my dad near to them. My father-in-law said that it is good to have consulted an expert. My dad asked if everything is clear. My wife nodded her head in yes. He asked if anyone wants to have tea. I said, let us have it downstairs. Suddenly, my dad said let us have the tea at home. I objected saying mother is not well. Both father and daughter were silent, I thought now they should at least buy a cup pf tea. Anyway, they said let us go home and have tea. I felt a huge rage running through my blood stream.

Once we reached home, my wife told my mom, “It was good that we consulted the doctor. Now Prakrit is more relaxed. Shall I go back to Madhyamgram, I will bring back my luggage.”

My father asked, “Why you haven’t brought the luggage? Anyway you can go.”

“After Dwiragaman, wife is supposed to stay. You cannot go back now.” My mom declared.

I wanted to spend some private time with my parents and describe all that happened on Dwiragaman night. What all she told me about the size, I have to tell. I never imagined a wife of her sort. Will I be able to accept her? Will I be able to accept her word mongering?

I asked my mom, “Please let her go. She will bring back her luggage.”

“Let her go after some days.” My mom said.

Her dad went back home after having tea. Rs 600/- was not even offered for the services which they asked for. I thought how cheap a person’s mentality can be.

“Let us see how she reacts now. If she can adjust and accepts her fault then it will be ok. Otherwise, we will have to see.” I thought to myself.

“But when will I talk about the cigarettes?” I started imploring on how to raise another issue which is totally unacceptable to me.

 

*mama is Maternal uncle

*Dwiragaman is a Hindu marriage practice i.e. 2 nights after the reception when newly weds go to the wife’s parent’s place. They have to stay there for 2 nights, complete some formalities and come back.

The Agreement

The Agreement

The piece of paper on which she had made a scene reads like this in Bengali:

Date: 13th August 2015

I, Shaoni Mitra, on the day of Dwiragaman (5th August 2015), raised doubts about Prakrit’s body’s sexual organ, in our Madhyamgram home. Due to this, we consulted a Doctor in Desun Hospital, Kolkata, alongwith her, my father and father-in-law. The doctor certified that Prakrit is perfectly normal and fit. I consciously regret my mistake in doubting his manliness and pointing this out, and I ask for your forgiveness. Additionally, I will fully cooperate with Prakrit to prove his manliness so that I can be his child’s mother. I will try to love Prakrit with all my heart and body.

I don’t have any addiction to cigarette, liquor or any other substances.

I will not use any internet enabled mobile. If required, I will use my mother-in-law’s mobile phone.

I will not do anything which will disrupt the peace of Prakrit’s or my father’s family.

I will do my best to do good to my in-laws family and will listen to their words.

From this day and in future, I will not say any such words which will mentally harass Prakrit or his parents. I will stay happily and peacefully with Prakrit’s family for whole life.

<Signed>

Tanmoy Mitra

13.08.15

(Father of Shaoni)

Cont… Why all this drama?

“Leave it honey. As I told you earlier, your dad does not like this.”

“Mom, if you don’t tell me, how will we know the truth? She was nice all along. Something must be wrong.” “Ok, here you go”, said Mom.

“She was getting ready from the morning. She was talking for a while with her brother on phone. She said oh you are not coming-but I wanted to see your face first.” She had told me before marriage that she loves her younger brother the most in her family.

“Then she called someone else from her family and was talking rudely. She enquired why can’t you come early as I have come from far just to see you.” Talking rudely is not uncommon with her. Before marriage, however, she used to talk extremely sweetly and politely with me and my parents. After marriage, I have seen her behaving badly with family members and talking rudely with her parents. On asking why she can’t speak softly with them, she gives some or other kind of excuses. Her diagonally opposite transformation post marriage is surprising, to say the least.

“After I came out of bath, she started telling me- See Mamuni (She calls my mom as Mamuni, equivalent to mom), dad is asking me to sign that paper. I asked what paper.

After she tried to explain, I could not really understand which paper she is talking about. Unknowingly, I said, Oh because you might be calling yourself Shaoni Mitra that’s why. Then she stopped talking.” Oops, dumb me.

“Her mother and her youngest mama came after some time. She said, mamaji also came but we will not call him to home. Let him sit in the car as he is not aware of all these affairs. I was surprised by this.” Mom talked in a questioning tone.

“Which affairs?”, I asked.

“Whatever was written in the paper which dad asked her to sign”, my mom said.

“Oh! Now I remember the contents. It has all that happened 2 nights after marriage at her home. It holds her responsible for all the fiasco. Also, her dad has signed it already. Is that the same paper she was talking about earlier? Ok mom, tell me more.”

“Yes beta that is the paper. So, your dad asked why her mamaji would not be invited. He went downstairs and invited him home. Then all of us started talking with each other. Your dad said he had argued twice with your wife. Everything was in front of them”

“Twice when? What did dad say?”

“He said, once when she said her name as Shaoni Mitra to everyone. Second time was today morning when he asked her to sign this. He gave the paper to her mother. Her mother passed it to her mamaji.”

“Her mamaji said, this had no legal significance.” She continued, “We don’t want any legal mileage out of this. We just wanted to see how Shaoni reacts.”

I said, “Anyway, all true events are written in that paper. Her dad has also signed it and she was present when all these things happened.”

“Yes. Then, your wife took the paper from her mamji’s hand and started reading. She started crying profusely with the paper in her hand. She said my dad has done a big mistake by signing this. She asked, am I character-less? Am I a drug addict?”

The paper doesn’t even call her character-less or a drug-addict. It only tells that she went with cigarettes to the terrace. I can never forget that Dwiragaman night when I was humiliated, mentally harassed and threatened by her, which had never happened earlier. That was the same instance, when I cursed my fate and asked which of my karma brought both of us together.

“Yes, then she said look at these people-how are they behaving. This is the language they speak, I have never heard of this type of language since my childhood. They are all lying. They are talking non-sense, don’t believe them.”

I was thoroughly confused. My parents always talk politely. She was the once who was shouting and accusing. My parents were more qualified and sociable than her. How can she accuse them of talking in supposedly bad language? Also, during all the socializing events and get-together with friends and family, she mostly kept quiet. After one such event, she asked me just one thing – how my friend and his wife are having sex. Frankly speaking, I have no inclination to know about other’s intimate lives.

I said, “How can she make a scene out of this. The paper was drafted to remember what happened on the night of Dwiragaman. Everything written in that paper is true and was to make sure that she repents her actions. What she is saying is completely a lie.”

“Mom, I don’t believe her. The extent of her lies is too much”

“Since she started shouting and crying a lot, I asked her to stop. She then asked me to stop. On that, your dad said not to talk roughly to elders. He said it very calmly. She pointed her finger at him and asked him to shut up.”

“Didn’t her mother or mamaji intervene on that? They are supposed to interrupt her for this rude behavior”, I said.

“No, they kept quite”, mom said.

I was surprised at that reply. Younger ones are supposed to talk politely and respect elders. At least, they are taught so in Indian families. “Then what happened?”, I asked.

“They started to leave the house. She said I will never come back here. On that her mamji and mom became angry.”

“What did they say?”

“They told her not to talk like this again in future. And then they went. On reaching home, she had called. I told her that dad is not well. She has not called back and didn’t enquire about his health.”

“Mom, I think she is very mean minded and manipulative. The paper does not speak about what she is talking about. Is she doing this to influence her relatives and insult us or is she afraid that some of her dark secrets will be out? I am worried mom, that she might be hiding something.”

“I don’t know beta, let us see if she comes on the specified date.”

“When did you ask her to come?”

“We told 14th October 2015 so that she can stay there for 5 days. Should be fine if she even comes on the day you reach.”

“Yes mom, lets see. She made a mess out of nothing. She has no right to insult you and dad. You sleep well and don’t think of all these because she is your only bahu and you thought of her as your girl child. Both of you need to keep your health well. Please take care of yourself. Good night ma.”

“Good night beta.”

When I was a kid, my parents used to ask me “Do you want a brother or a sister?” I used to say “Sister” because she will be peaceful as most Indian girls are expected to be. My parents wanted a girl child but it never happened. When I got married, they didn’t hide that emotion. They said it to many people, relatives and friends alike, we got our own girl today. I always felt so happy for our family that we became a complete one.

Alas, here we stand, expectations shattered, my parents insulted with a plethora of lies. And I feel guilty, of my luck or karma or the gods.

*mama is Maternal uncle and ji is used respectfully to mean the same.

*Dwiragaman is a Hindu marriage practice i.e. 2 nights after the reception when newly weds go to the wife’s parent’s place. They have to stay there for 2 nights, complete some formalities and come back.

*beta is your son

*bahu is your son’s wife or daughter in law.