Ey Shuno Gugun , Ēi rabarta tōmār ki?
Her question broke the silence. He looked at her, smiled and nodded. Their eyes met for the briefest possible moment, and then the old couple went back to watching the sunset on the Hoogly river.
Her question took Mr. Goutam Chattopadhyay to a day over 70 years ago.
Same question, same people, a different place and a different time….
“Ey Shuno Gugun , Ēi rabarta tōmār ki?” someone called out after 6-year-old Gugun. He turned and saw a girl from his class. He still remembered clearly she was dressed in a bright pink cotton frock and had 2 piggy tails with pink ribbons tied at the end. He nodded and smiled. And that was the beginning of their friendship.
A beautiful friendship which started in class 1 and continued till high school. Those were the days before the “Whatsapp and Facebook era” and they lost touch once he went on to pursue his Diploma in Engineering in Orissa. Though he made more friends at college, he would always remember Titli. His first and best friend! The thought of having lost his best friend always filled him with sadness.
Fate had other plans for him though… once he finished his engineering, proposals started pouring in for his marriage. As God had willed, one photograph of prospective brides was of Titli’s. After that, he didn’t have to look for any more proposals.
Their marriage started a new chapter in their lives. A beautiful bond of best friends becoming life partners.
They built their relationship on mutual trust, love, and respect. They had seen lots of Ups and Downs over the years, and every experience had strengthened them and more attached to each other.
He looked at his wife and couldn’t help feeling proud of her. He was lucky to be her husband. She had devoted her life to taking care of her family. She had always been a strong and independent woman, well read, and had always been far ahead of her times. True to her name, she was always flying !
“Cha khaabo?” asked a small boy bringing Mr. Goutam Chattopadhyay to the present. He politely refused, and the boy went away with his tea flask, searching for other customers.
Mr. Goutam Chattopadhyay looked at his Titli, and his eyes glistened. His Titli had stopped flying.
He looked at the way he had braided her hair; it wasn’t neat enough. Thankfully, he had mastered the art of draping her saree. He chuckled as he recollected his first few failures.
She had always loved watching the sunset on the banks of Hoogly. Her eyes would light up and her face would glow with excitement as she would ask him, “sunset kotho shundor laagche dekhle? “
The sun hadn’t changed, the sunset was still beautiful, the waves still majestic… however, her eyes didn’t light up like before, her face was expressionless and now her only question was “Ey Shuno Gugun , Ēṭā ki tōmāra rābāra? “
Again he nodded and smiled.
- Gugun and Titli – The protagonist’s and his wife’s pet names or “daak naam” as Bengalis say.
- Ey Shuno Gugun , Ēi rabarta tōmār ki? – Hey, listen Gugun, is this your rubber?
- Cha khaabo? – Do you want to drink tea?
- sunset kotho shundor laagche dekhle? – Did you see the beautiful sunset?
(This short story won the Editor’s choice award at Momspresso)