Wednesday, April 14, 2010
"In Art man reveals himself, not his objects"- Rabindra Nath Tagore
My most embarrassing moment?
Then I have to rewind many years. Ready?
I was seventeen. He was probably twenty two. We lived seven houses apart. One day, with my woman's intuition I kind of felt I've been watched.
One day when the door bell rang and my mom opened the door, it was him. He came to see my dad, to get some official paper signed, (at a certain position as a Govt Officer my dad had this authority)
"He'll come tomorrow again- he said , when your dad is home. This young man is a neighbor of ours, lives in ... is going to USA, so he needs those papers signed."
"Oh I see". I went back putting the mascara meticulously. I hate clumps. In the mirror I noticed a faint smirk on me - hey my dad is not the only officer in town to sign that paper. But in the process I came to know his name. He goes to the same university where I go and yes it is the same house that I suspected is where he lives.
Several months passed. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of each other while passing each others house. For safety sake when I turn my head to make sure no cars are coming from behind, I see he has hopped from one veranda to another. Well I admit, I was caught several times doing the same thing too.
More months passed, nothing major happened other that hopping from one veranda to another.
That October, with my family I went to a very beautiful place named Ghatshila. The vacation house we stayed in was the most beautiful one. It was right on top of the river Subarna Rekha. Translating Subarna Rekha will sound like- the golden line. It was exactly that, especially at the dusk.
I found a friend there too. Her name was Anita. I call her, Unto. She was exactly six months older than me. Within days we opened our hearts to each other, shared our secrets, worries, knowledge about hush- hush things, film stars, movie songs and everything. We took long walks in the ripened rice fields and dipped ourselves in the cool river and had water fights.
Soon the Durga Puja and Diwali festivals were there. The beating of the drums, the lamps shining on the Goddess' face, the smell of incenses kind of transcended us spiritually. After our prayers Anita asked me, "Were you sure exactly what to pray?" I was .
"Silly you, what does a seventeen year six month know about life? Wait till you become eighteen! Besides, prayers only work when it is combined with action.What is your mode of action?"
I don't know.
"Send him a greeting card."
Now Ghatshila was not at all a place for cards. Besides, going shopping involves grown ups - too complicated.
We couldn't find any art material in that vacation house. She brought me an Inland post paper with a stamp on it and a terrible dot pen. The quality of the paper was so bad she suggested not to use ink.
Here is what is so embarrassing. I could have drawn a design or something. But I found my self finishing up with a bird - kind of an ibis looking creature with a long beak and neck standing on one leg in a swamp. The reflection of other water plants are apparent. Now why on earth did I come up with that!
"Very good." Encouraged Anita seriously. She must have worked hard hiding her laugh. "Now write whatever you want inside and the address on the out."
I wrote- "Bijoya greetings." My name and my address in the inside.
After the letter was out of my hand, given to the mail man, I had the worst, most severe embarrassing feeling attack. Why did I listen to her? I was a shy, proud and reserved kind of person at that age. That image shattered right in front of me every time I faced the mirror.
Now my new prayer is -let that letter be lost. The rest of the vacation was terrible for me naturally. Unto could not figure out why I was getting so short tempered with her. At the end we even did not exchange addresses to keep in touch.
Several months past, nothing much happened other than hopping verandas.
On the seventh month through the grape vines I came to learn that he has gone to USA.
Good. I hope I can forget the whole thing quickly now, I started praying with my ears all red and hot.
Next October I got a post card- the sky line of New York city in dusk- as if this American city is all dressed up for Diwali. There was only one line - " Greetings and Best wishes to you and your family." His name and his current address.
Five years and about a hundred and some letters later, we became husband and wife and I came to USA.
Thirty five years later, we share the same life with two daughters and a grand daughter and the same home. Today right now, I can see him across the same room, stretched out on the lazy boy chair, the news papers on his lap, and the afternoon sun is glistening on his silver streaked temple. As I put the last crimp bead, I try to hide the memory of that embarrassing day,oh that silly ibis....
Some times I think of Unto. Where is she? How is her life? I lost all touch with her after she was married a year later I met her, when she was only nineteen. It was an arranged marriage.
She does not know how embarrassed she made me one day and also what a gift she had given!
The picture you see is taken from the train in 2010 - Passing Ghatshila 42 years later.