The child

'Such a beautiful day...'
Parama said, 'why not we go for a walk?'
'Now?'
Alokananda was trying to edit a passage.
The report would go to the editor's desk by nine. From there to the composer's.

'Why not?'
Parama asked.

'If Rajdeep da finds you loitering around like this, you know...'
Alokananda said, suppressing her smile.
'Who's that Rajdeep? I'm slave to none!'
Parama said, smiling.

It was only two forty.
A mild breeze was blowing.
It had the smell of flowers and a bit of moisture.
'It might be raining somewhere...'
Parama thought the first thing she and Alokananda came down to the small park opposite their office. Break time.
The makeshift stalls of food and chai by the boundary of the park were having brisk business.

'For the last few days noticed you are in the most blessed state...always smiling...doing all works in time...not sitting on papers and not keeping them piled up...clearing them as soon as they come...what?'
Alokananda asked Parama.
Parama looked at her.
'Nothing... Just it is such a fine weather...'
'Na...not letting go of you only by those words...'
She pulled Parama.
'What?'
Parama danced her brows.
'Tell me, will you?'
Alokananda asked, this time pleading.
'Want to know?'
Parama asked.
'Yes!'
Alokananda couldn't suppress her excitement.
'I am in Love...'
Parama replied bluntly.
Without any excitement.
Not even dancing her eyebrows.
Not even smiling.
'Serious?'
Alokananda couldn't close her mouth.
Parama, the girl she had known for the last five years, never even going out with any boyfriend, thinking them to be most childish, jealous, arrogant and silly, had fallen in love!
'Don't joke with me...I know how you only a few days back slapped a boy who just tried to offer you a rose...'
Alokananda said, looking confused.
Parama was singing.
Usually she sings English songs.
Alokananda had heard Bob Dylan to Bob Marley, courtesy Parama.
But Bengali songs...
Only Rabindra sangeet.
But this song though Bengali had a tribal tune.
'Fallen in love with a tribal guy or what?'
Alokananda poked Parama, using her right hand.
Parama was not listening to Alokananda's words.
She had bought kachuris from a shop and presently dividing them into two equal proportions, numerically, counting them.

'Lunch break...stuff your stomach first...God knows when we would be out of office this evening...'
Parama gave some kachuris and potato curry held in a small plastic container.
They had sat down on a bench at the park.

'Ok...but tell me, who that lucky guy is?'

'None!'
Parama said, munching kachuris.
'Come'n! Do you think I am a fool? Can't I see it in your face?'
'Really? Does it show?really?'
Parama became thoughtful.
'Of course! When I met your Mriganko da, I didn't sleep for a whole night!'
'Ha ha ha...'
Parama guffawed.

'Now tell me...please...'
'Well, I am in love with Love...'
Parama said.
'Love with Love? What kind of puzzle is this?'
Alokananda asked, her eyes patting.
'Well...look...now that we are sitting here and having our lunch...in this park...ain't it beautiful?'
'Yes...'
'Then?'
'Then what?'
'Then we go to the office and edit stuff and compose things...you call Mriganko da, asking about Shiblu, in the midst of your terrible business,ain't that beautiful?'
Parama asked, looking at Alokananda, with poignant eyes.
'Yes...that's we all do...I mean you call your dad and ask whether he had taken his lunch...don't you?'

Alokananda was confused.
'Okay...then you look at yourself at the mirror and don't you say you are beautiful?'
'I dress up standing there...but don't say that...'
'Okay...don't you like it when a cuckoo sings or parrot talks back?'
'Yes...'
'My dear Alokananda di, that is love!'
Parama pinched Alokananda's cheek.
'Tui na...pagli ekta...'(you are ...such a mad...)
Alokananda giggled, almost like a child.

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