Ayushi's 'falguni'

With her day beginning at five thirty every day, starting with watering the plants, then making list of things to be brought from the bazar, the green groceries and others, then running to the kitchen to make things ready for the day,followed by making tea or coffee for herself and her hubby, the only time she gets some time for herself is usually one thirty or two. Then the house which has remained agog with activity cools off.
Only at the living cum dining downstairs, Ayushi 's father in law keeps some noise running by the conjoined efforts of his snoring (part of his mid noon siesta) and the blaring TV.
Many a times she has got downstairs and switched the TV off. But she has noted that soon after the TV is switched off, her father-in-law wakes up, as if the blaring TV keeps him company while he takes his siesta.
So she,nowadays, doesn't switch it off.
Today she is thinking she will jot down Jhumur's homework lessons in a notebook. Jhumur, her daughter will be returning from school around five forty five in the afternoon. Before that she will have to keep something ready for her to eat, hungry and weary as she returns from school with a big sack of books on her shoulders every day. Schools in the city are full of activities, apart from usual lessons, they have co-curricular activities ranging from yoga, karate, volleyball, baseball, tennis, music, drawing...what not?
Gaurav will be home at around nine or nine thirty.
He has his meetings and conferences almost every day, if he is in the city. After all he is the Area Head of an MNC.

Sometimes Ayushi thinks she has almost singlehandedly brought up Jhumur. Gaurav has provided no doubt the dough required for the family. If he is in the city, he tries sometimes to make up by taking them for a eating out or for a movie.

Still sometimes she feels weary.
She misses her hometown, those trees before their house, that gulmohor.
Even after a decade and half, the memories are etched still there, so vibrant. They will perhaps forever remain that way.
Soon after her marriage her elder brother got married, and after that marriage, he got shifted to Noida, taking their parents with him.
That house had been rented out.
On occasions they gather there.
But those occasions have become a rarity nowadays.

Presently, Ayushi is standing at her favourite place, the balcony of their bed room upstairs. From here she can see the afternoon in the sleepy neighbourhood. Sometimes a motorcycle or a car will honk by. Sometimes a fruit seller will go crying his trade,'oranges, bananas, guavas, apples, pumpkins'.
Sometimes at the nearby playground she will find boys warming up in jerseys for a match or two.

She finds a girl, appearing to be almost of her daughter's age, cycling down the street below.

She looks at her, a simple looking girl, with two braids on her shoulders, cycling down and singing quite jovially a song that talks about the season of spring and its beauty.
Ayushi, as she listens, is transported to her school days.

From their house, the school was some five kilometres away. She and her brother used to walk all the way. They, while walking sometimes sang songs. Sometimes they would collect a pebble or a twig. They were their playthings.
During spring when the trees broke out in blossoms of varied Hues, they would pick them up and put them in their sacks.
Returning home after school, they would put them in a cane basket. They were their possessions.
Her brother had an inclination towards drawing. Sometimes he would draw still figures of bowls, baskets and flowers.
That inclination later turned into machine drawing. He became an engineer.
Compared to her brother, Ayushi was mediocre. She did graduation and then completed her masters in Bengali literature.

For the last fifteen years or so, she had been doing what a housewife like her should do. She is the 'manager of household works'. It is not that she is unhappy about it.

But this girl in her teens. Her going away singing a song of spring. Her free willy ride through the street.
Ayushi feels a sudden tinge of melancholia in her.
'What can I do?'

At six Jhumur comes home.
Ayushi serves her with her food.

'Ma, what's up? You look very much absentminded today?'
Jhumur asks.
'Nothing dear, your homeworks have been copied on your rough work exercise book...do them'

Saying this, Ayushi goes to the living cum dining room.
Her father in law is reading a magazine.
'Baba, want to have tea and snacks?'
Father in law nods.

Late in the evening, when Jhumur dozes off on her reading desk, Ayushi arranges her books and copies on the desk.
Then she sits on the couch.
She has found a scrapbook in Jhumur's cupboard where she keeps her old books and copies.

She starts thinking about their house at that muffasil town.
And she is reminded of a friend of hers.
Her name was Falguni
Ayushi starts writing a letter to Falguni, whose address she has found rummaging her own almirah.
Ayushi doesn't even know whether Falguni still stays at Silchar.
The address she has found was in a letter written to her by Falguni some two years back. Falguni got settled there after her marriage. The letter had been written by Falguni soon after her marriage.

'I hope they are still there...'
Ayushi thinks as she starts writing her letter, her first probably after some twenty years!


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