Kalpana was reading the email with all due attention with the help of her newly made reading-glasses, perched on her nose. At 55, for the first time, the family doctor had advised her to use reading-glasses as a precautionary measure lest her eyes got damaged with too much reading. The email was from Riya, her daughter settled in California for the past four years. Because of the geographical distance emails and the Internet were the best way of communicating regularly with her. A mail a day was Riya’s schedule. Any break in the schedule meant something serious. The mail that Kalpana was reading had arrived after a full four days interval. Kalpana had planned to call her in the night, if the day passed without receiving an email. But the content of the mail was more perplexing than the fact that it had arrived after four days. Kalpana started reading it one more time to comprehend the meaning fully.
I was extremely busy in the past few days so could not take time out to send you a mail. Actually I was trying for a long time to tell you something…. Pranay and I have drifted apart in the past few months. At first we used to have regular fights but then things got sorted out, but now whenever we fight…. Neither of us feels like making up. From yesterday we are staying in separate rooms. And… I think… soon we have to think about separate homes. I am unable to find the reason that has triggered this distance. Maybe it is my fault…. Or maybe it is his….it is just that I have fallen out of love with him and I think….. same is the case with him. Pranay’s parents are supposed to visit next month…. So as of now, we are not moving into separate homes…. This one month we will try to give our relationship one last try….. if it doesn’t work out…. I will have to move out.
For now, please don’t tell anything to Baba*. If anything is finalized I will call him up myself. Tell me something….. did you ever feel such a thing for Baba? I mean did you ever feel that life would have been better without him? Please don’t call today itself…. I’m in no state to reason. I need some time. I will call you tomorrow. Missing you more than ever! Take care.
Kalpana felt very tensed after understanding the implication of the whole thing. Her daughter’s marriage was breaking up and that too thousands of miles away from her. Riya must be huddled somewhere crying or sitting alone with her own sadness. Although she had asked her not to call, Kalpana reached for the phone. In a very unlikely coincidence, she couldn’t get through and talk to her. But like a fresher doctor just out of college, Kalpana could see the symptoms but could not identify the disease. What was the phenomenon of ‘falling out of love’ exactly? The last questions that Riya posed were outside her realm too. She was married to her husband for life. For good or for bad they were always together. Never for once did she think that life could be better without him.
Riya’s was a love marriage, it was four years back when they had proclaimed fearlessly that they were in love with each other and could not live apart…. And now the same Riya and Pranay had fallen out of love…. Was that at all possible? Kalpana was feeling a slight headache develop around the temples of her forehead. She figured it was mainly because in all the happenings of the morning she had forgotten to have breakfast. Riya’s father had not yet returned from his morning walk and she would wait up a little longer on breakfast for him. In the meanwhile she was thinking about Riya’s letter. She had asked if Kalpana had faced the same thing ever. What was love exactly? Wasn’t it the occasional fights and the realization of being-unable-stay with each other and them making up?
For her, love was when her husband bought her favorite fish or vegetable from the market instead of the regular ones. It was in waiting up for each other for lunch or dinner…. or feeling something-was-amiss when either was not present. Last year when they had visited Riya in California, she was so happy. Pranay was very caring and Kalpana felt that they were very much in love with each other. Then what could have happened in a year that made them ‘fall out of love’? Her daughter was facing an incomprehensible problem and Kalpana could do nothing to soothe or comfort her. The noise of the door bell announced the arrival of her husband, Somnath babu*. With the thought of Riya’s letter suspended in her mind for the moment, she opened the door and soon after starting preparing breakfast.
As was his routine, Somnath babu sat with the newspaper. He sensed something amiss with Kalpana and asked ‘Is everything alright… ? You look tensed.’ Kalpana smiled replying that it was nothing such. She wanted to call Riya and tell her that this concern was love. And this concern for one another was enough to spend your life together. Had education, jobs and money made life so complicated for Riya and Pranay that they were missing out on such simple things….. wondered Kalpana. Unable to control her tension over her daughter’s failing marriage, she confided in her husband. He was tensed nonetheless, but he tried to comfort Kalpana that they would plan to visit Riya soon…. if that could help her in any way.
The day’s routine followed with the maid, milkman, courier and some neighbors dropping by. A multitude of things happened and the day dawned to an end to give way to the night. But all through, Kalpana remained sad. She felt guilty and in some way responsible for Riya’s problem. She was waiting desperately for the night to come, when she could get a better connection and talk to Riya. She tried her number…. and got through in the first try itself…
Kalpana carried on anxiously, ‘Hello…Riya…. How are you?’ Riya replied with concern in her voice, ‘Ma…. I asked you not to call today…but still… actually I wanted to call you myself. Did you get my mail?
Kalpana was getting impatient and pleaded with her, ‘What is it? Lokkhi Sona*…. Don’t be impatient. Tell me ….what is the problem?’
‘Ma… actually I should have waited for some more time before writing the mail….’ responded Riya. Kalpana immediately jumped to a conclusion, ‘What? Have you already moved out?’
‘No… it’s not that… actually we were having a bad fight and I was very angry… I wanted to leave him and go…. And there was no one here to talk to me… so I wrote you that mail’ reasoned Riya. Kalpana was at a loss of words at what she should say. She was slightly angry at her daughter’s childishness, ‘Ufff…. You almost had me on the verge of nervous breakdown. Does anyone say such things to their mothers? I mean…I am so happy that nothing is wrong…. But when will you be mature enough to understand that you must be patient and not rush into things…. Tell me…how serious is the matter?’
‘It is nothing serious…. Sotti bolchi* everything is fine. Pranay and I had a long talk…. And it is absolutely fine now… I’m sorry to have given you undue tension!’ added Riya sheepishly. Kalpana heaved a sigh of relief and in the meanwhile Pranay snatched the phone from Riya to talk to her, ‘Ma, you have tied your crazy daughter in a life-long knot with me. How did you think that I would let go off her so easily….?’ he added in a light tone. His manner made Kalpana and Somnath babu break into laughter. When Kalpana was confirmed that there was no matter to worry about, she had put the phone on speaker to allow her husband to listen to Riya and Pranay too.
Pranay went on to say, ‘Why don’t you and baba plan to come here soon? I will look up the tickets over the Internet and confirm when it is available….’
*baba – father in Bengali
*babu- respectful way of mentioning a gentleman’s name in Bengali, somewhat like Mister in English
*Lokkhi Sona- affectionate rendering of a person in Bengali
* Sotti bolchi – I’m telling the truth (made popular by the song ‘Ami Sotti Bolchi’ in the Vidya Balan starrer movie Kahaani)
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