They were friends. Acquaintances in college, colleagues in office.
One hailed from a very traditionally rich Bengali family – a ‘bonedi‘ one, one who had lost everything apart from the quite obvious sheen that their famous surname, the huge but badly maintained house in the centre of the city and a truckload of liability inherited from her ancestors.
The other one had no baggage of highly dysfunctional family lineage. In fact, her parents hailed from vastly different backgrounds and her upbringing was a mixed one. She was carefree.
They never really disliked each other. One obeyed the rules of ‘bonediyana’ and continued to pay off her father’s debts while arranging for the family Durga Pujo. All this while she worked extra hours to earn some more cash to keep that ceiling in her nostalgically old house form peeling off. Wonder what her ancestors who disobeyed the very notion of ‘obedience to discipline’ would have to say about her!
The other one behaved normally, went out for shopping sprees, cooked irregular meals at home and decided to get married to the perfect match that her family had selected for her. It was a ‘prized catch’, they said! She agreed…even when her father thought twice about the dowry amount demanded by the groom’s family.
Everything went well. As a colleague and as a friend she was happy for her. Her ‘bonediyana’ expected her to put up a face of happiness while seeing her childhood classmate and colleague getting married in a lavish ceremony where display of wealth could put obscenity to shame. Yet, she could not escape a tinge of jealousy when she thought about the future of her own relationship with her boyfriend of almost seven years. He hailed from a similar background as hers. The families knew and accepted their relationship. Yet there were hurdles. Her mother was economically dependent on her. Her man did not have enough money to buy a home of his own. His family house had been partitioned so many times that now it did not have space for another “home” to be made out of the iota left of it. And yet, his pride of ancestors did not permit him to live in ‘her’ house after marriage – one which would remain empty always after she would be gone.
The one getting married flew away to Singapore soon after to build a dream home of her own.
Their stories continued.
[….three (3) years later…]
Calcutta winters pronounce the arrival of wedding season even before it spells out ‘chill in the air’.
Her ten (10) year long wait was finally coming to an end. This winter, her house got a fresh coat of paint to hide the wrinkles of old age. She was getting married and her house was about to be decked as a newly wed bride.
She went around to distribute cards in her office. She went to her desk too. Of course! she had to invite her. She was her school mate and colleague. In fact, she had also invited her for the lavish wedding that she had. Sometimes she wondered what made the fairytale crumble so quickly? only in a matter of six months.
Were the tell all signs of the broken marriage evident on her face with those bruises? Wasn’t she the first one to ask her about those injury marks when she came back to rejoin office only after six months since the day she quit to relocate back to Singapore? She did not divulge the details though.
Much later, she had confided in her that her marriage was over- she was getting a divorce. Once again, she had thought whether she could have ever made such a decision to move out from a relationship so easily…wouldn’t her ‘bonediyana’ stop her?
Today, was much different though. It was happy occasion and she went around to distribute her wedding cards. She accepted them gracefully and then asked- “Why are you taking a leave tomorrow? You need a leave for wedding preparations also? Full on fun?”
“I have a lot of work to finish….you know I am alone”, she giggled.
“Oho! madam, office leave for wedding shopping..and this is supposed to be your work”
“Oho! what did you always do? you always used to take a half days for your wedding shopping”. She stumbled. She had spoken something that nobody in the office mentioned over the course of last three years.
Then again, she also was jealous. This happened often nowadays. Every time she saw anybody getting married. Every time anybody’s story was a success, she wondered what went wrong in her’s?
Both taunted each other, but both did not know that they both had a story of their own in their minds.