Golden Treasure

by Sukhendu Roy Chowdhury

It was raining the whole day, only in the evening it stopped. With much difficulty things were arranged, a car going for the wedding of my brother, flowers, dress and a headgear for the bridegroom. I, as his companion could manage some space to squeeze into the car. Our home was inside a small lane. So the car had to be manoeuvred to reach as nearer to our home as possible. In the process one of the wheels got stuck into mud and we had hard time rescuing it.

I am talking of the year 1974 when car was a precious commodity. In our locality only one family had a car. My brother was an officer in the Army. My mother had longed to see her daughter in law before her death. So when my brother came home on a two month leave, we hurriedly arranged a match. I too had accompanied my brother to see our would be sister-in-law. She was not at all good looking but tall and slim. Somehow, she was not to my liking. Anyway, it was not my marriage. I wondered how she could be a match for my brother who was tall and handsome. I was sure that my brother would reject this match without a second thought. Perhaps life is stranger than fiction. My brother gave green signal for the marriage. It still remains a mystery for me what made him to decide in its favour.

I was in my first year of and followed the fashion of the day. I was in the car with my brother. We were followed by a bigger party. On arrival we were welcomed by the in-laws family and we were given a refreshment. The marriage was to start around 11 p.m. The preparation was afoot for that and I was introduced to some of the invitees who came there to attend the marriage. My attention was drawn to a 13 year old girl who also came as an invitee with her family. She was wearing a silk Saree of peacock feather colour and had big attractive eyes. I looked at her but could not take my gaze away from her. My heart gave a wonderful feeling, I wondered, perhaps this could be called, "love at first sight'. Finally, we spoke to each other. Instantly we liked each other so much as if we were known for ever. I was 21 at that time and she only 13. After 34 years that day still remains vivid. The marriage ceremony of my brother went on till 4 in the small hours and we were busy playing carom, talking, singing and looking at each other endlessly. Now and then I was called inside for some ceremony to be performed as a part of my brother's marriage.

Next day about 11 in the morning she invited me and the youngest brother of my sister-in-law to their house. We walked the distance. We felt so close and so much in love that other people with us as if were non-existent. I do not remember today what we talked about but one thing I still remember is the feeling of the warmth and the fragrance of her sweetness. They had a joint family and were in dental treatment business. The house was quite a big one. The first floor was used by them and the ground floor was given to a tenant. There was a mango grove in front of the house. This natural surrounding gave the house a wonderful ambience. It was nice to see that all his family members did accept me with a smiling face. I took it as a good omen to our beginning of a never ending love story.

Our first rendezvous was planned in a temple, near her house and on my way to the college. It was drizzling that afternoon. I thought she may skip this programme but I was wrong. She was present with her sister. Every time when she looked at me it would churn my heart and I would forget the world around me, except herself. Her innocent look was for me a great joy and that would linger in my memory till we met next. One great thing happened because of my brother's marriage was for us a new chapter in our life opened all of a sudden. We wondered how we could stay away from each other in the coming days.

With the help of my sister-in-law I arranged a birthday celebration in a restaurant. Prior to this I never had been to any restaurant as my home food kept me satisfied. That evening there were many invitees but a look from her was enough for me to sustain even for the next fortnight. At least in every 15 days we would meet either at her house or in a park. This way we came very close and our love took a seemingly concrete form.

As a token for her love she weaved a small flower on a handkerchief and presented it to me on a moonlit night. Thus our love was sealed but who knew at that time that we were destined to part two year hence once and for all.

The next major incident I remember was going out together hand-in-hand to visit Saraswati Puja Pandals in schools and colleges. Time was flying. We too felt life was so beautiful and we would never fight but love, love and love. I took her to our college puja pandal and gave her Puja Prasad. Reluctantly we had to part company for the time being but not before promising to meet up very soon somewhere.

In the meantime, my part I examination was in the offing. I had to prepare hard and being an honours student of Accountancy the going was tough without any tuition. Moreover, I was selected by the local Congress party to be one of the representatives from the Commerce section. I won the election with majority vote for two years consecutively. After this win, the party wanted me to stand for College President post. I had to decline it politely as I had lot of studies to catch up with. I was managing by borrowing books from the library or friends. But the part II examination needed much more serious studies and I had to buy a few books to acquaint with.

In the midst of my studies I could take out sometime at least once in a week to meet her. For me she was an inspiration to forge ahead in life, a beauty to look at, an innocent face hardly to come by. One day I had gone to their house and only the three sisters and their grandmother were there . The rest of the family members had gone out to attend a program. She played a few Hindi songs from "Abhiman' picture on their music system. I was sitting in the balcony on a chair. Every thing was quiet. She came silently and stood close by. I called her and she came . I held her closely to my bosom and she remained there silently. Every second of that time remained in my life as a golden treasure.

After that event, my life moved very fast. I had to go away to Nasik after my graduation where my brother was working. This going to a new place put my life into a new track and I lost all contact with her. Although I remembered her everyday and was deeply in love with her, I did not want to disturb her thinking that it was not possible for me to materialize this into marriage. I want her to be happy wherever she is. But I am sure we are going to meet someday, sometime, somewhere. Thus waiting for that time to come.

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