It was a rainy evening. The skies were grey, drizzle kept the pavements slick. Vehicles were few on the street on this dismal day. The trees were looking like a human when waters dropped l like tears. Some people were coming back home with torn flags. The Panchayat elections were over and there is no need of these flags which exhibited the muscle power of politics all these days. Nothing is more effective than these innocent flags with bamboo pipes attached to them to make democracy a farce.
Rim got a seat in the bus at Hazra crossing. A man was occupying the seat – middle aged almost of her father’s age. She wanted him to be seated over there. Law is not always to be followed so strictly. There should be some space for human values. So she kept standing in front of him. The man got down at Hazra and Rim got the seat .She looked outside as there was a shabby suffocation inside. Rim loves rain and she watched the drizzle all along her journey.
Rim could not catch the train in time. The bus was stuck in the jam. She was sweating in the thickly crowded bus. After getting down, all rushed towards the railway station. She walked slowly. She knew that she was getting late for her train. But road was slippery and here and there water logging occurred. She could not jump like men. A woman has many restraints. She could run and jump over the watery holes. But that was not decent in the eye of the society.
Who decided this decency and decorum for women? Certainly not women but men! Rim had her monthly ticket and so she entered the gates. There was no Ticket checker at the gate. Rim knows that tickets are to be bought for the journey by train. But some are there who feel that journey by train can be without ticket if the ticket checkers are not there. This is Indian morality which requires policing for its maintenance. Life is so dull here and the mentality so much feudal. The station clock was now visible to Rim. It was almost nine. She finds it impossible to reach home before ten if the next train comes in time. Usually during the heavy showers, train start late. The overhead lines are disturbed. Signaling does not work.
Rim was waiting for the next train. Suddenly a voice startled her. She never expected this voice to hear so close. She thought that she was mistaken. But no, it was the golden voiced Jhim. She and Rim were so nice friends at school. Even in the college they studied together. But Jhim stopped coming in the second year of her classes. Jhim did not know, but came to know from one of her classmates that she is going to be married soon. So she left her studies. Rim became lonely for those days. It was another rainy day when Rim stood near the swimming pool for an auto. There she met Subho the glamorous young guy whom she loved at first sight. That day she did not have any umbrella with her. After getting down from the auto , she was a little nervous when Subho without hesitation asked her to share the umbrella.
“Two heads under one umbrella seem to be worse than one head under two umbrellas.” Subho said in a jolly mood. The young guy does not take care of other’s feelings, but he so confidently that one has to obey it. Even Rim too obeyed. What a strange change in her! Rim got surprised. She never accepted the dominance of any one, not ever her elder brother, dad, yes only mom is a little strict with her and can dominate her for her studies. She never compromises. Rim’s dad is so proud of his daughter.
‘Rim will one day be an IPS officer, her personality is so strong!’ But Rim is not like that. She is basically very weak and soft inside. She dreams, she writes short lyrics of love, she feels pain for the wounded pigeon. One day Rim read the story of Siddharth who was ready to exchange his claim for the throne with the possession of the wounded pigeon. She knew why Siddharth did that. In Siddarth’s place, Rim might have taken such a decision. Siddarth became Gautam Buddha in his later life and his brother who wanted to be the king, is now forgotten. Oblivion has gulped him. Values are everything for Rim. She wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. But she could not tell her father all these. She will not accept her daughter‘s lack of ambition. Rim wanted to do research in her subject. People think research is required for people to get college and higher education jobs. But Rim loves to teach the children in kindergartens. They are so lovely like flowers. She wants to nourish the darling buds to bloom.
Her parents were not happy with her. They wanted to marry her to an engineer from an Ad given in Shaadi.com. Rim was so scared. She wanted the man of her dream. A jolly guy, with all the dignity of a genuine man who can repose her faith in human values, and not a big salary. Life is so painful in the gold rush. Man even eats boiled boots in Chaplin’s Gold Rush. Rim saw the film twice. Money can degrade man to that level. Money is not everything. But where is such a guy to be found.
Nowadays, all brilliant boys feel tempted by the lucrative career of an engineer. Not even a medical profession is so attractive. A doctor is not always successful. Going to village and doing M.D. and then successful practicing – a man sees his hairs turning grey when money starts coming. All are not going to be as famous as Bidhan Chandra Roy or Debi Shetty. Better option is that of an Engineer. Face campus interview for a company in the last year of your B.Tech. Join it and then in one two year fly to USA or Europe even Mexico will do, but never stay in India. Brain drain has become a brain train. A superfast train taking all the young men to white collar jobs . Life is finished. Computer and calculation. A robot and a bag full of money
Rim mocks such trends and recites the nursery rhymes: yes sir yes sire three bags full, / One for the master and one for the dame…. The rhyme ends here. No body nowadays thinks for the little boy in the lane. Rim strictly told her parent not to try any more for her marriage.
‘Let me get a job dad, then I will think of marriage’ − the parents did not express their pleasure or displeasure. In Indian communities, Hindu or Muslim, a marriageable girl is a burden and nothing but a burden. But they told nothing to Rim. Rim’s parents started suspecting that Rim might have any acquaintance. She is doing love with anyone? No, Rim is not like that. She never hides anything from the parents. She is a different kind of girl.
But since that day, Rim wanted to love a guy who would understand her simple living and high thinking. Her man of dream will accept her favorite school teacher’s vocation. But who is there to appreciate? None. All are now going for medical or engineering careers.
Subho was waiting with the umbrella. “Won’t you come under my umbrella”?
Rim could not say ‘No’. There is some magic in the words of some guys. They are so attractive. Subho could be her man, the man of her dream. It was raining more heavily and not a drop of rain drenched Rim. Subho gave the total umbrella cover to her and his right side was totally wet outside and inside. So much care for Rim. She loved Subho that evening.
The next few days passed so fast, message texting, chat, phone calls, and what not. Rim discovered that she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Nobody spoke so highly of her beauty. Love is a flattery? Sometime Rim doubted. But Subho said he had not seen such a beautiful girl as Rim. Probably beauty has a role to play in love. But Rim knew that beauty does not endure for a long time. Soul and heart are everything. Inner beauty is all. Subho argued that face is the index of the mind. Inner beauty is better but this enhances outer beauty of a person. Subho’s handsome look has a lot to do to attract Rim.
Praise of beauty, and words of flattery are not to be all blamed. They are a part of love making. Unnecessarily she did not want to be rude with Subho. Let him say what marvelous things he wants to speak in poetic lines. Being an engineer, he has not developed any aversion to poetry and imagination. He reads Chetan Bhagat. Nowadays, it is a craze in the IIT to write love stories and to dream of being the author of the best sellers. Subho has a plan to complete his unfinished book of fiction. She wants to dedicate in the name of Rim. Not bad.
Life is mysterious, a myriad-minded puzzle. Inscrutable are the ways of men and women. Life has so many unexpected turns of surprise like the windy roads of the hill. Suddenly you will see the road blocked during your uphill journey. Rim started loving Subho. Women respond later in true love. She felt the magic of love earlier than the boy. But she responded so slowly. Nearly one year passed and they went to see the film Aashiqui 2 the newly released film of romantic love. Rim knew a lot about Subho. She never met such a brilliant guy before. He read in Presidency, and then? Rim was reluctant to hear that he had done his B.Tech and M.Tech from Mumbai IIT. The friendship under the umbrella was becoming sour. One day Subho met her in the Pizza Hut at CC 1. They talked more than they had eaten. Pizza with chicken and double cheese, lemonade − they paid the bill.
A dream shattered. Subho wanted to tell his plan more concretely. Love and romance now finished. Practical sides are to be considered. Subho wanted Rim to do higher studies, and sit for GRE and go to the USA with him. He hates Indian life. ‘Money is everything you know’ − Subho said.
‘You stay in India. Life in the USA is not good’
‘Not good? Are you mad? You live in the 16th century when the English people regarded India as their dream country. Now before their birth, parents plan to beget their children in the American soil.’ Rim lost words. Is this the dream that she had cherished for so long? Her dreams have begun to shatter.
‘What opportunity is here in India for an engineer? ‘One US company offered to pay double the salary that he might earn after ten years of job here in India.’ − These words echoed in her ears all that night. Subho was a god with clay feet. She never wanted such a boy to be her life- partner. That was the last Subho and Rim met.
Jhim was waiting for Rim to recognize. The two were speechless.
‘You, here?’ − Rim was astonished. She also missed the earlier train.
‘You are married?’ − Rim was not confirmed, she heard earlier though.
‘Where is your husband now?’
‘He is in New York.’ Jhim’s voice was elated and took Rim to her college days. Jhim was a jolly girl, truly. Age has not withered her golden spirit.
‘O really! You wanted to marry an engineer and Jhim you have done that. Man hopes and dreams but very rarely such dreams are realized’ – Rim’s voice did not have excitement.
‘Yes. He is an engineer there. But he is not much happy with me’. Jhim wanted to confide her sorrow to her bosom friend Rim. They were so near to each other in school and college too.
‘But why?’ − Rim surmised
‘This is not much serious. He is very honest. He never hides anything from me. He told me about every incident of his life. He loved a girl of our college, did not tell her name though.’
‘You could ask the name’- Rim was thinking of someone… engineer, money lover, ambitious, is it Shuvo?
‘Any way leave it’ − Rim wanted to avoid it. Two friends met after so long time. So many stories remained untold.
‘No, he might have told the name of that girl. But I did not pester for it. Shuvo is not like that. He is an ideal husband, you know.’ − Jhim wanted to tell more about Shuvo
But Rim could not hear anything more. The name Shuvo made her deaf and dumb. Or she might not have heard any more because the train is coming in and all jostled over there to board the train. The rain also started outside, not in drizzles, but heavy downpours. Rim’s tears might be mingled with the rain waters. It was raining inside her – in torrents without any stop. Shuvo is an ideal husband. Nothing can be more untrue than this. Rim started walking with Jhim towards the train to find a comfortable seat near the window. She can see the rain. While in the bus, she saw drizzles from the window. Now she will see the rains and her pains may be washed once again.