Read previous part of the story Chapter 3 Here
It was yet another mundane day at Dutta household.
“Tara can I have my cup of hot chocolate, I have a deadline to finish my story”, Shouted Shekhar. Suddenly he realised that Tara had left for some early morning client meeting at Nariman Point which is good 30 Kms far from Palm Court Complex in Malad (West) where Shekhar and Tara live with their daughter Roohi.
Today Roohi was on a school trip to Nainital. So day belonged to Shekhar & his pom pet Jimmy who was eagerly waiting for his morning walk from quite some time. “Chuck, hot Chocolate, let me take Jimmy out, I will have omelette bread breakfast at Uncle’s Kitchen”, he said to himself. He quickly changed into morning gear and left for walk, but today’s walk was not the usual one like every day. The weather was serene, cloudy, dark, breezy…and then the lightening, which took him in the flashback mode of 20 years ago…he was alarmed how twenty years of his flew out of his Forty Two years? “My life is nothing short of a pot-boiler, wish I could write my auto-biography someday, but I am very young for that, Shekhar found an excuse and, “There is much more to unfold”. In sometime it started raining and he was far from house but close to Uncleji’s kitchen. Shekhar and Jimmy took refuge in Uncle’s Kitchen and hogged on piping hot tea and bread omelette. Jimmy loved it too!
Rain was not stopping and auntiji offered to make lunch for them – Butter Chicken & Naan. They couldn’t have asked for more…
…Now he was with his thoughts alone as Jimmy had fallen asleep after such sumptuous breakfast, what a change from pedigree everyday for breakfast!
This is where his thoughts took him to Hindu College Hostel in Delhi University where he was English Hons students sharing room with Shirish & Mukesh ( Singer Mukesh of College). Shekhar had natural penchant for English language and hidden talent of ghazal singing. In no time Shekhar’s popularity soured amidst teachers, fellow students and girlzzz who swooned over his fair complexion, curly locks, honeyed eyes, handsome & intellectual looks. “My popularity means nothing to me, I want to be a happy, satisfied person, don’t desire much from life”, he told Mukesh after soulful rendition of Mehndi Hassan’s ‘Rafta rafta woh meri hasti ka saamaan ho gaye’ which received standing ovation from all participating colleges. Hindu College auditorium may not have had such thunderous applause for any singer in the recent times. A shy and beautiful Nandini Sengupta from Miranda House could not resist herself from complimenting him personally, who was pursuing Music Hons there. A musical chord struck immediately…but. “Why there are so many buts in my life only”, probably he was asking God.
Ensconced in a vintage sofa in Uncleji’s house cum dhaba, rains never looked so beautiful to Shekhar. All in all…the life was cool amidst college, library, lawns, hostel mates, roomies, friends, canteen, girls, Jai Singh ka dhaba and phone calls to Maa in Mussoorie. Five years flew in no time and after taking final year MA English exam he returned to his home town…only never to be back in the by lanes of University and even Delhi. After results he was about to join Mass Communication course in Jamia to become a journalist, But that was not to be.
In a sudden twist of fate, his Maa fell ill and he had to give up his dreams of becoming a journalist, what a change from bustling Delhi to quaint Mussoorie with very limited opportunities…But life is like that only.
In few months mother’s condition improved but somehow he felt nice being here. One evening he bumped with his childhood friend Kallol Chatterjee who suggested free-lance writing and passed on the contact details of Tara Mukherjee who was Commissioning Editor of well-known publishing house in Dehradoon. How a chance meeting changed his destiny.
His thoughts were well synchronised, life was moving like a show reel before his eyes. He did not want to come out of this world which had given him so much and had taken that much in return.
He shrugs and comes back to writing option. “Not a bad idea, I will connect with Ms Mukherjee sometime soon”, he said to himself and also did that. Now on Shekhar’s world changed forever, there were characters, characters and more characters, plots, sub-plots, excitement, depression, tears, laughter, children, oldies, young & beautiful girls, handsome hunks, love stories, hate stories, revenge stories, horror stories what not. He started writing day in and day out with thought tickling in his mind, “ My passion is going to reach people, I will be a published author, people will read my stories, I will be next Ruskin Bond…media interviews, channel bytes, royalty, cheques…what not”, real romantic stuff. But what is life without some romance? He questioned.
Now began the seemingly unending struggle with my inner self. I was forever surrounded by my characters, stories, never enjoying empty moment, but I loved it. In nearly two month’s time I was ready with his collection of stories titled: Life’s Like That.
Shekhar, the bundle of nerves, reached Dehradoon with print outs of his story collection in tow, dressed in maroon Ikat kurta and pyjama and jhola which was his constant companion. On the first look Ms Mukherjee looked like typical editor, glasses, saree, without make-up, coffee mug in one hand and phone on another on which she was talking in chaste Bangla. Her first look at me and…I was gone, her look was so clinical, analytical, critical towards me as author (???) and person. But editors must be like that only. She cursorily looked at my stories, removed her glasses and said, “Wait for my call, there is a waitlist”, but…I said. “ No questions please, its upto you if you want to leave your stories with me”, quipped Ms Mukherjee. With a heavy heart I moved out thinking, not even two minutes for my two months labour. Ms. Mukherjee’s nature was quite in contrast with her pretty Bong looks. Sshee even being a bong lad, I could not strike a note with Bong Mei? What’s this?
Now life had returned to dark tunnel once again…me and my stories, morning walks, music, news, ailing maa, medicines…but I loved this routine. As unexpected, I received a call from Ms Mukherjee saying that my collection of stories was short-listed and will be published by this Durga Pooja. Mine & Maa’s joy knew no bounds. “She is not that bad. Today she was sounding fine”, I said to myself.
Now onwards Ms. Mukherjee wanted a commitment of 4 stories a month and offered good remuneration. Time started moving at a pace, the life started taking shape, my stories were appreciated, earning accolades and money too. I couldn’t have asked for more. Many months passed by…now the time was ripe for some dramatic turn…& that happened too.
Maa’s condition started deteriorating and how much clichéd I may sound, she started pestering me for bringing bahu for her. In all these years, thought of marriage never crossed my mind. Am I being true to myself, not really, I thought of Nandini many times, spoke to her at some intervals but I knew I was not a husband material – Shaadi Shuda types, hen-pecked husband. I ruled out that option and told Maa, “You just be fine. I am happy this way only”.
But I was not ready for this twist. One stormy night I received a phone call from Ms. Tara Mukherjee saying, “I am coming tomorrow morning with BBC Crew for your interview in your surroundings as a budding story teller – La Ruskin Bond. Be prepared for the shoot, interview, indoors, outdoors etc.”, I hung up the phone without any question. Unbelievable! Incredible but Life’s Like that!
Lights, Camera, Action…shoot had started. BBC team was very professional and friendly at the same time; they put me at ease before starting the shoot. It all looked like a dream…maa super-excited calling my mama in Cooch Behar, West Bengal telling about the film shooting & she did not forget to mention, “Onek Bhaalo Mei…” Tara Mukherjee. Amidst all this I noticed that Tara had struck a bond with maa. She accompanied her in the kitchen and helped her in kitchen giving her apt inputs from time to time. After finishing the shoot, team left but Tara stayed back on maa’s insistence as she had planned a dinner for her. May be she was missing Beti & Bahu in her life.
“Maa! You cooked all this? I nearly screamed looking at the multi-course Bengali cuisine comprising of Loochi, Chor-chudi, pomphret fry, hilsa fish curry, steamed rice…mishit doi as dessert. My jaws dropped, “From where you got the energy to cook all this, you don’t cook all this for me in a month’s time”, I said complaining. Dinner was so tasty; it was over in no time.
Weather was changing its colours & so was my destiny. It was time for Tara to leave, maa asked me see her off till the Bus-Stand. As we came mid-way it started pouring heavily, so much so that we had to take refuge in a school’s watchman’s cabin where Thapa was busy listening to romantic Hindi songs. I wondered, “ How can a Thapa – Watchman like romantic songs”? Leave it, let him enjoy. I noticed the expression on Tara’s face which changed from the editor of the morning to young women in the evening. Her red saree, completely drenched was bothering her, her hair wet were troubling her, and her heart…I don’t know. Two intellectually charged individuals were trapped in an romantically charged setting with song playing in the backdrop, “Roop tera mastana…”, but nothing could be done except being victim of the setting.
Suddenly heavy lightening struck and Tara drew herself close, very close to me. Calm, drenched, anxious, terrified …all expressions were simultaneously crossing her face. For the first time, I was so close to a woman where I could hear her heart beats. It was pouring, thundering, lightening, it seems nature had conspired to put us in this setting…I could see her developing feelings for me, after all I was young, handsome, intelligent & author, probably she had known me through my stories.
My hands were about to clasp her waist…rains suddenly slowed down. What two of us felt that night is unbelievable…very filmy! Suddenly I saw bus lights for Dehradoon flashed and in no time she vanished from my sight without uttering a word. Only the night was witness to what we said to each other.
For the first time I did not want to write the story on this, as it very was close to my heart. I did not want to share probably, my feelings too had changed but.
Tara did not return to Shekhar till …
Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ Blogadda #celebrate Blogging
Read next part of the story Chapter 5 here: