My Heart Longs For You

Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong, and laughter never ends.”

It was the first time that Madhav saw her, a tall and frail figure in her late teens. Her brown almond eyes complimented her warm ivory skin. Her long black hair was tied loosely in a rubber band. Her face bore a grave expression that was hard to miss. Like Madhav, everyone else in the village was curious to know about the newcomer, Meera.

In a matter of days, the reason for her sadness was known. She had lost her parents and had to leave behind the home that was once hers. Her maternal uncle, Bansi Kaka lived in the village Madhav resided, and hence she came here to stay with him.  Twenty-two-year-old Madhav felt a tug in his heart. Having always lived a lonely life, he knew how it felt to be an orphan.

Bansi Kaka was very fond of Meera and loved his niece dearly. However, feeding an extra mouth in a family of six was not easy. It was not long before the villagers saw her next to Bansi Kaka, in his small village shop. She sold tea and biscuits to whoever stopped by. This didn’t go unnoticed to Madhav as well. In the pretext of drinking tea, he started frequenting often. He would watch silently as Meera poured the steaming hot tea in the small colourful clay cups. She had made those cups and drawn intricate designs on them with her own hands. Madhav found those cups as beautiful as the young girl herself.

There was something about Meera that attracted Madhav strongly. He had an innate desire to soothe and comfort her, and provide her with the home she so deserved. A home that would have love abound, where there would be no sorrow; their home, where beautiful memories would be made!

However, reality had something else in store for him. The quaint little village of his was soon caught in unrest. The war that was waging the big towns and cities, had turned its ugly head towards the smaller hamlets. Houses were being burned down and people started fleeing for the fear of their lives.

On one such day, upon hearing that Bansi Kaka had left the village with his family, Madhav rushed to the nearby railway station. The small gloomy station at the outskirts of his village was crammed with people. The lonely train that stood there was overcrowded with the villagers, for whom it was their last hope of survival.  Their entire home was packed in cloth bundles of various sizes and colours. Anticipation of a new life and a new home laid on the other side of the border. Madhav looked around fervently for Meera in the overcrowded compartments of the train, but in vain.

As the train started rattling slowly out of the station, he jumped into one of the moving compartments. After many hours when it finally stopped, the refugee camp glistened in the morning sun giving hope to its potential residents. For the next many days the cloth tents would be the home for all these people who were left homeless because of the ongoing war that tore their house into pieces.

Madhav trudged along from tent to tent, holding his tired body and soul for the hope of finding his love. Outside one such tent, his eyes fell on a beautiful blue clay cup with intricate designs on it. His heart skipped a beat as he realised that not all was lost.

The Ocean Warriors


I typed the message and put the phone in silent mode. This is the last place I want to be. Yet I’m here today, for the sake of the person I call my friend. I’m here for Amit, who was my junior in the same ship we were sailing, for the last seven months.

We are the seafarers, working on merchant ships. We carry a variety of goods from one country to another. Shipping accounts for eighty percent of world trade, which means almost 11 billion tons of goods are transported each year by ships. From the food you eat to the laptop you use, or the car you drive, to the fuel you utilise, we carry everything. Can you imagine what the world would be like without us? Someone had rightly said, that “without seafarers, half the world would starve and the other half would freeze.”

Yet over the years, we have heard different stories about us, all half-cooked stories that are far away from reality. People think we enjoy a lavish life on the ship. The truth is far from it. We work in shifts, around the clock and sometimes we don’t even get to sleep for a stretch of thirty-six hours or more when we reach the port. The safety of the ship, the crew and the cargo is of utmost importance to us and we go to any extent to deliver it. Even in adverse situations we are expected to give our hundred percent and with zero errors. Because even one percent of human error can lead to huge losses, something which we cannot fathom. Although we are not soldiers, yet we have our own battles on the seas. Battles with the weather, the storms, the pirates, the fires, engine failures and whatnot.

We leave our families behind. Our heart longs to be with them on important occasions. We almost miss seeing our children grow. And worst, sometimes we are unable to be there when we lose our dear ones.

As the world was hit by the pandemic, we were hit more badly. The challenges were many, yet we kept the spirits high. We were exposed to the virus whenever our ship reached any port. The countries closed their borders, which meant that there was no way we could reach home after our contract got over. Some of us have sailed for more than nine months. Our tired bodies and souls never gave up, because we knew if we stopped, the world would stop breathing.

Are we then any less than the soldiers who guard the borders? Why is it that nobody knows about us, or shows no interest to know who we actually are? Why were no movies ever made on us, and whatever was made showed us only in a shoddy light?

As I disembark the car, outside my friend’s house, my heart becomes heavy. I remember Amit telling me about his five-year-old daughter, who had asked her Papa to bring her a beautiful doll, something which he could never get because of this pandemic. Amit is not here with me today. He is in a faraway land, very far from all of us. The virus took him away like it took many more like him. I lost a dear friend, who had worked till the very end to ensure that the supply chain never stopped.

I am here to give the news to his family, and to hand over his belongings to them. I think of his daughter. Will she understand why her Papa didn’t come back, or will she be disappointed with him for not bringing her the doll she so desired? I think of his wife, who must have waited longingly for the day she would meet her better half again. What will be her reaction when she comes to know that she will never see him again? I think of his parents. Did they ever imagine, when they were saying goodbye to their son, that it would be their final goodbye? I don’t have answers to my questions. I only wish it was not me, but Amit standing at the place I’m standing today.

Being the wife of a seafarer myself, I have witnessed their lives on the ship from close quarters, when I had accompanied him on a few voyages. My husband has given twenty years of his life to this profession and quit sailing only recently after becoming the Captain. The challenges they face are many, and unlike anything, we can imagine. In these unprecedented times, the seafarers have gone out of their ways to keep the supply chain running. They have risked their lives, worked relentlessly in adverse situations, just to make sure that they delivered the cargo on time. And while they were at the sea, their families faced their own battles against this virus, sometimes without any help from anyone. For me, these men are no less than the warriors and I salute them for the wonderful job they are doing.

A Bond Out Of Bondage

It is believed that in the year 1905, Rabindranath Tagore first started Rakhi Mahotsav, in order to strengthen the bond of love between the Hindus and the Muslims of Bengal, amidst the never ending riots which were taking place at that time. However, history states that the celebration of Raksha Bandhan dates back to the times of the Mughals, when Rani Karnavati first sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun, and called him her brother and asked him to protect her against the enemies.
Keeping history aside, my story, which is a true one, dates back to an era when India was undivided, and was being ruled by the Britishers. It’s a story that I have heard many times, as a child, from my Grandmother, and it has shaped up my belief in humanity.

My grandmother had four sisters, and three brothers. They used to live in Rajshaahi, which is a part of Bangladesh now. Her father, that is, my great-grandfather was a lawyer and a rich zamindar. They had a number of domestic helpers, who were assigned different jobs on a day to day basis. Amongst them, there was one Shukhi Dada. In Bengali, Sukhi means, one who is blessed or happy. As ironic as it can be, Sukhi Dada was an orphan since birth. He neither had any siblings nor any relatives. My great-grandfather had found him on the streets when he was around sixteen years old and pitying his condition, had taken him home. Since that day, he had been staying there and it was believed that my great-grandfather had deep affection for him. Sukhi dada too reciprocated that affection, and stayed like a loyal servant at my grandmother’s home. He was assigned all odd jobs, and was trusted with the day to day care of the children as well. The children loved him immensely. He used to play with them, tell them stories, carry the younger ones on his shoulder. Slowly as time passed, he became an integral part of the family. Those days, trust came very easily, which we cannot think of today.

Many years passed by, my grandmother was then sixteen and Sukhi Dada was around thirty. He had not married and stayed loyally devoted to this family, which he called his own. The other servants used to be jealous of him, because of the special attention he received.
It was during the time of Durga Puja, the full house was decorated with lights and flowers. Everyone was busy in the worship of Goddess Durga. In the evening, when my great-grandmother had entered her room, she found the vault open and many of her jewelleries had gone missing. No outsiders could reach her room. Police were called immediately, and after some initial investigation, to everyone’s shock and bewilderment, Sukhi Dada was arrested.

My grandmother had told me once, that when the police were taking him away, he was crying profusely and had pleaded not guilty, but my great-grandfather was so hurt, he didn’t listen to a single word. So many years of service, love and loyalty were broken in a minute.

Many days had passed by, after that incident. The children used to miss Sukhi Dada a lot, but everyone was forbidden to even talk about him, and the incident that happened. Then one day, the police came again and it was later heard that the real thief was caught, and they had found the jewelleries too. Under the pressure of the police, the thief had admitted that Sukhi Dada was innocent and two other servants had conspired against Sukhi Dada, so that they could get rid of him.

This news brought along with it a storm in my grandmother’s home. My otherwise docile great-grandmother blamed her husband for not trusting Sukhi. The bond of love and trust was broken by a simple mistake of my great-grandfather. He also must have felt guilty, because what followed after that was phenomenal.

My great-grandfather along with my grandmother and her sisters went to the jail to receive Sukhi Dada, when he was being released. It is said that they welcomed him with a thali that contained four Rakhis. Each of them tied a Rakhi to his hand and vowed to him that from that day onwards Sukhi Dada will forever be their real brother and they’ll always pray for his prosperity. In return, they asked for his forgiveness and requested him to once again come and live with them, like a family. As kind hearted as he was, he embraced them all and promised to protect them till his last day. It was also the only day, when my Grandmother had seen her father crying, holding Sukhi in his arms. That day a new bond of love was created while the bondage got destroyed forever!

The Missing Socks

What would anyone say if I told them that in a week’s time, not one but four pairs of my hubby’s socks have gone missing? Why I’m stressing on “a week”, is because for the past two months he was working from home, and he has resumed office since a week now, and hence the need for socks!

Well I know, a pair of socks is not something costly to waste anyone’s precious time pondering on it. However, here I’m talking about four pairs! And in my case it’s importance is equal, if not more than my favourite pair of shoes or dress.  You see, my hubby has this strange fascination of matching his socks with the trouser he wears, and he’s quite finicky about it. So the day he wears blue trousers, he would go for blue socks, and likewise. We have had numerous arguments on this topic, and seriously I have failed to understand why would someone take so much care to match the trouser with the socks instead of the shirt. I mean who on earth would even bother to peep inside our shoes to find out which colour socks we are wearing! However, this logic has gone completely tangent to his brain, everytime this topic came up in past. Over the years I have realised that to maintain the sanctity of marriage and one’s sanity, it’s always better to ignore some minor defects in the spouse.

Now coming back to the present situation, exactly four pairs of socks have gone missing and the husband has gone completely berserk since the time he discovered this, which is yesterday. Now let me tell you, his wardrobe has every coloured men’s socks available in the market, sans any design. And the number varies according to its importance, that is, he has more of black, blue, and grey than brown, cream and white.

Yesterday before leaving for office, he put forth this important conclusion that the darker shades of socks are missing, and he’s left with only lighter shades. I racked my brain for a minute and replied that either they are in the laundry basket or they are yet to dry. You see, it’s raining cats and dogs in Mumbai, and clothes don’t dry that easily here. Anyway, I forgot all about it until today morning when he was frantically searching for a blue pair of socks to match his blue trousers. And after failing to find a matching one, he grumpily wore the cream one and left for office. This sent a red signal to my brain, and I knew I had to do something about it, before the sun rises tomorrow. First I checked his wardrobe, and for sure only light coloured socks were left. Next I checked the half dried clothes, where only three pairs of socks in dark shades were there. And the laundry basket had only the last two days’s clothes, so where did the rest go?

Had it been a few years earlier, I could have easily concluded that they must have got misplaced in my father-in-law’s wardrobe. Those days, when my father-in-law was still working, both my mother-in-law and I would unabashedly mix up the socks and the handkerchiefs of the two men in our family, much to their chagrin. However my father-in-law is a retired person now, and doesn’t wear socks anymore, so the chances of my hubby’s socks landing there is unlikely. And the third male in the family, that is my son, is still too small to enter the league of missing clothing.

Now I was left with the only option of  imagining that the socks must have gotten bored staying at home for two months, and have grown wings and ventured out of the home without our knowledge, and much before his office started. As much as it sounded funny the situation wasn’t really funny. Though I’m saved for a couple of days with the socks drying outside, the inevitable question still remains, where are the rest?

I didn’t have the entire day to ponder on this, and had to take care of the daily chores. I decided to search for them again later in the afternoon. I finished my work and got ready for my daily noon walk. After a hiatus of almost two months,  I have resumed walking precisely at the same time my husband joined the office. I got ready, wore my fitness band and mask, took the earphones, phone, and sanitiser, and opened my wardrobe to take out my socks. I put my hands inside through the mess of undergarments. Actually I have been contemplating on arranging my wardrobe for sometime now, and specially the undergarments drawer that also contains my socks and handkerchiefs. I got hold of a pair of socks and pulled it out. I stared at the colour for sometime! It was black and I don’t have black socks. Then I pulled out another one, and it was dark blue, something which again I didn’t possess.  I couldn’t understand what was happening. In frustration I dumped the entire content of the drawer on the bed. I forgot all about walking and stared at the heap in astonishment. It  looked like my socks must have mated in the confinement of the drawer and given birth to their progeny, that didn’t even resemble them. Because now I had a total of eight socks, three in  attractive girly shades, and five more in boring blacks, greys and blues! It took me another minute to realise that those were my husband’s socks, that must have secretly entered my drawer to have some romantic moments with their counterparts.

Without wasting a minute, I texted my husband stating “Mystery of your missing socks solved.  Found your four pairs (black, grey and blue) in my drawer, and one extra too!”

Bang came his reply,  “There is nothing surprising about it!”.

Yes I am extremely forgetful, and I mix things up very conveniently, without even realising and then search for the same.

However, this is the first time that I have mixed up his clothes with mine, and I really dread the day when my son finally grows up!

A Sailor

The ship slowly passes the coast of Kanyakumari, where the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean merge with each other in a blissful union. The sailors look out longingly towards the land they call their home.

It has been months they are sailing, away from their friends and families. The three different shades of blue remind them of how varied they all are, with their different cultures and traditions. Yet how seamlessly they unite towards a common goal; the goal to keep the supply chain running in a world struck with a pandemic.

An Unique Love Story

You don’t know about falling off cliffs, Prep­pie,’ she said. ‘You never fell off one in your god­damn life.’

‘Yeah,’ I said, re­cov­er­ing the power of speech. ‘When I met you.’

This is one of the many famous lines from the book “Love Story” by Erich Segal. I can vouch that I haven’t read a love story that is so real.

Every love story is unique in its own way, but then when you realise that the story resembles a personal one, it becomes all the more special.

Like the characters of the book, the characters of my love story met when they were in the University. Barely of twenty-one, they were opposite in every way possible. While he was jovial and outspoken, she was shy and timid. Where he could act childish and pick up fights, she could handle every situation with a maturity beyond her age. His average looks were complimented by her ethereal beauty, and while his receding hairline became a cause of concern, she boasted of long black tresses that almost touched her waistline. No doubt they fitted perfectly and completed each other in every possible way.

On the one hand while the differences were what brought them together, it was the differences again that became a source of problem for them. While the boy belonged to an upper caste, the girl was from a lower caste. They belonged to a time when the caste system was profound and love marriages were not common. Convincing their respective families became a task. It is said that the girl’s father was so upset with her for falling in love with someone out of her caste, he didn’t speak to her for an entire month.

While she was enduring ill treatment at home, he was having a war of entirely a different level. Being a topper his entire life in school, college and university he didn’t have much trouble in securing a well paid job. However, there began his actual problem. He started getting marriage proposals through family friends and relatives.

Those days they didn’t have phones, and they communicated with each other through letters. In one such letter, he made his intentions clear to her. And as  promised, he took along his best friend and visited her house on a Saturday evening. He met the girl’s father and asked for her hand in marriage. As the saying goes “True love always wins at the end”,  by the blessings of their families, they got married on a wintry day of January with pomp and splendour.

“Love is not about how many days, months or years you have been together. Love is how much you love each other every single day.” – by anonymous
As the couple made plans for a blissful married life, God made his own plans. Exactly five years after their marriage, she suddenly passed away in her sleep due to a heart attack, leaving behind an inconsolable young man and a six month old baby girl.

“What can you say about a twenty-five-year old girl who died?

That she was beautiful. And Brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And Beatles. And me.”

These are the beginning lines of the book “Love Story”. How stark a similarity can a story have to someone’s life? When I read the book for the first time, I felt like I was reading their story. The only difference is that the girl in my story was thirty when she died. And if you ask me how can this be a personal story? The six month old baby she left behind was me. This is the  story of my parents; a story I have heard innumerable times from my aunts; a story I have read in the letters so carefully tucked away in the corner of his almirah; a story that didn’t ever end with her life. This is the story of love, between two perfectly imperfect individuals who never gave up on each other. And I’m blessed to have witnessed this love much after she was gone.

My long forgotten shoes !!

I wonder if my shoes have forgotten me,
Or are they wondering whether I’m dead!
I fear that when I finally get to wear them,
Will they recognize me,
Or will they defy to fit in my feet!

What if they think I’m their new owner,
And throw tantrums all over again.
Giving shoe bites and blisters,
And making my feet’s life a hell!

Hey Mom!

Motherhood is an amazing journey that teaches you so much, and unlike any other journey there’s no end to it.  When a woman embarks on the journey of motherhood,  she experiences a myriad of emotions. 

She experiences joy, excitement,  surprise,  sadness, anger, fear, shame and guilt. Isn’t it astounding to know how a little being can infuse so much feelings in her. Just like the variety of emotions,  even Mothers are of different types.  So are you ready to know what type of a mother you are?

1. The Ever worrying Mom – She worries about every thing. A change in the colour of baby’s poop, a small boil on the baby’s stomach, too much phone calls to friends,  partying late, not answering the phone.   You just name it,  and she’ll start worrying. 

2. The super chilled Mom – She’s just opposite to the above kind.  She takes everything in a light and matured way and doesn’t worry unnecessarily. Even in difficult situations, she knows how to keep herself calm and composed. 

3. The perfectionist Mom – You’ll probably find her with a check list in hand.  She’s the type who keeps everything ready from before hand. She’s also the one who’ll go out of the way to ensure her child’s  school projects are done up to the mark.

4. The socially active Mom – She loves posting photos of her child on facebook and instagram. You find her keeping you updated on her child’s new hobby class, school outings, family picnic, some achievements. Anything and everything,  you’ll find her child’s latest photo with a caption on social media. 

5. The Masterchef Mom – From cakes to laddoos, to Kababs and Jams, she knows how to cook everything under the sun. She loves to cook and spoil her little one with a variety of delights. She’s the kind who’s most disliked by the daughter-in-laws.

6. The shopaholic Mom – She’s the one who loves to shop for the latest trends for her child. In any party, her child will probably be the most well dressed kid. She keeps a check on all the online shopping platforms for new arrivals. You’ll find her more in shopping malls than at home.  

7. The Studious Mom – She’s the one who herself was a near topper in school,  and now runs after her kids to make them one.  You’ll find her always standing with a ruler behind her child’s study table.  She’s a no nonsense mother.  She’ll not take any excuses when it comes to studies.

8. The fun loving Mom – She’s a child herself, who’s relieving her childhood days with her kid again.  She enthusiastically takes part in all her child’s activities.  You’ll probably find her going down the roller coaster or jumping in the pool with her kid. 

9. The traveller Mom – She loves to travel and she’ll carry her child wherever she goes. By the time the child has reached 10, he or she has probably seen half the world. 

So did you find out what type of a Mom you are? I can tell you I’m a combination of 3 and 8, with a bit of 7. I would love to know about you now.  Please hit the like button if you enjoyed reading my blog.

Life’s Second Chances

I got married at the age of twenty, just after finishing college and without even knowing how my husband looked. Those days, matrimonial ties were decided mostly by the parents.  I was told that the groom gave his nod after seeing my photograph. Well, I was beautiful to say the least. He worked well, was of good character and had a decent place to live. What else would a girl want? Yes, they were right! I really didn’t want anything more.

On our wedding day I saw him for the first time; tall, slender with a wheatish complexion. Our eyes met during the exchange of garlands. Did I see a tinge of smile in them, I cannot say! However, they were the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. In the initial days of our marriage I wished to tell him many times how beautiful his eyes were, but felt shy every time I thought of it. Women were not supposed to be vocal, and those who dared to express were condemned as a product of western culture. It was the early seventies, and the influence of western culture was visible in our cinemas, yet the women from the middle class families were expected to act demurely. In a year’s time we welcomed our first born, a girl and in another couple of years later, my second child was born; a boy this time. Our family was deemed complete.  

My husband was a caring, responsible and a complete family man. Among the two of us, I was the one who would talk most of the time. He was a man of few words and would love to listen everything to the minutest of details. Occasionally he would give his opinion or advice to something that he thought was of importance. He never really imposed any restrictions on me, yet there was an invisible line which I dared not cross. We lived our lives as per the societal norms, and were a typical Indian family and a happy one too. 

Years passed by, both our children were well educated and were working. We thought it the right time to get our daughter married. She was already twenty-six and was working in the US as an IT professional. Before we could vouch the subject, she called up one day to announce that she was getting married to an American boy.  She said he worked in her company and loved her a lot. We were invited to Los Angeles to give our blessings. To be frank, we were shocked beyond words. Our middle class mentality, conservatism and the society rule book came in the way to accept this alliance whole heartedly.

As we were coping with this bit of news, my husband passed away just like that in his sleep. With my daughter in a faraway land and my husband gone forever, my life seemed meaningless. Yet I had to carry on for the sake of my son. When my son got married, I felt my responsibilities were over. I could rest and enjoy my old-age in the company of my grandchildren. However, I soon realised how wrong I was. In the pretext of living near the office, my son shifted to a single bedroom flat within a few months of his marriage.   I was left lonely and broken-hearted. I couldn’t believe that my son, whom I took care of all my life, would desert me in that manner when I needed him the most.

I cursed my daughter-in-law and brooded for days to come. As I sat retrospecting on my life, I was transported back to my twenty-year-old self. I remembered how I was told that my marriage was fixed, and nobody even asked me if I wanted anything else. I was not given any choice to lead my own life. But now that my responsibilities were over, and I was all alone again, is it true that I didn’t have anything better to do with my life? I realised that for the first time I could choose what I wanted to do with the remaining days of my life. Along with it came the realisation that all these years  I had lived only for others, and this was the first time I was about to live for myself. 

The very first thing I did was to enrol myself in our society’s yoga class. I was surprised to see so many ladies of my age. I formed a circle of like-minded people, and we started spending quality time with each other. This took out the bitterness that I was nurturing in my heart, and slowly but eventually I forgave my son and daughter-in-law. In fact, I started seeing everything from an entirely new perspective. I realised how the choices they made were not related to me, but to them. They were both working, had a hectic life which was quite different from mine. Yearning for some privacy was nothing wrong after all! I knew that even though my son was staying separately, he was just a call away. This newly found wisdom renewed my relationship with them. I started seeing everything from a different angle and was in awe to see the equal partnership that my son and daughter-in-law shared; something that was missing in our times.

The second thing I did was something that I always dreamt of; I took up writing. I always had a flair for writing stories and poems but was shy enough to put my thoughts out into the world. When my daughter-in-law came to know about it, she helped me publish my first story in a local magazine. Since then I have never looked back.  I published my first book when I was sixty-one years and earned quite a bit of recognition in my writer’s community.

They say life gives us a second chance. I would say that it’s not life, but it’s us who should snatch a second chance from life. Sometimes we wait for the right opportunities without realising that the opportunity had come and left. We stop ourselves thinking about the people, who only exist in our minds. If we are not doing anything that would harm ourselves or any other person, and are morally correct, then there’s no age to start anything new. Learning is a constant process, and it ends only when we die. The choices we make shape our lives. When my son left me, I had the choice to brood over, curse my daughter-in-law and be an agony aunt, or I had the choice to do what I did.  

This story is inspired by all the women I have known or got to know till date. It amazes me how they sacrifice their wishes and desires for the sake of their family. They walk on the path that has been decided by this society. Yet, once in a blue moon, there’s someone who rises differently. They give life a second chance at an age when everyone expects them to take rest, as their responsibilities as a wife and a mother are over. I wish every woman get or snatches this second chance in life, that they truly deserve.

Image Credit – Pixabay

The Lost Promise

My grandmother was an active lady who loved and lived for her family. Her life revolved around her husband, children and grandchildren. As a little girl, I remember her always busy, attending the endless relatives who used to visit our home. She had great culinary skills and she loved to feed people. She always made sure that who ever visited our home, should never leave in an empty stomach.  

It was during one such day, when I met Durga. I was fourteen years old and she was around eighteen. She used to work in one of our relatives house,  and had hence accompanied her to our home.  Durga sat in one corner oblivion to all the noise and chattering.  She looked very quiet and shy.

My grandmother, who had by that time served all the guests,  looked at Durga and called her to the kitchen. I was curious to know why my grandmother had called her. In the kitchen, I saw my grandmother put a plate for Durga, filled with all the delicacies she had cooked that day. It was obvious that Durga was not used to such attention.  She stood still looking at the plate. My grandmother then took her by the hand and made her sit on a small chair. Then she handed over the plate to her and very politely asked her to eat. 

At night,  when all the guests had left, I saw my grandmother sitting pensively near the window. She was quieter than usual.  At first, I thought that she was tired, but after a minute or so I realized that there were tears in her eyes. That was the first time in my entire fourteen years life that I saw her crying. I asked her very gently what was the reason for her sudden grief. She hesitated a bit and then started narrating a story – a story about a girl called Durga.

As a young girl of around eight years,  my grandmother used to live in Rajshahi, which is now a part of Bangladesh. This was before our country got independence from the British rule. My grandmother had a very dear friend named Durga. They were like soul sisters. They spent the entire day playing with dolls, running on the fields,  climbing trees, and swimming in the pond.

Since Durga belonged to a much poorer family, she used to have her lunch and dinner at my grandmother’s place almost all the days. This friendship continued like this for almost a decade until the time my grandmother got married and shifted to Calcutta, now called Kolkata.  Before the final goodbye,  my grandmother promised her friend that she’ll come to her wedding whenever that happens.  

After shifting to Calcutta, my grandmother became busy with her new life.  They did exchange letters,  but slowly that decreased in number, until one day, when it finally stopped. My grandmother waited for a reply from Durga, but that never came. In the mean time, India got her much deserved independence. There were riots everywhere.  Rajshahi became a part of East Pakistan. Fearing the loss of life, many people fled their homes and ran away to Calcutta and adjoining places. 

My grandmother who was by that time had become a mother, asked her relatives about Durga’s whereabouts, but it was not known.  Some said that they were killed in the riots and some said they fled to Calcutta. She became busy with kids, family and responsibilities and slowly forgot her promise, until today when she remembered it again seeing another Durga. She shed tears not only for her lost friendship, but also for the unfulfilled promise. She felt guilty for not trying hard to find her friend.

Hearing this story as a child I cried for the friendship and the promise that was not kept. Today as a woman myself,  I feel lucky that we have the technology to keep in touch with our friends and families across the world.  But what about those women, who didn’t have such technology during their times?  Their desires, wishes and promises got sacrificed in the name of duties and responsibilities.  I wonder, did they ever live for themselves? Nobody knows the answer! 

Image Credit – Pixabay

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