It was a lazy Sunday afternoon in Kolkata. I was enjoying my spare time with a book of Paulo Coelho -- my intellectual diet. After some time, my parents came to my room and exhorted me to take my wife to show around the famous Dakhshineshwar temple.
“These people will never understand value of finishing a book,” I murmured in my mind.
Actually, it was a ploy of my parents to make me closer to my wife, whom I considered a misfit in my life. She was from a small town in Bihar and a fresher for the hustle and bustle of a metropolis like Kolkata. It was for, just, last two months that she was residing in the city. I felt she was backward as she didn’t know English and didn’t have any intellectual leanings. She didn’t understand even a wee bit of the debates on the T.V channels ranging from coalgate scams to elevation of Mr. Modi as a prime ministerial candidate.
Yes she was naïve, but this is what I abhorred most about her.
I wanted a life partner who had at least a little intellectual inclination. But she had zilch of it. Whole day she kept herself busy with kitchen chores and tending to the needs of her in-laws. She was happily ignorant to the happenings of the world.
Anyways, after a lot of goading from my parents, willy-nilly, I conceded to take her for the “pilgrimage”.
By an auto we reached the Mahanayak Uttam Kumar Metro station. Metro trains are cheaper than hiring a taxi in Kolkata, so it was an obvious choice.
There was a big throng at the station in the afternoon as the metros didn’t do rounds in the mornings of Sundays.
I bought tickets at the counter after standing for half an hour in the serpentine queue. I gave one ticket to my wife. I was trying to be aloof from her and she had to almost run, on occasions, to match up with me. I wanted to make things uncomfortable for my wife so that she never dares to come out with me in future. This male domination mentality was in every ounce of me.
Soon it was announced that train was coming on the platform. Multitude of people gathered in front of gates of the train to secure their seats.
As the train pulled up, the crowd bundled us into it. However hard I tried, I couldn’t secure any seats for us. Quickly the train doors slid closed and we got packed in the train. In the process of entering the train my wife and I got separated. I was standing in the male dominated area and she was in the area where women were in larger numbers. In Kolkata metros this separation of male and female side gets created on its own for the convenience. This way, at least, the chances of eve teasing gets reduced.
The train chugged along and suddenly picked up its speed. After 4-5 stations, the crowd got thinner and now I could see my wife from a distance in her blue saree standing by holding the bars attached to the roof of the train. I was thinking that the ordeal of metro journey would deter my wife from any future excursions with me. I was wickedly happy for this metro mayhem.
Suddenly there was an announcement that the train would not go ahead Park Street metro station ,as a suicide had taken place and passengers were advised to get down on the Park Street metro station. As train pulled up at the station there was an unusual crowd waiting for us.
I got down from the train and stood at a side of the elevator, waiting for my wife. And after a few moments, there she came in the blue saree. “But where is she going?” I thought. I called her, Suman… Suman. But she didn’t listen. I was really angry at her indifferent attitude. What does she think of herself…. Queen of Kolkata who knows every nook and corner of the city? Now, I decided to walk up to her.
I tapped on her shoulder to attract her attention and when she turned towards me, my face turned pale. It was not Suman. I quickly apologized to the lady.
Now my mind went numb. I could only hear the wordless murmur of Bangla language and see the blurred human frames. My wife had got lost. I tried to search for her trudging through the rush of the station. But she was nowhere to be found.
“Did she get down on any earlier station mistaking someone else for me as I mistook someone else for her?” I thought. Several other ominous and scary things started flitting through my mind and suddenly it occurred to me to make a ring on her mobile. Shit! there was no signal in my mobile. I kept the mobile back in my pocket and started scanning every female face frantically again.
“It was all my fault. Why didn’t I hold her hand in the crowd?” I was cursing myself. My all intellectual air and male ego had gone for a toss and I was feeling week and trembling inside, typical of any ordinary husband whose wife was missing. Now, it downed upon me that how meaningful she was in my life. Beneath my snobbish façade of the intellectuality, there was a heart of a commoner that throbs for its near and dear ones. Now, I realized that I loved my wife despite her shortcomings (from my standards). Now I didn’t want her to be a sophisticated soul, I just wanted her, the way she was. “Please goddess, return my wife,” I prayed.
With all sorts of thoughts jumbled up in my mind, I came out of the station to ring her again. The phone was ringing but no reply. I grew more anxious. After several attempts, I decided to go inside the station once again to give it my last try before going to police station. As I entered the station, I heard an announcement in Bangla and Hindi that had my name. It said: “Mr. Neeraj Kumar of Tollygunge, wherever you are please come to the control room, your wife is waiting.” I felt a new leash of life being pumped into my lungs. I ran crazily towards the control room.
As I entered the room, I madly scanned all around the room and when I turned to my left she was there in her blue saree, standing anxious but clam. I hugged her tightly. She got embarrassed of my gesture. But I didn’t care about the people around me at that time. My most precious thing was in my arms and I was a relieved man. With my choked up throat and teary eyes I thanked the control room officers and with my wife came out of the station.
That day, I came to know that knowing English and listening heated arguments on the burning topics of contemporary India was not all to be called an intellectual. An intellectual was one who handled his/her situation with a calm mind amid the adversity. And to my mind it was my wife who was intellectual on those moments of separation to summon up all her gumption, in a relatively foreign conditions (for her), and go to the control room and seek help.
Later, I came to know that in the pushing and shoving of the station throng, she had lost her mobile phone. But I had no qualms about that. I had my most precious thing with me and at that day I came to know what a platinum day of love is called. It was that day for me.
I found my love that day: Platinum and Pristine.
I thanked Godess Kali for my wife’s safe return to me and took a taxi direct to the Dakshineshwar Temple. For the rest of the day, I held her hand like a child who clings to his/her doll even while sleeping.
After return from the temple, I went with my wife to a jewelry shop and bought for her a gleaming Platinum Ring to etch that day indelibly on the timeline of our lives as a day of love!
P.S: This is a fictional account for a contest being held at www.indiblogger.in under title Platinum Day of Love.