To Save a Marriage – Pranav Mishra, Andhra Pradesh

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On a sultry evening at IIT-Dhanbad I received a tense call from my father. Dad informed me in a choking voice that my brother and bhabhi were going to part ways soon. His emotional suffering notwithstanding, I censured him for disturbing my peace before the final exam of the term. ‘Dad!’ I barked. ‘Tomorrow is maths! Advanced Special Functions!’ He ended the call instantly but the damage was already done. For that whole night neither could I study, nor was I able to find sleep. Pretty face of Ananya Bhabhi kept flickering in my mind, and I suffered the heartache of my whole family in my one, tender heart. I fared poorly in the exam next day, felt rage for Spider, our mathematics professor, who’d set such a harsh and lengthy question paper for us. (Why they always did that! Yuck!) Afterwards I reached my room, picked my rucksack and headed for the railway station. Soon I was aboard Black Diamond Express, which was gradually taking me towards Kolkata, my hometown.
The clamorous Kolkata, old and frayed, home to our modest sweetshop, ‘Bijoya Sweet House’ which stood in the rusty Narkeldanga. The bus scurried through the bustling old streets, overtaking the trams and honking at the crazy traffic, and I was still remembering the lovely face of Ananya Bhabhi. She was the best thing, if I can say it,to haveever happened to our lackluster family. We were deafeningly proud of her, and she made our relatives sickeningly envious. She dazzled the eyes of onlookers wherever she went. She glided on the streets rather than walked. When she danced during the wedding parties, clad in her majestic lehengas, the whole of our Marwari clan gathered around and beheld her through mesmerized eyes. Dad almost cried on those occasions: he was just so proud of her daughter-in-law. Mom was never tired scattering praises about her, if only to char a few hearts to ash. And now, everything was going down the drain. I had talked to Bhaiya and Bhabhi, and here’s what I sensed from their lengthy, blaming talks.
Bhaiya: she doesn’t give me any respect!
Bhabhi: he has suffocated my life!
Oh, dear. By the way, they lived away from our parents. Our house in Narkeldanga was pretty small and rundown, and Mom and Dad wanted them to live in a better place, away from two ageing creatures.
**
Tears gushed from my parent’s eyes as they talked about the tragic matter. It’d be a matter of great shame, too. Barely a year, and the loving and vivacious angel had decided to break with us.
‘What would we say to our people?’ said Mom with unsurpassable grief in her eyes.
‘We could not keep her happy,’ answered Dad in a frayed voice.
Suddenly an idea struck my mind.
‘Why don’t we go somewhere?’ I howled excitedly. ‘Maybe a little outing together can sort things out. Yeah, I think we should give it a try. They’ll find some time together, and we’d be there to counsel them. Yeah!’
**
So we were at Mandarmoni Beach two days later. They arrived a day after we reached, and appeared clueless by the looks, as if they couldn’t fathom why we’d decided on a get-together. They appeared ‘apart’: there’d be no chatter between them, and they took particular care that their bodies didn’t touch each other’s. They seemed perfectly normal, too, which was a depressing factor. The deal was sealed between them, and they as if ridiculed us by their nonchalance about the matter. “Nothing can be done!” They appeared to howl it loud and clear.
Yet, they’d been in deep love just a few months ago. Bhabhi appeared to be on top of the world, finding a life-partner like Bhaiya, and the latter appeared to have no job but to extol his wife, his Jaan. Where did the Cupid go? And could the missing Cupid be found on the vast, unspoiled beach of Mandarmoni?
A day passed just like that. Pure ‘suffocating’ silence, though I’d tried to engage Bhabhi in a little conversation, as we strolled on the sand, the sea lapping gently at our side. The weather was hot and humid, the summer at its vicious peak. We were sweating like pigs.
Bhabhi was in faded blue denims and a floral tunic, sunglasses hurled before her eyes.
‘I will fail in maths, I think,’ I said. ‘And it’s because of you, Bhabhi. But tell me one thing, what exactly happened between you two? Mom and Dad are just so broken.’
‘Parikshit, I have nothing against you guys,’ she said. ‘I really love you people. I understand the pain Mummy ji and Daddy ji are going through. I am very sad about them. But really I have to move on from here. It was just a bad choice. Your brother is just such an egoistic creature. And listen Parikshit it’s done. We have decided it mutually. There’s nothing wrong in it. This is pretty much the norm these days.’
‘My brother is a duffer,’ I offered. ‘He’s not going to get someone like you. Presently he’s acting like a hero, and I know it’s just his ego. Later, he’ll repent on his decision. He’ll be destroyed. I know him.’
‘I can’t say anything about that,’ she said. She stopped all of a sudden and started carving a circle on the sand using her toe. We were walking barefoot, carrying our footwear in our hands. As she looked down at the little circle etched on the sand, I observed her face keenly. It was red as a tomato, perhaps because of the sultry weather, or probably due to the heartbreak she must be feeling inside. I guessed there was nothing further to say or do. It just proved to be a stupid outing: the oppressivelysultry air by the sea, and barely a soul on the vast beach. The tenderly lapping sea, which always rejuvenated my soul failed to enchant me in any manner.
**
Two days later we were slated to depart, but an unexpected downpour detained us. From the balconies of our rooms in the beachside hotel, we watched the rain forlornly as it thudded over the sand and the sea. Just then Bhaiya invited me for a drink and sometime later, we were sipping vodka inside ‘their’ room, whereas Bhabhi deserted us to be with Mom and Dad in the adjoining one. I tried to pump Bhaiya up a little, as a last attempt, but perfectly aware nothing would work. Bro had the mind of a bull. He was excessively stubborn and proud. Though I knew there lived a rabbit in his heart, too, and it’d hurt him terribly after some time. Bhabhi was a treasure and he loved her. He must still be in love with her. You can’t oust that donkey too easily.
It was a lovely time: brothers boozing together, the balcony by the sea, rain pouring hell down and all that sizzling sound. Tiny drops of rain swept our faces as we sipped from our tumblers. None of us was a drinker, and so the vodka was expected to croon soon in our minds. I was already feeling tipsy after the first peg.
‘Do something, yaar!’ I said to bro. ‘I mean she is going away.’
‘Your despair is not my despair,’ he retorted.
‘You are a fool you know what,’ I reacted. ‘You will realize later.’
‘Achchhaaa!’
‘You are a duffer,’ I howled. ‘You don’t know how much she loves you. She was telling me.’
‘Don’t try to be too smart,’ he said. ‘I know how much she loves me. All she knows is to curse me and make fun of me. She hasn’t even left her friends.’
‘You just have a big ego, bro,’ I said. ‘Just tell me one thing. Why do you want so much respect? Whatever, but your respect will not increase if she leaves you. It will only be dented. Everyone knows how good she is.’
‘Whatever,’ he offered with forced indifference.
‘But she really loves you!’
‘Yeah, I know her love.’
‘You’re just so sensitive!’
‘Oh yeah, I know that as well.’
He didn’t appear to take me seriously. I decided to just drink.
**
Later in the day, an enthralling spectacle was awaiting me, Mom and Dad. Bhaiya and Bhabhi were ambling in the rain which was reduced to a drizzle by now. They sauntered hand in hand on the beach, and we watched them from the balcony with tons of excitement, joy and greed. We could not help stalking them in their private moments. Sometime later, soaked in the rain, they had hugged each other tight and soon they were kissing like mad. We were not supposed to see it. No no, we were not.
**
That was three years ago. There’s unbreakable love between them now, and they are parents of a lovely girl. And I don’t know where all that poison disappeared that rainy day on the beach. Cupid had revisited. And just how desperate we were in Mandarmoni!
I don’t know if my little chatter with them had done the trick. In any case, that’d proved to be a ‘remarkably’ productive outing.

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