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Love lost and Found

by Aditi Talapatra

Love lost and found
Knows no bound
Eyes and heart in harmony
With no thoughts for money
Let’s look around

The old sprawling college built century ago was witness to generations of freedom fighters, socialists, authors, scientists, playwrights, sportsmen and most of all lovers- some she saw were heartbroken, others she saw as frivolous and the more happy and lucky ones cupid struck remained entwined in eternal bondage of love. A room with only a door, a strange room with three walls, a room with only one long bench –that’s all it had for furniture. The words ‘I love you’ echoed in this room with a ghastly presence. For anyone to sit there alone was scary, but for a couple it became a lover’s den. Notes were drawn out, exchanged, copied and thrown away. Gossip took shape in this room and upon exit spread its wings and flew to other corners of the college. Much of the life-forming challenging decisions arose in this room. Teachers, professors, assistants searching for students always peeped into this room- perhaps someone inside knew the whereabouts of the whole class that stayed away from attending the class or laboratory, such was the importance of this three feet by six feet room that every one identified with it. The accumulated views dispersed as ideas and generated a momentum for a rapid change-all from this room.

Be it ragging, be it farewell or a hearty welcome, this room was witness to the beauties tying up their knots, or hiding the brassiere straps that peeped along the hem of the blouse, or the pleats being realigned to make one more attractive as they say ‘one for public’ or the boys checking to see if the zip was alright or exchanging a pack of hand rolled Capstan laced with ganja. Yet the room was clean, never did anyone find a strip of paper lying on the floor, never a torn cloth from the dupatta, never a torn sheet from the notebook. It was the busiest place with a occupancy rate dominated by the Arts sections.

Chottoghar-the small room, as it was well known was befriended by one and all. That winter, not a chilling winter, a light breeze blew across the length of the town. Perhaps it was the approaching North Westerly sounding the bugle of the Cold Season. A shawl across her shoulder covering the upper part of her body, loosely hung, a shade of shinning black with a thin borderline flat Kashmiri stitched in yellow that contrasted her white churidaar, her waist length hair naturally ironed smooth and wavering in the light breeze. The kolhapuris, she simply never resisted in winter adorned her feet. She had fondly bought them at a local store near College Street after a bargaining with the shop keeper. The shop-keeper too was under the sway of the pleasing smile of this young girl. “Last price one fifty”, she said with a beaming smile and he had succumbed the winter months being dry in Kolkata, she often took to these kolhapuris as they were pretty and comfortable. ‘Ashbo?’ she did not wait for a reply, she knew that he was there, he was determined, he was restless, and predictable, but the confusion she had in her mind was not a temporary phase. Being mature and practical the most important thought that crossed her mind was certainty. She believed it was very early to be judgmental and certain that the twists and turns in her
life may not be a happy one. In a flash she was filled with anxiety thinking about the uncertain future but she needed to bring his effort to a quick end-all she needed was friendship and not love. He glanced at her furtively from head to toe and beamed at her hoping to corner her in that small room as he rose slowly and approached her with a large card in hand. He slid the card into her hand, their fingers brushing each other, his warm hand she realized was from the smoke he had minutes ago, and his breath as he stepped away confirmed her thoughts. She smiled at him her eyes running over the words ‘Hope both of us…….’ And she stopped, no he was not the one, how could he already take her for granted without even asking once, she smiled again and, the very same charming smile, he sat down. It was a moments silence and she seized this moment with a lightning speed and replied, “I hope to be your friend always, whenever you need me remember you can count on me”. She didn’t wait for his reaction, simply strutted down the nearby staircase and walked along the path, an instinctive walk to be away from the milieu. After a couple of minutes, she looked at the watch, retraced her steps, she had no other option but to attend to her classes.

The class-room had a double paneled door; on it two oval glasses were embedded almost like those on a ship. Most students would peep in to see whether their friend was inside, while from inside students waiting would longingly look out for friends asking them to abandon the class. Even Professors checked in to see if enough students were in attendance otherwise the choice was his. Nina that day did not peep but just as she pushed the door and stepped in everyone greeted her together. Embarrassed, she blushed and quietly sat in the second row a few inches behind him. The Professor continued in abated breath the lesson, revising and touching upon every point, but everything seemed afloat, she hated the fact that she was hurting someone’s feelings purposely. For the first time she stood quiet not being able to answer the professor’s queries.

The last three years they had spent together had brought them very close, touching each others’ memories in a very tender way. The days were drawing close and soon they would all part. As the days drew to a close, Nina felt sad, and they would all part, each inching towards their own goal, some secretive and others in an open path. For Nina the pathway was tough, it was one of struggle, with her family, fighting at every turn to do something remarkable and achieve higher than the self-set goal.

That night, she lay on the bed looking at the sky. From her bed, the sky seemed miniscule, only a few feet or so as most of window was covered by ‘half parda’-a curtain that perhaps only covered the half of your privacy, she laughed as she thought. She tossed and turned on her bed, she could not sleep, she closed her eyes, but the sound of the glow-worm kept reverberating in her ear. She felt cold, drew the ‘razai’ closer and snuggled inside it,tears rolling down her cheek,the cross-roads in her life was throttling her……..the cry a release and slowly she fell into a light slumber.

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