29 April 2016

Ashtami at Maddox Square in 2053

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This is an imaginary future story about a boy and a girl who were very much in love, but sadly they broke up in the year 2003, but fortunately again they met fifty years later on the day of Ashtami during Durga Puja at Maddox Square. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. 



The year is 2053. Rahul is now seventy one years old. His parents are dead. He lives alone. He never got married in his life. He is retired now. He gets up early in the morning and listens to rabindrasangeet. Then goes for a morning walk at Rabindra Sarobar. He has a group of friends there. All senior citizens. After the morning walk, they eat kachouris, singaras, jaalebis and drink tea together and indulge in vociferous addas mostly revolving around politics and cricket. Then he comes back home. The maid arrives and cooks his lunch and dinner. Sweeps his room and washes his clothes and then leaves. After bath and lunch, Rahul takes a nap, which we bongs call bhaat-ghum. In the evening he usually goes to watch bengali theatres, mostly at Academy of Fine Arts, or attends any other cultural programme. At night he comes back home, takes out his dinner from the fridge, heats it, finishes it, watches TV for some time, and then goes to sleep around midnight.

Now Durga Puja has arrived. Calcutta is looking as beautiful as a new bride. Rahul remembers the Durga Pujas of yesteryears. In his younger days he used to have so much fun. Nowadays he does not go for pandal hopping. He prefers to stay indoors and watch all the festivities throughout the city on TV. Only on Ashtami evening he goes to Maddox Square with his group of friends. Every year he goes to Maddox on Ashtami evening. In the last fifty years he has not missed this even once. An Ashtami evening at Maddox Square is something which one cannot describe in words, one has to experience it first hand.

Maddox was still the same. It was totally crowded. Young boys and girls hanging out there. Friends sitting on the ground and chatting. Boys checking out girls overtly. Girls checking out boys covertly. Everyone fidgeting with their cell-phones and video chatting with their other friends who were not present at Maddox. So many food stalls all around. A new bangla band was playing death metal music on the stage. Rahul and his friends hated it tremendously. They decided to ignore the music and indulge in adda among themselves.  

Suddenly Rahul saw Shona there. She was there with her group of friends. They were her friends since her school and college days. Shona now had white hair and there were wrinkles all around her cheeks. She was now seventy years old. She was wearing a pink coloured saree. And she was still looking so beautiful. She was busy chatting with her friends. Rahul also has white hair now. He was wearing a white panjabi and black trousers. 

Once Rahul saw her, he could not take his eyes off her. He was seeing her after fifty years. Back then they were very much in love and had a relationship with her for like three years. Then in 2003 they suddenly broke up. To read more about Rahul and Shona's love story, here is the link. Fifty years have passed. All those times that they had spent together flashed in front of Rahul's eyes. All those memories flooded his brain. And also his eyes. He wiped his moist eyes. He initially wondered whether it would be right to go and talk to her. But then realized that if he did not go and talk to her then he would regret it for the rest of his remaining days. He took a leave from his friends and went straight towards Shona. 

Rahul walked up to her and stood in front of her. Shona suddenly saw him standing in front of her. It was like a blast from the past. It was like a half-remembered dream from a previous lifetime. She was damn surprised as well as shocked to see him after fifty years. Rahul spoke first. Here's how the conversation went: 

Hi, do you remember me?

Ofcourse I remember you. 

Fifty years have passed. 

Yes. Such a long time. 

So, how are you?

I am fine. How are you?

I am Okay. So, where is your husband, your son, your daughter in law and your grandson?

They were all here yesterday. Today I am having an evening-out with my old besties. Do you remember them?

Yes, I remember some of them. I have always kept a track of you through a fake profile of mine on Facebook. 

Oh really? As if I didn't know that. And I have always read your Blogs. You wrote so many Posts about me. It was really flattering.  

Do you like my writing?

Yes, you write very well. Some of the Blog-Posts are really good. No one in the world writes like you. I have read your poems too. They are also very good.  

Ha Ha Ha. I still remember your old landline number. 

Well, as a matter of fact, I still remember yours too. 

Do you remember that fifty years back we had spent the whole day of Ashtami together here? Maddox has not changed. The ambiance is still the same. Time flies so fast.

Yes I remember. I was wearing my mother's blue saree and you were wearing a cream coloured panjabi. 

Oh My Goodness! You really remember all those details. 

Well, what can I say? I have good memory. Maybe in my childhood days I drank a lot of Branolia. 

Ha Ha Ha. You still have that sense of humour. 

So, why did not you get married? 

How do you know that I am still a bachelor?

Well... Ummmmm... You look like a bachelor.

Don't lie. I am sure you were also checking out my Facebook profile through some fake profile of yours. 

Maybe...

Its basic human nature. No one can be above that. And Facebook's basic funda is to spy on your ex-es and your enemies. So, we are now in the last few overs of our lives. How was this life of yours?

It was good. There were ups and downs but overall it was good, actually it was great. How was yours?

Well, a bachelor is one who lives like a king but dies like a dog. I have lived like a king, now maybe its time to die like a dog. 

Don't say that. Fifty years back we had something very special between us. You were always a nice person. But people misunderstood you. 

Well, I still don't give a damn about people. I have lived this life on my own terms and have always done whatever my heart wanted. Never listened to my head. In this last stage of my life, I have no regrets. I am prepared to welcome death with open arms. 

Don't talk about death. And you don't look seventy one. You look like late-fifties. 

Ha Ha Ha... You look like late-forties.

Ha Ha Ha... As if...

No seriously, you look so young and gorgeous.

Stop it. You will never change. You still love to flirt with women.  

Ha Ha Ha. Do you remember our landline phone conversations? Do you remember the first day you came to my house to give me a surprise? Do you remember our first coffee together at Golpark Caffeine?

Yes. Stop it please. I remember everything in details. Lets not talk about the past. 

Its so nice to see you after fifty years. My Goodness! Time really flies so fast. I wish I had a Time Machine. I really want to go fifty years back. I still miss St. Xavier's College a lot. And I still go to Park Street whenever I miss those good old times. Park Street has changed so much. Nowadays I cannot relate to this new Park Street with all its new restaurants and fancy coffee shops, stupid bars and lousy lounges. I really miss the old Park Street. 

Yes, Park Street has changed so much. Only last week we went there for dinner with our whole family. I was telling my grandson about the old Park Street.

Hmmmm. Calcutta has changed so much. I don't like this new Calcutta. I miss my old Calcutta. But Maddox has not changed. Look at all those young couples walking hand in hand. Look at all those groups of friends sitting together on the ground and strumming guitars. These days this bangla death metal music is such a big thing. Which I obviously hate. I still miss our good old bangla rock. I miss Mohiner Ghoraguli. And I miss Kabir Suman and Anjan Dutta a lot too. May their souls rest in peace. 

Hey, remember I gave you that Anjan Dutta cassette Rong Pencil? You never gave that back to me. 

Well, you also have my stuff. That book, for example, Linda Goodman's SunSigns. I want my things back.

Ha Ha Ha. You are not getting them back. But I still have that book with me.

And I still have that cassette in my house. Along with all your other cassettes and books. And along with all those greetings cards, especially those Valentine's Cards. And those gifts too, like that mini Book of Love which you had given me.

Keep them. I don't want them anymore.

What about my things?

You are not getting them back.

Did you ever miss me in the last fifty years?

Whats the point of talking about that now?

Tell me naa? Please...

Maybe I did miss you a few times. But I had moved on in life and therefore I chose to put my past behind.

In the last fifty years, you never felt like talking to me even once? You never felt like sending me a sms or something?

Maybe once or twice I did feel like talking to you again. But then decided not to. The whole thing was so complicated between us.

Hmmmmm... Now at the fag end of this life, I really have realized that there are actually no complications in life. Life is simple. We actually complicate it with our own external manifestations. See, a child is always happy and needs a good reason to be unhappy. Where as we adults are always unhappy and we need a damn good reason or occasion to be happy.

Hmmmmmm... I guess you are right.

I am always right. And I was right fifty years back also. Things could have been totally different for us. I guess destiny had other plans. But one thing I can assure you. My love for you was hundred percent pure and genuine. There was no artificiality in that.

Lets not talk about that now.

On my every birthday I waited for your call. I thought atleast you would send me a birthday message. But you never did. And throughout my life I had only one mobile number. I never changed it. And I never changed it because you had that number. I always hoped against hope that one day you would definitely contact me again.

Lets not talk about those things now. Anyways I should go now. My friends are waiting.

Listen. Unblock me on Facebook and send me a friend request. We are in the last stage of our lives. Lets keep in touch through Facebook atleast for the remaining period of our lives.

Ok. I will do that. Bye.

Bye. 

Shona walked towards her friends. Rahul walked back towards his friends. It was really so nice to meet her after fifty years. Rahul's friends were all chatting about the current bengal politics but he somehow could not participate in that and somehow started feeling aloof. After an hour they all decided to leave Maddox. 

Rahul came back home. That night he could not sleep. Fifty years old memories haunted him. He became nostalgic and started weeping. Actually the memories were flowing out from his eyes in the form of tears. He was wide awake till dawn. Then around dawn he felt a huge blanket of darkness engulfing him. Outside the first rays of the sun was just out. The first bird just started to chirp. The first cool morning breeze was just starting to flow. But inside the room, there was total darkness. The blanket of darkness was standing still. It was not moving. It was there to stay. Time stopped for him at that very precise moment. 

He died at dawn...

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