‘Howrah to Puri Jagannath Express will leave at 09.15 hours from platform number 3.’
Sigh. Its time. She didn’t want to but she had to. Puri the place she loathed to visit. She loathed revisiting those annual trips. She loathed remembering those laughs those enjoyment those sand castles those Memories. That last picture. It was not their fault; it was not hers that she was tore apart from his only big brother. She waited clinging to that last ‘memory of togetherness’, that he might call asking “bhai phonta dibi na?”- you won’t give bhai phonta?
Excitement. A feeling of revisiting those memories. Those memories are all that is left behind apart from that one last picture. He breathed out air and thought of that time together. Their sweet memories. Those memories which make him relive again makes him wait the entire year for that one day of Bhai Phonta, expecting they will come or at least call. Those memories to which he has cling on it since that last ‘memory of togetherness’.
Few hours to the journey.
Exhaled. Both of them. Packing done.
Both the mother said, “sob kichu thik kore pack korechis?” Did you pack everything properly?
‘Yes….’ Putting the last remaining thing to pack inside their cases. The last ally to their
Memory lane. They both hoped all these ends soon. The final wish of their Dadu to give a Puja offering to the ‘Nurturer of the world’, Jagannath has to be fulfilled.
None can do it except they ‘cause that’s also a part of their dying grandfather’s wish. Both were unaware of the fact that both of them were assigned to do the same job. But one thing was decided by fate, their visiting dates.
Howrah Station, 8.55 pm
Samastuti And Oikon reached the station. They both thought they must check the seats; the train is prior to its usual time. Thank god, or else it’s very difficult these days to board train on right time thanks to the lousy Indian railway that they are always on time to be late. A light smile paved their lips.
‘S9’, thought the siblings and walked towards the compartment, only to face each other.
After so many years. Why fate has brought them in this position?
Their eyes met and those memories unfurled themselves from the heavy dust over them.
Those laughter, those hide and seek, those first crushes, those secrets, those fights, those saving from the bully, those ‘am your big brother’, those ‘hey! Where’s my gift?’ all came by. The flashback came at a lighting speed and went away, lest did they get time to think and hugged each other without judging the consequences. The hug returned their so called consciousness only to drift them apart incomplete. Hot water made its way through their eyes. Siblings turned Strangers.
They boarded into the train.
‘..32, 33, 34..,35,..3..6! 36!’ exhaled Samastuti.
‘…35, 36..3..7! peyechi! Gotcha’ from the other side.
Fate. The night didn’t want them to stay stranger. Their destination wanted to see their laughter! Together!
Side upper and side lower berth. They had to sit facing each other until one of them wanted to sleep.
Flashback. Same seat, they fought for the seat. They wanted to sit together unlike today. They had lots to say, lots to share, lots to complain. Even if they met every day then; their gossips, laughter, their togetherness seemed to be infinite. The trip started at 08.00 hours so, their family packed their food. Typical bong. That was 12 years ago. Even today their luggages are filled with foods.
Twelve years is a long time. Family feud. They too were siblings, their fathers; not even cousins; brothers. They fought over something but that is irrelevant now, because nature waits to see the acknowledgment.
Twelve years back, the reason for the feud was unknown to these two. They were unaware of the reason why did the two brothers leave the visit in mid and went on their ways. They couldn’t make out anything for them not being allowed to talk to each other, or even peak into each other’s houses. Little did they know that their innocent minds were been oriented to give rise to a war in future! But it was not very late that they realized that they won’t be allowed to meet play or any such thing. So they started their secret meetings which led to bunking classes, lying back at home, and breaking of piggy banks to buy each other gifts. But not for long, both their father’s found out and there ended their friendship.
The parents created a great canyon of silence between them; manipulated their thoughts with vile thinking about each other, they created a covering of despicable thought about each other. The cover worked wonder, and hid their relation underneath. Those children of ten and thirteen couldn’t bear this partition and became confined within. Years rolled, and little did they tried to contact for they thought the other might loathed the one. Secrets dumped themselves, crushes went by, burdens burdened themselves, but nobody was there to share.
Now they are there but words didn’t just come up. The memories of the feud unfurled those terrible images in their minds. They now knew the reason, not that they wanted to but they were made to know.
‘He hates me’
‘She hates me’
‘Just once call me “Dadabhai’ just once’ thought Oikon.
‘Dadabhai are you still angry at me? Trust me I tried my best to contact you, but they beat me very hard! They sent me to boarding! What could I have done?” Silence.
They minds had lots to say but the mouth didn’t utter a single. Their eyes were still wet.
Both checked their wrist watches. Smile came across their faces. They both still wore the kids’ edition watches given as gifts to each other.
10.30 pm. They must eat and sleep. They can’t’ take it anymore. If a little more they had to stare at each other’s faces, they might be unable to control themselves.
They went to wash their hands. Lady Fate was bored. She had to trigger something. And then that happened. As Samastuti was returning to her berth a ragamuffin from out of blue held her hand from a lower berth seat.
‘Leave! You scoundrel!’ shouted Samastuti.
‘Oh! Dear you travel alone, that too at night and you expect people to tolerate your nuisance! Come sit beside me! Let me touch you!’ said the Strangers.
As the words came out, a slap was planted well on his face!
‘How dare you! TT! TT! Mr. TT! Where is the fucking Ticket collector! Come let me help the police have a good touch of your sexy body! Scoundrel!’, said Oikon.
‘Who does she means to you? That slut!’ the hooligan uttered.
‘She is MY SISTER you fucking moron! MY SISTER!’ the raged brother said.
Flashback. School days. A bully was teasing Samastuti and Oikon came to her rescue. Not only did he give him a beating but also made him do his dear Sama’s homework for rest of the years. Tears rolled by, with a slight beam of smile on her lips and uttered those magical words which made Oikon embrace his lil’ sis’.
‘Dadabhai’ left her lips, only for him to hear.
And they hugged, all borders melt, all misunderstanding went away. No stratosphere of imbecile thought implanted. The worst has gone, only the bad remains behind. Smile. Laughter. Memories…