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Book : Swikriti Patrika 6th Ed. Page : 26-28 Author : Arun Translation by: Arijita Chatterjee

Close To His Heart Arka comes back to work after a two-day vacation. The day feels full of fresh possibilities after the break. The first half of the day goes well enough; the shock comes during the lunch-break at the canteen. Sayak says, as he picks up a pakora from Arka’s plate, “So I’m finally getting married.” Arka knew that Sayak had already had his marriage registered quite a while ago. He also understood that the wedding would soon follow. So he simply asks, “When?” “Twenty-fifth Boishakh,” Sayak informs him. Had it been about anyone else, Arka would have joked, ‘Its Rabindra-Jayanti. Who gets married on Tagore’s birthday?” Of course, he knows that on some years, auspicious do fall on that day some years, but he’s never shied from making silly, illogical comments. He could happily pass the time arguing just for the sake of being contrary. But today nothing emerges from his mouth but a strangled ‘Great’. Sudden tears clogging his throat do not allow him to swallow his food. Everything in front of him starts to feel insubstantial and still. He drops the cap of the water bottle, while trying to open it. Sayak picked it up and remarks, “You’re drinking water after eating a pakora!!?” Arka doesn’t drink water after eating fried things; he doesn’t even drink water during meals. He waits a half hour after meals to drink water, and Sayak is only too aware of this, prompting the surprised query. Arka says,” It’s too spicy.”


Book : Swikriti Patrika 6th Ed. Page : 26-28 Author : Arun Translation by: Arijita Chatterjee

A wave of laughter rises from another tables little too loudly. They’d caught none of that discussion at Arka’s table. But the echoing laughter rushes in as if to swallow Arka whole. “What! It’s not that spicy!” Sipping his coffee Sayak says, “Let’s get you a cold coffee then. Or do you want an ice-cream? You’ll feel better.”

“No, it’s okay.” Arka tries to stop him. But, Sayak doesn’t listen. He gets a couple of ice-creams from the counter. Arka and Sayak don’t live on the same of town, but they always leave the office together at the same time. They wait for each other if they have to. Today, Arka leaves without waiting for Sayak. The ear-buds of his cell-phone remain stuffed in his ears as they have been since lunch. Right now nothing suits his mood but the shriek of loud music. Some people might try to drown their rage and sorrow in alcohol; Arka wants to lose himself in the screaming music. But that’s not really possible! A Tata Sumo grazes too close as it speeds by, while he’s crossing the road; someone shouts in admonishment, none of which reach him. He let a few buses go by and then a relatively empty one turned up at the stop. Boarding it, Arka found a seat and let his head loll. When he returned home, he found he had no desire to eat. Mothers notice every little thing. She asks what had happened. ‘It’s nothing, I’m not hungry,” he says and goes to lie down in his room. You can’t really share everything with mothers, can you? Even if you do, are they able to see the truths of the matters as they should be seen? Better say nothing at all. His grief should remain within himself. What would be the point of telling everyone, least of all, to those who don’t understand or don’t want to understand? That would only increase the disquiet of the mind which would only aggravate the problem instead of solving it. The night passes and sleep continues to elude Arka. The clock in the house nextdoor rings in the hours. The chimes aren’t noticeable during the day. But they break the silence of the night, warning of the passing hours. It’s difficult to lie in


Book : Swikriti Patrika 6th Ed. Page : 26-28 Author : Arun Translation by: Arijita Chatterjee

bed, a victim of insomnia, when you desperately want to sleep. Arka left his bed and sat on a chair on the balcony. Some nocturnal bird flew away, crying. Not an owl, some other bird. A cool breeze floats his way. It’s raining somewhere, far away. Lightning illuminates the sky intermittently. Arka’s face, lit by the sporadic flashes, would have revealed to anyone watching, a storm that rages inside him. The force of his inner turmoil far outstrips the

atmospheric storm. It crushes and twists him, flings him up into the great unknown and then dashed him to the earth again. Eventually it starts to rain here as well. The rain is much desired and welcome after a hot summer day. Though most won’t get to enjoy the rain so late into the night, they’ll sleep a little easier. Sayak wants to marry this woman because he loves her. Maybe she loves him too! Not maybe, she certainly does. An unequal one-sided love can’t lead to a decision to marry. But can this woman truly love him more than I can? No, never. Even so, their relationship will always be socially more important, more valid. How cruel this society is where the pressure does not let Sayak grasp the depth of my love. Is emotional attachment less valued than physical attachment in this world? Sayak has failed me there too. I was ready with all my treasures, to give myself entirely to him. He couldn’t do it. He didn’t understand. Why couldn’t he? Why didn’t he? Tears rain without restraint from Arka’s eyes. Arms extended, he wants to embrace the rain gladly. Rain, rain can’t you wash away the all the pain and all the suffering of today with your healing flood? Can’t you revive me as you rejuvenate the thirsty nature? He wants so badly to go up to the roof and get terribly drenched in the rain. He has a soft spot for the rain. He met Sayak once when it was raining like this. Rain was the thread that connected them that first day.


Book : Swikriti Patrika 6th Ed. Page : 26-28 Author : Arun Translation by: Arijita Chatterjee

It had rained in the afternoon after a long hot day. Work was over. Arka stood in front of the gates, opening his umbrella. Someone beside him asks, “May I share your umbrella till the bus-stop?” It was only two minutes to the bus-stop from the office-gates. Arka didn’t refuse. That day Sayak had gifted him a beautiful smile with his thanks, which remains undiminished in Arka’s memory to this day. Besides that first meeting, Arka has many memories which will remain neverfading in his mind.

Never mind! There’s no point in going up to the roof now. Let’s just sit on the chair. The rain has slowed a bit. He doesn’t feel like sitting there, thinking, anymore. He’s sleepy now. Arka rises and returns to his room.


Close To His Heart