Somnath always gives priority to his family. His wife and two daughters, that’s the entire world for him. He wants nothing more than this small yet beautiful world of his. His wife, Urmila, may not support Somnath openly to pamper their daughters, but she also enjoys the same inside. Keya & Shreya, these two daughters are very close to their parents. Keya got married last year and shifted to the Sates. Somnath initially was a little reluctant towards the marriage because he didn’t want to send Keya so far from him. Eventually he agreed and now happy too because Keya is happy there. As a father, there is nothing more satisfactory than his daughter’s happily married life. A Daughter’s cheerful smile may be the most valuable lifelong earned wealth of any father. That day, it was one of pleasant Sunday morning of spring. Somnath just started reading the newspaper and looking for another round of tea, and Shreya was roaming around here & there as a colorful butterfly.
Urmila called everyone at the dining table for Sunday breakfast. This is the one special day of the week where everybody sits and haves a lavish food and a long chat. Somnath has built this culture for a long time, and it has always set a very positive tune for the entire day.
Today’s menu Somnath’s most favorite, Hot puffed Puri and light curry of white potato with black pepper. It reminds him of his childhood.
After giving sweets, showstopper of breakfast, in Shreya’s plate, Urmila suddenly asked,
“Shreya, last Thursday you were riding a bike with a young boy who is that boy?”
Shreya just coughed loudly and held the glass of water firmly & then took a sip slowly and then said,
“Nothing, Mom. You are mixing me with some other girl. You are getting old nowadays, you know.”
Urmila, with a surprising tone, said,
“What a rubbish, I saw it clearly. You ask Tinka Masi, she was with me.”
Urmila finished the task at hand and came Infront of Shreya and looked directly into Shreya’s eyes and asked.
“Who is that boy? Tell me clearly. In so many years I have never seen you traveling in the backseat of any boy’s bike, so speak up.”
With a very serious face, Somnath said,
“Ah, Urmila, I always wonder why you are wasting your talent in the kitchen, be in some police station. I am sure that a significant percentage of sates crime rate would be lower,”
Both Shreya and Somnath broke into loud laughter.
Urmila turned to Somnath and retorted,
“You know your blind love has encouraged her to do such a kind of act. You are spoiling their childhood.”
Somnath washed his hand in the basin and then turned to Urmila and said calmly,
“You know Urmila, I have always provided them with their freedom with a sense of trust, that my daughter will do nothing which makes her father’s face hang down. This trust is also mutual. You know Urmila, every individual deserves respect irrespective of their gender, socioeconomic status or age. Your own children also deserve the same. If you don’t give respect to your own kids, then don’t expect them to reciprocate the same. One more thing, that if my daughter has chosen someone, then she definitely believes that, they can walk together on the bumpy road of life. I respect that judgment of hers.”
Somnath then came and sat in front of Shreya and said,
“So, my dear butterfly, will you ask that bike rider to meet me up in coming Sunday for some discussion? Hope he won’t mind spending Sunday evening with his ‘may be’ future father-in-law.”
“I don’t know.” Shreya just blushed and ran away from the room.
Somnath just laughed inside his mind, and same time a little depressed too. This little butterfly is also now ready to fly to her new nest. Maybe this is the bitter truth since her birth, but knowing a truth and accepting the same has a hell lots of difference.
After a week, Rajat and Somnath were sitting together on a small lawn owned by Somnath in south Kolkata.
Rajat was a little nervous, even Shreya told him many times that there is nothing to worry about. Somnath is a fun-loving person. He is very much approachable and friendly. So just be yourself and don’t be nervous. Now it seems that her advice didn’t work at all, and he is very much nervous at this point in time.
After some dead, long silence, Somnath started the conversation.
“So Rajat, you are in the Software industry, so why don’t you try to take up projects in some developed country and move there. As far as my limited understanding, I believe there are better opportunities.”
Rajat took the glass of water and drank half of it and then said,
“Actually uncle, my mother does not like, that I move out of Kolkata even. Earning money is not the key reason for my job. I loved the work, that’s why I do it.”
“Well, it was just advice. Leave it for the time being. Let’s me say something which you should know. I may not be a king, but my daughter nothing less than a princess. I never regret of not having a son. My two daughters hold enough strength to boost me up when I needed. I don’t need a son. Their upbringing has been with a lot of love & care, So I can’t see their pain or tears in my lifetime.” Somnath said firmly and looked straight towards Rajat.
Rajat smiled faintly and said,
“I understand, Sir.” Rajat just murmured.
“So, Rajat, have you spoken about Shreya with your parents? Their opinion is also very much important in it. See Rajat, maybe we belong to the same city and community still we have a tremendous difference in terms of our cultures & values. Most importantly, you two have completely different upbringings. Hope you understand what I mean.”
“Yes, uncle. I know, it wouldn’t be a simple task for Shreya to get adjusted in our family. I can only assure you I will be there for her in any situation, always.”
“Then Rajat, you let me know once you have a word with your parents.”
“Yes, Uncle. I will definitely talk to them soon.”
Last few words Rajat just pretended to say to Somnath, but actually he was saying to himself. He desperately needed courage to talk about this girl & his own marriage with his parents, keeping in mind that these are against their century old family tradition.
Rajat knew that the first task in hand is to convey this piece of information to Nirmala, and which looks like climbing the mount Everest without an oxygen cylinder.
Even after Rajat left, Somnath kept on sitting on the lawn for quite some long time. Evening turned in to dusk & eventually into a dark night. Somnath was deep inside in his own web of thoughts. He is a lawyer by profession and knows how to see a person up to his darkest corner of mind by tearing the mask of civilization. Somnath was putting the points one by one mentally about Rajat. Rajat is a good-looking, smart young man. He belongs to a renounced family, earning a good amount of money to run his own family. However, one thing was striking Somnath, that Rajat have some issue with his own decision making. He was a bit confused about each of his answers. Somehow Somnath thought this boy still depended on someone else about his own life’s decision. Somnath’s so many years of practice added enough wisdom to know that these boys normally lived under someone else’s shadow or else they just change the source only. Somnath was really concerned for her younger daughter. This stupid girl didn’t know where she was heading for.
That night Somnath called Shreya & Urmila after dinner and then said,
“Are you sure, Shreya, about this boy and this relationship?”
“Yes, Daddy, don’t you like him?” Shreya asked with little anxiety.
“No, not at all. I like him very much. He is a young, bright man. But sweetheart unfortunately marriage is not only about two persons in this country, it is about two families and people surrounded as well. You will face a lot of hardship there. I am really worried about you. I am also afraid that you may have to fight a few battles of your own in the future.”
“I don’t think so, Daddy. You are over thinking.”
Somnath exhaled a long breath and said,
“I’ll pray that my prediction proved wrong in due course of time, my sweetheart.”
Suddenly Shreya’s phone rang. Shreya just looked at the screen and checked that an unknown number was floating there. With a bit of hesitation, Shreya picked up the call and said,
Somnath was looking at his daughter’s face, which turned completely pale, and her eyes were full of fear. Her hands were shaking.
Somnath Held Shreya tightly and asked,
“Shreya, what happened?”
Shreya was somehow holding back her tears and said,
“Daddy, Rajat has met with a severe accident and they admitted him to the hospital. They got my number from the emergency contact list and informed me. What should I do now?”
The moment just got frozen; it was like the entire world for Shreya has just stopped forever. Only a few indiscipline tears were rolling over her chicks, silently.