I dip the biscuit in the tea. It is 5.25 of the morning.
The morning is gray. There had been an hour or two spell of the shower just before the dawn. The road is still wet; the breeze is still damp. I found my reflection, abstract, on the glass of the second roof of my steel book almirah. Four years. This November, it’ll be four years I had started working. Few books are from before that and most had been bought in this duration. The annual Book Fair I always wait for. The majority of Bengali wait for the September-October before the Durga Puja or March-April during the Chaitra Sale or before the Noboborsho (Bengali New Year); new clothes all they want. I rather belong to rare species who look for Book Fair to smell, to buy the new book. Back in college days, there was a joke on this centering me; leave him with a damn hot naked girl he’ll not be excited but leave him with a Satyajit Ray or a Robert Louis Stevenson he’ll be excited–my best friend Shayantan used to say after he found out at Starmark I’m not looking at the girl standing beside me searching some book wearing a sleeveless top and a short, but, at some books.
Ma standing on the balcony looking at the morning deserted road. She has grown old. A couple or one plus year left to her retirement. Not long ago, but, long ago these moments used to be filled up with tidbits of conversation like if she wants something to pick-up from the local store or does I need to withdraw money from ATM ’cause she cannot operate the ATM machine. The time was when Dida was there, when Rupai was there. Now, our house is chored with splashes of water of my bath, the cling of the lid she uses to cover the saucepan after boiling the water for the tea and followed by spooned of tea leaves in the water and the sound of hinge unlock of the windows. I leave a bated sigh and took the cup to my mouth. The tea is medium warm which I preferred most. I gulp it down at once. A heavy at heart I felt.
I walk to the front room and pranam my elders–Dadu, Dida, and Bapi. I’ve almost no-memory of Bapi, an abstract obscured collage of memories with Dadu and an autobiography with Dida. The prayer, let it be personal. Then I sprinkle deodorant on me, change the spectacles, un-wire the cell phone on charge and put the wallet in my hip pocket. I took the key ring from the hook. I pranam Ma and said her আমি আসছি…(goodbye). She never says anything like Dida used to, like Rupai used to–সাবধানে যেও…দুগগা, দুগগা…(be attentive on the road…praying God be with you…)
So, I’ll get up this stair when I’ll first come to your house as your wife after the marriage…a splinter of memory hits me as I unlock the first gate. The heaviness in the heart elevated. No, not as my wife…but, as Laxmi of my home…and I’ll give a damn to everyone as I’ll pick up my God in my arms so that she doesn’t get tired or stumbled on the stair…I heard myself echoing in the stair case as I reached the main gate. I unlock the gate. In morning, by default, it is my duty to unlock the main gate of the building.
A dragging I felt as I came out and the damp morning breeze waved on my face. I know if I look up, I’ll see not Ma but Dida or Rupai. To-morning Rupai will be the winner. An image created from a memory I’ll visualize. It was her last visit to my house; I was returning from office after morning shift and she was standing there in the balcony. As our eyes meet, her face brightened in the 3 PM January sun. Time. From that, within a month everything changed.
I light a cigarette as I moved a distance from my house after crossing the road. Sometimes, mornings are like this. I know it is becoming a nagging aspect always thinking of her, her return. When it’s not possible; never going to happen. But, the quietude of the morning more than the night evokes her memories more. Like to-morning. And I’m still struggling to forget her; to remain forget of her time, our time. It’s being over thirteen months we had talked and one month to her paper anniversary followed by the third month as a mother. Time. Sometimes, I play this game of then and now which I shall not.
M comes in view as I throw the cigarette to the deposited water at the road side at the bus-stand. She knows I like her; I had offered her more than once for a date and every time she has denied. The reason I discovered by self she is already in a relationship. Her WhatsApp profile picture though, recently, quoting a break-up message. Yes, I asked her out after seeing that, but, she gave me cold shoulder. Like she is doing it now. I want to talk to her even if she doesn’t want to. But, that’ll be sort of anti-social, will be classified as teasing.
The bus is coming.