Actually…No Plot At All… Ep 11: Pickle (IV)

Cont’d…

The sun had moved to the west. It would not set sooner. The mountain had though become the stage to play the routine end-of-the-day shadow story. Annapurna pushed her swing a little to see this play.

The train had left late that morning. He, Major Kedarnath, had left that morning. The sign of there could be seen around the town like graffiti drawn by some men on the boundary wall, the wind chimes made of string and pebble made by an insomniac young soldier hanging outside some of the houses and many more. But, nothing left much impact when compare to the Major leaving on the Khastogir father and daughter lives.

Last evening when Khastogir called her daughter out of her pickle kitchen, he was enraged and at the same time cautious. He had to wait for a while outside the room before her daughter came to her.

He, without beating the bush, said, “Major Kedarnath Ghosh had asked for your hand…”

Annapurna was shocked to listen that. She never thought he would that. He was a shy and introvert person and also a soft spoken.

“I had said him…”, her father paused, then, “if he leave the uniform then only he can marry you…because I do not want my daughter to get widowed at early age…”

Annapurna was silent. She wanted to scream at her father. But something just hold her back might be dilemma considering this as an infatuation.

“I’m going to take you to him…he’s waiting inside the room…in the sitting room…” he continued, “only thing you have to say is you agree to my given condition…and he shall also…”

“Alright Papa…whatever you say…” she had said controlling the urge of the eyes to burst out in tears.

 

One year passed away. When Major Ghosh didn’t returned, he started looking for a the perfect groom for his daughter.

Annapurna had accepted the fate making an understanding with herself of the Major being a part of a daily life and now a figment. This mental state of her had given birth to a pickle of mixed fruits comprising of raw mango, orange, apple and sweet lemon. She had invented it one day on a rainy day.

Mrs. Rakshit had asked for a new type of pickle from her. She was in her last trimester that time.

She was unmindful that day. The rain had started from the last night like it had happened the previous year. The thunderclap was clapping on the mountains; there were a few lightings that strike the town, burning some of the tall trees. In the midnight there was mild earthquake, and in the early morning there was another impactful enough toppling and breaking some of her prepared pickle jars.

That morning the pace of the rain was mild. She after cleaning the kitchen started preparing the pickle, putting the ingredients in the sun-heated mustard oil. If it was other some rainy days, she would have cursed the weather for not letting the sun and its heat to play the role of tastemaker for her pickles. But, that morning she was expecting a train getting struck, and the Major again coming to their door.

Two days ago before that day her marriage had got fixed with a travelling accountant. He lived on the other side of the mountain. The man was the elder son of three brothers and four sisters. Thirty years old—twelve years older than her. They have only one condition—no more pickle making for the bride.

She had screamed and quarreled with her father who was not ready to come in terms with her. He never liked the Major. And breaking the promise, he said, it was near to one year and when he had not returned, he will not return. A war had started few months ago, and Doctor Khastogir opined he had gone to the war. And thus to him not she but the war is the primary choice.

The day after the quarrel, few of the friends of doctor tried to talk with him; they tried to make him understand that when her daughter doesn’t want to get married let her be. But, he was reluctant stating the reason she had grown much older and ready to marriage. No one sense the under the breath disturbance of him of his daughter being waiting for some soldier.

The pickle was made in this disturbance, inside and outside. When Mrs. Rakshit had tasted the pickle, she was lost for few seconds because she had the special sweet melon pickle instead it was something she never tasted or experienced till then. She drove down own self in ekka and asked her how she had prepared it. Annapurna was surprised as she didn’t get why she had came down to her. When Mrs. Rakshit said her to taste the pickle from the container jar she had used to prepare the pickle, she tasted it and didn’t like it. Anna apologizes for the taste, but, Mrs. Rakshit amused her by saying it was heavenly, and she wants another jar. Anna tasted the pickle and finds no change in her decision. She cursed self for making such worst pickle; the next moment, but, she sat down to think how Mrs. Rakshit fallen in love of the taste.

Many years later, on her death bed, she had this pickle and found a heavenly taste. She then realized what to be in love with someone. She repented for turning her back years back, and at those late hours of the life understanding he was there in subconscious portion of her. Never leaving her.

The another thing surprised her, when she return to the kitchen after few years, was she had written it down on her notebook and she couldn’t recollect of anything related to this jotting down or taking notes of.

She put up the remaining in a clay pot and thrust it in the darkest corner of her prepared pickle jars’ rack.

 

After three months of this, on starry autumnal night, she got married to the accountant.

The man was tall near to six feet and handsome. His voice was deep and heavy. But, the dearth he had was in loving his wife. He used to flee away whenever they were left alone. Most of the time, he used to travel to distant villages and cities to check the account of the businessman and kings. He had an envious group of clientele. Only once did he made love to her and that too after his mother scared him of seeing her death face if he didn’t bear a child within one year.

On second year, after few days, of their marriage Annapurna gave birth to a child. It was a girl. Her father-in-law was more than happy; he not only distributed sweets to the village but arranged a grand feast after one month of her granddaughter’s birth. Mother-in-law was skeptical at first—she had wished to have a grandson. But soon she accepted her; it was right before her granddaughter’s rice ceremony.

In the Town, Doctor Khastogir also distributed sweet meats all over the town, and arranged a grand feast when his granddaughter came to the town after her rice ceremony. Everyone, both in the village and the town speaks of the beautiful eyes of the baby girl—beady and dragged at the corner of the eyes.

She was named Sunayana.

For Annapurna, but, the happiness was not an everlasting matter. On the third year of her marriage, when Sunayana was just away from being one-year old, an incident untidy her tidy life.

That year it had not rain as much. There was an ongoing draught that time. One evening suddenly out of nowhere a storm raged.

Annapurna’s husband was returning from a village on his horse. When they were few miles away from the village the storm hits them. For three days he was missing. On the fourth day morning, a farmer located some vultures at the far end of his farm land. He find the mangled bodies of the accountant and his horse. The horse had died from breaking her neck and the accountant had died being getting under the horse belly and breaking his waist.

Two months after this Annapurna took the morning tea to his father-in-law.

“Where are the servants…why did you bring the tea…” her father-in-law asked.

Anna replied “I had insisted on this…want to talk on something with you…”

“Acha…so what do you want to say…”

“I seek your permission to let me return to my town…I want to prepare pickles again…”

“That’s a big thing…I need to asked you mother-in-law…I can give you not only my permission but blessings for a prosperous future…but I need to ask her…”

Her mother-in-law after some resistance gave in. Anna was scared that they might keep back Sunayana with them, but, they never does that.

After three years and a half, Annapurna returned to her town with her daughter. That day it was of an early autumn. The signs of the destruction of the just gone monsoon were visible everywhere.

 

Cont’d…

 

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