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In gratitude-I

By The Assam Tribune
In gratitude-I
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FICTION - Dr. Bhupati Das

Image

It was a Sunday. The morning was still in the cusp of the refreshing dews of a lovely winter dawn. I was expecting a lazy morning, hoping to enjoy the heavenly feeling of waking up late after a hectic week of frenetic activities in connection with the Central Home Minister’s visit to the State. Being the head of the State Home department, I was responsible for the smooth conduct of the official visit, which went off well; though there were some intermittent hiccups as usual.

Being a part of the Indian Administrative Service, we are quite adept at anticipating and handling last-minute hiccups. Be that as it may, I realised there was hardly any chance of idling away the morning, as the whole household was bristling with feverish activity. Through the open bedroom door, I could see the kitchen area, craning my neck a little. I saw Puja, my wife, busy washing an assortment of vegetables and fresh fruits. My mother, Rebabati, was the enthusiastic comrade in the whole charade, busy finalising some kind of a menu after noisy deliberations with Puja.

Even after wracking my exhausted brain, I couldn’t recollect anything that had been planned for this Sunday that required such hectic efforts from the Puja-Rebabati duo. Attributing it to my selective amnesia on such matters (as my wife would never forget to rub it in), I turned my attention towards the window to see my 80-year-old father lazily running his fingers through the dew-wet marigolds, with a benign smile lighting up his face. He was softly whistling, in tune with the cooing of the pigeons that flew in to play in the white carpet of the fallen night-flowering jasmines. He seemed to be in complete peace and harmony with the environment around. All my early waking blues had vanished in a moment and a sense of happiness engulfed me seeing him in that state of bliss. Mindfulness, really!

My father had been my idol and I always envied his immense capability to derive pure joy from the small things in life even during his busy working days, having successfully held many important government positions. My thoughts were abruptly interrupted when Puja briskly strode into the bedroom shouting, “Get up, get up, we have important things...” She stopped in mid-sentence, noticing the uncomprehending look creeping into my face.

“Oh! Deuta has invited two important guests for lunch, which would be preceded by obeisance ceremonies,” she said in a manner of explanation, without bothering to elaborate on what the ceremonies were all about. I got the drift of the conversation and without giving her a chance to lecture me on how I was all about office only, being completely ignorant about household duties, I quickly retreated to the bathroom to get ready for whatever was planned for the lunch guests. I would concede, though, that Puja was right on that bit about my ignoring household duties as she single-handedly managed, quite efficiently, our home without complaints. Even giving up her teaching job at a college in order to raise our two sons properly, and thankfully letting me concentrate on building my career.

The four of us – myself, Puja, Maa and Deuta – had a family breakfast together, our sons being away, studying abroad, without our usual morning banter. Time was of the essence, as the activities for the luncheon ceremony had already been activated at a feverish pitch and no one had any time for polite breakfast conversation, as was evident from the look proffered by Puja towards my direction. I hung around there for some time, ill-at-ease, with nothing much to do amidst three extremely busy people. I made some awkward noise, loosely resembling some kind of an excuse of urgent pending work and escaped to my office-room. I opened a file habitually, but my mind kept going back to the hustle-bustle in the kitchen area.

My father, after retirement, had moved to his ancestral home in Jorhat along with my mother. But they made it a point to come to Guwahati and spend some quality time with me, his only child, and Puja almost every month, which gave us immense happiness. But this time, they had come after a long gap as they had remained home-bound due to the COVID-19 restrictions. So, it generated some curiosity in my mind about who the guests were. By now, the sun was up and I saw my father, dressed in dhoti-kurta with a gamosa over his shoulder, slowly approaching the front gate. Quickly, I came out to the front verandah, just in time to see my father respectfully greeting the guests. I noticed that the two gentlemen were elderly, saintly-looking, frugally attired in white dhoti-shirt combination and were wearing hesitant smiles. ‘Simple and dignified’ would best describe them. My father touched their feet and welcomed them home with folded hands.

The two gentlemen nodded awkwardly when my father introduced them to me, “Punakan, meet Ramesh Bhuyan and Uttam Goswami, who taught me mathematics and Assamese, respectively, in my primary school at Jorhat. I am what I am today because of their teaching. After retirement, they are now settled with their families in Guwahati and are doing a great job teaching the street-children in the Sahitya Sabha Bhawan here.”

I quickly touched their feet and led them to our puja room which had been prepared for the sacred ceremony.

[email protected]

(To be continued)

-----------------------------------------------------------

Fiction entries should not exceed 1,800 words.

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In gratitude-I

FICTION - Dr. Bhupati Das

Image

It was a Sunday. The morning was still in the cusp of the refreshing dews of a lovely winter dawn. I was expecting a lazy morning, hoping to enjoy the heavenly feeling of waking up late after a hectic week of frenetic activities in connection with the Central Home Minister’s visit to the State. Being the head of the State Home department, I was responsible for the smooth conduct of the official visit, which went off well; though there were some intermittent hiccups as usual.

Being a part of the Indian Administrative Service, we are quite adept at anticipating and handling last-minute hiccups. Be that as it may, I realised there was hardly any chance of idling away the morning, as the whole household was bristling with feverish activity. Through the open bedroom door, I could see the kitchen area, craning my neck a little. I saw Puja, my wife, busy washing an assortment of vegetables and fresh fruits. My mother, Rebabati, was the enthusiastic comrade in the whole charade, busy finalising some kind of a menu after noisy deliberations with Puja.

Even after wracking my exhausted brain, I couldn’t recollect anything that had been planned for this Sunday that required such hectic efforts from the Puja-Rebabati duo. Attributing it to my selective amnesia on such matters (as my wife would never forget to rub it in), I turned my attention towards the window to see my 80-year-old father lazily running his fingers through the dew-wet marigolds, with a benign smile lighting up his face. He was softly whistling, in tune with the cooing of the pigeons that flew in to play in the white carpet of the fallen night-flowering jasmines. He seemed to be in complete peace and harmony with the environment around. All my early waking blues had vanished in a moment and a sense of happiness engulfed me seeing him in that state of bliss. Mindfulness, really!

My father had been my idol and I always envied his immense capability to derive pure joy from the small things in life even during his busy working days, having successfully held many important government positions. My thoughts were abruptly interrupted when Puja briskly strode into the bedroom shouting, “Get up, get up, we have important things...” She stopped in mid-sentence, noticing the uncomprehending look creeping into my face.

“Oh! Deuta has invited two important guests for lunch, which would be preceded by obeisance ceremonies,” she said in a manner of explanation, without bothering to elaborate on what the ceremonies were all about. I got the drift of the conversation and without giving her a chance to lecture me on how I was all about office only, being completely ignorant about household duties, I quickly retreated to the bathroom to get ready for whatever was planned for the lunch guests. I would concede, though, that Puja was right on that bit about my ignoring household duties as she single-handedly managed, quite efficiently, our home without complaints. Even giving up her teaching job at a college in order to raise our two sons properly, and thankfully letting me concentrate on building my career.

The four of us – myself, Puja, Maa and Deuta – had a family breakfast together, our sons being away, studying abroad, without our usual morning banter. Time was of the essence, as the activities for the luncheon ceremony had already been activated at a feverish pitch and no one had any time for polite breakfast conversation, as was evident from the look proffered by Puja towards my direction. I hung around there for some time, ill-at-ease, with nothing much to do amidst three extremely busy people. I made some awkward noise, loosely resembling some kind of an excuse of urgent pending work and escaped to my office-room. I opened a file habitually, but my mind kept going back to the hustle-bustle in the kitchen area.

My father, after retirement, had moved to his ancestral home in Jorhat along with my mother. But they made it a point to come to Guwahati and spend some quality time with me, his only child, and Puja almost every month, which gave us immense happiness. But this time, they had come after a long gap as they had remained home-bound due to the COVID-19 restrictions. So, it generated some curiosity in my mind about who the guests were. By now, the sun was up and I saw my father, dressed in dhoti-kurta with a gamosa over his shoulder, slowly approaching the front gate. Quickly, I came out to the front verandah, just in time to see my father respectfully greeting the guests. I noticed that the two gentlemen were elderly, saintly-looking, frugally attired in white dhoti-shirt combination and were wearing hesitant smiles. ‘Simple and dignified’ would best describe them. My father touched their feet and welcomed them home with folded hands.

The two gentlemen nodded awkwardly when my father introduced them to me, “Punakan, meet Ramesh Bhuyan and Uttam Goswami, who taught me mathematics and Assamese, respectively, in my primary school at Jorhat. I am what I am today because of their teaching. After retirement, they are now settled with their families in Guwahati and are doing a great job teaching the street-children in the Sahitya Sabha Bhawan here.”

I quickly touched their feet and led them to our puja room which had been prepared for the sacred ceremony.

[email protected]

(To be continued)

-----------------------------------------------------------

Fiction entries should not exceed 1,800 words.