#5 on the pact
The doorbell broke the eyes that had just gently sunk into a siesta… I so vividly remember that day 22 yrs ago. Hurriedly I answered and an old gentleman, weary, the wrinkles on his face validating the passage of time, a cumbrous load on his back almost made a hunch and yet the warm smile on his face actually wiped out that little resentment that had aroused within me.
Those gone by days, cynicism was not a rampant trait like today for us all. Perhaps the times today have forced each of us to look at every stranger with suspicion. And why not, we live in an era of grand deceit these days with so much happening to fuel that thought process among us. But that time, a stranger on a door was more like a godly incarnation to be welcomed, the reason he rung the bell would be enough to ask about his need.
Allowing that stranger in and he humbly sits on the ground unfolding the pile of sarees that was wrapped in a Muslin white cloth. He begins his conversation speaking in Bangla for that is where he had come from. Making a living by selling these weaves from his homeland and I couldn’t resist giving into the temptation of looking into them. While I was glued into the beauty of each saree, he kept narrating about how this parallel business of vending these 6 yard fineries helped adding to his meagre salary of a government service. I learnt from his stories that he would continue with it only till he got his daughter married. I could imagine how difficult it must be for such people to make ends meet.
Sensing his parched tone, I offered him a glass of water. And while he reached out to it with a silent smile of gratitude, I was still perplexed whether to buy one of the sarees or not. Yes those days were a little about restrictions on the indulgences as it was the onset of marital life with escalating new expenditures and repayment of a loan for the new house that we had just bought. I did understand how my husband was fighting hard to stay afloat in the ocean of new responsibilities. But suddenly this Cotton Red and gold saree as if frantically wanting to reach me, its thread got stuck in the bangle of my hand. Trying hard to get the thread off and it just wouldn’t. Tarun da, “eta ki korbo, dakho toh”, I asked him, “how do I detangle this, please help” in utter confusion I blabbered.
The jostle succeeded and the saree as if began breathing and pleading me to free it from the bars of the strangle, back into the pile and roam across cities with Tarun da again, without knowing who would give it a place and the honour of a drape.
I knew then I had to take this. A humble price Tarun da quoted and even if not I would not bargain coz I realised, someday I too would have a daughter and would be fighting to give her a decent life. It was the least I could do for his little girl about whom he kept narrating all through that little time.
Like lightning struck and he placed his hand on my head after taking his dues, blessing me quietly, he was a gentleman with minimum words almost like my father. I could not but stop myself from asking him to visit me each year during Durga puja so I could buy at least one saree from him.
Durga puja is just round the corner again and today I chanced upon this saree dated 22 yrs ago and as if Tarun da whispered from behind like he lovingly did, ” bhalo theko Anjali”, meaning, “stay blessed Anjali” and eyes moist I knew there was no means to get back to him even when the heart kept yearning to. No phone number nor any whereabouts, only memories of those 4 or 5 visits that I was blessed with. I couldn’t buy much but Sometimes walking back in the corridors of time and we realise even less was more.
A Simple cotton saree but I can drape it myriad times and feel elated by the beauty of the colour even today. Reminiscing old times is bliss, a heavenly bliss. The reason I love to live in small delicate moments and cherish them later. 😊😊