Someone seemed to be calling from behind “Ayan”. Ayan turned back and, to his utter surprise and delight, found Ahana. He said, “Ahana, You are here! Am I seeing correctly?”
“Your eye-sight is ok, Ayan. I’m here, in front of you! But I can also ask you the same question.”
“Here is my office.” Ayan pointed towards a large building and said, “That building.”
“What a surprise! I’m going there! Just opposite that building.”
“That’s a school.”
“Yes, I’m going to collect the admission form for my son, Amit. He is studious but not getting the best kind of guidance. So, I want to get him admitted here from class IX, if he can pass the entrance test.”
“Is it so?” said Ayan with an expression of joy gleaming in his eyes.
They walked slowly side by side, as sometimes they did when they were high school students.
“Ahana, I meet you after a long time.”
“Yes, after sixteen years.”
Ayan turned and stared at her face, and said “Yes, Ahana, sixteen long years! At that time there was no mobile phone or internet. So we could not connect. After we left school I opted for the engineering course and your father sent you to Durgapur. We were poles apart. I searched you so much but nobody could tell me anything about you!”
“I also missed you terribly and cried inside but I could not connect you. How could I connect you? I was not allowed to come back home. It was only during the times of festivities that I could come back home! My father knew our relationship, and so, he was determined to send me away.”
Ahana paused for some time and then again started, “I wished you to come back home at the same time so that we met at least for once! But it never happened, never!”
Ayan saw that they had reached his office.
He said, “This is my office. Come inside and let’s have some food in the canteen.”
They washed their face and hands and sat face to face. Ayan then said, “Tell me what you would like to take”
“I have no choice. I eat everything.”
He ordered egg-toast and mouglai, as was their favourite food at the stall beside their school.
“Oh Ahana I remember those school days again and again. How our parents rebuked us for eating these things prepared in an unhygienic condition.”
“Rebuked? I was even beaten several times for eating those things! Who cared about those conditions?
“Happy those early days! How true Ahana!”
After they finished their food, Ahana said, “Ayan, now let me go inside the school to collect the form and the prospectus.”
Ayan said, “Ahana, regarding the admission, you need not be worried. I have some personal influence here. So, be assured of the admission.”
Ahana chuckled and immediately there hovered over her face an expression of relief from anxiety. She said, “This is deservedly the most popular school in the town, and yet, influence is working here also! What’s most interesting is that Ayan Chatterjee is exerting his influence!”
“Ahana, you know that influence is everywhere. Moreover, your son is studious. So, leave aside these things from your mind and get him admitted here. The techniques applied by the teachers in the school is undoubtedly of the best kind that I know. I am just helping a student who deserves this. When you say that your son is studious, there should be no doubt about it because you yourself were a highly studious girl in your student life. You understand the meaning of the word. Do you understand my point?”
Ahana nodded in approval with a mysteriously smiling expression on her face. Ahana then asked, “Now tell me about you. When did you marry and what about your son and daughter?”
“Seven years’ conjugal life. One daughter.”
“Where are you staying now?”
“At present in this town. I have bought a house here. When I’ll be transferred from here I would move to Kolkata. I have bought a flat there.”
“Oh, great! Then living a very happy conjugal life!”
“Happy or unhappy I can cannot determine properly, but days are passing without any trouble.” Ayan then asked, “Ahana, what about you?”
“The same is true with me. Of course, I cannot find time to think about these things as I am very busy with my job and bringing up my son properly.”
“And what about your husband?
“After the first flush of romanticism in the initial years of our marriage, life seems to be passing in its own way, I doing my duty without much expectation from my husband. He is with busy with his job and I’m busy with my job. My dream now centers round a brilliant academic career of my son. That’s all!”
Ahana uttered the last part of the sentence with an expression as if with the suggestion that average Bengali conjugal life follows the same path, with a little bit of deviations.
Ahana then said, “What’s the name of your wife? “
“She’s certainly good-looking?”
“I can’t tell you whether good looking or not. But as you say, she’s with her world and I’m with mine. Except for complaints I hear nothing from her. But my daughter makes me fulfilled. The days she is away from seem to me days of void.”
“Listen, after a few days after marriage, our sons and daughters occupy our attention. They unite their parents.”
Ahana paused for a moment and then began again, “Oh, I have forgotten to ask the name of your daughter?”
“Oh, very beautiful name! Tell me what games are you playing with your daughter?”
Ayan replied smilingly, “I have to play various roles to make her happy. Sometimes she would be a dominating mother and I would be her daughter, and she would rebuke me for my wrongdoings. At last, she would be happy to see me taking my milk obediently and sitting down to read.”
Ahana laughed for a few seconds and then said, “The same is the case everywhere!”
They continued talking in the same vein for another thirty minutes and, in the mean time, a person came and gave Ahana the form and prospectus necessary for admission. Then Ahana said, “Ayan, now let me go. I have my train after thirty minutes.”
Ayan said, “Yes Ahana, I have a meeting after thirty minutes. I cannot understand how the time has passed!”