Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bhalobashi (short story)

The last train zoomed to a stop, the announcement said "Auteuil" . A lone Indian man got out, and almost tripped over in hurry. Tall, wrapped in an overcoat, woolen cap over head, water bottle in one hand and laptop in the other. Someone you wouldn't really notice in a crowd.

Sarvanan took off his glasses, and wiped the lenses with his handkerchief. Coming out of the tube was irritating at times.
He looked around and saw that the station was deserted. He was accustomed to seeing a few regulars every night. The old lady in a scarf, with a tiny little dog. Two or three IT professionals who worked in an office near his, and some housewives out for daily shopping.
He talked to none of them, however. It wasn't just the language problem. He had been attending  tutorials at work, and could speak passable french.
Coming from a tiny little town near Nagercoil, he had been speaking tamizh forever. It was difficult for him to express himself freely in english. French was like a whole new barrier.

Sarvanan almost raced up the station staircase. He was late by an hour . Damn the stupid Paris traffic! The roads were almost deserted now, the mist was creeping in. His shoes scrunched against the gravel, silence magnifying the eerie sound.
Usually he loved this walk. He would walk leisurely and absorb all the sights and sounds. Call up amma and talk about the day, complain about missing her idiyappam and coffee. Maybe call one or two of his friends (they all lived so far away that he could visit them only on weekends).

Today, he did none of these things. His laptop bag weighed down his shoulder and the box of packed sandwiches rattled inside. He stepped over a puddle of water, and icy cold drops splashed over his trousers.
He didn't care. He was late for his singer.
                                             *                    *                  *
It had started a few months back, on an evening like this. He had been at peace, walking at his own pace and talking to amma.
He had actually just moved in, the monster of loneliness had not enveloped him then. He was in Paris, eating delicious packaged food and living on his own. He felt at the top of the world.
He had just reached home and taken off his shirt, when the voice came. He had no idea where had it wafted in from.
The words were incomprehensible, but he could recognize that it was bangla. He sat down on the bed, spellbound. She sang for about half-an-hour, and then there was silence again.
for many more nights to come, he had been hooked.

It became his medicine, his pleasure, his addiction and his nirvana. He could not understand a word of it, true. But all of them were so full of pathos, they truly reflected his life.
He would shut off his lights, close his eyes and lose himself. In that dreary, lonely, work obsessed Parisian struggle ... they were his connection to home.

He had finally seen her in the shopping complex one day. Thin, big round eyes, a huge red pottu over the forehead and carrying a child in a crib.
He had thought about going and introducing himself. But he had no idea if she would understand english. Also, she might find it creepy that he waited for her songs everyday.
So he kept himself to himself, everytime he saw her. She was his only friend, in that small suburb of Paris.

There was nothing to do most nights. After spending a day in front of his computer, opening up his laptop was the last thing on his mind. He would listen to her, eat his food and drift off to sleep. Next morning was another grueling day.
                                        *            *               *

Sarvanan unlocked his door, and threw the laptop bag on the bed. It was way too late, though she was still awake.
She lived in the apartment upsatirs, and the lights were still on. He considered going there and saying sorry, apologizing for missing her kutcheri.
Then he realized how absurd it sounded. The work tension, the loneliness, the aching feeling of missing home and the night's disappointment...all weighed down upon him.

He pressed his face deep into the sogging pillow and sobbed a little. And from a land far far away, someone joined in his sorrow
'Bhalobashi Bhalobashi
Ei Sure Kachhe Dure ......'


  1. The best of your work! Wonderful!
    It is amazing how you have captured emotions with a simple and beautiful narration!

  2. Oh My God!!!!! You took me to each and every scene with ur powerful words. loved it.