Today was Geet’s wedding day.Geet had turned 25 last year and that was the time when her parents started looking for a groom. Geet, a jubilant young girl with lot of eccentricities, also was happy about it. She never thought that she could also fall in love. Although her wedding was kind of arranged, but still, now that Somesh was going to be a part of her life, she loved him.
It was a busy day. Muhurat was at 11 O clock at night. Geet was so tensed, excited. After the wedding very shortly they were to shift to US. So more than anything else Geet had to think of all her possessions that she would have liked to take with her. Her childhood memories, those big eyed pics of hers where she used to have a strange fear of the camera!! She also remembered that fluorescent blue dress of hers which she so fondly bought but wore so few times. Her friends used to poke her because of that dress...how can it be so BLUE! And then her numerous collection of Ganesha Idols...small, big, crystal, golden, silver, all kinds. How can she not take her “Ganu Darlings” with her? But yes, there were so many things to take and so much less time left out. As she was ruminating, her mother entered the room.” Geetu dear, we are going to open the old wooden chest kept in the corner of the terrace. Would you like to come along to see if that contains anything you need?”
Suddenly something flashed in Geet’s mind. Yes that was it. She said “Maa, do you remember that old chain you gifted me once? That chain with a smiley as locket? It used to be my favourite…oh...I wanted it so badly”
Her mother remembered. It was a neck chain with a small yellow locket. Was not so costly but then it bore memories of Geet’s childhood. Since Geet was getting married and going to be settled miles away, her mother was a bit sad, she could not have thought of parting from her only daughter.
Everywhere there was a chaos in the house. Decorators, event management group, caterers and then a whole lot of relatives arriving. Now in all these chaos what’s the use of searching for a trivial chain .But Geet’s mother found it really very important. It was something which Geet wanted on her wedding day. Meanwhile one lanky guy came up to her saying “Kakima, the flowers have arrived, where do I keep them?”...”O! Wait I shall help you with that, they need to be properly kept”. Geet was still pondering, what to take and what not, perhaps she was thinking of all the memories she would like to take with her and leave beside others. Memories, they say, you can never wipe them off, but with time, they move backward and forward, they blur and brighten. Geet had worked in various companies in her career of last three years. She was a classic case where HR department should have concentrated so as to reduce attrition. But yes, now, when she was finally well settled in her job, she was getting married and leaving her job. Meanwhile, Geet was looking at her red coloured banarasi; her wedding saree wrought with golden zari work .It was something about which every girl would have thought of. At one point of time when Geet used to be very tomboyish her friends said that she would finally wed wearing a “banarasi jeans” because wearing and managing a saree was not perhaps her cup of tea! But now she looked into all those girly things, those jhumkas, bangles, necklace, payal, sparkling, and tingling. And she could not believe that she was actually going be dressed in all those just few hours later. Just few hours later Somesh would be arriving and she would be his, forever. Earlier whenever the topic of marriage was broached, Geet used to be totally clueless. As she herself used to say that she had very less understanding of all things which can be called “romantic” and “futuristic”. But now she felt complete satisfaction that she too understands the depth of certain relationships! Suddenly her mother was calling her aloud “Geetu, Geetu, come beta...see what’s there in this chest, shall I throw all these or you need these? “
Geet readily rushed towards the terrace. They had a big house with a shaded terrace at one part of the third floor. It was her favourite place. Whenever she had nothing to think , and she felt blank, she would come and stand in her favourite corner of the terrace. It made her rich and free from all kinds of paraphernalia. As she stepped into the terrace she felt an overwhelming sadness that in no way she could have taken the terrace with her. Will she get such a place in US? Will she be able to see the sky so clearly amongst the concrete jungle of Chicago? Somesh had given her a fair idea about how life in US would be and how she would not need to cook anything because everything can be obtained tinned and canned there. Although it relieved her a bit from her phobia of cooking but it did remind her whether “Pani puris” that she used to get at the end of the street can also be tinned? She asked Somesh about Durga Puja at Chicago and he said yes, there were few of them more being in NewYork, but does that really matter? When the people with whom she used to enjoy the celebrations would be miles away from her, how could she be more sensitive to Durga Puja at Chicago? So before marriage she made it very clear that they would “try “to come home at Puja times.
Her mother was still calling her...”Geetu, decide beta, tell me...I need this chest empty to store the flowers, there’s no place”
As Geet was drawing close to the chest she could feel a very familiar fragrance. A fragrance she had known for years, since her XII th standard. They say we get the best of our friends while in school but surprisingly Geet met her best friend when in Std XI and then she was in college. When she wonders how two people who were so different could be so good friends, only one name can come to her mind and that’s Suhana, her best friend. They shared some unforgettable moments of camaraderie with their madness, their eccentricities and their smiles. Suhana had always been the more matured, responsible type and Geet the maverick. Suhana would give hours of long lecture to her on life, on how she planned for her future but somewhere both were very similar. They both never gave a second thought before deciding to go out, were never tired of their stupid jokes and were always on the heels to explore. So in a way, they became friends, best friends, sisters and companions. As Geet could feel the fragrance she realized this was the chest where she had dumped all the gifts she got from her friends, comprising mostly from Suhana. As she came forward she could see that set of three monkeys, being referred to as Geet, that wax Ganesha idol, that golden Ganesha, smiling jovially onto her, brown laughing Buddha, showering all the luck onto her.
Geet could remember all those days. Friendship, for most people is for a certain span of time, when one is growing up and in dire need to make the world feel of his presence. We need to know new information, new things, new tricks, and new topics and hence we need friends. But then as time passes by, new things become old and old friends become distant. May be same things happened between Suhana and Geet. Suhana had to relocate herself on account of her work and then onwards she had always been away. Initially there were phone calls, messages, mails .But then Geet was too busy in handling her new life, new friends. What went wrong between them may be Geet too did not realize but now Suhana was a distant friend. As Geet was looking onto all the items, she could feel all the memories. Somewhere she did feel alone. Perhaps some misunderstandings are never sorted out. She desperately wanted Suhana to be there on her wedding day. She could imagine all the photo clicks where her best friend would not be there. Sometimes Geet realized that Suhana wanted to communicate something so ardently, but once priorities change it becomes very difficult to reach someone. Somewhere Geet felt guilty or may not be! But she could remember Suhana’s last call to her...”Geet, you were not there when I needed you the most” .Geet, the way she was, could not make out any meaning out of this...what did she mean when she said that she was going through worst times? And how worst was it? To her forecasting skills, she could not have thought of any other reasons other than Suhana getting a “B” score instead of her habitual “A”. Could she have asked Suhana about what had happened? May be Suhana would have waited for one call from her, who knows, how desperate and hapless she was!! But then never did Geet call Suhana and some of the calls and messages from Suhana went unattended and then at one point, they too stopped.
While leaving Kolkata Suhana had gifted Geet a teddy...it was a white teddy with brown eyes, brown bow, and red jacket and she said “Geet, remember me, and take this gift as if this is me...whenever you want me I would be there and in this way you would also know how I am”. That was when they were 17 and now after almost a decade, Geet could hardly remember of the worn out, discoloured teddy. As her mother was picking up each and every item from the chest and discarding most of them, Geet felt like crying. Should she keep those or throw away? Does it really matter to her now? She doesn’t know where Suhana is, she never made any effort to know, and now she wanted Suhana to come to her wedding, just because she wanted to get a picture perfect?
Geet actually started waiting for Suhana’s call. Although she never invited Suhana to the wedding but she knew that Suhana must have, by this time known about it. They had some common friends. Somehow it didn’t happen to Geet that she should call Suhana and invite her. May be she just forgot her. But now that all their childhood memories had been reincarnated, she felt a strong urge that Suhana should have been there. After all they planned so much. And shouldn’t the best friend be there on such an occasion as wedding? Shouldn’t Suhana be telling her about her bridal make up? She missed all those. You can perhaps substitute functions but not human beings. So Suhana with her little lost looks, mostly uncombed hair and those thoughtful eyes was not around.
Geets’s mother was waiting for her to take the decision whether to throw away those unnecessary items of worthless memory or to still hold on to them while Geet was lost in herself. It took some time for her to return to the practicality of the present. She looked into the wooden chest. A lot many greeting cards emerged, so many things scribbled on them with multi coloured sketch pens...as Suhana used to say...cards should be colourful. Many other things also emerged...like an old lantern, some clothes, an old blanket, along with those broken pieces of memory. And then slowly as they were approaching the depth of the box, there lay the teddy. Geet used to call it Guttu, her best friend personified, gifted by her best friend! Old, dilapidated, faded. All the memories were flashing in front of her eyes and slowly she drooped and tried to hold Guttu in her hands. She could feel the drops in her eyes and as she was holding Guttu, the teddy, it collapsed. Perhaps years of ignorance has taken a toll on it and its wool ,the stuffed cotton inside, the brown eyes, all were lying scattered on the terrace. And then it emerged...from among the debris....the shining , sparkling chain with a yellow smiley...Geet remembered some day she had stuffed that inside Guttu and then stitched it. Perhaps Geet received the wedding gift from her best friend...who knows where was Suhana then...May be in some unknown place, miles and miles away from her, never to come back.