Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fair Price

They sat quietly, beside each other, by the river bank. The river looked sluggish today. Jyotsna could feel drops of rain starting to fall. A drop hit her cheek and streaked down her face. She kept looking at Shubhankar. "Why me? Why is it me always, Shubhankar?" He held her close, with his head resting against hers. He did not say anything. With his other hand, he lowered the volume of the transistor radio lying beside him. The radio was the first gift which she had given him, after she had got her job. Shubhankar managed his father's grocery store. His was a `fair price shop.' He had worked hard to get the license from the government.

Iske aage ki ab dastaan mujhse sun,
Sunke teri nazar dab daba jayegi,
Baat dil ki jo ab tak tere dil main thi,
Mera dawa hai hoton pe aa jayegi

"He was so good, Shubhankar. He was.. you met him. Wasn't he?" Shubhankar remembered the first day she had set foot in his shop. Dressed in a bright orange-red salwaar, she had looked like the proverbial Phoenix. As a weary smile crept between his lips, he just held on to her. "We had such good times together. I felt it was real love this time. Why did he have to ruin it all?"

Tu masiha mohabbat ke maron ka hai...,
Masihaaa..., masihaaa... mohabbat ke maaron ka hai.

Tu masiha mohabbat ke maron ka hai,
Hum tera naam sunke chale aayen hain,
Ab dawa de humain, ya tu de de zeher,
Teri mehfil main yeh diljale aayen hai,

Shubhankar understood that a kilo of rice cost Rs. 45, and that buying a larger bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo saved you Rs. 10. But he did not understand the arithmetic of Jyotsna. She was invariant to the slow routine humdrum of his life. "When he asked me out for dinner, a week ago, I was so thrilled. I was sure he was going to propose." Shubhankar was hearing, and not hearing all at once. He could hear his own, awkward, stammering proposal at the same time.

Ek ehsaan kar...., ehsaaan kar,
Ek ehsaan kar, apne mehmaan par,
Apne mehmaan par ek ehsaan kar.

It had been a year since he had known her, when one afternoon he had tried to sell a customer 10 packets of chicken soup, whilst he had asked for only 2 packets. His father had lost his temper, and had been upset with him for the whole day. But Shubhankar was so enthralled by the fact that Jyotsna had coloured her hair a dark shade of brownish-red, he had hardly paid any attention to his father's shouts. It was only later, that he had realized what she meant to him. He had instantly decided to ask her. She had said no. He had not asked why, and never asked again. As the setting sun reflected off the mild river currents, the rain seemed to be emulating her mood.

De duaen.
De duaen, tujhe umr bhar ke liye.
De duaen, tujhe umr bhar ke liye.

" `We cannot be together. It will not work.' That is all he said. Am I so bad, Shubhankar... haa? Tell me." Shubhankar looked at her, and nodded a mild `No.' Her eyes were asking for reassurance. "Why me all the time? Every time! It is so unfair." It had taken him a lot of time, but now he had resigned himself to the connotation of `fair' as it applied to Jyotsna. He held on to her tight. The rain continued to fall.

Salaam-e-ishq meri jaan, zara kubool kar lo,
Tum hamse pyar karne ki, zara si bhool kar lo,
Mera dil bechain hai humsafar ke liye.


  1. hi first rain...been reading ur posts for some time now. must admit, u write well!

  2. @sonia: I don't. And that is my default configuration!

    @vidhi: Hi! and welcome to da blog. Thanks for the compliment. Do drop in again sometime.

  3. Silence speaks so much louder than words...and hurts more too!

  4. @cj: Thanks ;o)

    @mirage: It does.. doesn't it!

  5. this is what i felt...a while back..
    nw i am so dead inside.. i cannot feel anymore.. i dont know what i shall do .

  6. @grafx: You felt like the girl in the story? It is not good ... feeling like that I mean .. I know. Aww... *hugs* Hope you start feeling better sometime soon :o)

  7. i like the way u slip in those verses from the hindi songs to suit the situation...

    (did i mention i'm biased towards hindi songs? :) )

  8. @swathi: Yes you did mention it! And I am glad that you are :o) !

  9. Well written, but Shubhankar is my name ... I am Shubhankar Banerjee !