“No”, I replied with a small smile. Turning to Mrs Basu, “Actually Babu has been selected to go to America to do his internship by his company, and after a year he will be a full-time employee there only.” It all came out in a rush, the words, the pride.
Mrs. Basu was as joyous as I had expected. She started clapping and undoing the knot on the mithai box, while keeping up a flow of praises and blessings. But not Mr. Basu. From the corner of my eyes, I saw Mr. Basu’s face become grim.
Mrs. Basu didn’t notice, she was still talking. I tried to focus on her, ignoring Mr. Basu’s inexplicable change and lack of enthusiasm. “Do you know beta, what privilege it is to give your children the education they deserve? Ramesh is our only child but we had to go through the same pains like you to bring him up, and then send him abroad. Why, remember dear, we used to go without new clothes, and cut down on electricity? We didn’t even buy a fan until much later. But it all pays in the end. Look at Ramesh now. He lives in San Fransisco and works in a big company.”
Suddenly she turned around and looked at the clock on the wall, and exclaimed happily, “Arre, it is one o’ clock already! The postman will be here any moment! Do you know, beta, my son writes to me every month like clockwork, and I always get the letter on the 21st of every month.”
No sooner had she finished, the bell rang. It was the postman. He handed a happy Mrs. Basu her son’s letter. Mrs Basu said,” Arre, postman-ji, have some mithai, Mr Dey’s son is also going to America. You will also bring his son’s letters to him now!”
Mrs. Basu proudly showed me the envelope and said, “Beta, you won’t mind, will you, if I go in now, I want to read what Ramesh has written.”
Mr. Basu was very quiet till then. When Mrs Basu left, he spoke for the first time after I’d told them about Babu, “Congratulations, Mr Dey. I hope your son does great things.”
He stood up and held the door open for me.
As I was walking down the stairs, puzzled, trying to decipher his strange behaviour, he called out to me from his doorway. “Mr Dey, don’t educate your son so much, that you yourself cease to be worthy of your own son.”
I was baffled, and angry. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, I have an understanding with the postman. The letters my wife gets every month like clockwork, are actually written by me”, said Mr. Basu, as he closed the door.
N.B. Do let me know what this story made you think. G.
I wish Every One a very Happy and Prosperous Durga Puja. I’m off to celebrate the Pujas in my City. I am leaving with this short story. I will be back with the best of Calcutta Festivities, 2009 after Vijaya Doshomi/Dussehra, a complete documentary, with all the photos I can manage. Till then, take care, smile and keep blogging! G.