Fiction: Another day in paradise

Moinak Dutta
Sometimes it becomes too tough to manage all chores at home and out of home, at office.
That Oindrila thought the moment the auto dropped her before their apartment.
It was already seven in the evening and around this time of the year, with the sun setting early, it seems it is late evening.
Taking the elevator to their third floor flat, Oindrila was all the way thinking what she would have to do getting home. Jhilik must have returned home and Pulak must not have returned yet. Jhilik got exams tumro on. Oindrila remembered the homeworks on geometry she had given to Jhilik. She should have done them. The maid had already told her that she would not turn up this evening. That meant she would have to either buy rotis or she would have to make them. There must be chicken soup in the refrigerator. She would have to just put it into the microwave to heat it and make chappatis . Pulak would return late, as usual.
After ringing the bell twice, when Oindrila thought of ringing again, Jhilik opened the door.
'what are you doing? '
Oindrila said as soon as Jhilik opened the door.
Jhilik was about to say something, but even before she could give a reply, Oindrila noticed the tv being on at the living and the cartoon channel showing something.
'you are watching tv? You got exams tumro on and you are watching tv! Have you done homeworks?'
Oindrila asked.
'yes, not all but most of them'
Jhilik replied and hurried to the tv to switch it off.
'Jhilik! You are no longer a child, you are quite grown up, studying in class three, you should not waste time in watching tv like this when no body at home, do you understand?'
Oindrila blurted out with little bit of suppressed anger in her voice.
'yes mama'
Jhilik replied, looking at her.
Oindrila looked at her eyes.
Her tiny somewhat helpless eyes.
'okay... bring out the homework copy, I will check it after I get freshened up'
Saying this Oindrila went to the bathroom.
From bathroom, she heard the cell ringing.
She half opened the door and peeping out of bathroom asked Jhilik to pick up the phone.
She heard Jhilik picking up the phone.
'mama, someone called Aritra is calling... what should I tell him?'
Jhilik asked.
'tell him I would ring him later'
Oindrila said, from bathroom itself.
Few hours back, Oindrila had checked geometry homeworks of Jhilik and watered the saplings. Last August, she bought three saplings from the fair held at the vicinity of their apartment on Ratha yatra (the chariot festival).
They have grown taller, those saplings. One of them, a kanchan tree, has started blooming. Its tiny white flowers now appearing all over it, covering it like a newly worn attire, look like little stars at night. They emanate fragrance too. Oindrila loves to go to the balcony and watch over them.
Standing at the balcony, specially late in the evening, always makes her joyous and blessed. These hours are hours for herself, devoid of all worries and hassles of life. She forgets all her works and simply delves into a transient process of creating poesy in her mind.
And in these moments, she has noticed, for the last few months, since she has got acquainted with Aritra, she feels a strange softness towards him.
Often, she has asked herself, ' can a woman live two men?'
Pulak, her husband has been dutiful no doubt but that soft cadence, that poetry is not in his genes. He can be playful on bed, he can be strong and manly, but that mild touch of love is not there in him. Whereas Aritra, always carries a dream like poise in him. His words are filled with rhyme and his voice is so mellifluous. No hurriedness. No sudden rise of rage.
'Am I an adulteress? A paramour? A wasted woman?'
She would ask herself and the very next moment she would find that she had not done anything which could be called unbecoming of a wife. She performs her duties meticulously. In fact, other than office works, she spends most of her time with Jhilik, taking care of her, helping her in her studies, playing with her, cooking food for her and Pulak if the maid remains absent for any reason, like she had done today.
But this Aritra.
She called him.
The phone rang thrice before he picked up.
He said.
'hello, you called me?'
Oindrilla asked.
'yes, Jhilik picked up '
Aritra reverted.
'yes, I was freshening up, coming home'
'sorry...are you busy?'
'no, not now, done works all that are to be done at kinda free'
'great! Actually, wrote a song, so thought why not I call you and sing that, getting your critical appraisal'
Aritra informed, sounding quite cheerful.
'that's great! Knowing that this song was to be written to complete the album, I am sure, it will be as good as the other songs which are there in the album in making'.
Oindrilla said.
' listen first, wait a minute, lemme get my guitar'
Saying this Aritra started strumming the guitar.
Oindrilla finds it really fascinating that a guy like Aritra who works in a software company, could be so much musical.
She herself works in a real estate company and most of the time, she remains busy with charts and diagrams and project layouts. Music she learnt in her younger days but after marriage she had to bid adieu to that. Pulak never showed any interest in music.
Rabindra sangeet he never appreciated.
And here is Aritra, a software developer, spending most of his spare time in writing songs and singing them. Two of his albums received moderate response. He is working on the third and interestingly, upon Oindrilla's insistence, he has incorporated at least two songs which appear very much Rabindrik as they call it in Bengali, meaning something which is heavily influenced by Tagorean style of music.
Aritra started singing.
Oindrilla closed her eyes and listened to it pressing the phone to her ears, trying to get each word of the song into her heart, each up and down of the rhythm, tempo.
She like the prelude and the interlude and also the crescendo.
The song revealed love. It sang the glory of God and also of man. Something universal and yet sensuous. Something startlingly new yet ancient.
'I just love it!'
She exclaimed the moment Aritra stopped after singing the song.
He asked.
She reaffirmed.
'then it is a go, a must, that should be included in the album'
Aritra said.
'well... it should I think, though as you now I am not that prolific in music, not a qualified vonnoissuer even'
Oindrilla was embarrassed thinking someone like Aritra depending so much on her with regard to selection of his songs for an album.
'you must get opinion of others, I mean of music arrangers'
Oindrilla added.
'Oh, that will always happen, I mean people like them will eventually listen to all of my songs and pass their judgement and that will happen next Wednesday when I will go to the studio'
Aritra informed.
'tell me, is the song good?'
Aritra asked again.
'yes, dear yes'
Oindrilla said.
She does not know why but the word ' dear'  slipped out of her mouth.
It even surprised her.
Aritra fell silent.
'Okay then...'
He said.
'okay, bye for now'
Oindrilla said before hanging up.
She had to after that faux pas.
Oindrilla could not concentrate upon her works at office.
The day being Wednesday and the very day Aritra would go to the studio for an audition.
Last night, had been a terrible one.
Pulak returned home late.
She was then half asleep.
He woke her up and made her to have sex with him.
These days, she had noticed, though she remains physically excited and active while having a leg over, mentally she remains somewhat tired.
Pulak perhaps noticed that too.
He even quipped if she was having an 'affair' of sorts, jokingly, flashing a grin.
She just laughed that away.
But deep within that remark shook her.
Is Pulak getting any hunch of her long conversations over phone with Aritra?
Is he getting jealous?
But Pulak just after ejaculation, went to the bathroom and after coming back, went straight to sleep, snoring.
Oindrilla went to Jhilik's room, to see if she was asleep or not.
Then she went to the balcony.
It was pretty cold there.
She wrapped herself in a quilt.
She felt the strange urge to call Aritra.
He must have been awake, working on songs.
But she did not think it might be pretty indecent for a married woman to call a man after wee hours.
Aritra called her of course.
It was few minutes back.
He told her that he had reached the studio for the audition and he would call her once the audition would be over.
Oindrilla took up the file that was sent to her few minutes back by her boss for a rechecking.
She had checked it but if the boss had resent it, then there must be some anomaly.
She opened the file and soon she discovered how like a imbecile she made computation errors in at least four places.
The boss had circled them.
'my god, I am getting so distracted!'
She gushed.
Anamika, whose work station is just beside hers must have heard herself castigation.
For she heard her saying, ' It happens when one is so much involved in making music!'
Oindrilla looked at Anamika.
She was smiling.
Anamika had seen Oindrilla often talking over phone, with someone about songs and music.
Oneday, upon lunch break, when they got out together to a nearby eatery, she had confessed to Anamika that she has a very gifted friend who is a musician. That made Anamika even more a friend of her instead of being just a colleague. For Anamika fully supported her saying ' It us lovely! You must be lucky to have a friend like that'.
So Oindrilla did not mind Anamika saying all these.
She only rolled her eyes in a mock expression of anger, making Anamika to smile more.
But the boss was not at all smiling.
He summoned her soon and asked her to recheck the file and complete all computations within the day.
'but it would take the whole day...'
Oindrilla just said.
That angered the boss.
He reiterated his order.
Oundrilla came back to her work station and started computing.
It was a herculean task.
How time slipped by, she did not notice.
Thrice she put the phone in silent mode for thrice Aritra called her.
On the fourth time, she had to pick up.
'Hello! Have been calling you'
Aritra said.
'yes, but Aritra I am very busy at office today. Will call you later'
Saying this she hung up.
It was almost nine when she returned home.
To her bewilderment, she found Pulak at home early, watching tv.
Jhilik was sitting on the couch too, playing a board game.
'Where's the food?'
The first thing Pulak said seeing her entering their flat.
'why? Chanda di has not come today even?'
She asked.
'I do not know... perhaps not'
Pulak said.
'this Chanda di, she is becoming so irregular these days'
She said, rushing towards the kitchen.
After dinner, Pulak sat with a bottle of whiskey.
Oindrilla went to the balcony.
She watered the plants.
At that moment she heard her cellphone ringing. It was kept on charge in the bedroom.
She heard Pulak picking it up and saying in a brute manner ' No, Oindrilla is unable to talk to you right now'.
That enraged Oindrilla. Suddenly there was that pulse anger working in her.
She rushed towards the bedroom.
'who called?'
She asked.
'Someone who could not say his name even, a coward. I told him that you could not talk right now'
Pulak said, looking at her with a stern face.
This face Oindrilla knows well.
Once with that stern face he slapped her.
A lot of words were getting piled up in her.
Oindrilla felt like yelling.
She felt like telling Pulak that he got no business in answering her phone.
But knowing what Pulak could do as reaction to that, she kept mum.
She went back to the balcony and stood there quiet, like a desolate creature.
A tear or two fell.
The night was getting colder. She felt that cold air from north biting her skin.
She knew that she could not just stand there for the eternity.
She would have to take a decision.
It was well past midnight, when Pulak slept off, Oindrilla, stealthily picked up her cell phone from the bedside table where it was put on charge.
The charge showed ninety percent.
She picked up the phone and went to the balcony once again.
She dialed Aritra's number.
After several rings, he picked up.
She said.
Aritra said.
'I think you should not call me from now got a family, a husband and a beautiful little daughter to live your life...I do not want to be an intruder... bye my friend, live you in your paradise'
Aritra said and hung up.
Oindrilla stood there at the balcony, petrified.

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