The Visit, Changes and Uncertainty
When my eyes were gazing at the fast moving train on its solid track, the mind constantly lingered on an unpleasant occurrence happened this morning. The train station had been a faithful companion at times of agony through wretched moments. The undesirable noise made by the trains and passers-by was not preferred by others who enjoy calm and serene atmosphere but definitely soothe many broken hearts who wish to cringe themselves among the crowd with a hope that their existing turmoil dissipates soon.
The station was unusually crowded with passengers making bee lines along the ticket machines and counters in order to purchase their destination ticket before the arrival of train. There were some senior citizens panting and shuffling their way through the wide platform, employed workers rushing in a winding movement avoiding the congestion at the platform and young couples strolling through the alleyway attached within the station to segment varieties of shops established. There were also a few parents struggling with their little ones whom required deliberate attention and those children were wincing, screaming and trying to release tight clutches enveloped around their wrist as a protection.
The very same station, two months ago celebrated the arrival of Aunt Nina, our favoured close relation from India. The amiable and kind aunt had slight traces of grey hair peeping out here and there. She has always been a backbone to the entire family. Many of the deep family secrets often shared with her without hesitation. Aunt Nina is like a diary that conceals private matters within its pages and yet provides solace to the troubled heart.
Exaggeration of human emotion not only excites an individual but also exhausts after receiving too many hugs, kisses and compliments after meeting the beloved family of different country. That evening was an ideal weather to enjoy the scenery of rare tropical trees planted in an array along the tiny little brooks or trenches marked from last night’s heavy rain. These trees have started to bloom with flowers and sweet-smelling cempadak, a tropical fruit found only in Asian countries hanged in huge clumps abundantly till the bottom. They permanently infused the pungent yet exotic smell in lightly ruffling wind.
Aunt Nina settled down on one of the benches opposite those trees. Her mind was engrossed on something but it was not a disappointment that I could see on her unwrinkled face. My pace towards her was quick yet careful with a tray consisting two cups of piping hot tea and some banana fritters slightly lost its shape after submerged in hot oil.
Aunt Nina smiled at my approach and exclaimed cheerfully, “Come on Shilpa, why you have taken so much of trouble to prepare the evening snacks. I longed for your company and some private discussion indeed important to clarify the rumour that I heard just now”. “Well, aunty, I was just engaged in some paper works stacked in my room” I lied. Before I could even finish off my lines, Aunt Nina chipped in saying “You are not good at lying just like your uncle Damu….I have been married to him for the best part of forty years. Damu is ten years younger than I but owing to his short-tempered and solemn nature, he managed to deny to the fact that he can’t be a good liar”.
“Seriously, aunt, both of you are a complementary couple, that’s why uncle was so forgiving in every aspects” chuckled to divert the topic. The fake smile that I wore was no longer valid as Aunt Nina’s face grew stern and serious. She snapped with serious tone yet caring gesture “Shilpa, my marriage was not made in heaven as it was a concoction of both happiness and bitterness that steered our life. Uncle Damu and I were separated by different attributes but those same qualities drew us together through great understanding and love for each other. I am not educated as you are but administering my own culinary school in Mumbai. Every good thing transported into my life after a blissful marriage. Your uncle’s immense support and trust unleashed my hidden passion and talent”.
“You are right in every saying”. After a series of denial, finally I gave up to Aunt Nina’s notion. “My career is falling apart and it was no longer a choice but mere unworthy responsibility that I carried for the sake of family and society” I sighed heavily. I added “Ahhh…marriage has not been a favourable option to find peace in life after five years of sincere love; courting and unexpected break-up with a male chauvinist was indeed a misery of its own. My mind has not gained immunity to accept your notion about marriage and I do admit rejecting every marriage proposal” my voice trembled as I recollected my earlier relationship with Rahul.
She listened attentively to my explanation while her left eyebrow rounded disapprovingly at the intelligence received. At the age of sixty, Aunt Nina is as fit as a fiddle and a little meaty with the muscular structure developed from the yoga workout she does every day. She often says that health is wealth. She lowered her shoulder to pick tempting banana fritters, slowly sinking her teeth into a soggy piece, tasting only the sweetness of the ripen banana.
As the garden dimmed by the sunset and ended with silent performance of a flock of birds returning back to their habitat, Aunt Nina abruptly stood up, flapped her skirt up and down as if she had encountered an army of red ants marched above her curvy knees. I curled my arms around hers and smiled. A light pat landed on my shoulder reminding the conversation has not ceased. “Shilpa, dream big, have your own vision, and spread your wings to achieve them. Failure is not an option but it’s a step to realize your life and potential. Hurdles are like tide in the ocean but remember human’s strength outwits everything. An intuition whispered softly that your life is about to change for betterment. Soon, you will settle with the right person…” She winked as she finished her last line and her eyes twinkled mischievously.
A stout young man was carrying a bundle of clothes on his head and few bags dangling violently on his right hand shouted in an audible voice calling out for the wife who dragged her feet quickly trying to keep to his pace. His aggressive voice pulled me back to the platform that I was sitting for at least two hours. A sealed letter guarding a secret till this morning was unfolded and later it was left unattended on Rajesh’s table. The short and rather beefy man in the mid of his 50’s sank his torso into a custom made black leather chair. He nervously tapped the edge of his palm on table top and smoke from earlier lit cigarette curled towards my direction. Feeling unease by the revolting ordour, I jerked a little pushing myself to stand close to the entrance window of his room.
Rajesh, the manager of this private firm had not been civil since the day he was transferred to this branch and persistently compelled me to be part of his evil cunning plan. To falsify company’s account was his attempt to cover his previous culprit activity in this company and tried numerous times to escape from black and white evidence asked by the auditors from their last inspection. Questions will soon arise about him squandering company’s money for his personal use. My resignation and disinclination to cooperate with his design boiled his temper more than anything. He sneered at my fidelity and snapped “You will not going to survive elsewhere after resigning from this well paid job. You are such a useless imp!! Don’t ever think you can slip away with my secrets”, pounded his fist angrily on the table. He immediately dashed out of the room with contempt shown clearly on his face.
Now it’s time to venture other possibilities out there and withdraw myself from the initial mess. Ring, ring, ring, ring… I swiftly picked up the phone “Where are you now, Shilpa? We are all worried about you. You should be here by this time”, panicked my mother. I did not answer but said, “Mum, I am accepting Deepak’s proposal for marriage, I will be there in an hour, bye” I switched off the phone rather uncertain by the decision made on the spur of the moment. I tilted my head, staring at the sky and there a mirage sentence appeared and vanished “every cloud has a silver lining”. Perhaps, the uncertainty might bring positive transformation in my life as life is always unpredictable.
Loud thundering noise travelled speedily to the end of the platform where I was sitting. As I turned over my shoulder, a gang of masked men plunged from the pedestrian bridge adjoining the railway track. Passengers and passers-by were all terrified by the sudden attack, several shots of gun perforated the air and crowd’s screaming raised a hue and cry. Out of the blue, one of the gang men aimed his gun towards my direction. Although it was a disguised face but I could sense a familiar countenance, I realized it was too late for another escape or was it really.