Sunday, 14 April 2013


-- Ajay Halder

He turned to us after some time. His eyes are appeared to be reddish & blurry now. What happened to him? What make him look like this? Few moments back he was the jolliest person with lots of humor sense.  We just ask him a simple regular question one may ask in meeting some new fellow to continue gossiping – “Do you love someone?”
  It is an early Monday morning when we used to come back to our college hostel after a refreshing weekend. We meet at the said location to catch our very own Kalyani Simanta Local. On our fixed compartment one person had already occupied my beloved window seat. I utter few mute slangs for him. What to do - We just seat beside him. Train starts.
Indrajit is a chain smoker. He can live without food but not without smoke, I guess. He feels like engineering would be incomplete without addiction to this kind of things. Today Indrajit forgot to bring his lighter. When the train started Indrajit search for his lighter and became pugnacious as such he lost his girlfriend. Illogically he started abusing us for being non-smoker.
Then the window seated person passed him a weighty metallic lighter. Indrajit accepted it all of a sudden and replied in short – “Thanks”. He went to the door side to enjoy his smoke with morning breeze.
The person take his lighter back into his loose fitted Punjabi and keep looking outside the window. His hairs were long, semi thick beard, complexion is mild toned and build was average. He was carrying just an old fashioned side bag.
As Indrajit joined us we started our regular common type chatting like the hostel matches, assignments, low marks in semesters, latest downloaded movies and extra items, latest software, good looking juniors and other lots of other things. Pulling out notebook and pen we were discussing how we can solve our tricky assignment on Rankine Cycle of Thermodynamics. The man then turned around us and said, “You are engineering students, right?”
One smart can easily recognize us from our talks. There is no Sherlock Holmes type credit goes to him. Though Amit replied – “Yes, But how come you know that?”
He replied politely – “Because I had already passed the same adventurous life like yours many years back.”
What’s this prank want to say? He is an engineer! Not properly shaved, dressed and even his body language is so lousy. I asked – “From where did you complete your engineering?”
With not much reaction he replied – “From IITK.”
We all looked at each other with some disbelieve. We remain silent as we suspecting him as fake. Probably guessing our thought he pointed on the Rankine Cycle diagram of our open notebook and took the pen in his hand. We watched him solving the problem. At the end of one & half page he circled the answer with confidence and that shows his class. Being in full touch of the subject we were not been able to solve it. We didn’t need any more verification.
He introduced himself as Iqbal. Then we became very frank. As stations are passing by our talks went on friendlier. He told us many incidents about his college life and more specifically his humor sense was so high that compel us to listen him. Every single incident of his IIT days was adventurous. He talked about his friends, teachers, extracurricular activities, hobbies and most importantly staring at Indrajit he shared funny mischievous acts which make us laugh for a long time. He told about his national achievements on painting. We also share our unique hostel activities like PAT exam, pre Mahalaya eve celebration, Elixir, wall painting on Saraswati puja, hostel matches and so on. But in parallel I was thinking what make this charming, intelligent, humorous, super qualified person look like so horrible. What is his profession now? Why he is so lousy? What an IIT’ian doing in this early morning train? Questions come into my mind, but you can’t ask these types of questions suddenly.
One pretty simple girl get on our compartment. She was searching for an empty seat.  Amit wanted to volunteer her. But Iqbal da stopped him asking – “Your adda will be spoiled. Please don’t.”
Tough we personally didn’t like his suggestion, but what to do. Then our gossip topic shifted on girls.  Amit already had a girlfriend, but why he was volunteering – we began to tease him. From there our college girls came into the topic. There are no cute girls in our class. All the good looking girls are our juniors and it’s been already sorted out who is for whom. We noticed that Iqbal da was not participating in our gossiping. He was staring outside. To take his attention we asked - “Do you love someone?”
                There was a long silence. Hawkers shouting, passengers twittering all were muted. Finally Iqbal da broke the silence. He started, “Do you guys believe in fate lines?”
                I replied, “Yes, sometimes I do believe.”
                He said, “Being engineering students please don’t believe in this shits. I learned palm reading from one of my local uncle, though I didn’t believe in it much. In my first years I became well known to seniors because of it. I used to tell them their fates as if I’m a fortune teller sadhu.
                “One day in the evening a group of seniors were busy to know their fortune. Then from the group a slim fair palm stretched to me. I looked at her pretty face. I knew her before; she was our immediate senior.  There must be something special about her that made me feel that I could spend whole life staring at her. My heart beat became faster as I touched her for the first time. I tell her about very ordinary common things about her fortune and specially mentioned that her wealth line was too good.
                “As she was my senior I didn’t get much chance to talk. Second time I meet her at the book shop. She was buying for her book, but didn’t have the full amount. So I pay for her knowing that I wouldn’t be able to buy my own book. She thanked me and promised me to give my money back with an ice cream treat. She walked along me and we talked about ourselves. From then our talks moved forward from regular hi hello. Her innocent laugh, smile made me mad. I kept dreaming about her.
                “In the next year she fall ill at the exam time and didn’t appear in the exam. So she loosed her year and became my year mate. I tried to give her all possible moral supports. She was lacking interest in class. To make her comfortable I used to sit beside her. Gradually we became very good friends. From class to college canteen to evening walk I accompanied her. As she was upset for losing one year I solved all the assignments for her. In our class tests I helped her in all possible ways. Didn’t know why I didn’t her to be getting hurt in any way. On our weekends we roamed about and talked for hours, as if our talks would never end. Day by day she was changing to her early cheerful life. Without her I feel empty. All the time I wanted to see her, to talk with her.
                “Our story was running on smooth track. Semesters passed. My marks were average as compared to my first year marks. Though it might be her magic that I never regret for my poor marks. Her marks were more or less same of mine. As far she was happy, so was I also. Peoples were started talking about us as we spend most of the time together. I didn’t feel embarrassed, but somehow I feel happy inside. Semester end breaks were seemed to be never ending era for me.
                “Semesters passed, years passed. On our final year we had our campus recruit drive. As her marks her below 60% in her higher secondary and had a year loss, she was not able to sit for the campus exams. For being with her in our next phase of my life I also didn’t appeared for the exams. We knew that there would be an IT giant company at the end of the campus season which had no criteria. So we basically started preparing for that. My family and close friends were kept asking me why I was taking that much of risk. But I never listened to them. All I know that anyhow I need to be with her.
                “On the campus day my seat was beside hers. As they had no criteria bar the written paper was seemed to be complex. As time passed she went panicked. She looked at me helplessly with her wet eyes.  Didn’t know what’s in love. I also feel very low for her then. I wished I could help her in any possible way. I was unable to think all other earthy rational logical thoughts. Time of the exam was about to end. As the room invigilator went other side I altered our answer sheets without realizing what a life time terrible mistake I had done.”
                Iqbal da paused for a moment. We all are silent and anxious to know what happened next. Giving a shaggy chuckle he continued.
                “. . . so she passed and I failed. Software companies always had a tendency to hire girls to maintain the ratio. So as she was pretty smart it was not too hard for her to crack the interview. She was extremely happy that she never minded to give me a hug with a kiss in front of all. What a moment for me! I was so much unhappily happy and that was the best gift from her to me.
                “Our year ended. Leaving behind the 4 years memory everyone went away including us. After college we were in contact over phone only. I was busy preparing for jobs. As I had no job and for other silly reasons also our conversations went witty sometimes. She joined that company after two months in Bangalore. She became busy in her job training tough schedule and me in my studies. Our talks lessened naturally and didn’t know why whenever our talks went too much formal and unwanted argue came. Months passed away rapidly. I was feeling so nervous, insecure that sometimes I dared to talk with her about our future.
                “Then I got the shocking news from one of my friend just before the day of my interview in government PSU. I came to know that she was in affair with a colleague. I will never be able to tell you guys what it feel that day. I deflected out into pieces. I called her that night. Asking her, she admitted it and strangely she kept me responsible for this. As if I was responsible for sending her away. She said she wouldn’t choose me her life partner as I’m muslim. I was numb and unable to talk to her. What the fuck she was telling? I destroyed my future, my existence all because of her only. My voice choked and I and I . . . “
                Iqbal da’s eyes become wet so of us. We have no words no comfort him. Even we are not in a state to ask him what happened next? Even in his story he didn’t tell the girl’s name; I dare to ask him.
                Our station is about to come. Iqbal da is looking out of the window. Maybe he is thinking why with no reason I told this folks about my stupidity or maybe he is thinking about his love. We don’t disturb him. Our station comes and giving a formal good bye we get down, though we know that this big heart doesn’t deserve it.
On that day after the classes in the evening we are walking in the University campus as there is a function cum inauguration of Art department. Suddenly Amit with all his shock shout – “Iqbal da.
We are all shocked seeing Iqbal da on the main stage with lots of other high profile person. One person is giving lecture – “. . . Today we have the international art phenomenon and painter Mr. Iqbal Hossain among us. His paintings on human sufferings are world famous and well known to all of us. It’s our high privilege that he accepted our invitation to inaugurate our Art department as he seldom comes out from his creative world and attend any social gathering. . . “
We all feel very happy and proud for him. We wait to meet him as the crowd is too packed. But our bad luck he departs in hurry just after the inauguration. We search for him. But don’t know why he just disappears. I have many questions to ask him.    

Sometimes it’s better not to know all the answers. . . . . . 

[this story is published in Kalyani Govt Engineering College's New Hall Hostels's annual magazine called Bonzournova 2013]
© Ajay All Rights Reserved


  1. kichu bolar nei...simple but awesome...bit lengthy but it is ok for the readers...

  2. touching... heart breaking awesome story... expect more stories from you