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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Living in Love (A short story BY S M Mehdi Hasan)

It is nine p.m. and Palash has just arrived home from office. His facial expression is enough for anyone to guess that it has not been a good day for him. Yes, because it is the end of month and he has not received his month’s salary. Palash works in a buying house. His job is to make sure the suppliers are providing their products and they are in good condition. After his father’s death he had to take responsibilities of his family. He has one sister, who is studying in college and mother. Today, he went to office with a hope that they would give him his salary but his superior said, “Don’t worry, I am assuring you. Next week you will get your salary.” For the last fifteen days he has been hearing the same thing. Palash is worried because he has to send money to his house.
Palash lives in a bachelor’s quarter at Motijheel. It is a small apartment with two bedrooms. Including Palash, four people live in the apartment. Monir is his roommate. He is a medical representative2. When Palash came from office, Monir was lying on the bed, turning the page of a magazine. He knew what the poor guy was going through. Without taking his eyes from the magazine he said, “You did not get your salary right?” There was a sarcastic tone in his speech. Throwing his shoes away Palash sat down on the bed and cried out “TO HELL WITH THE MANAGER! I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS!’ Monir understood that he should not have said it this way. He came to Palash and said, “I am sorry brother. I should not have asked you this question. Don’t worry. You will get your salary.” Then he said, “I have news for you.” Palash looked at his face. Monir slowly walked to the study table. He pulled a yellow envelop from a book and gave it to Palash. It was a letter and from the neat and clean handwriting it could be understood that it was written by a woman. It is Niru, Palash’s sister. Palash tore the envelop.
Bhaiya,
Take my Salam. I hope you are in good shape. We are fine here. My year final will begin soon. For the last few days mother has been feeling chest pain. We went to the doctor but he could not find any thing. He said that she should go to Dhaka for better treatment. For the time being he gave some medicine. After taking them mother is quite well now.
Bhaiya, the reason of my writing is Trisha apu. Her parents have arranged her marriage. The groom is an officer in a multinational company. His family is well off. They have a house in Dhaka. Trisha apu is good looking and well educated so the groom’s parents liked her very much. Since they were financially sound, Trisha apu’s parents did not argue. But Trisha apu is not very happy with this marriage and you know why? Before her engagement she came to my college to see me. She told me how much she liked you and she had no other options but to give her consent.
Bhaiya, you have to be strong at this moment. At first I did not want to inform you about this but I felt that after some day you will know about it. Please, bhaiya, do not lose heart. It is not your fault. You did your best. I know it, mom knows it and Trisha apu knows it. Let’s suppose that you two were not meant be with each other. In life we have to move on bhaiya and Trisha apu is not the only girl in this world. There are other girls better than her and I promise, me and mom will get a better girl for you.

My request to you is stop worrying about her. Take your meals properly and take care of yourself.
With best wishes
Niru
Reading the letter Palash’s face hardened. He felt like crying but controlled himself in front of Monir.
“Who sent it?” Monir asked.
My sister.
“Oh! Listen why don’t you go to the bathroom and fresh up. Then we will have supper together. Today bua has cooked fish, your favorite.” Palash then took the towel and went into the bathroom. Closing the door he leaned over the basin. He looked at himself in the mirror. His eyes were filled with tears. He was crying. What else he could do? His father’s death has changed his life. Palash lost himself in the memory lane. Those days would never come back. Palash washed his face and came out.
Three years ago Palash’s father died off a brain stroke. The first time when he had a stroke, Palash was preparing for his MA final exam. His mother did not let him know because she thought it would affect his study. After finishing the exam Palash came home and he was shocked to see his father’s condition. He decided to take his father to Dhaka but it needed a lot of money. Palash went to his relatives and everybody turned him down. So finding no other way he decided to take a job. His father could not hold on that long. Two months after the first stroke he had another one. He fell down in front of the bathroom while preparing for his evening prayers. He was rushed to the local hospital but it was too late. Palash’s father’s death was a great shock for the family. He was the main earning member in their family but then he had to take all the responsibilities.
His mother was a school teacher and his sister was a freshman in college. His father’s pension money was not enough for the family, besides his sister had to get married. Palash took the job of a Quality inspector in a buying house. It was Trisha who had supported Palash at that time. She used to visit her family regularly. She also wrote to Palash. It was her inspiring letters that made Palash face all the hardships. She was like a blessing from heaven for Palash. With her good behavior she also won the hearts of Palash’s mother and sister.
But God had different plans for them. When his mother went to Trisha’s mother to talk about their marriage Trisha’s mother told her that her father would not agree with this proposal. He had already chosen someone else for Trisha. Palash’s mother said, “Trisha and Palash like each other very much. They will be very happy. Besides if Trisha gets married she would stay with us and you can come to see her any time”. Trisha’s mother said, “I understand Mrs. Asif, I know Palash is a very good boy and I also like him very much, but the problem is Palash does not have any good job. How could he take care of Trisha? The boy Trisha’s father has chosen works in a multinational company. He gets very good salary and he comes from a good family. How can we refuse them?” Palash’s mother understood that now there was no hope and she felt sad. She did not want Palash to know about this because he was already under lot of pressure.
Two years have passed after this incident. Things have changed a lot. Palash is now working as a Communication officer in Flora Advertising, one of the leading advertisement firms of Bangladesh. His excellent communication skill in English and hard working mentality pleased the officials. Palash was thankful to Monir for this. He pursued him to apply for the job. At first, he was not interested, since Monir was insisting he dropped his CV. Then everything turned out like a dream. Out of five hundred applicants Palash got the job. When he got the joining letter, he could not believe his own eyes. The next day he arranged for a small feast in his apartment and treated every body.
Palash does not live in Motijheel any more. He has now rented an apartment in Mohammadpur. This one is better than the previous one; more space, attached toilets. After shifting from the old apartment he brought his mother to Dhaka and did her medical check up. His sister has graduated from college. Now she is planning to do her MA from Dhaka University. Palash has decided to bring his sister to Dhaka. Palash is now thirty-one but has not got married yet. His mother has shown him several girls but he has rejected them all. He keeps himself busy in work. After his break up with Trisha he has lost his faith in love and marriage.
One morning Palash was busy working in his office. Few officials of a big multinational would be visiting the firm. Flora Ad Agency was looking forward to sign a contract with the company. Palash was very angry. His secretary Miss Rehana was supposed to bring in the papers for presentation but she did not come. Palash did not like this kind of attitude. He himself was a hardworking person and he expected the same from his subordinates. Rehana had done the same thing earlier and Palash did not say her anything serious but this time she had gone too far. Palash decided to get another secretary.
 The meeting with the officials was very successful. Looking at their quality the officials decided to sign contract with Flora. Later that day, Palash met the manager and told him about his secretary. Manager assured him that he would get a new secretary as soon as possible. After several days Palash came to know that his old assistant had been removed. A new girl would join the office from Sunday.
On Sunday, Palash came as usual at nine a.m. After few minutes he called the office boy to bring in the new secretary. A few minutes later, a woman, around her last twenties, wearing a silk saari, walked into his office. Palash was busy checking files. Without looking at her he said, “Sit down please”. She sat down. Now Palash looked at her face and for the next few minutes he was silent. The woman sitting on the other side of the table was no one but Trisha. A heavy and unpleasant silence was dominating that room. Both of them were lost how to start the conversation. Palash was looking at Trisha. She was looking very pale and weak. Palash was wondering what happened to her.
“How are you?” Trisha broke the silence at last.
I am totally lost. It’s unbelievable. What happened to you? Don’t you take good care of yourself?”
It’s a long story.
I’d like to hear it some time.
Not in the office. We could talk later. Now tell me what you want?
Palash then gave her some works. Trisha left the room. Palash still could not believe that he had just met Trisha. The girl he once loved deeply. At noon he asked Trisha to go to lunch with him and she denied gently. This went on for the next few days but at last she gave up. One day they went to a nearby fast food shop. Palash ordered a broasted chicken and a chicken sandwich for him and Trisha.
Now tell me what happened?
My parents had very high hopes about me and they destroyed my life. After spending several days with my husband I understood that there was some problem. He used to behave very badly with me. He used to rebuke me from time to time for no reason. At first, I kept quiet like a typical wife and did not say anything. One day when I was cleaning our room. I found a picture of him with another woman in his closet. I was lost. I did not know what to say. Then I understood why he always remained very angry with me. I felt very angry and helpless. That day when he returned from office I showed him the picture. At first he did not say any thing. Then I burst into anger.
"What you think of yourself? I am not your servant. You are having an affair with another woman. How could you do this to me?"
Suddenly he grew very angry and slapped me on the face.
"Shut up! Just shut up! Don’t utter a single word or I will kill you!"
"The next five months were like a nightmare. I do not know what to do. I told my in laws about it and they told me not to tell it to any one. It would destroy their family image. My mother–in- law told me to forget about it. I was shocked at their response. How could they say such a thing?
Then one night with only five hundred taka in my purse I started for Pabna. I went to my parent’s. Seeing me like that they were very surprised. After hearing about my husband they were shocked. Few days later, my husband came and convinced my parents that it was a misunderstanding and it would never happen again. My parents then started to pressure me to return with my husband. I was firm in my decision that I would never return to that house. Luckily, I met Tulika. She was my college friend. She was staying at a women’s hostel in Dhaka. I asked her to help me. She told me not to worry. She would see what she could do. Then after few weeks she called me on phone and told me to come to Dhaka. I came and she helped me to get a job in a company. They did not pay me much so I was looking for another job and then I saw the job vacancy ad in the news paper and applied for it and you know the rest of the story."
Palash could not say anything but felt sympathetic for her.
This went on for few months. Meanwhile, Palash’s mother and sister are now staying with him in Dhaka. His mother is pursuing him to get married but Palash does not say anything. He did not tell his mother that Trisha is now working in his office and they go out every day.
One day, after office he returned home and found out that his mother was unhappy for some reason. Her facial expression was telling him that something has gone wrong. Palash asked “What happened mother? Is there any problem?”
His mother said, “Go and fresh up. We need to talk.”
Palash did not know what made his mother so anxious. He cleaned himself and took some refreshment. Then he came to his mother’s room. He said, “Mother, What happened? Why you are so upset?”
Palash “How could you do this? I have given birth to you! I worked hard for you to see you like this?”
Palash was very surprised. He still could not figure out what went wrong.
What are you saying? I have no idea. What’s going on?
How could you do this Bhaiya? Niru broke in.
Why didn’t you tell us that Trisha apu is working in your office? She is your secretary. One of my friends saw you two few times in a fast food shop near your office. At first, I did not believe it but then I saw you. You knew Trisha apu is married to another person. How could you go out with her like this?
It was much unexpected for Palash. He understood that it would be of no use to hide the matter any more.
Yes, it’s true. Trisha works in my office and we are seeing each other for quite some time. I do not see any problem with that besides I am thinking of marrying Trisha.
‘What? How could you think of such a thing Palash?’
Why what’s wrong with that? Trisha is a good girl.
I know Palash but how could you say such a thing?
Why? What’s the problem?
Trisha is a married woman. She left her husband’s family without his consent. And I don’t know what happened over there. May be she lied to you to come close to you.
How could you say such a thing mother? Palash shouted.
How dare you talk to me like that! I am your mother. I understand your feelings for her and lets say what she said is true. Still, you have to think about the society Palash! You have a sister who is yet to get married. What would people say when they would hear about such a thing tell me?
It is not fair mother. What has society got to do with this? This is my personal life and I make my own decision. Why should I care about the society? Besides Trisha is a good girl.
Still Palash, I don’t like this idea. You have to forget her. I have better girls for you.
No mother, that is not possible. I always loved Trisha and nothing can change that, not even you. There was a determination in Palash’s voice.
Next day, after office, Palash asked Trisha to go out with him. At first Trisha hesitated but agreed to go. They went to Ramna Park. It has been a long time since Trisha last went out. So she was very happy. She started to smile. Looking at her face Palash’s heart filled up with joy. They walked around the park. After sometime they sat down. Palash said, “Trisha, fortune took us away and it is fortune that brought us together again. Don’t you think there is some thing special about us?”
“Palash” said Trisha “I can not dream any more. I am afraid of dreaming. Whatever I dreamt have gone wrong. Now I can’t think of anything else”.
The sun was about to set. The sky turned reddish. There is a silence every where. Palash took Trisha’s hand and said “I understand what you have been through. It is really terrible for you. But Trisha life does not stop here.”
Trisha kept silent. She did not know what to say.
Palash continued “Tirsha you don’t know what I had been through after you got married. I lost my faith in every thing. I felt like love was meaningless only money matters but now I understand that it is not true. The truth is I have always loved you and I can not live without you Trisha. I may not be able to remove your pains but I can give you those that you expected from a husband: love, respect, I would not do anything to heart you.”
Trisha looked at Palash. Her eyes were filled with tears. She was smiling and in that twilight she looking very beautiful.

Liked the story then why not read another touching stroy:
Helpless (a short story)

2 comments:

  1. This was a good story. By starting the story with "His facial expression..." the reader right away was taken to that place where you can visualize the story, like a movie. The best way to write!

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  2. hassan ... great story ... the flow is excellent ... there are some typo's 'heart' in place of 'hurt' etc. please clean them ... a lovely story like this needs better care from the author :)

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