It was the most hectic but most peaceful of times for Rabindra, Anuradha, Raima and himself, thought Harry, adapting a phrase from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Drastic changes were taking place in their lives. The world at large was also going through times of momentous change.
Harry and Raima felt a surge of excitement following the Sengupta family reconciliation after several years of misunderstanding. It felt like listening to fast-paced music which sounded soothing too. Harry, the Godfather, was his usual self, mingling with everyone and ensuring that everyone’s needs were being addressed. Only someone without hang ups could do so because such a person possessed the ability to see the divinity in everyone else.
Harry arranged for guest rooms at CCI for Rabindra and Anuradha. He also got his Worli flat renovated. The bedroom occupied earlier by Raima’s mother and her nurse was refurbished for Rabindra and Anuradha. It had a separate entrance, an attached bathroom and a kitchen. The other wing of the apartment with the master bedroom, living room and two bathrooms was for Raima and Natasha. The two girls also had Swapna’s house as a backup.
Raima was inundated with phone calls and congratulatory messages for emerging victorious in her legal battle. Her boss was elated; the NGOs and the media sought her for interviews. Being a multitasker, she handled them all with great ease.
But when Shom called, it was another matter. Both were at a loss for words. The urge to cut away from the world and be with one another surfaced again. They exchanged some pleasantries and kept the conversation brief.
As planned, Shom had stayed away from the court proceedings. Given Joothmalani’s mastery over legal matters and his ability to use facts to twist arguments in his favour, it had been decided thus. However, he and Anita got a running commentary of the happenings, thanks to regular WhatsApp updates from Raima’s well-wishers.
Grandpa Rabindra had been impressed by Harry’s wisdom and the ability to be quick on the take. Despite Harry being only eight years younger, Rabindra saw in him the son he had lost many years ago. Harry was quick to notice that. He knew that a father-son relationship became difficult when the son grew up. In Rabindra’s case, the negative influence of his son-in-law Rathin Nandi had compounded the differences between father and son.
Now everything had changed and there was positivity all round. The only cause of concern for grandpa was Raima’s aversion to the opposite sex; a result of her childhood nightmares. Grandpa held himself responsible for it. He had been taken in by Rathin Nandi; even his wife had never liked her son-in-law.
One afternoon when Harry and the three Senguptas were enjoying tea together, Raima said something that took everyone by surprise.
“Pisima, I never realised you’re so pretty,” she remarked.
Anuradha blushed, looking even prettier. Harry chipped in.
“I agree. Why did someone like you marry a toad like Rathin Nandi?”
Anuradha looked at her dad who had been silent so far. “The Nandis are from the Baidya caste, a high caste like ours. That was the only chance I had to end her association with a man from a lower caste,” he said.
“Sanjib Mal is a handsome man and we were in love,” added Anuradha as she pulled out his photo from her handbag.
“Indeed!” exclaimed Raima as she looked at the picture. She hugged her aunt and both turned emotional. Grandpa looked crestfallen.
The sombre moment was interrupted by a phone call. It was Swapna wanting to know if she could help in any way. Harry quickly told her what was going on and promised to call back later when the mood had changed.
Raima googled Sanjib Mal and came across Dr Sanjib Mal, PhD and head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Princeton University. Anuradha had a blank look on her face. She reluctantly confirmed that it was him and that she had been the first to know about his doctorate. Everyone fell silent in empathy. It seemed to be an unjust world. Harry broke the silence by saying that marriages were not made in heaven, as he walked away. His eyes were moist with emotion. It was a reassurance from the beyond about something he had always believed in.
To be continued…