As Rabindra, Anuradha, Arjun and Natasha emerged from the airport terminal after collecting their suitcases from the baggage reclaim section, a shocker awaited them. Rathin Nandi’s father Dipankar was at the exit gate with five hoodlums, ready to attack his daughter-in-law Anuradha for putting his son behind bars. The local newspapers had blown up Joothmalani’s statement about a Bengali wife being responsible for her husband’s life imprisonment sentence.
As Dipankar charged towards them, Rabindra yelled at him and he shouted back calling Rabindra a kukoorer bacha (son of a dog). Arjun quickly intercepted the old man before he could grab Anuradha. One of the goons pulled out a knife. Arjun grabbed his hand and twisted it so forcefully that the bone cracked. The attacker howled in pain and collapsed on the ground. Arjun was now up against the other four knife-wielding strongmen.
“Khabordar! (Hold it!)” A loud authoritative voice from behind froze them. They turned to see an inspector, his revolver pointing at them, and two policemen with rifles drawn. Dr Sanjib Mall identified Dipankar as the instigator and two other cops handcuffed the troublemakers. They were all put in the police van. The inspector asked Sanjib to visit the police station to help file a report. Sanjib promised to be there soon.
He turned back smiling and hugged Anuradha. It seemed that they had never been apart. This time they were meeting after only two months instead of the usual six when Sanjib came to Bombay from New York. He was of medium height with a receding hairline and thick framed glasses. Jovial looking and easy-going, he had a likeable personality.
Arjun wondered how the cops had appeared on the scene in the nick of time.
“Perhaps because I was meeting Anu in Calcutta the first time since she married,” replied Sanjib.
“Raima too calls her Anu,” remarked Arjun.
“She has always been known as Anu since our school days. And Raima has liberated her now. She is an angel,” he said looking skyward. “As regards the timely arrival of the cops, I saw Dipankar as I stepped out of Dum Pukht restaurant. Wondering what a worthless man like him was doing at the airport, I followed him and discovered that he had brought along some street thugs. My doubts were confirmed when I overheard him say ‘Kagoje lekhe che aamar bahuta dainee, neejair borke jailer dhukiye che, sheta aaje asche, aamra taxir bhetore dhukiye otake niye jabo. Cholo!’ (The newspapers have reported that the bitch who got her husband behind bars is coming to Calcutta today. We will quickly grab her, put her in a taxi and take her away. Let’s go!). I rushed to the Biman Bandar police station close by. Thanks to the media coverage, everyone knew about the court case.”
Rabindra turned to Sanjib and said, “You have done well, Sunny, please come home with us.”
Anuradha was thrilled that her father had affectionately addressed Sanjib as Sunny. Sanjib was overwhelmed by the gesture. He thanked Rabindra and tried to fish out something from his pocket. It was a pack of cigarettes. Feeling embarrassed, he put forth an explanation, “Just when I feel stressed, like today.”
“Please go ahead,” said Natasha and everyone nodded in agreement.
“Don’t worry, I used to smoke a lot too. Anu will help you overcome the habit,” added Rabindra.
Sanjib excused himself to go to the police station and Arjun saw him off to the cab. Sanjib offered him a cigarette. Arjun declined politely, saying that he had given up cigarettes after discovering pot.
“Is that so?”
“Indeed! And I am not the only one. It’s well-known that marijuana is banned to keep cigarette companies in business. My dad told me this. At 72 he surely knows his beans.”
“Must meet him,” said Sanjib as he rushed off.
To be continued…