Translated by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey
My final hour has dawned. The day breaks as the eastern sky turns a shade of crimson. You rise late these days. That is normal. Afterall, you have been married for just four months. Earlier, you used to wake up even before dawn. I would wake up with your songs. We would go to our little garden that we created on the terrace beside my room; you gave it a name—Nandankanan. Then you kissed me and asked, ‘Notun Bouthan, do you like the name?’ My flesh broke into goosebumps and my heart began to beat faster in fear. ‘Thakurpo, my dear brother-in-law, don’t be so audacious. What if we get caught?’ I had said. You were 19, just back from England. I was 21. You laughed and said, ‘This is Nandankanan—paradise, beyond the reach of mortals, Notun Bouthan.’
‘I can never match up to your words, Robi. But our relationship is only ours, don’t let others into it. I feel scared.’
‘What scares you so?
‘I am scared of losing you—my only friend in this house. No one understands me here, save you.’
‘You might think I understand you, the whole of you. But, is it possible to know anyone entirely? It isn’t!’
Thakurpo, your words pain me. You play with words. I have offered my whole self—my entire being—to you. There’s nothing left of me. Don’t you know that? When you look deep into my eyes, you feel my pain, I know that. Only you know what pains me, scalds me within. Don’t you know that I try to conceal my longing for you deep within me? I know you understand. At least you knew, till a few months back…
You are my childhood playmate.
Before leaving you and this world forever, I wish to tell you the one truth that I have lived with, Robi. It is you and no one else that I have ever loved in this world.
I have never seen any man like you—your looks, your talents, the nuances of your extraordinary mind and your music. All these together make you unique. You were the sole source of sustenance for your twenty-five-year-old sister-in-law, her only love.
Do you remember that moonlit night, beloved? Only two of us were on the terrace of this Jorasanko Thakurbari. You were singing and I was brooding, though I did not tell you that. But you knew somehow, my soulmate. You whispered in my ears in a deep voice, ‘Notun Bouthan, don’t let small things pain you. Learn to forget.’
‘How can I forget so easily, Robi? How can I wash off those bruises that have left me sore and numb over the years I have spent in this household? I came here as a nine-year-old bride and since then have only suffered in pain and insult—’ I had told you in return. You just placed your hand on mine and we stood at the corner of that huge terrace, in silent admiration of each other.