Traffic jam. From my car, a metallic gray duster, I saw a lady standing on the other side of the junction. She must be heading for work. Wait, I will offer her a lift, will she say no? I stopped, she got in. ‘Thanks!’
‘Daku! How many times have I asked you not to offer lift to strangers, especially to beautiful ladies, but you won’t ever listen, huh?’
Mita, my ex-wife Madhumita would tell me with a mild irritation on her face, so dear to me, when I would recount my day in our late evening tea after work. Yes I was driving and listening to my favorite Frank Sanatra; ‘All or nothing at all’; I could see from the corner of my eyes that she was appreciating my well maintained car.
You cannot ding me anywhere I know. I am still a complete DIY when it concerns my car. Many times it so happened I cleaned it for two hours before going out, she would come, look at the car and simply go away saying the car wasn’t clean enough, then I would plead and ask her to point me the places, invariably she would be right, some unnoticed litter (damn it) here or a bit of dust there playing the spoilsport. Taking Mita as my helper was no help at all you know, she would use the looking glass as her mirror, just when I needed to have the rear view, I would invariably see it turned towards her. I would be mad at her but she would melt my anger with her heavenly smile all the time.
How many times this has happened! When I was speeding on a highway at more than 100, she would scream saying, STOP STOP, DAKU STOP, I would screech to a halt thinking there must be something seriously wrong; she would either point out to a flower smiling from an unassuming shrub, a lamb, or a cow carelessly crossing the road; at other times, she’d simply say, ‘Daku…look at the Dhaba…let’s stop here and have tea!’ ‘Okay Mita, but don’t scream like that, you are my helper, my navigator, if you have to behave like this, go sit at the back.’ She’d be sad until it’d be me pleading guilty, ‘it’s all right Mita, you can scream… you can say STOP like the way you do,’ and this would continue. I was complimented by her many times for my driving, I could drive, talk, sing, and do many more acrobatics in the car to impress Mita, she became a habit in my car. My favourite time was teasing her.
Where have all those days gone! I am alone now, Office-work-office, I know she does the same thing too. Modern life is so strange; you separate from your partners at the drop of a hat. My friends have the similar stories too. Corrine separated from her husband because of his parents, and Sujoy from his wife because she was not presentable, too old-fashioned. And Anirudhha broke off from Ishita because she was becoming fat… imagine, mother of three children Anish, Anita, Nita named combining both their names now abandoned just like that… he left all of them and is now living together with Ishita’s friend, of course he is not my friend anymore.
We failed because we were always finding faults with our in-laws; why couldn’t we drive past those avoidable impediments I wonder. Now-a-days, you leave your partner for such trivial reasons why! We set out for a journey together, give up so easily! I was engrossed in my thoughts… wondered what she must be thinking of right now…I mean the lady who is beside me right now! We seem to perpetually in search of the ideal person, like a thirsty traveler in a desert taking a mirage for an oasis. I am not a writer, so my examples may not touch you, but I am a lover, I still love her, whenever I drive I miss her by my side. Why is everyone so horribly changing partners… like we change our clothes…what is the guarantee that the next and the next will not be free from their own baggage. This story of separation is fairly young, hasn’t begun more than twenty years. Mita and I were born at the wrong time it seems.
I was driving and thinking of my parents who would go out to be with each other just for half an hour because their house was full with people, my six aunts, my deranged uncle, and my ailing grand-parents. Since when did this change happen… no, if you say from the time ladies started looking out for jobs, I wouldn’t agree, my mother was never a housewife, it happened because of our unconsciousness, we cannot blame the West for everything bad, I am only looking at myself all the time from the looking glass maybe, and asking myself why I had to lose you Mita why! Can’t I be with her again?
‘Thanks I will get down here’, she said.
‘Wait Mita, no problem. I will take you till your office, everybody knows me there’.