It is a cold autumn morning. The air is crisp and winter is in the air. Winter means short, dark days with no sign of sunshine for days on end. The nights will be long and the days far too short. It will be so dull and gloomy. Kajol just hates this time of the year and though she has been living in Quebec for the last fifteen years she still hasn’t got used to this. It is at times like these that she misses her home, home where she spent the first thirty years of her life, home where her family and friends live, home where the days are long, nights are short and the sun shines brightly on most days. God!! How much she misses home!
But then can’t keep missing for too long. She has work to do. After all, it is the beginning of a new day at work. She sighs, takes one more look at the dark sky and pushes herself to get up to get on with the day.
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Kajol Moitra Laurent, daughter of Tanushree and Debojit Moitra grew up in the Chitranjan Park ( CR Park) area of South Delhi. It had been a typical Bengali household with parents, three children and also a widowed paternal aunt. Kajol was the middle child with an elder sister Rumki and a younger brother Abhijeet. Their aunt Madhumita had come to live with them after her husband had died in a car crash. Kajol had been ten at that time. Since she had had no children of her own, Madhumita had taken to her brother’s children like her own and their home had become hers too. She would help her sister-in-law in taking care of the house and the children. She would cook for them, play with them, read to them and generally be there for them. As a result, she had become an integral part of the household and the children were deeply attached to her. Kajol could not remember a time when she hadn’t been there for them especially the time when they had lost their mother to cancer. Kajol had been just fifteen at that time. The cancer had come and taken away Tanushree in just a span of six months leaving the husband, the children bereft and in a state of complete disbelief and shock. At that time Madhumita had taken over the reins of the family offering solace and comfort to all. She had become like a surrogate mother to all of them.
Her being there had been like a blessing to Debojit who had never had to worry about anything in the house, big or small. When Rumki had got married Madhumita had organized everything on her own and had not bothered her brother at all. From the wedding arrangements to clothes and jewelry, everything had been her responsibility. It had been a big help for her brother who even after five years of having lost his wife had not been able to come to terms with the loss.
Kajol and Madhumita had always shared a special bond. They had become very close especially after Rumki had got married. Since they were the only two females left in the house, they were always with each other trying to deal with the two males, the running of the house and various other issues. Every evening after dinner when the other two had retired to their respective rooms, the aunt and niece duo would sit and chat, catching up on the day’s happenings, discussing issues bothering them and anything else that they wanted to talk about. Kajol looked up to her aunt as a mother, a sister and most importantly, as a confidante with whom she could share anything and everything. So no matter what happened in her life, her aunt was the first one to know about it.
Kajol had always been a conscientious and diligent girl focused on her academics. And although to begin with everyone in the family had encouraged her the situation changed after her mother’s untimely death. Debojit, who was a lawyer and had been a huge supporter of women, their rights and education, somehow lost his nerve after his wife’s untimely death and wanted to get over with his responsibilities as quickly as possible. Responsibilities here meant the marriages of his two daughters. While the elder one had complied with his wishes and got married to the boy of his choice the younger had proved to be a tough nut. For one she had always nursed the ambition of becoming a doctor and this ambition had become a burning one after her mother’s untimely death. And so no matter how much he implored upon her and tried to convince her to settle down with a boy of his choice she just wouldn’t listen. As a result, there would be constant spats and arguments between them. In all of this Madhumita would support her niece and encourage her to follow her heart. She would also try to convince her brother to let Kajol be but Debojit would not listen and if he did listen it would be after a considerable amount of persuasion on his sister’s part. However, what was surprising was Abhijeet’s total lack of understanding of his sister’s predicament. Rather than choosing to talk to their father to try and convince him to see Kajol’s point of view he would always choose to take their father’s side and accuse Kajol of being selfish and self-centered. Though Kajol and Madhumita were both surprised and hurt by his behaviour they did not let that deter or discourage Kajol. Kajol with more determination than ever before focussed on realizing her ambition and Madhumita fought with everyone to help and support her. And soon Kajol was on her way to becoming a doctor.
But as she grew older along with her father and brother, their relatives and friends also joined in to push her into getting married. This was also because by now she had reached the age where convention also demanded that she get married. But she was just not interested. Now it wasn’t that she wanted to remain a spinster all her life but she wanted to reach a certain level in her career before tying the knot. Also, the kind of alliances that were coming her way at that point were not to her liking at all. She did not want all her hard work to go waste and use her degree as a passport to settle down with a boy from a rich family. She was clear that she did not want to be a housewife and wanted a life partner who would support her career and ambitions. Therefore till the time that she met someone she could gel with the topic of marriage was of no interest to her. But as time went by she really couldn’t meet someone like that. And it reached a stage where everyone wanted her to settle down with just about anyone. It was as though they just wanted her off their back with no thought towards her future or her happiness. She couldn’t give a damn about the world but her own family’s attitude both saddened and angered her. Many times she tried reasoning with her father but he wasn’t prepared to listen to her at all. As far as her brother was concerned she didn’t even want to attempt making him understand because she knew that he was selfish and uncaring and there was no point in wasting time on him. Life had always been tough but now Kajol was reaching the end of her tether. Wherever she went it seemed as though people had no other job but to find a match for her and then convince her to say ’ Yes’. She found it ironic that most of the effort in this regard was made by females who tried every trick in the book to make her see how she was headed for disaster by not listening to her elders. They kept reminding her of the fact that she was getting on in years and soon would not be able to find a suitable boy. Added to that was a constant comparison with her sister who had had never worked and was happy being a wife to her husband. While Kajol had no problem with her sister and her way of leading her life but she hated all those well-meaning aunts and uncles who couldn’t stop themselves from painting a bleak future for her. This would really infuriate Kajol. When this became too much to handle she started avoiding family gatherings where she knew that the only topic of conversation would be her life. But the one person who continued to stand by her in the midst of all this was her aunt. No matter what the world had to say Madhumita was like this rock-solid presence in Kajol’s life who pushed her, motivated her to stay focused on her ambition and not let anything else come in the way. Madhumita had learnt from the experience of her life that it was extremely important for a woman to be self-reliant in every possible way. She had tried to drill this into Rumki’s head as well but without any success and so when she figured that Kajol was inclined towards being that way she left no stone unturned to push her, encourage her. Ultimately, all this paid off and Kajol was able to fulfill her dream of becoming a pediatrician. The day she got her degree she was just so happy. She wanted to share the news with her friends, her family but the only one who she could do it with was her aunt. Her father had no reaction and in spite of Madhumita’s attempts at making him recognize her achievement and celebrating her big day, Debojit just looked at the two of them when the news was shared with him and walked out of the room. His behaviour hurt like hell but Madhumita didn’t let her niece wallow in her sorrow for too long and decided to take her out for a nice meal. It was a quiet but a nice celebration.
Thereafter life went back to being it’s usual self which in Kajol’s case meant waking up early in the morning, going to the hospital, coming back late at night, going to bed and then repeating the process the next day. The only person she interacted with was her aunt.
A couple of years went by in this fashion during the course of which even her brother found a girl and got married. Since he was much younger to her, his getting married spelt quite a bit of disaster for her. For one, once again she had to face her relatives which wasn’t a very pleasant experience and all this also gave reason to her father to get after her again. She held on to her nerves and let the wedding take place peacefully although it was quite a challenge to do that. So though she was happy on the professional front, her personal life was quite stressful. Even her sister-in-law who had chosen to be a housewife couldn’t understand her situation and it wasn’t long before she also joined the bandwagon of all the so-called well-wishers of the family who missed no opportunity to taunt her or crack jokes at her expense. Needless to say, it was only Madhumita who stood by her.
While all this was going on, Kajol got selected to attend a medical conference in Montreal. This promised to be a great opportunity for her to meet and connect with well-known pediatricians from all over the world and Kajol was very excited about it. She had been preparing for months writing a research paper on a topic which was close to her heart and had presented it before the selection committee hoping that they would accept it. The acceptance was a prerequisite for her to attend the conference and her joy had known no boundaries when this had actually happened.
Though her father was not really happy about her travelling all by herself, she was clear that no one would be able to stop her and so off she went. Her paper was appreciated by a number of participants which was a huge encouragement for her. And then there was another incident that took place which unknown to the two people involved was going to have a life long repercussion for both of them. And that was the meeting of Kajol Moitra and Victor Laurent. The two had got to interact with each other during the Q&A session after Kajol’s paper presentation. Victor had questioned her on a number of points that she had made in the paper and that had led to a coffee in order to carry the discussion further. The coffee revealed that the two connected on various levels other than children and the various issues plaguing them. They both liked to travel, enjoyed listening to music, loved to read and spend time in the outdoors. Moreover, Victor was quite fascinated by India and it’s people and wanted to visit the country. Kajol had grown up in a household where culture, music, history were all given a lot of importance and so she was like this mine of information about her country and Victor figured that he wanted to spend more time with her to get to know about the country and her too. As a result, the rest of her time in Montreal got divided between the conference and Victor. Both realized that they loved being with each other. Soon it was time for her to leave. But before that Victor promised that he would plan a visit to India and sure enough within a month he was there, standing at her doorstep grinning from ear to ear with Kajol in a state of equal amounts of discomfort and disbelief.
The disbelief was because she hadn’t really believed him when he had promised to visit her and discomfort because she didn’t know how to explain his arrival to her family especially to her father. And what made the task even more difficult was the fact that her joy on this arrival was palpable and inexplicable. She had no reason to explain as to why someone who she had met in a conference in another country had decided to come and stay with her for a month without even giving a notice. But that was that. Though her head was muddled up by all these concerns she had to invite him in and introduce him to her father who was sitting in the living room on his favourite chair surrounded by his daily quota of newspapers.
She walked in with Victor and said, ” Baba, meet Victor my friend, who has come from Canada.” The look that Baba gave was a mixture of indifference, disapproval and derision. But thankfully he chose not to verbalize his feelings. He said a gruff ’ Hello’ and walked out of the room. Kajol though embarrassed tried to cover it up and almost pushed Victor to sit on the sofa and quickly left the room to get him a glass of water and also to call her saviour, her aunt to come and sit with him. Madhumita, as expected, was her gracious, loving self. She welcomed Victor warmly and also showed him to the guest room. Having settled him she went into her brother’s room and gave him a long lecture on how he had behaved badly with a guest and told him in a stern tone that she would not tolerate this sort of behaviour. Though he tried to tell her that he did not like the idea of a single man, and that too a foreigner living in his house, she told him in no uncertain terms that he had no choice but to accept it. He was Kajol’s friend and it was as much her house as everybody else’s. Thereafter she went into Abhijeet’s room and told him that she expected both him and his wife to be nice and hospitable with the guest. On her part, she decided to take good care of him, feed him some nice Bong food and make his visit as comfortable as possible.
Kajol once out of the disbelief mode realized how happy and excited she was to see Victor. She hadn’t realized that she had been missing him and this realization hit her when she saw him. And now that he was here she wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. So after spending a couple of hours at home enough for him to freshen up and grab a bite she decided to take him out. She decided that she had to do everything possible to make his stay as memorable as possible. The next few days were spent taking him to see the historical sights of the city, getting him to try out exotic Indian dishes, visiting book shops and grabbing coffees here and there. Kajol was having a whale of a time which was quite visible to her family. Though her father was quite disapproving of the amount of time that she was spending with the ’gora’ his sister told him to keep his mouth shut and let them be. She could see how happy Kajol was and didn’t want anything to come in the way of her happiness. Somewhere Madhumita could gauge Kajol’s feelings for Victor and she realised that they ran deep. She could see that there was a connect between the two of them and although they belonged to two different parts of the world, came from entirely different backgrounds and cultures there was something that had brought them together and was keeping them together. And that something was not any sense of hospitality or friendliness, it was much more. Therefore she wanted them to spend as much time with each other as possible, to get to know each other and then take an informed decision whatever that might be.
But then after about a week of indulging in Indian delicacies and the Delhi heat Victor Laurent fell sick. There was only that much of Indian spice that his stomach could handle. Though initially alarmed at seeing him in a helpless state both Kajol and Madhumita rose up to the occasion and left no stone unturned to nurse him back to health. They put him on a light diet, forced him to eat and drink whenever he didn’t, took care of his medication, made him rest and as a result within a few days time Victor was fit and fine to venture out again but this time with a lot more care and caution. During the course of all this what was obvious to the whole world and not to the two people concerned was that they had fallen in love with each other. This realisation hit home as the day of Victor’s departure started to loom in front of them. The pangs of the impending separation started hitting them. Victor was the first to figure that out and not wanting to waste any more time decided to express his feelings to Kajol. So one evening when the two of them had stepped out for a coffee he decided to lay bare his heart. He was nervous as hell, had no idea how she would react though he definitely knew how he wanted her to!!
He took hold of Kajol’s hand and looking deep into her eyes said, ” My dear Kajol, I have fallen in love with you”.
And it was at that very point when he made this admission that a similar kind of sentiment, a similar kind of a feeling dawned on Kajol. Though taken by surprise by the admission, she knew at once that she too felt the same. And whether it was the suddenness of the admission or the shock of the discovery of her own feelings, Kajol just didn’t react. She had heard him, no doubt but was just too overwhelmed to say anything at all.
Her reaction or rather the lack of it unnerved Victor for a bit and left him wondering if he had misjudged her.
And yes they did get married but was it that easy?? To know more wait for “And I love him Part 2″…