“No need to send them to your mom’s house this year.” I could hear my authoritarian grandma commanding over her daughter-in-law.
“Last year, they came back with tanned bodies, loosing many kilos, I just couldn’t recognize them. This summer, let them be here. Engage them in summer camps.” She was firm.
My mom was quiet, probably thinking whether she should rebel her mom-in-law. My brother and me were insisting mom….. to send us to our granny’s house – the cool, beautiful village.
Previous years, we had so much fun. We did fishing in the ponds and rivers, went to the paddy fields, collected eggs fresh from the hen house, pulled carrots and potatoes from the ground, and berries from a bush, climbed mangoes and jackfruits trees. Both of us became early risers to go to the farm to feed the animals, accompany uncle to take out milk from the cows.
All those activities were calling us this year too, like every other summer vacation. Ofcourse, this year, I had a special reason though. I was excited to meet someone….yes! someone very special for me.
Second day, last year. My brother was playing marbles with my cousin brothers. I was reading one of Ranju Hazarika thriller and detective stories under a big tree, laying a cane mattress with two three pillows. Two years younger, cousin sis- Hema was engrossing herself into a tinkle with a smiling face, probably reading Supandi’s stories.
“Hema, distribute these mangoes among all the kids.” Aunt came and handed over a huge tray with 7 - 8 banana leaves having grated mangoes with green chilies and black salt.
Hema started distributing among all the children. Everyone went to the tubewell to wash their hands to eat those yummy khatta mitha mangoes.
I was almost to dive into my share, suddenly, one male voice singing a lovely Bengali song, playing a base guitar hit my ears. It was from the nearby mango orchard. I was mesmerized to listen to the unplugged song in such a beautiful ambience, lying under the shades of a tree. His voice was floating with the waves of the sweet breeze and touching my mind and soul…..
“Wowww ……who’s singing, Hema?” I couldn’t resist myself.
“He is Shyamal da! He is our neighbor’s relative. He is from Kolkata. Studying in class IX, a great singer. He came here a week back.”
One year senior to me. “What a voice!” I exclaimed.
“He looks good too….” Hema instantly responded with a mysterious smile.
Shyamal kept singing Bengali, Assamse and Hindi numbers one after another. His voice was spellbinding. The guitar tune and scale proved his expertise in strings. I felt like meeting him, though I kept that as my silent desire.
In the afternoon, we all kids went to sail on the banana stem boats in the nearby swamp area and also to do fishing. Our youngest uncle accompanied us, as he had a big fishery next to the swamp area. We were really excited. We collected few earth worms, fishing stick, thread and needle, all set to catch the fishes.
Three boys were already fishing at the swamp area.
“Hey Raju, what’s the number?” My uncle called one of the guys whom I knew.
“Three small magur fishes till now…uncle!” He turned and replied.
“Hey Maadhu , hey Jats! When you guys arrived? Great to see you…” Raju da was happy to see us there.
“Hey Shaymal, could you catch any?” My uncle asked another guy..
The boy got up from his place…. “No uncle….fishes yet to recognize me…”
We all laughed loud. He looked at me…..with a question mark, though he didn’t ask anything.
Oops that’s the singer. Yes, Hema was right, he was dashing too. His one look was enough for me. It was electrifying. Something wrong was going to happen with me shortly… I was sure.
I was enjoying with all other team members, but, my eyes were constantly diverting my mind towards that boy….the boy from Kolkata!
Next day morning, we planned to go to the river to take bath in the morning. As monsoon was yet to come, river was not so deep.
We got up early morning. To reach the river, we had to walk through the narrow muddy lane amidst maze and rice fields. Our uncle was planning to teach us how to swim. We would have to return before the sun become scorching.
We jumped into the river – Dichang. Our happiness, excitement was echoing all nearby obstacles.
“Hey guys…..” Raju da suddenly appeared on the bank of the river – clapping at us.
And….and yes! He was there……I was thrilled. My heart and mind were becoming uncontrollable – infact, my skin too became brighter what I could feel.
They also came down to accompany us….though not very near. Me and Hema kept some distance ofcourse.
I caught Shyamal looking at me two/ three times too, in between.
As sun was gradually becoming blistering, we came out of the water and headed towards home.
In the afternoon, my aunt told us that we all kids were invited to Raju da’s house as it was his cousin’s birthday.
We all were excited. Me too. I, consciously or unconsciously started counting the hours…mind kept me busy thinking what would I wear, how would I keep my curly uncontrollable hair….
At last, the next evening came. We were all set to go to Raju da’s house. It was just 200 mtrs away from our house. My heart was beating faster while I was approaching their gate. And, I knew very clearly why……..!!!!
We were welcomed very well. Sitting arrangement was brilliant. Bamboo and cane mattresses all around. Few lamps were hanged on the trees. Golden, silver and red satin ribbons and white ballons, hanging from the trees were looking incredible. I had never seen such amazing ambience in a village birthday party.
My eyes were looking for him…..But, I couldn’t find him anywhere within my vision.
“Whole concept is by Shyamal…..” Raju da’s father was explaining to someone….
Ohhh…. my God! Again, there is an another reason to make my heart and mind weaker….
It was almost an hour. We already finished our scrumptious snacks.
Suddenly, we could see Raju da coming to the centre and announcing – “We have with us a special guest from far – from Kolkata today…. To mesmerize your mind and soul with his voice and his finger on strings…..Let me introduce you to Shyamal Das – the amazing persona, a handsome boy with a beautiful soul and creative mind….”
“Gunjaa koyi…. Mere naam karr diya…..Saaki ne phir se mera jam bhar diya..”
Ohhh…..What a voice! What a presentation…..I understood… he became my dream boy… Nothing could stop me in falling love with him now…
I couldn’t resist myself…I told my feeling for him to Hema. She asked me, so what next?
We decided that I would send an appreciation note to him. And, we did. I wrote only few words….in a sheet of paper – “Your voice is mesmerizing…Regards, Maadhu” and gave to Hema.
Hema promised me that she would give to Shyamal taking out a chance.
In the evening, we both went to the swamp area…saw him along with another guy fishing there. Guitar was lying next to them. We went ahead and he saw us, came forward.
“Hey Hema, where are you gals going?”
“We are out just for a walk….Hey Shyamal da, meet Maadhu from Guwahati….”
“Great meeting you….”
“You have an amazing voice…” I appreciated. Thought now the note had no value.
“Here is note from her to you…” In fraction of second, Hema handed over the note to him.
We were so embarrassed, that we disappeared from the place immediately before he looked at it.
In the evening, I could hear his voice outside…in the yard. I and Hema got scared if he would complain to our aunts and uncles. My hands and feet became cold.
We had our all ears to the conversation.
“Aunty, can you call Hema? She asked me for a book….So, I bought it for her.” We could hear him saying.
“Hema, can you come here, Shyamal is here to give you a book…” aunty called Hema.
Hema was very scared, but, with my assurance that I am there to take all responsibilities, she went ahead slowly.
“Hey Hema, you wanted this children novel, right? Take this and return me once you finish reading it. It’s very interesting book, by the way. I loved it!”
Hema almost snatched the book and ran into me….. Immediately, both of us closed the door, and looked for something inside the book.
We got it….
“You liked only my voice? I expected more…
….Your hair is lovely…..pulling me towards you…”
Oh.. My God!!!!! Hair? My Hair? Un-manageable, unkempt curly hair? Full of lice, the only reason I had fights with my mom…
Heights!!! Is he sarcastic ? We were confused. How come he got to know about my lices?
We planned to buy Medicare shampoo next day and also to avoid him for next few days…. Hema and me spent time inside the house next two days.
Third day, Shyamal and Raju da came home with a proposal… that next day, they are planning to have a kids picnic in the nearby jungle. I saw him from a distance, he was looking at me. My uncle said yes, and contributed rice, vegetables and a duck on our behalf.
Raju da called me…”Hey Maadhu, be ready…. You need to cook tomorrow…”
I just smiled.
Next day. After washing my hair third time with Medicare shampoo, I joined the kids gang.
Raju da was in class X. And he was the leader.
I cut the potatoes. Shyamal was trying to match his eyes with me…all the time, while I kept avoiding.
Suddenly, Hema called me, infact pulled me to show something……
“I love you Maadhu….” It was encrypted on the bark of a tree.
“Hey……” A voice from behind….It was Shyamal.
…………………and it began….End of that summer vacation, we separated with a note and a promise to meet this year again.
So, somehow, someway, me and my brother managed to visit granny’s house. Hema told me that Shyamal got selected in Indian Idol.
I knew it was a critical year for his studies, and it was tough for him to manage time as he got selected for Indian Idol, but, still dil hai ki manta nehi….. I kept waiting for him week after week…..month after month…..
I saw him in TV as he came to the top 10 of Indian Idol….
Will he try to connect with me someday???
Disclaimer : Not my own story!! :)