Friday, September 11, 2009

American Pie

Anasua Sen looked outside the glass window... She looked almost like her...

Manhattan looked beautiful in autmn...The warm rays of the setting sun glittered on the Hudson waterbed... Busy New Yorkers returned to their homes...The Hudson River Park looked beautiful during the fall... Draped in fiery red and orange it is visited by colorful residents as well as their avian friends... Far beyond, the tall skyscrappers kissed the November sky...

Anasua Sen was a Saggitarian... Her father was a history teacher in the local school and her mother a homemaker... First time it was from Baba she heard about America...

America the land of rich, famous and successful...America the land of glitter and sunshine...From her distant cousin Tublu to her neighbor's handsome brother in law all had headed for the West back then...People basked in the glory of their NRI sons and daughters...

Anasua grew up listening to George Michael, Elvis, watching Clint Eastwood, reading Sidney Sheldon... Her favorite subject was American Literature... During her graduation days most of her friends had left for US---GRE, TOEFL, job offers, NRI husbands....

She had an arranged marriage... An arranged 'NRI' marriage.. It started with the usual grilling session... Her parents carefully selected the prospective grooms... Rejection was quite common and expected--Astrological equations featured as the number one rejection criteria... Saturn, moon, sun, mercury all needs to be perfect before the grand Bong wedding...

Anu dressed up everytime..Anu expected everytime...Sarees, bindis, kajal, polished nails, blush on...and she was made to sit before them...From Pickwick Papers to Pabda Shorshe, Hater Kaaj to height... The discussions were endless as the would be grooms and their entourage minutely intersected her...

But Srijit's family was a bit different... Srijit tall, handsome and extremely submissive worked as a software professional in Manhattan...The families liked each other... They married in October... Anu on her wedding night dreamt of Times Square as they made love for the first time...

A week later Anu took the flight to US... At the airport all the teary eyed relatives bid farewell to Anu... As Anu waved her hand from the far end of the busy airport terminal, her father's eyes glittered overbrimmed with moist memories...

Srijit lived in Washington Heights in Manhattan...His apartment was not typically what Anu had dreamt of.. It was a messy studio apartment in Washington Heights... The neighborhood was not quite over friendly...

Srijit was unusually quiet for the first few days...Most of the time, he preferred to stay out of home... Anu felt strange...Everytime Srijit said it was office, work pressure...

It was around 3 months, and after much persuasion, he agreed to take Anu for sightseeing that weekend... Their day started with Empire State Building.. she had heard about this building from Baba, long back when she was a kid... She had asked "Baba ota ki Ranu Pishir barir thekeo boro?"...Her father laughed at her curious innocence... "Dhur boka, Ranu Pishi to chartolay thake!"
Srijit took her to Central Park that day... they visited the grand Belvedre Castle that overlooked the Delacorte... They enjoyed an open air performance at the Delacorte with the Turtle Pond at the backdrop... It was evening, the air was crisp... Anu snuggled in Srijit's arms...but he still seemed lost...

In the evening they reached the glitzy Times Square... The glamor wrapped theater district of the city, draped in neons, giant billboards, snazzy lights... She told Srijit: "Amader Park Street er moton tai na"...Srijit smirked... Anu laughed at her own innocence...

Anu missed home some days... She called up Baba... Her innocent excitement, her loneliness, touched the heart of Mr. Sen, sitting miles away from Manhattan..."Bhalo achis to maa?" was all he could manage to say...

Anu did the grocery, cooking and cleansing... Srijit told her not to explore the area, as it was quite unsafe... Sri used to be out for most of the days and often nights... Overtime at office...His job was quite hectic...

There were days and weeks when he hardly spoke to Anu.. At home he kept to himself... Anu shouted, screamed cried and at the end teary eyed and helplessly lost, she coiled on one end of the bed... She dreamt of home...

Anu sent picture postcards and letters to her family back in Calcutta... She scribbled li'l tit bits on their back...Pictures of Empire State Building, Times Square, Statue of Liberty, cruise photos... Her Baba proudly displayed them to the curious relatives...boasted about Anu's fast lifestyle in US...."Ekhaner moton akdom na" was something they all agreed in unison...

America was truly beautiful.. Glitz, glamor, fast lifestyle, snazzy shopping malls... But Anu was not allowed to step out of the house... There were days when Sri did not go to office... He spent the whole day at home...


Srijit's behavior was strange... He did not allow Anu to leave the house....He was often suspicious, violent and had strange withdrawal symptoms... There were nights when Anu saw the man fully awake and staring at her...There were days when Anu got beaten up...

Anu was scared... Anu felt terribly alone ...Anu called her in laws in Calcutta after 8 months...

Srijit Sengupta was the eldest son of Rajani Sengupta... His father had retired from a clerical job... Srijit had completed his diploma in Computer Science and with the help of an uncle he had headed for the West in search of a job ... He wanted to make it big...The West had lured him like everyone else... Srijit for a first few months worked as a car mechanic, contractual labor, security guard at some skincare company and so on... He was desperate to get a good job but he failed to do so...Back home, the parents unknowingly boasted about their son... Srijit hated to reveal the truth to his folks... He loved this false glory...However his anxieties overpowered his false fantasies...

Srijit came back home during a vacation.. His condition had worsened...He had withdrawn himself into a shell... The doctor back in India diagnosed it as Schizophrenia.... The family astrologer prescribed "a good marriage" as the only way out... Srijit was married to Anu...


It was November... Anu had already applied for a divorce...Their relationship had reached its fag end... Anu had to come back...Her big American dream had died a sudden death...

She sipped her Christmas blend Starbucks coffee for one last time...That evening she went to Times Square... Thousands of people, snazzy neons, glamor and glitter all over... But Anu felt cold and terribly alone....There were strangers all around.. Strangers who were busy...strangers who were a part of this glamor and glitter and strangers who made her realize her isolation every moment...

She clicked pictures beside the neon lit billboards in Times Square that night...The crisp autmn wind was cold... It was her last night in Manhattan...

Its been 3 years or more...Anu works in the US Embassy in Calcutta... She works in the Verfication Department... Everyday she gets to meet a number of newly married NRI women who have applied for their Visas... Their eyes full of expectations and excitement... Innocence smudged in their vermillion smeared forehead...

Srijit Sengupta is in an asylum in Calcutta... He still dreams of becoming an NRI software bigshot...Anu got her divorce, a year back.... Next vacation she has planned to take her parents to Mussoorie... Mississipi does not haunt Anu in her dreams anymore...

But there are some autmn nights when Anu looks at the secretly treasured Times Square photographs... Anu relives that autmn evening, the neons and the glitter, the smell of perfume, black tuxedos, sexy stilettoes, Starbucks coffee... She looks out of her rented apartment in Behala...
The autmn sky looks different... The wind is crisp yet warm...

9 comments:

ani_aset said...

nice story girl :) barring the bengali (put a translation,it would help the non bengalis to read )

Dankest Cartoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dankest Cartoon said...

" Sexy" is the word and no euphemism could have hold back the feeling.
U know wat , 10 years down the line I see myself in some part of the world, at a coffee shop and people round the corner discussing an Indian women's escapade with effortless flamboyance which has taken the literary word by storm. I eavesdrop and find the name in the book... and people call her Sarmishta...

Dankest Cartoon said...

"... Anu on her wedding night dreamt of Times Square as they made love for the first time..."

An elaboration would have been highly appreciated...though. :P

Nimo said...

I read a fair number of blogs but comment on very few. What I like about yours is the style.

The undercurrent, subtle intones, the concave mirror against convex mirror approach and mind you it is a mirror - each reader looks at his own reflection.... of the mind of course. The delicate ruffling of our dark sides, the persistent social questions of our society.... the ability to hold the reader.

You got a fine pen there Miss.. leads the reader to wonder how the author might be in real life.

There are some obvious Indianisms in your sentence construction & grammar... a mere detail but worth if taken care of.

Nimo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
santa said...

In our country girls get married to everything else except the guy and then when she realize the truth it is too late.I loved the post

Priya said...

noooo...fr 1nce u will hve to say....y is it all about "Separation"??????????....

i liked this post as much but really want to c u making ur characters feel good and stay together...

Anonymous said...

Loved it