Sohana Manzoor explores the myth of happily ever after with three short & gripping narratives set in modern urban Bangladesh
No matter how people dream of being happy together, dreaming, like sleeping and living, is done alone. There just might be a few couples that would dream of doing the exact same things. Ninety-nine percent of couples don’t and yet they are known as happy couples.
Trina eyed Porag like a cat eyeing a mouse. Porag was looking wistfully through the window and it was not too difficult for her to guess what he wished. As for herself, the newly bought Devil’s Diadem was beckoning her from the bedside table where she had left it last night.
So, before Porag could propose anything, she said coquettishly, “The rain is lovely, isn’t it, darling? Wish we could go out in the rain. But I feel feverish. Can we read together?”
Porag’s face fell; he was about to ask his newly wedded wife to take a rickshaw-ride with him. But if she was feeling feverish, there was nothing much he could do, could he? Yet why did he feel somewhat cheated? He looked at Trina who was gazing back with imploring eyes. He shook off the nagging thought and took a seat by her.
An hour later, Porag was snoring on the bed while the house-cat Minty dozed and purred over his chest contentedly. Trina was poring over the fantasy book and was oblivious to the rest of the world. If Porag was asleep, that must mean that he was very happy too.
Everything’s right with the world!
Israr got into the car and drove out cheerfully. He just needed to believe that it was a special day, and it indeed turned out very special. Yes, the man she was betrothed to died last year, but surely, she would not be grieving him through the rest of her life?
He was Rupam’s best friend and he did everything he could to save him. It is not that Israr was always in love with Sruti. But watching her taking care of Rupam during his dying days made him fall for her. He was tired of all the glossy social butterflies and became totally smitten with Sruti. Israr knew that if she could learn to care about him half as much, she cared about Rupam, he should be very happy. He waved at the young woman who stood still in the veranda. Even though she did not wave back, he felt joy rushing through his veins.
“Our life together will be the happiest, I promise you!” Sruti stared at the receding figure of the young man driving away. Her heart almost felt that it would break. Did people still believe in that kind of happiness? Or such dreams? It seemed as if they did.
She had accepted the proposal. Israr came from a very affluent family and would gladly take care of her brother who was slowly dwindling away because of bone cancer. At her heart, she felt the presence of a dried up river. The grotesqueness of the reality that she had just sold herself hit her hard even if that buyer was very nice and caring.
Ria uploaded all the eleven pictures of the “perfect couple” on Facebook. All were taken the previous evening at Eppi’s engagement ceremony. Ria admired her blue jamdani studded with silver stars. It may not be as expensive as Tania’s golden one but was certainly more beautiful. Ria admired her own oval shaped fair skinned face with just the perfect blush. The smile was enchanting. And Ashik looked as dark and handsome as ever. Speaking of Ashik, where was he? Still stuck in the bathroom? The sound from her phone made her look at the screen again. A message in the messenger: “You look lovely. But did you have to cling on to his arm?”
A dimpled smile played at Ria’s lips. There are so many ways to play. Jishan had not called her or talked to her in the past one week. But this one post got his attention, and he was back in line. So, would she have lunch with him today? Hmm, that would be nice but weren’t they supposed to visit Ashik’s sister that same afternoon?
Ashik scrolled up fast. Did he lose the message? Piu would kill him if he did not find the number. Just imagine him agreeing to run this errand! He would never agree to do this for anybody else. But Piu was his oldest friend; more than a friend, to be honest. Okay, he found it and heaved a sigh of relief.
The door opened and a neutral voice said, “Call apa* and cancel the lunch today, Ria. An emergency meeting has come up.”
Ria could not believe her luck but she pouted nevertheless. “Haven’t seen apa in a while. But, oh well… will do.”
The perfectly happy couple danced away in pursuit of their separate interests.
*apa: Elder sister
Sohana Manzoor is Associate Professor, Department of English & Humanities, ULAB.
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