Ooh… aah… ouch… I swear, if I had the ability, I would have sued some of these airport staff. I hate to be manhandled. Aah… finally some respite, a smooth ride on the belt. Now I would be picked up by my owner, Tuhin, soon.
Did I see a face I knew from my past? Those brown eyes, curly hair caressing the plump cheeks on a petite frame- who could forget that adorable face? It’s been three years since we met, but she had not aged for a day, it seemed. She wore dark-rimmed glasses, which was a new addition to her round face, and it accentuated her elegance. Trishita, I recalled her name. She was waiting there for her baggage too. Oh, I felt nostalgic. Wish I could enquire her about my twin sister Melissa. “Hey! Wait… wait…” I shouted as I saw her picking me up. Did she mistake me for Melissa?
I shouted, “Hey lady! I don’t belong to you, not anymore. It’s been years that we have met.” But all my pleas fell on deaf ears, or rather phone ears. She heaved me up with one hand, her other hand holding the trolley and a phone pressed between her ear and shoulder.
Juggling with all these things she kept on talking, “Han Maa… I have just landed… Yes, I know Bijoy da has come to pick me up… Don’t worry Maa, this is the third time you are calling me after I landed… Now, will you please hang up the phone? I have collected my baggage . I will be home soon…”
She finally hung up and hauled me towards her car. Bijoy Da, her driver, opened the boot space and deposited me there while she slumped in the back seat of the car. Then the engine revved up. She was humming a song which travelled to my ears in the dark boot space-
Jaro laagi firi eka eka…
Aankhi pipasito nahi dekha…
This was her favourite song, she used to sing this a lot. With this, a deluge of memories flooded my mind.
It was six years back. We were fresh out of the factory. Twin sisters we were- Valissa and Melissa, products of a newly launched company. We were kept on a high stand at the outlet, shining in our new colours and fresh smell. A red ribbon tied around us and a board saying- buy one, get one free. That was when we saw this couple, approaching towards us, hand in hand.
“Trishi, are you sure we need two?” The boy was apprehensive. But Trishita insisted, “Absolutely Tuhin. when you go on a business trip, I will need a separate suitcase in case I need to travel.” Tuhin agreed and we were brought home. Melissa and I were very happy to stay with them. They were a happy couple. Together we went on many trips…
Ah! The sudden flash of light on opening the boot felt like needle prick on my eyes and put a stop to my reminiscence. Trishita’s mother opened the door as soon as she rang the doorbell.
“O Trishi…come…come. How was your trip?” Her eyes went extra round and eyebrows arched with excitement.
Trishita hugged her tightly and smiled, “Haven’t I told you, like four times over the phone, the publishers liked this sequel very much? They have agreed to publish it.”
Her mother touched her forehead and bosom in rapid hand motions in an act of thanking God.
“All your sufferings are coming to an end, I have a feeling.”
“Maa, stop behaving as if I am a kid. I am thirty-six now.” She said with extra stress on thirty-six.
I stood there silently, yawning, for I knew her mother can chat endlessly. I waited for them, to discover the slip.
“Wait, I have brought something for you” she leaned over me. Now! Now! She might know…
“No. Not now. I have made luchi alurdom for you. Freshen up and have your meal, then we will talk.” Her mother held her hand.
They both left, I was forgotten and left near the sofa. I sat in the corner waiting for the revelation. At the dining table, food was served. Then after bribing Trishita with a sumptuous meal, she started, “Trishi dear, look at me, I am ageing. And look at you. You are so messed up. Your room was so cluttered, I had to organise everything after you left.”
“Come to the point Maa,” Trishita said brusquely. “I was always this messy, it’s not new.”
“There is this guy. A widower with a little boy of two years. I want you to meet him”
“And you think I will become very organised if I marry him?” Trishita interrupted. Then she held her mother’s hand, “I feel sorry for the little boy who lost his mother, Maa. But, I am not prepared yet…”
Her mother suddenly broke into a sob, “I know you still love him. All your stories reflect your love for him. Trishi, it’s been four years. For God’s sake, throw that spineless man out of your heart. And what you have lost will never come back.” Trishita didn’t utter a word. She didn’t want to. She was worn, both mentally and physically. After a long pause, she said, “Ok. I will meet him.”
Her mother smiled and pressed her hands, “Everything will be alright Trishi. This kid will fill the void in your life. Have faith and let go.”
The day passed and made way for the night, that was when she brought me in her room. She lifted me and placed me on her bed with care. With her gentle fingers, she unzipped me. As soon as she lifted my cover she gaped, “Oh no! What have I done? This is not my suitcase!”
The meticulously folded shirts, ties and suits attracted her attention. It was one of Tuhin’s little idiosyncrasies. One couldn’t tell whether he was going on a trip or returning from one, the shirts were folded uniquely with cuffs clipped to the button placket.
Did her heart skip a beat? She brushed her fingers over the neatly folded clothes and tried to swallow a huge lump. Then her eyes fell on the name tag. A drop of tear trickled down her cheeks and fell on me. It was warm.
She shut my cover hastily. Taking a deep breath, she opened me again. Her hands trembled while picking up the diary inside me. She hesitated at first, but, a few moments later started to turn the pages. Then she gently turned on a page and glanced at it for a bit too long. She placed the diary upside down with the opened page over me and buried her face in a cushion. Muffled sound of sobs filled the room. I read the opened page-
“12th February- Happy Birthday Trishi…
Sorry to let you down. I should have stood by you…”
Ah! I remembered that day. We were in Pattaya five years ago on this day. She was over the moon when Tuhin had presented her two tickets, a surprise gift on her birthday. A trip to Pattaya. Melissa and I, both of us accompanied them. We were packed light, for our contents were one-piece, two-piece, shorts and beautiful dresses. The days were spent on local visits and nights were passionate. Did we witness anything? Oh! That would be wishful thinking. We were stacked in the closet. However, our ears were glued to the closet door. We could hear the panting and erm…moaning sounds. The rest was left to our vivid imagination.
Ah! Those were some happy days. And it didn’t end then, by the end of that year, they were blessed with a baby boy. They named him Papan. The whole family gathered for the celebrations.
But as the days passed, their luck took an ugly turn. Their happiness disappeared. And ours too. There were no more holiday trips.Trishita used to sob a lot. Tuhin was always in a gloomy mood. We could not comprehend what made them so upset despite having such a jovial child. Yes, Papan was the most jovial child we had ever seen.
Then one day, we heard Tuhin’s mother lash out at Trishita.
Her shrill voice penetrated through the keyhole of the cupboard, “It must be in your genes. Nobody is known to have Down syndrome in our blood relations.” She rasped.
There was silence after that. We wondered why Tuhin didn’t say anything? His mother’s taunts and barbs worsened with each day. Sometimes, Trishita would retort, but mostly she kept quite for she looked already battered from inside. All that while Tuhin kept mum.
A few days past Papan’s first birthday, it rained heavily. The sound of splatter on the window pane next to the cupboard was deafening. Still, a lot of people had gathered at their place. Sombre and grieving voices had created a strange atmosphere. The smell from the burning incense sticks and flowers seeped inside the cupboard. It was choking.
After that day we never saw Papan again.
A week later, the cupboard door was opened in thrust and Trishita took out Melissa in a jiffy, packed all her clothes and belongings and started to leave.
Tuhin who sat all this while burying his face in his palms, rose from his place. He made one last effort to save their strained relationship, “Please don’t leave Trishi. Can’t we make it work? We love each other. Can we not think to begin afresh?”
Trishi stopped in her path and said without turning back, her voice croaked, “Maybe someday you will understand Tuhin. Sometimes love is not enough…” And she walked out.
I felt heavy, more than ever, even when I was empty.
With that my life became dull intervened by monotonous business trips.
The rays of sun had been peeping through the window for some time now, but Trishita still lay on her bed. A couple of knocks on her door broke her slumber. She sat on her bed groggily. She was up until early morning, may be wandering on the rough paths of her memory lane.
“Trishi, otho… It’s already 9:30…” Her mother called.
After freshening up, she made a phone call to the airport. She dressed and picked me up. Concealing her swollen eyes with shades, she left her room.
“Where are you going at this time?” Her mother enquired.
“I will be back in an hour.” She didn’t want to go into details. If her mother sniffed whose bag it actually was, I was certain, all hell would break loose then. Her mother’s forehead remained furrowed as Trishita grabbed a toast and left in haste.
She reached the airport ‘lost and found’ department. It seemed she didn’t want to keep me any longer or the bitter memories associated with me.
She had a conversation with the staff. They pointed towards a row of seats. What I heard was, “Ma’am, he has been waiting there. After you called us, we called him too…”
She looked unsettled, her grip over my trolley handle tightened. I could feel a storm in her heart.
She fumbled and uttered, “Mm… ok… I will go and exchange the bags…”
I saw Melissa from a distance. But I couldn’t show my excitement in trepidation of the upcoming encounter. I could see Tuhin’s side face from a distance. The new streaks of grey hair on his temple, made him look ageing with grace, unlike his demeanour, which was still child-like. He was fiddling with his mobile phone and his legs were trembling, just the way he behaved before any important client meeting. Meanwhile, my trolley handle felt wet, Trishita’s hands were clearly sweating.
He didnt see us until we were about a feet away from him.
“Tuhin…” Trishita’s lips quivered.
Tuhin stood up from his seat and smiled nervously, “Hey! How are you?”
“I am fine… How are you?”
“I am fine too.”
After the exchange of pleasantries there was an awkward silence for some minutes which seemed like years. Meanwhile, Tuhin fiddled with his mobile phone some more and put his hand in and out of pockets multiple times. And Trishita tucked her hair strands behind the ears umpteen times, however the disobedient curls bounced back on her flushed cheeks time and again.
“Sorry to have picked up your baggage by mistake. I apologise for the trouble.” I was relieved as she took the initiative to start the conversation again.
“It is fine, Trishita.” Then he blurted out nervously, “At least we met again… I saw your name on the tag yesterday at the airport, still I thought of carrying the baggage home…ermm… I am sorry… I did not mean to…”
“It is ok Tuhin.” She looked down, clueless, what to say next.
But the floodgates of emotions seemed to have opened for Tuhin who continued in an intense voice, “You know Trishita, I tried to call you many times after that day. But I think you changed your number.”
Trishita tried to divert him, “So how are your parents?”
“They are fine. They don’t stay with me anymore. They have moved to our ancestral home. I stay here… alone.”
Trishita’s eyes strayed towards his fingers, her eyes lingered a bit too longer on his ring finger, which still had their marriage ring.
If she stayed any longer, she might have broken down. She pushed me forward in a hurry, “So… its your bag.”
“Oh, yes. And… this is yours.” Me and Melissa exchanged smiles when we crossed paths.
Then, Tuhin took out a leather folder from his backpack and handed it over to Trishita, “Ermm… this is your manuscript. It was strewn inside the suitcase, so I thought of arranging it.”
Trishita was surprised, she took it with both her hands and thanked him.
“Its a beautiful story by the way,” added Tuhin.
“You read it? But you never used to read…” I could see her eyes twinkle.
“Yes. I did. And the previous two in this series.”
Right then Trishita’s phone rang.
“I am sorry. It’s Bijoy da. I will have to leave.” I saw both their faces turn ashen.
“Ok. Sure,” Take care Trishita.” He said with sincerity in his tone. And a tinge of pain in his eyes.
They both parted. Again.
Tuhin hired a taxi and slumped at the back seat along with me. He wrapped one arm around me. In their longing for loved ones, human beings tend to embrace pillows. This would be the first time when one embraced a suitcase.
He straightened himself when his phone rang after some minutes into the trip. He received the call in a way one responds to unknown numbers.
But, his next words made me to strain my ears to listen to the conversation.
“Trishi?” His eyes widened.
The soft voice from the other end said, “It is my number… Will you save it?”
I grinned when I heard him reply, “I will… I…definitely will…”
Jaro laagi firi eka eka, aankhi pipasito nahi dekha-
For whom I wander around all alone,
My eyes are thirsty for a glimpse of him. (Lines from a famous Tagore song)
Luchi-Alurdom- a Bengali dish
Da- a way of addressing an elder brother
This is an entry in ArtoonsInn ArttrA-5 hosted at Writers Room.
This ArttrA is sponsored by Tanima Das Mitra, Claws Club Member – ArtoonsInn, and hosted by the Watchers of ArtoonsInn.
Cover Photo By Unsplash
Prompt:The MC comes home from the airport to realize that they picked up the wrong baggage. What follows this incident?
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