Every year, during spring, when the smell of leaves and flowers would stir her soul, Ketaki would think of her by gone days, her university days of having sessions of adda at the canteen,her first friend who turned out to be her love, her chasing T.S.Eliot and James Joyce and Jibananda Das, her finding solace in Tagore and Wordsworth and her death with the redness of gulal upon her face. This spring, even after so many years as she had started arranging the bookshelves properly, and putting fresh flowers into the vases, and humming a Tagore in her lips, she found she had missed herself. They had shifted to a bigger house with better facilities, her husband had got a promotion and her son post exams, having a vacation. No worries. Still she thought she was missing something. She asked herself what actually she was missing. Her life, her youth, her beauty, her longing for friends, her lost love? What? She looked at herself in the mirror. No, she had not that grown old much. She counted her gold adornments. No, there were nothing missing. Then she looked outside. It was another beautiful day of spring. Smell of moisture was there too. As if dryness with moisture had made a perfect harmony. Like harmonious remains life and death, light and darkness, happiness and sadness, winter and summer, the hills and the ocean, the rivers and the seas. She finally realised, what she was missing. She was missing her favourite thing, Her favourite pastime. Painting. So thinking, she asked her son to bring a sketchbook and pencil box and watercolors and pastel tubes. Adi was a bit surprised. ‘You are going to draw?’ Ketaki was thinking what could be her proper answer. She was thinking of finding a proper excuse. ‘Why not? Can’t she do that?’ She heard. Angshuman had said that. Ketaki was bewildered. She looked at Angshuman with moist eyes. Much later, when she asked Angshu how he could know that she was willing to draw something, Angshu smiled and said ‘I remember finding your sketches in the cupboard a few days ago while I was helping you in doing the spring cleaning. And I noticed with how much care you packed them and put them into a folder…that showed your devotion to that work…and I loved that…’ Ketaki was surprised. She smiled.
Shilpi’s starry starry night
Shilpi was trying to think of something to draw and paint. It was another day of her painted life. She had been doing painting since her child hood. After she got shifted to this town, living in a girls’ hostel, for studies, she had kept alive her pastime of painting. After the classes, when she walks back to the hostel, from the university, with theories of philosophy clogging her brain, she tries to refresh herself by looking around her. Those trees which lined the avenue till she would reach the gate of her hostel would then appear to her as beautiful companions. When the breeze would blow stirring the leaves of those trees, she would think they were talking the meaning of life within themselves. And the sky. It always stays there over her mind and soul. ‘What do you think being so absentminded?’Her friend Camelia would ask her. Camelia had always remained clung to Shilpi since they had become roommates. In Shilpi she finds her alterego, her confidante. If the colors of spring would create a nascent rise of desire in her, Camelia would say that to Shilpi. ‘Find a boyfriend…’ Shilpi would say. ‘Boyfriend for me! The way I look who would love me!’ Camelia would say. ‘That’s wrong…’ Shilpi would say. ‘For beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and also within you…’ Shilpi would say. ‘Bajey bokish na…(don’t say all these…) You’re beautiful, you’re studious, you’re different…you would never understand my issues…papa had said, soon after this course he would search for me a bridegroom!’ Camelia would retort. ‘Why studying then?’ Shilpi would counter. ‘Yes…yes…but you know…how difficult is it to spend money on a course like this, which has little scope in our country…’ Camelia would say. ‘No branch of study is bad…there is a scope for everything…’ Shilpi would say, and start humming few lines from a song. A Tagore. ‘you’re living it in such a carefree way…how do you do that?’ Shilpi would smile. Later in the evening, when the girls would go back to their rooms after gossip on movies and boyfriends, when Camelia would lie down on her bed, trying to make out what Socrates had tried to deliver to his disciples in the Symposium, Shilpi would take out her painting equipments. Camelia would watch her through the corner of her eyes and would remark: ‘Kaal kintu SKD Socrates dhorbey…(tomorrow SKD would take lessons on Socrates)’ ‘I know…’ Shilpi would say just and start working on the sketchbook. But today, she was not finding any inspiration. She was chewing the end of her pencil, thinking. ‘leave it…sit with the theories…saying it for your good’ Camelia said. Shilpi would look at Camelia and smile. Just then her eyes fell on the portion of the late evening sky filled with stars and nebulas. A clear night sky with its boundlessness. Shilpi just went up to the window and looked at the sky. ‘How beautiful…’ She thought. Just then she heard the girls at the adjacent room listening to musical bandbox. The late evening show. And she knew it was a Don MacLean song that was being aired. A Don MacLean. Much like a song of Tagore. She went back to her sketchbook smiling. She got her inspiration. She started moving her pencil on the sketchbook like she was not painting, but revealing her vision of a dream. A Starry Starry night. Camelia, finding Shilpi working, got down from her bed, and came near Shilpi, for she knew in Shilpi’s works she would always find herself beautiful.