I am going to switch on a life fellow story. If I am not wrong others’ wives always look more beautiful than own wife. I have heard people quoting this proverb in their usual conversation. I am not at all confirmed whether they utter it casually or seriously but one thing is quite clear that whatever they say is not baseless nor is biased, rather logical. Why and how it is a subject of research may matter to all of us.
This question has arisen due to the fact that an incident happened which has taken the shape of a short story.
Literature is the mirror of society. What the writer hears, sees, reads from the different sources of communication or conversation, he very often nets his experience and finally converts into a short story.
It is not a new thing. It is as old as our tradition, culture and civilisation.
It has been happening for a long time that whatever the writer or poet realizes, he/she expresses in black and white and here his/her feeling about takes the shape of a statement of affair. Such a statement of affair is nothing but a short story.
Such story goes on and goes on without break for a pretty long time… time passes minute by minute, hour by hour and so on but the story continues and continues for ever and ever.
Sakshi and Shikha were very good friends. They were born in the same town, same neighbourhood, and their houses were also situated face to face in front of each other’s.
They were so in front of each other that one could hear clearly the voice of another.
Sometimes it so happened that one needing salt or sugar or garlic or ginger, could ask for from one’s house balcony. One’s was facing the east , so getting the sunrays early in the morning , in winter it was pleasant whereas the other facing the west getting the sunrays in the evening , in summer it was pleasant, one looks at the rising sun while the other at the setting sun.
Sakshi and Shikha every morning studied together in winter in Sakshi’s balcony whereas in summer they studied together in the evening in Shiksha’s balcony. They shared the weather too for comfort instantly.
They were born together on the same day of the month and year. They were fed and brought up together, it meant they were provided the same facility – food and drink, dresses and aprons, ornaments and cosmetics etc.
They played together, sang and danced together, over and above studied together in the same school and college.
When they grew up and became marriageable, their parents thought of marrying them at the same time on the same day together in the same ‘Madwa’.
Those, who think for a good cause and do in a right direction, are helped by God.
It was a mere coincidence that Sakshi and Shikha were married with engineers on the same day , on the same Madwa and their parents and their kith and kin were very happy to see them off after the marriage was over in the morning .Their so to say Sasurals were situated in the same locality. The parents, their relatives and friends welcomed the newlywed couples with enthusiasm. It so happened that their parents arranged a joint reception party in a community hall of the city where both the couples were blessed by the invitees. The brides resembled each other in appearance that it was too difficult to distinguish from one to another.
They appeared to be twin sisters. They wore the saffron saris of the same colour and design. The elderly people while blessing them were of the opinion that God was in sheer leisure in creating them quite equally in the same module.
The young men and women were so anxious to see and talk to them that they forgot even to take food and drink. The youngsters were lost in staring at beautiful faces of the brides and in peeping into their sparkling eyes.
Whosoever saw them from a close distance, they only wanted to find out even the least difference in appearance between the two but failed to locate anywhere in their bodies.
One married woman said to the other woman, “Not possible to find out the difference. Let us go home.”
“Didi! You know that I run a tailoring house in the city centre and In course of my dealing with the ladies, I came across a few cases alike, there was all along similarity or resemblance in look and in appearance, but I found out the difference ultimately although a trifle one. So far as I remember I happened to confront with twin sisters in my shop. Both resembled most but I located the difference between the two.”
The married woman curiously asked her, “What difference did you notice?”
There was a very small mole on the right upper side of the lip of one sister and this difference was enough to recognise and distinguish one from the other.
Didi! I am confident I will locate the difference, only then go home. Please drag the chair and sit beside me for an hour – so closely that we can watch and mark attentively – mainly the faces, noses, eyes and even their teeth.
Teeth? How possible?
Why not? Quite possible, when they laugh or smile, we can see their teeth even, not only the front teeth but can see the side teeth also.
So will we have to wait with patience when they happen to laugh or smile.
What of that? Let us wait and stare at least for an hour. I am sanguine we will succeed in our mission. “Jam ke baith jaao dhairya ke saath.” (Sit tightly with patience)
Both the ladies sat tightly and started watching.
The hours of waiting came to an end when they laughed wholeheartedly on some unusual topic and it was to their utter surprise that one of the brides’ lower jaw tooth after the front two teeth on left side was unusually uneven.
It was but natural that their joy knew no bound when they succeeded in finding out the difference between these two ladies – Sakshi and Shikha.
It was Sakshi’s uneven tooth which differentiates her from her friend. ‘In fact such an uneven tooth adds to the beauty of a woman.’ – The tailor mistress expressed her view, the moment she looked at her face while laughing, the lady sitting behind her nodded her head in the affirmative.
After introducing themselves to these newlywed ladies and pointing it out that she (Sakshi) appeared more beautiful like Moushmi Chatterji – the renowned actress of Bollywood of her time.
Sakshi was stunned to hear it from an unknown woman. She recollected one incidence of her childhood when her parents wanted to root that uneven tooth out but her grandmother opposed it as she looked more beautiful whenever she smiled. The idea of rooting it out was cancelled.
It was but natural that friendship developed with these two ladies and Sakshi invited them to her residence on tea. They accepted the invitation gladly and left after the function was over.
Sakshi and Shikha also left for their houses with their husbands. Arun and Arvind, their husbands were bosom friends and resembled each other. Anybody could confuse to distinguish one from another but to their mothers they were easily recognizable as there was a mole on the eyelid of Arun and it was visible while twinkling the eyes off and on. It was the only mark that distinguished Arun from Arvind and only their mothers knew it, none else.
They were posted in some collieries under the Dy. Chief Engineer (Mining). As their leave was exhausted, they were asked to resume their duty.
The programme for honey moon in Goa was postponed for the time being.
No way out, they resumed their duty. Their wives also were with them. They had never seen such a big coal dump at pit head in life. Not visited Goa, what of that? , let us visit the colliery inside and so proposed their wives.
It was accepted and Arun and Arvind visited the colliery with their wives next day. Sakshi and Shikha saw the seams and coal faces where their husbands did their duty regularly for coal production inside the mining areas nearly a thousand fit below the surface and were loaders and trammers, mining sirdars and overman, electricians & fitters were found working hard for extraction of coal and sending it in coal tubs to the pit head.
Somewhere there was sufficient light and air but in a few distant places darkness prevailed with the least air flow. There were bigger fans at inlets as well at outlets so that the air could pass from one corner to another and the workmen could not feel suffocation at the coal faces.
It was declared dangerous areas/zones of the seams.
Sakshi and Shikha realized how hard the labourers worked there in the seams at the risk of their lives all along for nation’s shake and in turn how much care was taken by the government for the betterment of their lives and their families.
Even after nationalisation of coal mines on 17th. October 1971 by the Government of India the standard of living of coal miners and loaders directly involved in production of coal is still not better. Who is responsible for it is not a matter of argument but is a subject of analysis and research.
Two couples came out of the mine. The manager was at the pithead to receive the newlywed couples and invited them to lunch in the guest house.
Their boss Mr Duggal was very rough and tough by mouth but very kind by heart. He not only granted one weak leave, but arranged air tickets for Goa for honey moon.
It was their first flight from Kolkata to Goa and both the couple were so excited that they didn’t have patience to wait any longer for Sunday rather made up their mind to proceed to Kolkata one day earlier i.e. on Saturday morning itself by Coalfield Express.
They planned to stay one day and one night in some good hotel in Kolkata. They listed out the worth seeing places of Kolkata and planed properly to visit these places accordingly.
Their parents were also happy that the daughters were going to Goa by air flight for the first time. In their view the daughters with their husbands could enjoy the journey more than what they had expected.
Both the brides were in their mothers’-in-law houses. The whole family was extremely excited to learn that their sons were going with their wives to Goa by air flight for honeymoon.
Such a golden opportunity they were not bestowed upon when they were married about 27 years back. There was no tradition to go outside the house and to celebrate honeymoon setting everything aside.
The bride was so busy in reception whole day late in the night that she could spare a few hours at the mercy of the elders or younger sisters-in-law. She found so exhausted that she could not feel what had happened at night with her. Only her husband realised it, she too but later on.