A brief encounter
Any idea how far 22 Harey Kristo Sett Lane, Kolkata 700050 is from 1A Dum Dum Road, Kolkata 700002. If you’re a postal code aficionado, you’ll think that these addresses are at far-flung corners of the city, separated by arterial roads, tramway tracks and throbbing bazaars. Would you believe that these two places are next to each other separated by a common wall? In their wisdom, the postal authorities deputed different postmen to deliver the mail. But that is another story.
In front of our Sett Lane house was a big stretch of vacant land. It hummed with activity in the evenings, particularly during festivals and occasional theatrical performances by touring jatra parties.
Early in the morning, it was interesting to see old retired people returning home after their morning walk. A little later one could see the scrubbed faces of children going to school. Then there was the rush of office-goers. With their children safe in school and their husbands gone, the housewives would come out with shopping bags to bargain for fish and vegetables.
On a pleasant Sunday morning in December, standing in the balcony, I was relishing the taste and aroma of steaming percolated coffee. Suddenly there was the familiar shrill cry of the hawker and he delivered a couple of chicken patties for which I had a weakness. Talking of weaknesses, I was watching with no mean interest, the sprightly young women in their holiday finery walking up and down the street.
Coming from the far end of Sett Lane was the fascinating image of a woman. She was silhouetted with the sun shining behind her. Her gait, her figure, her height appeared very familiar. But the distance was a little too much for my myopic vision to have a clear view without my glasses. No doubt it was someone familiar and I could now renew our acquaintance.
It took me some time to locate my glasses. Meanwhile, my heroine had come so close that there was really no need for glasses at all. She was Sarla, my wife.
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