The Bengali original by Abhijit Majumdar was published on GuruChandali here and has been translated into English by Arpan Kundu. Art is by Sulipto Mondal.
- Look at that guy, dude. He is so f#cking hot. Hey, see, see, he is looking at you
- Oh God! He is so damn good, man. But, what’s the matter? You are checking out boys? Have you been changed? Umm, Do I have a chance?
- Shut up!! I am arranging one for you, dumbo. Otherwise you will remain my roommate all your life. And waste your life by shopping and watching movies with me. And in the meantime I also won’t get a girlfriend.
- Ok ok!! Let me find one for you too. Look at that girl in blue kurti. Like her?
- Phew!! You look better than her.
- BJP is losing this time. Mark my words.
- BJP? And losing in Gujarat? Have you gone crazy, sweetheart?
- If it does, then?
- Then…I will kiss you.
- In your dreams!!! And what if it wins?
- Then you kiss me.
- Babe, it’s been a long time since we’ve watched a movie together. Let’s watch.
- Not a bad idea. Tomorrow is Christmas holiday too.
- Yes. Then today itself? After food?
- Great. You finish your lunch. In the meantime, I’ll finish my dinner. Then will sit together.
- Okay. Which movie btw?
- Dhoom 4? Is it on Netflix?
- Dhoom?? Uff, You will never change!!
- Babe, which one do you like more? Spooning or getting spooned?
- What the hell is that?
- Sh#t!! You are so unromantic. Will you cuddle me or shall I?
- Honey, at least until we arrange for an AC, let’s keep some distance on the bed. At least, for the summer?
- You snore too much when you sleep
- No, I don’t. Rather, it’s you who flail your arms while sleeping.
- That’s for defense. To stop you from snoring.
- Nonsense? Didn’t you listen to the recording?
- Conspiracy!! That’s not me. Someone else.
- Don’t say like this. If you don’t do anything about your snoring, I shall sleep in a different room from now.
- Go, who is stopping you? But don’t come back to wake me up at the middle of night saying “some shadow is moving outside”.
- Don’t laugh. Seriously, there is some spirit in this house.
- Sure there is. But not one, a pair of them. One snores and the other flails arms during sleep.
- Someday, I will leave this house and go far away.
- Good idea. When are you going?
- Oh. You are waiting for me to leave? Listen, I’ll go nowhere. I’ll stick around here only.
- No no. Let’s go somewhere. You and me. Together.
- No way. If I go with you, you will again irritate me.
- No, babe. Just one cup of tea made by you in the evening. That’s it.
- OK, got it. Wait for couple of minutes. You won’t let me rest!!
- I am now taken for granted for you, right? You don’t really care anymore.
- Did you even listen to what I said?
- Wait for a min. Just let me complete this e-mail and send it to my office.
- I am thinking of going to Kolkata to my parents for a month.
- No. Not this month. Next month.
- Why? Just because you have year-ending workload in your office?
- No, because your annual medical check-up is not yet done. The way you are going out of breath while fighting with me, it’s not safe to let you get close to to your brother and sister-in-law before you get yourself an ECG.
- Who is that in your office party photo? Never seen her before.
- Newly joined. Very efficient.
- Yes, I see.
- Now, you are after her?
- No. Was just saying that many new people are joining your office.
- So what? They’re joining the office, not our home.
- Who is resisting even that?
- I always pray to God to take you before me.
- Why? Why you want me to die before you?
- Without you I can still manage. But, without me you will be a complete mess. You are old, but you haven’t grown up. You can’t manage life.
- I shall learn when required.
- Seems so. Not that easy.
- Even harder than living without you?
- So, finally you left me. Probably when the call comes, we all have to go. But, don’t be so happy about it, ok? ‘ Coming there very soon to irritate you. But next time, I shall go before. You can’t leave me alone like this every time… that’s not fair. You know, I don’t fear ghosts anymore. Moving shadows now just feel like you. But, I don’t get good sleep at nights. Doctor says it’s my high BP. He doesn’t know anything. It’s your snoring that I am missing. Without that, it’s difficult to fall asleep. Anyway, ‘coming to you shortly. We will start another journey together. Yours truly.
‘Together’ is a series of conversations between two persons. There is no clear indication whether the two are the same or different in each episode. An attentive reader might have already noticed that the persons involved carry no names. Not giving them names was intentional. Names map to certain identities, labels and stereotypes.
For example, if I say they are Mansoor Farhad Yusuf and Dr Nupur, you will understand that this is the couple from Kavi Nagar (Ghaziabad, UP) whose wedding ceremony was vandalized by Hindutva groups.
If I say they are Ramdulari and Ayushmaan, you will understand that they belong to different socio-economic backgrounds.
If I call them Divya and Ilavarasan, then you will understand this was the couple who were violently separated and the latter murdered because of their caste difference.
If I say they are Moumita and Venkatesan, you will wonder if they had faced great troubles for their different food habits, after starting to live together.
And if I name them John and David, or Geetha and Priya, you would exclaim in disgust that there must have been some mistake.
My dear friend, although we tend to classify people by imposing artificial labels, in certain things we are very much the same. Our feelings of love-hate, joy-sorrow, likes-dislikes, really do not know these labels. Living together is a canvas where all these colors are painted. Irrespective of caste, religion, gender, ethnicity and mother tongue the picture painted is equally beautiful. For every one of us, the eternal happiness of holding the hand of the beloved is the same. Same is our sorrow when the loved one leaves us. Believe me, the labels we have don’t matter at that point, even the slightest.
Keeping that truth in mind, let us accept equal rights for all couples. Let us make ‘live and let live’ the music of our lives. Rather, let us focus more on loving each other. You will find the world much more joyful that way my friend. Colours of spring will fill the earth.
These musings were sparked by reading my young friend Samarpan’s inscription on the wedding card of his sister: see below.
Author Prof. Abhijit Majumder is a faculty member in the Dept of Chemical Engineering, IIT Bombay. He works on stem cell biology and tissue engineering. Writing on different socio-political issues is his hobby. Views expressed here are the author’s own.
Translator Arpan Kundu is a Ph.D. student at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai, and is part of the Orinam collective. Apart from his studies, he has a keen interest in Marxist Feminism.
Artist Sulipto Mondal studied painting at the Government College of Art and Craft, Kolkata, and obtained a Master’s from the Department of Visual Arts, Kalyani University, Nadia, West Bengal. He is an event decor artist by profession.