This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 17; the seventeenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
“Dadu, speak out, don’t keep quiet,” Namita pleaded.
Dadu was Deepankar, Namita’s elder brother. She was three years younger to him, but Dadu and Namita were very close to each other, as if they were twins. They had no secrets from each other – till recently, Namita bitterly thought. Something was troubling Deepankar, and he was not sharing it with Namita.
Dadu did not speak. He just looked at his sister. Clearly he was in two minds. For a moment, Deepankar was ready to speak, however he controlled himself.
“Dadu, please…,” Namita was almost in tears. She was frightened by his stare. What must be troubling him, Namita could not think of. Deepankar had a very good job, was happy, had good friend circle, steady relationship with Ashwini – their proposed marriage was accepted by Deepanakr’s and Ashwini’s families very recently. Namita knew Deepankar had no addictions. What could be the problem? Namita stared back at her loving brother. Deepankar did not say anything and stormed out of the room.
“Now where has Deepu gone like that? Did you fight with him again? You are such a spoilt girl, you even make your simple brother angry…..,” that was certainly grandmother speaking. She loved Deepankar more and could never digest the fact that everyone loved Namita too, in spite of her being a girl.
“Oh! Grandma, nothing. He is in a hurry,” Namita tried to explain. Her cell phone rang at the right time and she could excuse herself.
‘What is the mystery?’ Namita kept on thinking.
That evening the family had a small conference. Everyone had noted that something was troubling their Deepu, and everyone was anxious to support him. Problem was; nobody knew what exactly the issue was and what kind of support Deepankar needed.
“Did you talk to him?” Papa asked Namita.
“For God’s sake, why don’t you directly speak to him? Man to Man talk might be better,” Ma as usual had different opinion than Father.
“Had he any fight with Ashwini, lately?” Ma added hopefully but taking precaution that she sounded anxious. She had never much liked the idea of Deepankar getting married to Ashwini. She had chosen one of her friend’s daughters for that role. But alas! There was nothing wrong in Ashwini too and hence she had to accept Deepankar’s choice.
“Not that I know off. In fact, here comes Ashwini, you can ask her,” added Namita bluntly knowing well her Ma’s destroyed wish.
Ashwini joined. She immediately understood what the conference was all about. She added fuel in the fire with right tone and right words. No, she did not know what Deepankar was worried about and he had been avoiding speaking to her on that subject. In fact, in the last two weeks Deepankar had not spent his usual Saturday evenings with Ashwini. She had come to ask Namita what was wrong with Deepankar.
Now that caused more trouble in that small conference.
“Is he losing his job?” Pa thought aloud.
“Pa, you forget that just ten days ago he told us that his office is sending him to some conference for Paper Presentation,” Namita was feeling hopeless with the discussion.
“Nobody believes in me. This year you did not worship Lord Ganesha properly, see the result. Our golden boy is suffering now….,” grandma’s direction was as expected. Whatever good happened in the family was due to God’s Grace according to her. Logically, whatever problems, troubles came, it was God’s punishment.
“Everything was done properly. Now, don’t you start that discussion again! You should understand that times have changed,” Pa was really angry with his mother. Right from childhood, he had to spend lot of time in worship and rituals. He hated that.
Grandma said, “I am worried about Deepu, nothing else.” Everybody kept quiet on that. Nobody knew how to break the silence.
That was done by Anil, Deepankar’s childhood friend. He entered whistling as usual and was happy to see all – especially Namita. “Where is your Prince Charming?” he teased Ashwini. With a frown he realized that the atmosphere was not cheery as usual. “Is everything alright?” he asked cautiously.
“Anil might know,” Pa said.
“What is it Uncle that you want to know?” Anil was now confused. He looked at Ashwini. He now feared that the news was of break up between Deepankar and Ashwini. He never had imagined that.
“Has Deepankar been smoking or drinking lately?” Namita’s father asked solemnly.
Anil was caught in two minds. He knew that the family did not know of Deepankar’s latest habits and new infatuations. A drink is necessary for socialization, but he was sure the old generation won’t appreciate this fact. He did not want to betray his friend. His silence made everyone uncomfortable. Sensing that, Anil hastily added, “Oh! Why do you think so?”
Father and Mother became more anxious with this evasive answer. A tear rolled down on Ashwini’s cheek. Namita sharply looked at him. There was a clear question in her eyes: “you too?” which Anil wanted not to notice. Grandmother said something which nobody could properly hear.
“Now, Anil, I am asking you a question. Instead of answering, you are questioning me back. How do you expect me to interpret your answer?” Father shot back.
“See Anil, Deepankar is neither eating properly, nor sleeping well and he is not speaking to any one of us. We are all worried. Do you know what is troubling him?” Ma added politely. She did not want to hurt her future son in law - though that idea was taking shape in her mind only very recently.
Anil was confused. Yes, he remembered that Deepankar had been very introvert during last fortnight. He was not seen on Orkut, not on Facebook. Anil recalled that there was not a single Twit from Deepankar in the last 10 days. He also remembered that the cows were not milked on Deepankar’s Farm and the Artichokes were weathered on his farm. Deepankar had not sent any SMS lately. It struck to Anil for the first time that something was indeed wrong with his dear friend. How can one live without virtual presence?
“Namita, bring Deepu’s bank passbook. I want to know,” Pa ordered.
“Oh! Papa, you can’t do this. This is not fair. Let us wait and talk to him. You can’t treat him like a kid or a culprit,” Namita cried.
Silence followed. Everyone had some idea but was ashamed to share the ghastly idea with others.
The Mystery was looming over the room and the minds of all those people, who loved Deepankar.
Deepankar was very happy. He could not wait for the elevator. He took two steps at a time and was surprised to see the home door open. He was still more surprised to see such a crowd in the hall. But he was happy to see them all at that moment. He wanted to share his joy with them.
“Hey, here is a surprise for all of you,” he shouted.
He did not notice that they all exchanged hurried looks.
“I got 150 votes and First Prize.” Deepankar laughed loudly and shook Anil physically with tremendous joy. He wanted to hug Ashwini, but suddenly realized that his parents were there and so controlled himself in time and captured the second option. He was so happy that any stranger even would do.
“What?” everybody screamed. That was followed by more confusing remarks.
“My Goodness!” Father remarked.
“Oh! It is only that…” Mother said.
“You are stupid,” Ashwini murmured.
“Oh! You know that for the last two months I am writing a blog. I participated in a competition my post was selected for the first award. 150 votes and First Award! Imagine the success! Hurrah.. You know what I wrote…” Deepankar was in high spirits. Without listening to any of those remarks, he continued.
Suddenly Deepankar realized that nobody was paying attention to him; everyone looked relieved rather than happy. He looked at Namita for explanation. She was controlling her laughter. Anil was grinning. Father looked at Namita and she started laughing loudly. Everybody joined.
Only Grandma seemed to be glad and touched him on his head. She said something about Lord Ganesha.
“Oh! This is my first award in Writing and they don’t even bother to congratulate me!” Deepankar sighed.
“What is this Mystery?” Deepankar asked himself. However he spoke loudly in his anxiety.
“Oh! Nothing…” everybody said unanimously.
“Come Dadu, write a blog post about this experience,” Namita said. Everybody laughed and disappeared in different directions. Even Ashwini went to kitchen with his mother, Anil and Namita went together ….
Leaving Deepankar alone; wondering about The Mystery of the laughter; of Ashwini and Mother joining hands; about Namita and Anil…