Early November, chill has set in and Nandini was in twilight mood(short story)

Early November chill had set in . It was late evening . The golden glow of dusk had yet to go . It lent a radiance to everything around . In Bengal , we call it “Kone dekha alo “—perfect lighting to see the bride to be !!

Nandini was in her twilight blue mood , despite the golden glow . She always hated this time of the evening . Especially when alone in a huge sprawling empty house .
Felt “claustrophobic “in huge spaces!! Life seemed to stand still . She wondered … the biological clock was fast ticking away , temples had started greying …
Yes , son settled , daughter about to join a job .
A grandmom…. she didn’t feel like one . Her little darling about to take on wings ..
How times had flown .
Noo. “I won’t let depression take over ”
Her husband was away on a business tour . Nandini was alone in her huge villa of a house .
She decided to settle down with one of her favourite books . Best idea !!
She drew the curtains . Lit the lights and stood admiring the family portraits and other choicefully decorated knick -knacks on the mantle piece .
She always had a fetish for a fireplace , English style and had got a decorator to style it that way for her parlour . It was warm &cosy despite the chill outside .
She pulled the burgundy and cream raw silk kaftan (a two piece one) closer to her body , settled down on the sofa to read her favourite novel . Engrossed in it , she did not realise the passage of time .

Suddenly , there was a rap at the door . “Who could it be ?”she wondered . Quickly pulling the matching stole over it and adjusting her hair absent mindedly , she rushed to answer the call at the door .

Still a bit wary , she opened the door slightly and looked outside .

Sketch by Ria De Khan

“Hello Nadini . Remember me . It’s been a long time . Was passing by . Have been here on an official tour . Came to know , that you live here and was audacious enough to drop in !”
Nandini , stared , trying to adjust her gaze in the failing light . Had stupidly left her progressives on the table . Getting old , after all .
Slowly , a smile curved the corners of her lips ..
“Oh my God , Amit da . What an unexpectedly pleasant surprise !! Do come in . ”
She stood aside to let him enter, as she shut the door again .
Amit stood there , taking in everything in one appreciative glance .
“Chocos , you haven’t changed much . Let me see , yes , a slight greying , perhaps a little widening of midriff , …
No . Don’t be embarrassed . Actually , you are still very beautiful Chocos . Your skin is still so radiant . Remember , I always loved its smooth texture . And that coy smile of yours . ”
Amitda , stop calling me Chocos . Well , you were the only one permitted that liberty .
Please , stop acting formal . Sit . Let me cook up a quick dinner . Want some steaming coffee ?
Don’t smirk . I know , you are an exceptional cook . But , I am not so bad either .
Nandini , quickly left him admiring her parlour as she got him his favourite mocha and some crispy potato fritters .


“Wow, Nandini (he smiles at her) , what a tastefully done up house and the coffee is great . You haven’t forgotten my choice in all these years .
When was it we last met ?? Before I took up my assignment in Sydney , wasn’t it? ”
Nandini nodded vacantly , a faraway look in her eyes . .
Both sat , enveloped in a shroud of the past , unsaid words .. So much to catch up on …
Nandi , it’s really been a looong time . How have you been , dear ? You know , you were the favourite of our family . Was very sad to learn of your dad’s untimely demise .
Mashima is with your brother , isn’t it ? And what about your naughty little sis . ?
Nandini muttered under her breath — (stared at the carpet ) ‘Liked . But , my dusky complexion came in the way . Not good enough ! ‘
But , aloud she said . “Yes .. a long time . My little sis , is a grave young lady and the mother of a nineteen year old son .. No mischief or climbing on your shoulders or hiding behind your legs! ” ( surreptitiously , she brushed aside a tear . )
Suddenly , the light dimmed . Trying to evade the awkward moment , Nandini , picked up the tray and empty coffee mugs and rushed to the kitchen .
Amit sat , looking at her departing back .
“Enjoy the magazines . Give me twenty minutes , will get your favourite biryani ready , then we can catch up on old times “Nandini called from the kitchen .
Amit called back – Chocos , don’t bother . Your only biriyani , will turn out to be a five course meal . You have inherited mashimaa’s cooking expertise ‘, he said and laughed
After half an hour , Nandini returned , with her steaming , aromatic chicken biryani , Russian salad , vegetable fritters , moong dal with coconut , bhetki fry and thick caramel custard .
“Nandi ! This is amazingly awesome . How did you manage it so quick ? Or did you order from somewhere ? ”
… ‘No , only a few things I prepared now . Others were ready and in the fridge . Microwaved them . All your favourites , if I am not mistaken.”
Amit smiles and remarks -“Ashokda , is sure a lucky guy to be fed such delicacies everyday !”
“No , Amit , not always . With his diabetes and cardiac problems , very bland food most days .’
Amit looked at her .. a lingering look .And she looked away , embarrassed at having forgotten the epithet “da “in addressing him and by the intensity of his gaze .
They sat together enjoying the dinner . She only picked at her food , her heart too overwhelmed and full of unasked questions…
While enjoying the dessert , lights flickered off . She quickly lit the candle which lent a surreal romantic glow to the room .Nandini , got up flustered to get more candles , but her feet got entangled in the carpet and she nearly fell , before long she was grasped by Amit .
“Take care Chocos… ! “”… The sentence couldn’t be completed . She could feel his pulsating heart and his heated breath . Her heart was playing a crazy tune . She felt like a tautened wire . Her eyes dimmed , body went limp .
Outside world was a rigmarole of chaotic images . The room was a blur .. Time stood still. Amit took her in a firm , yet gentle embrace . Like two magnets they melted into each other . His lips found her parted quivering ones . She shuddered uncontrollably . The surge of emotions was beyond her control . His grip tightened . Her head span . Tears rolled down her cheeks . Stole and outer doublet fell off ! . She surrendered herself to the intensity of the moment .
Freed her hand to tentatively touch his receding hairline . Kiss away the sweat from his temple . Felt the same “kada” on his wrists . The one she had gifted years ago .
He kissed away the tears on her cheeks .
Then realisation dawned … She pulled herself apart . Still quivering and fluttering like a leaf in the wind .
… Nandii . Oh God .. Why ? … ”

….. With a voice choked with tears , Nandini muttered under her breath and collapsed on the sofa –” Amit , you are 38 years , too late …. ! ”

Amit , turned and left without uttering a word . Violent sobs racked Nandini’s body .

Written by : Mitali Mukhopadhyay

 

9 thoughts on “Early November, chill has set in and Nandini was in twilight mood(short story)

  1. Dear Ms. Mukhopadhyay,
    The short story is really nice. However I feel the title could have been different.

    1. Thank you so much , Jeet. Liked your appreciation and do suggest a better title ! I had a certain perspective in mind while I gave that . But , I go by T. S. Eliot’s dictum – β€œ There are as many interpretations as there are sensitive readers .”

  2. Mam, it’s really a very beautiful story . While reading the story I was just lost in it. As if I was there with Nandini & Amit da. Awesome.

  3. Amazing Ma’m…nice to read..i was really thrilled to read it ..and yes I was simply carried away by the feel created through your words…..
    want more of such stories Ma’m…

  4. Oh..Ma’m…the story was just a wonderful one..I was simply thrilled to go through it…the sitution created by your words made it feel so lively…
    do keep on writing Ma’m…will love to read them

  5. Love is not defined by age nor does it follow any set of rules…it can happen anytime with anyone…but sometimes we need to take the opportunity when it knocks our door or it’s too late .. another amazing short story Mitali…πŸ™‚

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