Solo or Duet?

A Message from Maa

Solo or Duet?

Half the globe away in New York, in a plush apartment on McDonald Avenue, Sagorika opened a courier that had come from Varanasi. Mohona had sent her a diary—a diary that she wanted her daughter to read. 

Sagorika was a finance manager, working with one of America’s leading publishing houses in New York. She was born to Mohona and Sameer, who was a Punjabi from Mumbai. She grew up in the southern part of this city by the sea and attended the Cathedral & John Convent School. She was married to Swapan, a Gujarati from Lancaster, born and raised in the UK. 

Swapan came from an affluent family and his father had a lucrative business in apparels, exporting to various countries in Africa. Swapan was two years older to Sagorika, when both were studying at the London School of Economics. They had met at the institute, fallen in love and got married some years after.                

Now, Sagorika was going through a rough patch in her married life. She and Swapan had too many differences of opinions.         

Sagorika finished her dinner and got into bed. Swapan had gone out of town for work, and she was glad to be relieved of his company. Switching on the reading lamp, she opened the leather-bound diary. She found her mother adorable: sending couriers in the time of video calls and email. As she flipped open the first page of the diary, her heart warmed to read the name that only her mother called her.

My darling Sara,

Let me begin by saying that I love you more than myself. I believe it is time to let you know certain things about me. It was not easy for me to write this to my daughter. But I decided to let you, my dearest one, know.                       

Relationships are not built overnight, Sara. It takes time to strengthen one, nurturing it slowly on the foundations of trust, patience and sacrifice. Every relationship is like a vehicle with two wheels. The wheels have to move in synergy for the relationship to move ahead. No wheel is stronger or weaker, bigger or smaller, superior or inferior.

But relationships are not sturdy like vehicles. They can break in no time if any one of the two loses trust in the other, grows impatient or becomes selfish.

Sara, I cannot advise you on your relationship with your husband. I just want you to know about an experience of mine that might help you understand what a married relationship is. This is about loving a man very, very deeply: a man who was not your father.”

Sagorika felt as if her heart had stopped beating. She couldn’t believe what her mother had written. Her mouth had gone dry.

He was a popular writer in the nineties. You must have seen his novels on my bookshelf. Some are probably there even today. I was a big fan of his writing, just like you are a fan of your Sufi singer Soham.    

I never imagined that I would meet him in-person, nor that he would become an inseparable part of my life. 

You were quite young when I met him. It was in Jaipur. My aunt, Jhumpa Masi, had invited me to sing at their Bengali Club’s silver jubilee function. You had gone for your school’s excursion camp at that time.”                

As Sagorika read the diary in her mother’s neat, close-set handwriting, she watched scenes from Mohona’s youth unfold like a movie.

Photography: @focusraghu_photoartist
Location: Varanasi, India

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