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The Fishbone

Published : Saturday, 23 December, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 790

"Look Jhumpa, its here!"

Asifs tone changed with extreme joy when he found his favourite red tie in a box they had been looking for an hour in the cupboard and almirahs. Jhumpa was relieved. She exclaimed, "Finally the search is over!"

Asif was looking for this tie to wear to the reunion program of the university. It was almost five years since they last visited the university. Although they were quite emotional at that time and took vows to visit the campus now and then, they never made it to the campus again. They got so busy with their career, new offices, new colleagues, Promotions, and their couple life- it was like they didn get the time to revisit their campus. Now as there was a reunion function coming ahead, Asif was super excited to be there.

Maybe there was something else for Jhumpa. Its not like that she never drank the booze of nostalgia. She did. But she never mentioned much about her campus life. Whenever there was any discussion over the university, she tried to keep quiet. Or maybe she said a few sentences knitted very carefully without any touch of emotion or excitement. Maybe it was her plight not to talk about the things attached to those stomach-wrenching emotions. Not to talk much about the place where she was buried alive.

Jhumpa and Asif were just junior seniors in their early years at the university. Things started to change when she was in her last year of graduation and Asif was pursuing his post-graduation degree. Both of them worked on a project that brought them quite close. They used to chat and meet frequently. Although Jhumpa was offbeat, Asif was always excited to meet her. Making excuses talking to her. Asif proposed to Jhumpa after they both were done with their academic life. Jhumpa didn hesitate to say yes to such a handsome bachelor.

Asif was excited about the reunion. Jhumpa was not in the mood to revisit the place somehow she agreed.
"Listen Jhumpa, we will start quite early for the reunion. What do you say? What are you going to wear, Jhumpa? Why don you opt for that Black Shari? You will look stunning."

Jhumpa nodded her head without any answer. She was hardly excited about going to the reunion. Choosing an outfit for the day was far behind.

Asif was always so excited about everything around him. And this quality of him never excited Jhumpa. Was there anything about Asif that excited Jhumpa ever? Was there any feeling of a "butterfly in the stomach" when Jhumpa spent time with Asif? Had Jhumpa ever been in love with Asif? All these questions again popped into her mind with another name. And that name was "Mihir".

It is not like Jhumpa was in a relationship with Mihir, but she was in love with him. There was something in between them that burned Jhumpa only. While Mihir was fine with his friends and foes, Jhumpa was going through the dreadful pain of a broken heart all by herself when the communication was cut off between them.

Jhumpa was mature enough not to blame him for her one-sided affection. However, she couldn deny the fact that consciously or subconsciously; Mihir didn leave any stone unturned to hurt her. She was so messed up with all her twisted emotions. And he was too snooty to look at her. He was too energetic to erase Jhumpa from his memory over the night.

While Jhumpa yearned for a basic goodbye, he chose to remain silent. With this act, Mihir was capable of destroying Jhumpa to such an extent that Jhumpa learned to be cold and numb. She was afraid to make her heart work again.

She lost her genuine laughter and smirk smile. The heavy burden on her chest prohibited her from re-growing the idea of love ever again! For her, the idea of love was nothing but an act of getting hurt.

When Asif proposed to her, she was sure that she wouldn be able to love him. However, she agreed to his proposal. But she was not very excited about the relationship.

It was Asif who was excited about everything. He was the one to make random phone calls, late-night texts and all. They got married. They celebrated their third marriage anniversary last September. Nothing changed about Asif in these years.

Jhumpa tried her best to be the suitable wife for Asif and somehow she managed to be the one. But whenever the question of loving Asif arose in her mind, she found herself nowhere. As if there was a fishbone stuck in her throat she was unable to remove. As if she was never connected to Asif emotionally. As if, there was nothing for Asif in her heart, in her mind.

It was the day of the reunion. Due to an urgent meeting, Asif was stuck in the office and asked Jhumpa to wait for him at the venue. Jhumpa went to the university campus.

Walking through the same door, the same corridor was doing nothing but triggering her unresolved trauma. Thousands of questions were arising in her mind. The chaos of all those who, why, what if, what not- was destroying her soul.

The phone suddenly rang. Jhumpa took the call. An unknown voice was talking to her over the phone.
- Hello! Is it Mrs. Jhumpa over there?

- Yes. Who is it?
- I am Rashidul Alam, officer in charge of Paltan Thana. Your husband Asif has met an accident. Please come to Dhaka Medical College Hospital as soon as possible.

The phone slipped away from Jhumpas hand. As if her whole world was trembling. Her vision got blurred. Her heart started to beat so fast she felt like, it would come out.

She suddenly felt the strongest urge to hold Asifs hand, just to walk by him that she never felt before. Her Kohl-rimmed eyes and eyelashes coated with the layers of Mascara were filled with tears.

The only thing she knew at that moment was she had to be with Asif for the rest of her life. As if the stream of tears on her cheeks washed away all the confusion and the questions with the rosy pink rouge.

And suddenly, despite all the chaos outside, she felt the serene silence in her mind. All the questions bothering her were suddenly gone. As if the fishbone stuck in her throat was removed without any trace of the wound forever.

The writer is a student of Masters in ELT, Institute of Modern Language, Jagannath University, Dhaka

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