Carnival @ Cantilevered Colony

Anwantima is packing her bags faster. She had never felt such a thrill until the last thirty years of her life. Today is Amavasya and officially her last day at the Kar household. She had vowed not to be vindictive enough to avenge all the acrimony faced by her over the last three years. That’s how she was brought up in a two-bedroom apartment at Bhawanipur. Anirudha and Ashima had bestowed her with all the possible facilities possible during her growing years. With a minimal income for a middle-class family, the Bakshis never compromised on values. Their ancestors being post-partition migrants, Anirudha knew the value of education and wealth. He never believed in bookish knowledge. Rather what he prefers is practical knowledge. That’s why he wanted his only daughter to be an avid reader. Ashima couldn’t think of career despite completing her masters against all odds. But being in service was considered a taboo by her parents due to which she couldn’t even have a professional life. She was married off to Anirudha in the mid-eighties at the age of 25 and Anwantima was born within ten months. One thing she realized that Anirudha isn’t patriarchal minded like her business family. She was even looked down upon for conceiving a female child by her baaper bari. But orphan Anirudha was always supportive. They decided that Anwantima should get the best possible education. That’s why she was admitted to one of the finest convent schools. They weren’t disappointed as parents. Their daughter was truly intelligent, smart and outspoken. She wasn’t ever a geek; yet used to score well in exams. After her schooling, she was well ranked in the Joint Entrance to seek admission to one of the best engineering colleges in the city.

This is where she met Priyabrata, a firebrand student union leader who was her batchmate but in different stream. Immediately after joining college, Priyabrata Kar was engulfed into student politics, gradually graduating as the General Secretary impacting his academics. One pleasant evening Priyabrata proposed Anwantima and she reciprocated probably to learn some harsh lessons of her life. At the tender age of 21, she considered it to be a candy floss romance. Little did she realize that her tryst with destiny will land her in a soup? During the campus interview, she got selected with a top IT brand. The scion of the Kar family neither got placed nor could manage to clear the semester exams. But without repenting, he continued to focus on his political career and cleared his backlogs after a couple of years. But he was seriously committed to his fiancé. Despite the fact that his girlfriend was well placed and well settled he didn’t suffer from an inferiority complex of any kind at the very outset.

Anwantima thought that her father would approve of their match but Anirudha objected on some grounds. The Kar family was a semi-joint family in a colony area where most occupants are forceful. Priyabrata and his family are oblivious to the outer world. They also seem to be selectively conservative. The quintessential Bengali culture is missing amongst them. But the mother-daughter duo stood firm on their ground. Ultimately Mr Bakshi had to give in. Initially, the new member of the Kars felt that it’ll be a rewarding experience to shift from a nuclear family to a joint family. Secondly, Priyabrata was supportive of her career prior to marriage. So she didn’t smell any rat. On the contrary, Anirudha knew what stuff colonyr maal are made of. That’s why he was apprehensive after doing a background verification of the Kar family.

The Kars actually spared no effort to prove him wrong. Priyabrata’s family members couldn’t digest the fact that their daughter in law goes to her Sector V office on weekdays and her parents on weekends. Whereas their son wakes up from bed tentatively around 10am; leaves home after a quick breakfast cum lunch. Then he leaves for his party office on a bike. His reputation in the colony is of a political henchman. Doing all his social work he returns during the evening to have some snacks with tea with the family members, earning the goodwill of a homely man. After the soaps commence on the television from 6pm onward he leaves again for the local club and ruling party. The daughter in law spends twelve hours outside- from 8.30am to 8.30pm. It was itching them a lot. Taunts and sarcastic abuses started getting hurled. One day Anwantima decided to confront one of her aunts in law. But she was branded uncouth and rude by the Kars. When Priyabrata came back he took the side of his family members and issued a diktat that if she was keen to continue the relationship she has to abide by the unwritten rules of the Kars, which means that his wife has to give up her job, stay back at home and give birth to a baby; no, thankfully not necessarily a son. She couldn’t believe her trust and felt that the edict must be due to the impulsive nature of her husband. But within a few days, she was asked about her notice period by her brother in law. “Are you serious?” She asked only to be physically abused by her politically connected honcho hubby. Even Anirudha and Ashima were summoned the next day to the Kar household. “Enough,” said Anirudha. He asked his daughter “Look at my eyes sona! Do you want to accompany us right now?” Feeling relieved she said yes. Her father in law Mr. Sushanta Kar gave the Bakshis an ultimatum. “If you leave you can, but our stand remains the same. You know how well connected our family is. The local councillor invites us on his private occasions. Our daughter has filed a case under IPC498 against her in-laws. You may try the same. Slap whatever charge you can but remember acid is still available in the open market. If you demonize our family we know how to save the honour of our family. On the way back Anwantima asked her father about the smile on his face. Anirudha replied that he found it hilarious when he heard about the honour of the Kar family. His daughter seems to feel a sigh of relief after coming out of the palatial house owned by the Kars. Two years seemed to be a gruelling journey.

Just before the Mahalaya, her divorce lawyer gave her the good news that due to pujas the pending cases will be wrapped up at the earliest if possible as the court will remain closed for more than a week. On the last day of Pitripokkho (pitripaksh or patriarchal fortnight) Advocate Rabindra Sanyal broke the news. The court has proclaimed her independent. Alimony of 10 lakhs has to be provided to Anwantima. Yes during Durga Puja Maa is coming to visit her parents. She feels empowered on this Devipokkho (devipaksh or the fortnight of the goddess) as she doesn’t have to return back to her ex-in-laws. The judiciary has sealed her fate so that she could stay along with her parents with full dignity.





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