Anamika Bose was a carefree, bubbly and almost annoyingly talkative 23 years old born in a quintessential middle-class Bengali household. She had big eyes planted on a round face with a complimentary roundish body too. Mrs. Bose kept pestering her daughter to join a gym to shed those extra kilos. Mr. Bose, on the other hand, would always laughingly say that it was just baby fat! Anamika’s mother would keep losing sleep that it will be difficult for them to find a decent match their daughter. But all she cared about in the world was to chitchat with her friends, eat good food and practice her Jazz form which was her first love, well, besides food! Though she was far away from being matchstick thin, her craft was genuinely good. Her mother had hinted her many times on finding a match for herself. According to her, they were modern people and would accept their daughter’s choice with open arms. But Anamika was just too lazy to even make that special effort. She had always relied completely on her parents for everything and any given day would regard their judgment over her own. She knew they would find the perfect man for her.
Eventually, her parents posted her bio in the newspaper and shortlisted a boy. The families met up and everything went smoothly. After a courtship of four months or so, Anamika and Kunal got married in a typical Bong wedding. They both hardly knew each other. Kunal was extremely reserved and quiet, hardly making an effort to make her feel at home. He wasn’t disrespectful but aloof. He pretty much went about doing the same things he did every day as a bachelor. It didn’t take much longer for Anamika to realize that they were as different as chalk and cheese. There were no disagreements but the feeling she got of him was that he got married just to finish a chore in life.
Many times, her mother-in-law would unnecessarily be rude and difficult with her, probably just to maintain her status quo in the household. When Anamika tried to talk to Kunal about it, he would be totally unaffected by it and would just say that he can’t do anything to help. She had to work out her own equation with his mother was all that he had to say. He was well aware of the predicament he would be in if he dared take sides. Anamika even tried talking to her mother to get some insight. But she was on a different tangent altogether. She took reference from her own life experiences and told her that Anamika’s grandmother didn’t even give her enough to eat when she was pregnant with her. So she found absolutely no refuge from her mother as well. According to Mrs. Bose, Anamika’s life wasn’t even half as bad as was her own so her daughter should learn to compromise.
This continued for about two years. There was a point in her life when secretly she even started praying for something to go wrong. Anamika was desperately waiting for the bubble to burst and this whole facade to end.
She never had any great purpose in life but slowly she was becoming lifeless. The twinkle in her eyes was gone! And then it happened one day. Without any premonition. Just like that!
Kunal came home really furious and threw his lunch box at Anamika hurling accusations at her. According to him, she stayed at home all day relaxing whereas he slogs his ass off in the office. The least she should be able to do was to provide him with palatable food. When Anamika opened the tiffin box with shaky hands, the food was actually stinking.
What she hadn’t realized was that the refrigerator had stopped working during the night. When she had detected it during the day, she had rung the refrigerator company and they had sent over a technician who had fixed the problem. When she was packing his food early morning, she hadn’t still noticed the fault and had no way of knowing that by the time Kunal would sit down for his lunch, the food would have gone bad.
Kunal just stood there unflinching and further added that if she found even this, too much work for her, then she is free to leave the house. She should have just pleaded before him for forgiveness. But she didn’t. She just realized that she didn’t want to!
And so she packed and moved out. She came back to her parents’. Her parents tried to reason it out with Kunal but he didn’t take their calls. They went to see him but he evaded them on the pretext of work. They even tried to speak to his parents but all they said was that Kunal and Anamika were both adults and they wouldn’t do anything to interfere in their son’s decision. A month later, Anamika received the divorce papers. She signed and sent them back to Kunal.
While all this was happening, Anamika didn’t cry or be melodramatic even once. Her mother even commented that she had lost her soul. That I have been too big an allegation, but Anamika did change though. On an impulse, she got rid of her long tresses, got a chic Bob cut and got them streaked red and blonde. Her new look was giving her a kick! She didn’t want to stop. She walked into a tattoo parlor without an appointment. The tattoo artist was just about to wrap it up for the day but she insisted him saying that she might not be able to return. Randomly going through the album, she picked up a design. Just below her right collar bone, she got inked with the words “Live, Laugh, Love”!
She wasn’t sure if she was angry or disappointed. If she felt more let down by her estranged husband, the world or her own self! Altering her image gave her momentary relief only. She surely wasn’t doing any of the things her tattoo said! Here on, Anamika took on a world defying role. To her mother’s horror, she didn’t stop at the haircut or the tattoo, she started smoking, drinking alcohol and pubbing. She was in and out of the house a lot. The neighboring aunties were constantly murmuring and gossiping behind her back. But she didn’t stop the madness.
Then one day, her mother made her sit down and told her that her childhood friend had visited with a marriage proposal from her only son.
Anamika vaguely remembered Shayan Roy. As far as she could tell he was still a bachelor. So why was he suddenly interested in her? And more than anything else, why would anybody who has never married before, want to marry a divorcee? She was cynical about his motives alright but was intrigued at the same time. Shayan and her, they had once been what they say “bum chums”. But because his father had a transferable job, he went from one place to another. So over the years, they haven’t really kept in touch. Her mother had already fixed up an appointment on her behalf. Just out of curiosity and not to cause any more headache to her parents she agreed to go see him just once. But just this one fluke meeting. So she asked her mother not to have any high hopes.
As soon as they had exchanged pleasantries and the initial awkwardness was gone, they were chattily talking about their shared childhood memories. How they goofed around at the Durga Puja pandals and such other times when their families used to meet up. Then came a straightforward declaration from Shayan. He said he had always loved Anamika but could never muster up the courage to tell her about his true feelings. He was heartbroken when he got the news of her wedding and had made an excuse not to be present for the occasion. He also said that he wasn’t proposing to her now just because she was single again and he wants to take advantage of her situation but just because he had been constantly reprimanding himself for not being man enough to profess his love and didn’t want to keep living in guilt of “what if” for the rest of his life. To accept or reject was totally going to be Anamika’s calling.
It was a “once bitten, twice shy” kind of a situation for Anamika. She wanted to test him a bit. She was almost certain that after hearing her out, he would run in the opposite direction as fast as he could! She said she would say yes only if he agreed to these three conditions. First, it would be a simple court marriage. Second, they would live-in for some time before taking a decision and third, she was planning to open up her own Jazz Dance Academy for which she would need her partner’s support, as she was not going to be just a home-maker again.
Shayan didn’t think any of her conditions were out of place and felt that they made complete sense to which Anamika just kept gaping at him like he wasn’t real!
Their parents’ almost had a communal heart attack. If they could have still come to terms with not being able to have a traditional wedding for their children, but the live-in condition was just too much to gulp down! While Shayan was trying his best to convince all four bewildered people, Anamika broke them off giggling and confessed that it was rather far-fetched and it was just a prank that she pulled on everyone. In reality, she realized that Shayan had passed the litmus test with flying colors!
Just yesterday, they had completed a decade of being happily married. Anamika manages the house, their twin boys Shanky and Mikey and her academy ” Dance to Live, Laugh, Love” with constant support and encouragement from Shayan. One fluke meeting and her life changed forever. Since that day, she had been living, laughing and yes, very much in love!