By: Sujon Ganguly
Sunday afternoons were a sanctuary of tranquillity for Anjan. As the sun cast a warm glow through the curtains, he relished the simple pleasure of taking a shower, a brief respite from the demands of the world. But on this particular Sunday, tranquillity was shattered by the unexpected ring of the doorbell.
Anjali, his wife, wiped her hands on her apron and hurried to answer the door. A stranger stood before her, his smile genuine yet enigmatic. In his outstretched hand, he held an envelope containing 503 rupees – an oddly specific amount.
“Good afternoon, ma’am,” the stranger greeted. “I’m Pramotesh. I believe your husband might remember me.”
Anjali’s brow furrowed in surprise as she accepted the envelope. “Pramotesh? Anjan never mentioned anyone by that name.”
A glimmer of gratitude danced in Pramotesh’s eyes. “I understand it might be a distant memory. You see, your husband once helped me when I was in dire straits. This money is a repayment of that debt.”
Anjali’s scepticism faded as she looked at Pramotesh. “He’s always been kind-hearted. Please, come in and wait. I’ll get him.”
As Anjali walked away to find Anjan, Pramotesh’s gaze wandered around the house, his smile reminiscent yet distant. Anjan emerged from the bathroom, towelling his hair dry, unaware of the unexpected visitor.
Anjali explained the situation, handing over the envelope of money. Anjan’s brow furrowed in confusion as he took it, his memory failing to connect with Pramotesh’s face. “Pramotesh? I’m sorry, I don’t remember.”
Anjali comforted him, “It’s alright, Anjan. Sometimes, good deeds are forgotten with time.”
But the forgotten debt planted a seed of restlessness in Anjan’s mind. He scoured old photographs, hoping to unearth a connection. Yet, Pramotesh remained a phantom, just beyond his grasp.
As days turned into weeks, Anjan’s obsession grew. He reached out to old friends, visited places they’d frequented, but Pramotesh remained a ghost in his memory. Anjali watched with increasing concern as her husband’s once-content demeanour eroded, replaced by a driven urgency that consumed him.
One evening, Anjali found Anjan hunched over his desk, surrounded by photographs. “Anjan, this is becoming an obsession. You need to take a break.”
He looked up, his eyes weary yet determined. “I can’t, Anjali. I need to remember.”
Anjali placed a hand on his shoulder, her voice gentle. “You’re spiralling, Anjan. It’s taking a toll on you, on us.”
Anjan’s frustration boiled over, and he slammed a photograph onto the desk. “I can’t just let it go, Anjali! There’s something I’m missing.”
Days turned into weeks, and Anjan’s obsession intensified. He became distant, lost in the labyrinth of his own mind. The photograph from that fateful beach vacation became both his solace and his torment.
Anjali’s attempts to bring him back proved futile. He ventured out for hours, returning with vacant eyes that haunted her. One night, as a storm raged outside, Anjali found herself alone, clutching a photograph of them together.
Anjan returned, rain-soaked and dishevelled. His eyes held a faraway look, as if he had glimpsed the edge of reality. “Anjali, I have to find him. I have to remember.”
Tears welled in Anjali’s eyes. “Anjan, you’re slipping away. This isn’t the man I married.”
He stepped back, his voice tinged with a haunting desperation. “Maybe I’ve been lost for a long time, Anjali.”
Anjali’s heart shattered as he left, swallowed by the storm. She was left alone in the emptiness of their home, consumed by a sense of loss that cut deeper than any storm.
Weeks turned into months, and Anjali’s life became a canvas of solitude. She visited places they had shared, searched for remnants of the life they had built. But Anjan had become a spectre, leaving only memories in his wake.
One day, she received a letter. It was from Anjan, written in the fractured script she knew so well. He spoke of his pursuit, his relentless need to remember, and the torment that had driven him away.
Years passed, and Anjali’s health deteriorated. The isolation had taken its toll, her heart yearning for the life that had slipped through her fingers. As her vision blurred and the world faded, she clutched the last photograph of them together, her final breath carrying the echoes of a love once vibrant and now forever lost.
In the quiet moments before her passing, Anjali hoped that wherever Anjan was, he had found the closure he sought. And as her soul joined the winds of time, the story of their intertwined fates became a whispered echo in the annals of memory.