Dawn at Midnight (B2 Ch1)

Dawn at Midnight.

Book 2: Blistered Feet. Chapter 1: Fairy Surrender



The princess returned to her ivory cage. She returned with broken heart, lost hopes. She observed that the mast of the old wooden ship vanished on the separator of the horizon. The unicorn never touched her shoulder, never neighed after that. She looked back for the unicorn. It was nowhere to be seen. There was a dark could overhead.

I turned twenty-eight on that August. I crept in my shell and confined me to my room. I was unperturbed about the world around me. ChotoMa and Babu were very much worried about my health. I was unable to come in terms that my Mother was gone. I was unable to come to terms that my Unicorn was lost. All the rays, glimmer everything burnt in the pyre with mother. She never expressed to ChotoMa as what she actually wanted. The unicorn, my thief never came back or contacted me.

The “Optics Notebook” never came out of the bookshelf after the demise of my mother. It was of no use to me then.

One evening ChotoMa came to my room.

She said to me---“Paree, I am like your mother.”

I nodded my head “Yes you are like my mother but not my mother.”

I gave a painful smile at her and asked---“What do you want from me now?”

---“Why are you asking me like that? What can a mother ask from her daughter?”

“I wanted to be your daughter-in-law and not your daughter” instead I asked her---“Are you searching for groom?”

She nodded her head and said---“Yes. Both I and your Babu were thinking of that.”

I gave a disturbed look at her---“But I want to be a teacher? What about that, you promised me?”

She sat beside me and rubbed her palms on my cheek---“We will surely search for a groom who will allow your further studies or will allow you for job.”

---“So you want to get rid of me as soon as possible? Is that so?”

She scolded me---“Don’t talk like that. I am not getting rid of you.”

I gathered all my courage to fight for a last time. I had my back on the wall, I had nothing to lose then.

---“You know very well that I have nowhere to go. I do not want to marry now. I want to go back to my native place.”

Her voice burned---“You can’t go back. Who will look after you, your brother’s? No, they have their own families to look after. Even they will try to get rid of you. You know very well about the intentions of Indrani and Shasanko.”

I gave a helpless look at her “Are you emotionally blackmailing me?” I said to her that I need some time to think.

She said that she had already advertised in the leading newspapers of Kolkata.

Someone poured boiling oil on my head then---“Don’t you feel to consult me for once?”

She kept her voice very calm---“What we are doing is for your better only, Paree. We know what will be good for you and what is bad for you.”

I took a deep breath and requested me to be left alone for some time.

I sat cowered on the bed, resting my face on my knees looked out of the window. The sky was gloom. Monsoon was still then lingering on the sky of Kolkata. I lost all my hopes, as there was no communication from him till then.

Every evening there were numerous calls. I observed that Babu and ChotoMa were busy in noting all the information in a diary. I paid no heed to what all was happening. At times, they asked me as what type of groom I wanted in my life.



One day I said to them---“ChotoMa, I will repay your debt by doing my duty. I am not your own blood and flesh and even after that, you have done a lot for me. But….”

They both looked at me and asked “What?”

I held my breath for few seconds and then said---“For once, can I go to the room in the second floor? I want the key.”

They were taken aback by my request. They looked at each other’s face.

Babu said to me in his roaring voice---“No. You cannot go to that room. That is locked forever.”



I gave a displeased look at them and said to them---“If you are so adamant in marrying me off, then why are you searching so much? Just get anyone and I will marry.”

I slammed the door behind me. My brain was burning in angst and pain.

I cursed him with all worst words I could think of that day “He is treacherous. He does not have a heart in his chest. He is a lost soul.”

I was awake on my bed, looking outside the window. I was unable to sleep. There was a huge vacuum inside my heart. Nothing was able to fill that vacuum. I rubbed my bosoms, my cleavage to douse the pain. But every time I touched myself, the pain grew stronger.



It was probably midnight; I heard a soft knock on my door.

I got up, opened the door, and was surprised to see ChotoMa standing at the door.

She handed me the key of his room on the second floor and looked at me with her painful eyes. Her eyes were glistening.

She wiped few drops of tears from the corner of her eyes and said in a low voice---“Go. But I want a positive answer in the morning.”

I nodded my head and took the key from her hand.

I tip-toed to the room in the second floor. I took a deep breath to control a turbulent wave that was brewing inside my chest. I bit my lower lips as I anticipated that when I will open the door he would be standing in front of me. I unlocked the key and pushed open the door. The room was closed for two long years. Not even air was allowed to dwell in that room. The turbulence reached my throat and my chest shook like a candle flame.

There was stench odour in the room. I found a dead rat under the table. There was dust all over his reading table, over his bed. The bed sheet was not changed in last two years. I found lizards and rats goo strewn all over his bed. The side-stands of the bed were covered with the cobwebs.

I pushed opened the windows.

I dusted the chair and sat beside the window. I clenched my fist and bit my fingers between my teeth. My eyes got soaked. I wiped that aqua drop from the corner of my eyes. “I don’t want to cry.” I told to myself. The day before that fateful day, he was painting my portrait. I sat there in that very posture for quiet sometime. I looked inside the room. My eyes tried hard to search him whether he was still sketching my portrait or not. No, he was not there.

I opened the drawer of his table and found a small wooden box. I opened that box and found several small glass marbles in that box.

I looked around the room for one last time, closed the windows. I closed my eyes; a solitary drop of aqua trailed down my left cheek and soaked the tip of my nose. I locked the room. Burying all his reminiscences inside the room, behind me, I climbed down the stairs.

I came down and found that ChotoMa was sitting in the drawing room waiting for me.

I handed her the key and said to her---“I don’t have any choice. Wherever my fate takes me I will accept that.”



That night, once I was inside my room, I wrapped the “Optics Notebook” and the small Laughing Buddha that he presented me at Nako, in brown paper. I tied that packet with cello-tape and red ribbons. Then I searched for a cardboard box and packed that. I sealed that box with wax.



I told my ChotoMa that I wanted to visit Kalyani. She did not object.

I gave the packet to Kalyani.

She asked me as I handed her the box---“What is this?”

I looked at the box and said---“This contains some worthless materials. This contains his diary and a small present. These are now worthless for me. I do not have the courage to destroy that. If you can keep this then keep this or else you can destroy this. ChotoMa and Babu are searching for a groom for me. I will get married soon.”

She looked at me and yelled---“What are you doing? If he comes back, then?”

I shook my head in utter dismay---“After two years, you think he will come back for me? NO he is not coming back. He has forgotten that he loved someone. He has forgotten that someone is waiting for him. He ditched me. He is a coward, heartless fellow. He has forgotten that he has his parents who are also crying for him.”

She shook her head and looked at me with tears in her eyes. I did not have any tears in my eyes then. My ears were although burning in angst. My nose flared.

I asked her---“Why are you shedding your tears for an ill fated girl like me? You should not. You are going to be a good mother.”

She looked at me and said---“Paree…”

That name, choked my voice. I said to her---“Kalyani, Paree died long ago. It is Mita sitting in front of you.”

She touched my shoulder. That touch made my heart go meek in pain. I could not control myself anymore. I sobbed out as she pressed my head on her shoulder and rubbed my back.

I sobbed out repeatedly---“Paree died. She died that day he left me. She died again with my mother. I do not have enough life left to die. I will meet my fate, whatever it comes.”

I did not go to my house in my village that day. I returned the same day to Kolkata.

Before returning, I said to her with a painful smile---“I invite you in advance at my wedding.”

She rubbed her womb and said to me---“He is kicking. I don’t know whether I would be able to attend your wedding or not, but Dipankar will surely go.”



I passed my days as a lifeless corpse. I forgot to smile, I forgot to laugh.



Few days after that, ChotoMa said to me that they have to attend a wedding and I had to accompany with them.

I understood that they want to arrange an acquaintance with some prospective groom. She asked me to dress in my turquoise coloured silk saree. She asked me to dress beautifully.

I could understand as what all was going to happen so I did not objected to what all they asked me to do.



That day after a long time, I felt to dress. I felt that I should wipe out my fears, my pain my angst, and lead a new life. I said to myself “Why should I wait for someone who has not thought of about my pains.
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