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The clock struck 11:00. They had let him be for the whole evening, taking care to make as little noise as possible for they knew that he was working on his book with almost religious fervour. But they also knew something else; this may just be the last New Year's Eve he'd have any recollection of. He, too, had a vague idea about this. But that hardly mattered. Once this book was over, he'd have made his definitive statement –nothing lasts forever except an emotion truly felt. Then he would be game for anything including death. In fact, death would be just fine. After all, had it not waited for him for more than seventy-five years? Long wait. He would be only too glad to oblige somebody so patient. ******** He had never known what it meant to be physically virile. Life had always been a struggle to keep pace with a mind given to the almost fanatical pursuit of the fantastic. At eight, he had declared his life's vocation - to stand tall. For what, his mother had enquired, half-jokingly. In a tone that was completely matter of fact he had replied, "For love, of course." His mother had then let go of her levity and looked at him closely. From that day onwards, she started to treat him like a grown up and the effect rubbed on to her two daughters so that he, the baby of the family, was taken seriously on every issue that he cared to bestow his attention upon. School interested him but he was never quite at home within its four walls. He identified with the process of learning but found it inadequate and lopsided. Yes, it did make him think and use his brain. He liked that. But it never catered to the heart; left the mind bereft of a healthy sense of independence; instilled no pride and evoked no feeling of honour. But, most of all, it never touched upon the only thing he cared for – love. Not love in the abstract; that wasn't the stuff. But love that could move a mountain, that was something. That was everything. At forty-seven, and many failed ideas later, he was still what he had always been. The shelves of his room were littered with manuscripts, none of which he had allowed to be published because, as he told someone in his characteristic manner, "They have not been conceived with enough love. Better they die unborn than live an orphaned life." Indeed, but for a small novella, Pearls, published when he was twenty-two - "An act of youthful dare-devilry!" was all he would ever say about it - he had nothing else to show for years of effort. The slim eighty-page story had been a smash hit almost immediately and two generations had by now swooned over its languorous style and its sublime imagery. Many a men had adored and many a ladies had idolized his heroine, Magdalena. "Magdalena? What sort of a name is that for a Hindu girl in a story that is set wholly and totally in India? “, his mother had asked.
“It is a river in South America," remarked his sister. "Okay, but if you are keen on rivers then why not some river in your own country, then?" his mother had persisted. He was on the verge of telling her but then stopped short and only added: "She'll understand without my telling her." "Who?" "The one for whom I'd stand tall." Just eighty pages had ensured him a reasonably comfortable life. Strangely enough, not even one voice had labeled him a "one-book wonder". And, almost at once, everyone had recognized that his second book, if it would ever be written, would be his last. They had realized that he would never write unless he was in love and the gods would allow a man to love only so much and no more. Till that love came his way, they were resigned to wait and to provide him with everything else: - money, a reputation and a lasting place in their memory. ******** When he had entered the hall, decorated to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of 'Pearls', he was conscious of the fact that his Magdalena had not appeared on the horizon yet. His mother, now dead, sometimes spoke to him from across the veil and his two sisters, long married and happily settled with amiable husbands, called on him often but other than that, his contact with society was limited to answering a few ‘fan’ mails and attending some charity events. He, who had made the world sit up and love its women the way it had never loved them before, had inspired many a love stories but had not yet been able to script his own love story. However, he still had that small boy's faith in his destiny that saved him from turning into a grumpy middle aged 'had – been'. A slight smile, a leisurely gait, a pair of soft eyes – how they who had thronged in their thousands to see him and in their millions to read him over the past twenty five years loved all that! He was their elixir of life. The Chairman had advanced towards him with buoyant steps and, taking him by the elbow, had led him to the center of the dais. By this time they all knew how he liked to begin any interaction with his fans but when he had done it for the first time they had all been greatly surprised. That was immediately after "Pearls" had made the headlines. He had stood at the center of the stage, his hands clasped behind him, for an eternity till all sounds had died down and all clapping had stopped. Only then he had lifted his head to utter the by now legendary words, "Love treads softly. Keep quiet or it shall pass you by, unnoticed." A hush had fallen which he had then subsequently broken with a radiant laugh some twenty-seven minutes of stupefied silence later, a laughter that rung in the ears of his listeners for years. In the merry look of his eyes they had for the first time understood what he had made Magdalena say right at the beginning of his book, "Love – meditative silence and ebullient laughter.” In all his subsequent meetings, they had stood quietly till in his opinion their eyes had succeeded in radiating the magic of love with a silent eloquence that permeated the atmosphere and made it fit for the gods. Then he would break into a laugh so warm that it would resonate through everybody
present, bringing smiles to the faces of one and all – smiles that acknowledged that it is good to be alive, better to be alive and happy but best to be alive and in love. Sometimes this took just a few minutes and sometimes the entire duration of the meeting but none complained. On this occasion, he laughed out loud after eleven minutes and thirteen seconds and the gathering had the satisfaction of noting that it had taken them a whole minute and two seconds less to satisfy him than the last time when he was there with them. Amidst the laughter and the smiles, the Chairman had gone up to the microphone to begin his address, just a few words, and he had ended by quoting a line from 'Pearls'quite out of context but as he said, he had been enamoured of the sentence ever since he had read it and had to say it aloud- "That which is lost with a smile is never lost." And then, with hands joined reverentially, he had invited him to say something. There, standing before a packed auditorium, he had spoken for a brief while and taken a few questions, all of which he had answered with complete candor and subtle mirth. By the end of it, however, he was sad and had felt his loneliness. Returning to his bungalow, he had stood before the mirror, staring at his forty-seven year old frame that had forever waited to burn in love and for love. ******** Now, twenty - eight years after that evening before the mirror, he was writing about the love he had found one cloudy November day ten years ago around the time of his sixtyfifth birthday while on a trip to the local hospital to donate blood for a Charity. Some careful planning had gone into assuring that no mob of curious and eager onlookers blocked his way as he went up to the pathology lab on the third floor. She was there and looking at him from across the room, had immediately whispered to a fellow doctor, "For every ounce of blood he donates, we'll have to supply him with three." It was an unkind statement but true. While he was too far away to hear her, he had understood what she had said and it had hurt. Turning back, he was on the verge of walking out when a tap on the back stopped him. "Sir, those who cannot donate can always share." "What do you mean?" In reply, she took him to the glass door outside the pediatrics section where he saw rows of beds all occupied by children who'd be leaving the Hospital shortly with their hearts silent and their eyes closed peacefully in the stillness of death. "You think you have enough love inside you, Sir, to love those who shall, in all probability, not be granted the time to even remember you for it?" ******** Next day, he found out some details about her: - Dr. Garima Srivastava, the fifty-oneyear-old specialist on a rare and untreatable form of brain fever that affected children below the age of three (what a field to specialize in!) with a son in his mid twenties- and two days later, he sent her a note through his secretary:
I don't love to be remembered for it. Can you get me inside that ward? Amrit Kumar If his note surprised her, her reply did not highlight it. Written in a bold hand, the reply ran thus: Can you make it at three tomorrow, Sir? Dr. Garima Srivastava At three he was there. Twenty minutes later, having been thoroughly sanitized, he was allowed to enter the ward. To his query as to what the children shall be up to at that time of the day, she replied, " Oh, they know nothing better than to sleep all day long and then to play the devil all night!" He liked the way they slept: fists clinched, eyes all screwed up, puckered lips, nose twitching now and then, at times a gentle snore, an occasional smile, legs sprawled all over and caring two hoots about the world. Sometimes they opened their eyes just a wee bit to look at someone in a fascinated way and just as one would begin to think of oneself as really blessed, they would mercilessly shift their attention on to something else or would let out an incoherent demand that brooked no delay. Guests for only a small time on this earth they were, nonetheless, masters of their realm and nurses competed with one another to cater to all their wishes. By the time he came out of the ward he knew that he could love more than he had ever thought himself capable of. He thanked the other doctors who had accompanied him on the round of the ward and then, bowing slightly before her, left. A fortnight later, armed with a general permission to visit the ward for an hour once every week, he was back. The visits soon acquired a routine of their own. He would come, sit silently in one corner of the ward, almost in a meditative posture and then, after his hour was up, would proceed to the canteen for a cup of coffee before leaving. Some three weeks later he asked her if she were averse to coffee and when she replied in the negative, invited her to have some with her. Again, if she was surprised, she showed no signs of it. This became a regular feature. They would share some half an hour together in which he would listen her speak about her work and her son, a doctor attached to the Radiology Department of the Civil Hospital nearby. Then she would encourage him to talk and he would, instead, enact something he had witnessed inside the ward – a fleeting smile on some child's face, a scowl on somebody else's, that doctor's habit of narrowing his eyes when he encountered some tricky situation, that nurse's ability to hold a child's attention by making monkey faces while she changed his diapers – he was good at it and made for entertaining company. But one afternoon, after the ward had lost one more of its treasures to death, the pattern was broken. Instead of having coffee, they walked out towards the lawns of the Hospital. There she insisted he enact the way that child used to snore and he did it so well that by the time they made their way back to
the hall they had tears in their eyes but both felt strong enough to console the bereaved parents. ******** Next time when they met, discussing her son's future plans, she mentioned, “He has something in mind but his father has other views." And then, he learnt how she had separated from her husband when five months pregnant because she did not want to be just "cared for" but, instead, to be loved and by that time it was clear that he was bankrupt when it came to love. "But,” she added,” it was through your book that I realized that even love isn't enough. One must also know how to stand up for that love if necessary. That's why you named your heroine Magdalena, isn't it?" "Go on." He said nothing else for fear of interrupting the flow. “Magdalena, a mighty and beautiful river, lyrical and sensuous, an epitome of serene grace and pure magic. A river doomed and almost forgotten because its suitors loved her but never stood up to be counted." “When did you first come to realize this?" he asked quietly. “I wish I could say: - almost immediately upon reading the book. But no, it was after I chanced upon an article which stated that your life's vocation is to stand tall for love. Obviously…" she stopped, slightly nervous. “Yes?" “Obviously, it is all about realizing that love isn't just believing in a beautiful dream. It means being true to it, no matter what, in order to preserve it in all its pristine glory and not let it vanish in the cesspool of Time." They had long crossed the half-an-hour mark. Presently she got up to go. They parted after she had accepted his invitation to have lunch with him at his house the following Sunday and to bring her son along. ******** The lunch went off well. He got along rather nicely with her son who, like him, exhibited a fondness for polite informality. Indeed, by the time they were through with the food, banter was freely doing the rounds across the table. She was more relaxed and, beyond doubt, happy to hear the two men talk. Several times he was questioned on the art of writing but every time he succeeded in turning the conversation along other lines and, very soon, they got down to talking about the world of medicine. “I find the Hospital a whole cosmos in itself,” said Pranay, “a shrine where the eternal struggle between life and death is carried out every minute. One can sense the dynamics of the battle in every nook and corner."
“Especially if one is as sensitive as Amritji, “she chimed in. “Pranay, you should see him when he is inside the ward. Absolutely silent and completely still like a rock except for his eyes and for the rapid changes in his facial expressions. He is like a whirlpool of emotions during that one-hour. Wish someone could paint all the shades of expression he mirrors. You can be great with children, Amritji, provided you do not have to raise them up for I think you'll find it hard to discipline them." “It is parents who appear to be more in need of discipline than their children. And, parents who cater to all the desires of the child are not pampering the child, no way. They are pampering themselves, pampering a weakness within, "he answered. “What weakness?" “Desire to be completely loved and to be totally accepted by their children. But, love is not only about offering unconditionally. It is also about having the strength to ask gently but firmly. The weak shall never understand this nor shall they ever be able to achieve a balance between the two." “Pranay, you got lucky. Had I been aware of this weakness when you were a child, I would have done something about it and then you would not have gotten away with all that you did! “Yes, I must have been quite a handful. In fact, for the better part of my school years, I was a 'failed' investment, I guess. Not that I have completely turned the corner yet!" Pranay remarked, good-humouredly. “Well, as I see it, no child is ever a failure; no parent ever a success despite the best of intentions and efforts. It is simply too big a responsibility for anybody to succeed in," he stated. “Really, Amritji, you are not exactly what I'd call encouraging company for an old mother!" she laughed and he liked the way the air around him quivered gently with the sound of that laughter. Afterwards they sat in the verandah, listening to a score Pranay had brought over and hesitantly presented to the great man whose tastes were known to the totally unpredictable. A cool sea breeze waltzed through as if enchanted by the soft notes coming from inside the house. But he hardly paid any attention to it all, his mind marveling at the way man strove through his music, his books, his paintings, sculptures, dances, inventions and discoveries to express a longing within – longing for a life that would, when all is said and done, mean something. Such an ability to create and appreciate something beautiful, such a propensity to love and be loved in return – surely man has to be something more than just "un passion inutile"*.
* Phrase by French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre meaning, "a futile passion."
He looked at her gazing into the distance, some strands of grey falling over a forehead on which wrinkles were beginning to make an appearance. She appeared carefree enough but the years had taken their toll. It must have been difficult to "specialize" in handling cases marked with a disease that yielded to nothing except death. He visualized her mastering the art of ensuring that when death came to those who had no business to die that young, it would be as painless as was possible. A doctor immersed in her profession with all her thoughts centred on her patients and on her son. Not somebody who could have been imagined to understand Magdalena. But she had. After seeing them off with a gentle wave of the hand- the young man and the mother who was young not very long ago and who could be young again- he went back and played the music once more, trying to keep time the way she had by gently tapping his feet on the marble floor. It had been a good day. ******** “So, why did you choose to specialize in this field?" he asked. They had been taking a stroll in the Hospital grounds, something that both had found soothing since that day when they had together come to terms with death and had, thereafter, ensured that no matter what, they got the most out of their half an hour every week. “In the three years that I have known you, this is the fifth time you are asking me that question. There is no mystery and no hallowed purpose either behind the decision. As I said, the field was new, it promised no immediate 'returns' and so there were few takers. It was easy to cement a place for myself in this area and this is just what I did. Why don't you tell me what you want to hear rather than keep shaking your head at my answer? There you go again. Really, Amrit, you can be quite exasperating, you know." “Why did you choose to put up with so many heartbreaks – so many deaths? I know the importance of your work. I know the dignity you impart to those young lives by seeing to it that they die as they lived – blissfully. But what I also seem to feel is that somewhere you have deliberately opened yourself up to a pain so intense that it blocks the pain of your own life from your mind." “Pain, what pain? I have lived on my terms and haven't done too badly either. And, even if I accept what you say, what's wrong with that? No point in dwelling upon one's problems. " "What about happiness?" “I am happy. Pranay is doing so well. Medical science is inching closer to finding a cure for kids afflicted with this dreadful disease and I am contributing my bit to it. I have…" “I believe I can make you happier, Magdalena." He had said it and how! Never in his wildest dreams had he thought he would ever do it in that manner and certainly not at that point in time. But as soon as he said it, he knew
that this was just what he would have said whenever he would have said it. When it came to love, that was how far he had traveled since he was twenty-two. Then he had taken eighty pages to express the love in his heart. Now he had required just eight words. Words spoken with superhuman confidence, with sheer faith in one's ability to make another human being happier. He had asked no question, made no elaborate statement. That was what he had always believed in: a declaration of love must not be framed as a question because that forces the other party to respond. Nor must one make a grand statement as if one's feelings deserve to be heard. One must always utter one's feelings as one utters a prayer – softly, in as few words as possible - and then be willing to stand at the edge of the precipice for ages, if need be, for an answer that may never come. She laughed. Despite his tension, he enjoyed its spontaneity. That's the good thing about being old, he thought. One does not miss the small joys in expectation of bigger ones. “My name is not Magdalena, sir, but Garima, Dr Garima Srivastava. Seems that newspaper thing has had its effect on you," she said referring to an incident some months ago when a 'daily' had come out with a cartoon of the two of them taking a walk with the caption: ' About time. We have waited long enough for the real Magdalena!' She started to laugh again but could not manage to go on. His eyes held hers in such a restrained display of uncontrollable emotions that she stopped suddenly and looked away, mildly confused. But, almost in an instant, she was looking at him again. And then, she said: “You have spoken with love and I am very pleasantly and very sweetly touched. But we are not going to…anyway; I have to get back to the OT. There is just enough time for a quick cup of coffee. Let's have some, shall we?" And she turned to go back. He stood almost in torpor for a few seconds, mesmerized by the beauty he was privileged to behold, now retreating her steps towards the Hospital building, head held up, spine straight, radiating such warmth that even though the answer had not been a 'yes', it had more love in it than he thought he'd be able to take. He looked up towards the sky in silent thanksgiving before hastening to join her, nodding to himself: - they are right who say that there's more to love than just a 'yes' or a 'no'. They had their coffee silently. Then she got up and saying, “I’ll send you my answer in the evening," was gone, leaving him with a gentle smile - the types that stay with one just like the hug of a friend. He went back to his house. For the second time that day, he was glad of the weight of years behind him because, if anything, he had learnt that when one has to wait, there is nothing better than to take a short nap and his grey hair had given him the self-control to do just that. He fell into a pleasant sleep. ********
Dear Amrit, I lost one more of my "Pearls" in the OT today. You made Magdalena utter, 'I never knew love till I loved and I never loved till I loved them all.' Your Magdalena is a woman who loves everyone and then chooses to love you with everything inside her. I am not that woman. I don't have that much love in me to love all or to love anyone with my all. But more than this, I don't even have the capacity to take as much love as I know you'd give me. I know you'll understand. I also know you'll not agree. However… Yours affectionately, Garima ******** In the five years between this and the day when he started losing the ability to remember even his own telephone number, they came closer. Both knew that their relationship was more important than the form it took and, in any case, all relationships whatever be their form are actually quite similar because they have at their base the concept of friendship. Both developed a healthy sense of being together without being obtrusive, the ability to share even silence and the capacity to use even their disagreements to appreciate their presence in each other's life. Together they distilled their past, laughed over their follies and grimaced at the lost opportunities. Together they tried to make sense of an ever changing present and marveled at Life which seemed to throw up surprises with predictable regularity. Both came to know each other as they were and, more importantly, as they wanted to be. When he began noticing the holes in his memory, he was moody and taciturn for days but they took pains to let even this catastrophe yield rich dividends in terms of understanding the other better. Sometimes his eyes betrayed sadness and sometimes hers reflected sorrow but they were too happy to be together to let anything mar for long their capacity to enjoy in each other's company. His retentive power was shrinking and he missed the experience of keeping a thought in his mind for days on end, something that had been a feature with him since childhood. She did an exhaustive analysis of what he seemed to forget most and came to the conclusion that it was not ideas or concepts but facts, figures and names that had started to play tricks on him. "The time of ideas shall also come, Amrit, but as per medical science, that's some distance away." However, from that day onwards, she made sure that nothing that he shared with her was left without a thorough discussion because she could see that his thoughts originated in isolation but flowered in discussion and that when he discussed them, he seemed to remember them with greater clarity. When the news leaked out, there was an outcry. Will we never get anything more out of the man, the public wondered. The press laid a siege to his house, demanding, pleading, hoping – write something before it is all over. Publishers tried to get through. He refused to talk to any of them.
Spurned, they turned to Garima but there was nothing she had to say either. He was alive and she was happy she was sharing her life with him so where was the cause to be anxious? Indeed, she looked so much like ever before that many began doubting the intensity of their relationship. One reporter even whispered to her reproachfully, “And to think we thought you were his Magdalena!" "We may have taken different routes to reach this conclusion but you and I are one on this matter. I am not his Magdalena," she said smiling a small smile before walking away. ******** Lying on his bed and waiting for her to drop by at her usual time in the evening, something that she had been doing regularly over the past many months, he heard the telephone ring and knew immediately that she wouldn't come. They said it was an alcoholic who banged his van into her car and then drove away, leaving her to bleed in the cold of that Christmas evening for a full ten minutes before help arrived. On that journey to the hospital, for the first time ever in his seventy - three years, he had felt lost. But she was equal to the situation. Lying in the ICU, barely conscious, she was still able to let her spirit hold sway over a body that had been virtually desecrated. For two days she hung on and then the doctors called Pranay inside. When Pranay came out some twenty minutes later to tell him that she wanted him, he was surprised that the feet that were taking him to her did not hurry. She looked at him with pride and then, with a voice so weak that it seemed to come from somewhere behind her, said: “So, this is what death feels like." He could only reply that, unlike the river, his Magdalena would continue to flow in all her glory forever. She smiled when he referred to her as his Magdalena, shaking her head a bit, with a look in her eyes that seemed to say: - some people are really incorrigible! He searched within and eventually found the strength to smile back. That which is lost with a smile is never lost. Half an hour later, she was one with the clouds. Next day, with a failing memory and a faltering health, he sat down to write. ******** Two years on, years in which he had done little except think about the book and the person behind it, today, when the curtains were to fall on one more year and the clock was itching to herald the beginning of another, he was still writing it. His two sisters had pitched in to do the proofreading almost as soon as he had finished the first chapter and had been understanding enough to leave alone his grammatical idiosyncrasies and his abrupt sentences. Sometimes the narrative did not connect and they knew that this was due to the fact that he had difficulty in maintaining his chain of thought. But they did not make any attempt to change what he wrote and thereby justified his faith in them. However, sometimes they did despair of the fact that he may lose all sense of the past before finishing the book. Then they would say a small prayer and redouble their efforts to save as much as possible for if nobody would publish an unfinished book, well then, they would do it themselves.
But there were other problems. While he would be at his table for close to ten hours a day, he would actually write for only an hour or so. He was determined to be focused but equally clear about not letting anything rush him, not even the fact that his memory was deserting him. Somebody suggested he voice his thoughts and tape them or immediately reduce them on paper but he rejected both alternatives outright. Divining his sisters' unease at the slow pace at which the narrative was progressing, he let it be known that those who fear can never love or, indeed, write on love. He visited her Hospital on several occasions, their Hospital in fact, where it had all begun so many afternoons ago. In the ‘Records Room’, he pored over her notes. He knew very little about her research or about anything related to medicine but he knew more than anybody about the spirit that had guided her efforts. Going over her work, he had glimpses of what had made her what she was. The careful, precise, simple approach towards her research; the easy, unaffected enthusiasm for every new possibility; the painstaking effort; the conscientious recording of all her failures and the ability to go on. He had never recognized any limits; she had never let any deter her. He had achieved fame without desiring it; she had lived with failure without detesting it. Pranay came to meet him often. Sometimes they would discuss her research and Pranay would explain how large parts of her work were either being discarded without proper trials or else were being plagiarized. The news would sadden him and for days he would not write a word. When Pranay came to know of this, he took only a moment to remark: “She has to be rescued not only from all this but also from the attempts being made by Time to carry her away into oblivion. Nobody can help her there but you. " He had nodded his head in agreement and since then, his sisters had had enough to keep them busy. He started making allowances for his fits of forgetfulness instead of waging a senseless fight against it. This was no surrender; just an adjustment and it had taken him close to seventy-five years of his life to understand the difference between the two. For days he would go off on a tangent, for days his sisters would proofread pages of what he would one day, in a burst of immense clarity, edit to just a few lines. But they did not mind for every touch he made brought out the beauty of the narrative in sharper focus. Sometimes he would go over what he had written months ago and would simply shake his head in disbelief. Then he would be morose for hours, forgetting and remembering, alone in a strange land, sad and bewildered. But eventually something would tug at him, some memory, some thought and he would get back to the table and write with almost wild frenzy – in a prose that was divine for it was all so pure. But the war was relentless and little by little he yielded ground to the mist that was fast enveloping his mind. By the time they were observing her first death anniversary, he could hardly remember the details of her life. Yet, page after page followed, soaked with feelings she had invoked in him – the intangibles, which, because they had no concrete shape, were more enduring than facts and dates. ******** He looked at the watch: eleven twenty three. He gazed outside the window for a minute and then, turning over to a new page, wrote the first few sentences of what would be the last chapter: - “As I write this, I know I am writing for myself but I have trouble
remembering whom I am writing about except that she is somebody I love to love. However, one doesn't walk up to love, one only makes oneself capable enough for love to walk up to one and, if we truly deserve it, that's just what happens and then, we do not just 'experience' love, we 'become' it. So, nothing to remember, nothing to forget…She could not live a life without love and she could not live it under the shadow of a love she thought she did not deserve. Such was she. My sister is sporting a dress today the colour of which reminds me of her badge that used to contrast so sharply with the white of her doctor's apparel. She was in white that day also when I saw her lying on the hospital bed but the white was fast turning into the red of her blood -almost magically. Looked so tired, poor girl, like she wanted to sleep a bit. Worked so hard, almost eleven hours a day, I think. I… did I tell you that her favourite vegetable was the gourd? Yes Sir! Not something that is a favourite with many, I'm sure. Her son told her once that she liked it because its spelling began with the same letter as her name and she was not happy with me for laughing at that. But…" A gentle tap on his shoulder made him stop and look across his shoulder with a semblance of annoyance. It was his brother –in- law, Swapan. “Bhaiji, it is about to strike twelve. Come." “Ok." While going up to the terrace with Swapan, he suddenly remarked: "Why did her son say her name began with the same letter as the gourd? Don't know why I laughed when I heard this for the first time. Such a stupid thing to say. No wonder, she was not amused. Magdalena starts with 'M' not 'G'. Surely, everyone knows that," and then, a little suspiciously, "You know that, don't you?" "Yes, of course.”
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