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Ajnatobaas

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Ajnatobaas

Review

Payal, an elderly woman lives all by herself in her small house surrounded by a small garden, somewhere in ‘Greater Kolkata’. When her maid questions her about her loneliness, she starts reminiscing about her past.

She remembers of her newly- wed days, particularly of one summer afternoon when a stranger woman in her sixties knocked at her doors for a glass of water. It was a usual afternoon in a metropolitan neighbourhood: no souls in the streets, no stirring of the leaves except for a wailing note of a little song-bird that reminds a wayfarer of his longing for a home.

The stranger seems in no hurry even after her glass of water. She tells Payal that she has a strange disease that makes one forget all about oneself for a while ------ a sort of dementia that may last an hour, a week, a month or a year. Sympathetic on one hand and distrustful on the other, Payal could not decide for herself whether she should take the woman by her words or should she get rid of her without being seemingly unpleasant.

But the Woman has her own way of settling things. Her apparent naïveté wins, and Payal finds in her traditional mother who can turn any house a home : a space where one can grow and one can love. Soumik, Payal’s all-too wise husband arrives and sets forth to put things right. He invites his mentor, the Doctor Uncle to see through the ‘tricks’ of the stranger woman who for some mysterious reason does not seem to be in a hurry to leave their house even after a not-too-indirect insinuation at the trouble she is brewing. The woman outwits the Doctor who is clearly bowled over and does not conceal his admiration for her. He too, like Payel, begins to ‘believe’ her. Soumik refuses to give up. He calls the Police. The Officer-on-duty comes and it is not long after that he, getting impressed with the disarming simplicity and wisdom of the woman, follows suit with the Doctor and Payal and finds no reason to take her for an imposter.

In the meantime the stranger finds her way to the kitchen and prepares a sumptuous dish for Soumik and Payal. Her homely recipe begins to work on Soumik who seemingly melts a little and does not grudge the presence of the woman so rudely as he did before. The woman gives the young couple an after-dinner song and a folk-tale on the Bene-bau (kind of a thrush) song-bird and Soumik throws away his last trace of distrust and begins to enjoy their home being enlightened by a motherly presence after so many years of deprivation from the company of his own parents.

The morning opens in a different note. The woman tells them that she can remember everything about herself and must therefore leave to allay the worries of her kinsmen. Payal and Soumik feel dejected as they begin to love the Woman like their own mother. But the Woman insists and, for some strange reason, she wants to leave at once, she wants to leave all by herself. Soumik takes her in his car and while still they are some way off from what the Woman called her home, she sends Soumik back. Soumik gets curious and follows her without her knowledge. And he discovers something which he would have wished he had better not known…….
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