A bright Monday morning, Sunderlal Agarwal Street is calm and quite as usual. Then suddenly, “Maa!!!!!!!!, see this” shouted a 20 years old girl, medium height, well maintained fair skin and highlighted brown hair.” What happened? Why are you screaming as if it’s the end of the world?” asked a lady, she is most probably 48 and is a typical representation of a Bengali house wife, with her big red bindi and dark kajal.
These are the residents of 57, Sundarlal Agarwal Street Kolkata -09. “Ma see na I have nothing to wear, ask dad to give me some money so I can go shopping”, said the fair girl. “Are Milli, it’s been just 3 months since you last went for shopping, dad already has this big family of ours to maintain he cannot spend all his income on your clothes. Wear these for now.” Said her mother. She was correct, this house is home to 10 people, two of them are already known to you Milli and her mother, apart from them here lives Milli’s grandmother, 3 uncles among which 1 is married, her 2 cousin brothers and her father.
Milli is a nice understanding girl but her only flaw is that she cannot help herself from buying new clothes, in short she is a shopaholic. In contrary to her, Milli’s father is a low wage earning man who looks older than his age but has a young heart. He loves reading Bengali comics and is a big fan of Satyajit Ray and his creation “Feluda”. He had lost his father at a very young age and had a mother, one older and two younger brothers to look after. At the age of just 16 he left his books and went into the real world to earn for his family.
The incident of his father’s death happened 42 years ago but the young boy is still alive inside him. He met his wife when he was 30 at his friend’s brother’s reception. They fell in love and eventually got married. His wife too devoted her life into this 24*7 job called family.
Milli on the other hand has a simple life with extraordinary wishes that her father always tries to fulfil. She never asked for expensive gadgets nor she wished to own a scooty but yes she always wanted new clothes and for a middle class low wage earning man even that seemed like a luxury. You see he doesn’t only have to pay for her clothes but he also has to pay her college fees, the college fee of one of her cousin brother, school fees of another, he pays the electric bill, phone bills and every other expense one can imagine a family has. So he tries to cut short his expenditure, he has like 3 shirts and a single pair of nice pants that he wears to his office.
That pant belonged to his deceased father and it wouldn’t have survived all these years if he hadn’t kept it with such love and care. While others kept a picture of their loved ones on their room’s wall Milli’s father had his father with him always. Those were highly back dated but had a great glow, dark navy blue in color and was tailored to perfection. His father had this tailor friend who had made that exclusively for his father. His father would not wear those pants very regularly and would only fashion them on a special occasion, like his last birthday before his death.
Milli’s father wore those pants both by choice and compulsion. He could have bought another pair if he wanted to because it is quit not believable that a man carrying out the expense of 9 people cannot afford a pair of pants for himself. On the other hand, though he had the money he had no time for himself after all these years he has developed this state of mind that spending both money and time on himself is a waste of time.
Because of this even Milli’s mother gets deprived of things she otherwise would have had, like more number of sarees, some gold jewelry and a little bit of time for herself. While Milli’s father spent all his time earning for his family and thinking how he can manage it, her mother spent all her time looking after this family. Every night the couple would live for themselves Milli’s father would read Bengali comics, her mother would watch typical serials, that simple was recreation for them. Their only motivation to keep on going was their only daughter Milli.
Milli realized that it is true that her father cannot bring more clothes for her now and thus wore something random and went to college. That night her father brought two new tops for her and obviously she was happy. After dinner when the husband wife went to sleep rather went to their comics and serials Milli’s mother asked, “Where did you get the money for that?”. “I took some from a friend of mine at work, I overheard you two this morning and you know I cannot see her sad”, said the old man. “You borrowed money again? You know we are already submerged into debt till our shoulders”, said the old house wife with obvious tension on her face. “I will manage, don’t worry.” Assure the old man to his wife. “I will manage” of course he will, because he had been managing all his life.
At present he is just a clerk at an accountancy firm and after all these years he knows no less about accountancy than the C.A.s he works for. This experience of his has helped him a lot, he would do work in less money for which a C.A. would charge a fortune. Last year he had helped a jeweler and managed the college fees for his aspiring fashion designer daughter. This is how he manages everything and yet fails to manage another pair of pants for himself. The next day he went to office wearing the same pants “What is this Mr. Halder?”