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#StoryOfTheMonth June 2017 by Anindita Chatterjee

‘An Unusual Farewell’ leaves a feel good feeling behind. The story centres itself on a moment that etches a mark on our memory and stays with us even after the story ends. The village boy Pada comes to bid farewell to Gudia Didi with a bunch of wild flowers. The sight of the boy evokes the inspector’s curiosity who could not understand why the little boy had arrived with the flowers at the time of his departure from the village. He was certain that the flowers were not for him, but the teary eyed intense face of the boy somehow touched his heart. He had seen the boy before, but did not think much about his gift of berries or fruits. The inspector and his family were on amiable terms with the whole village and transfers were regular part of his official life. The inspector was restlessly waiting for the van to arrive to help him carry his luggage for his wife was unable to do it, and the sight of the boy instead of the van irked him. However he decided to talk to him politely.

When Pada informed him that he had got the flowers for the inspector’s eldest daughter who had been searching them for a long time, but he had not been able to get them for her before, for they bloomed on the high branches of the trees. He wanted to gift them to her since he was aware she was leaving the village forever. The simplicity of the boy’s emotions touched the inspector. He had seen Pada many times earlier, but never ever thought of paying much attention to him. But at that moment of departure the effortless simplicity of the child’s heart moved him. The emotional encounter between Pada and the inspector reminds one of the Sudha getting flowers for ailing Amol in Rabindranath Tagore’s Dakghar. The inspector asked him if he felt bad for they were leaving the village, and told him to hand over the flowers directly to his ten year old girl. The inspector had been through a series of farewells and departure, but this one he knew was special. He would carry it in his heart forever. He knew he would meet with several episodes in his journey of life, things of consequence, moments of decision making, periods of hard and intense work, glimpses of joy as well as heart breaking pain, but that teary eye of Pada would remain with him forever.

Life isn’t as much about goodbyes and closing chapters, as it is about opening new ones, keeping the special ones forever tucked away inside the heart. The inspector knew he was leaving the village for a new phase of life, but deep inside him he knew he had found a new relationship that did not have a name or identity but it was the warmth of the moment that defined it, and he knew it would last forever.

#StoryOfTheMonth June 2017 by Vani Kaushal

This is the second story by Kathakali Mukherjee that I am reading and it is as beautifully written as the first one. She builds up her narrative around middle class families and keeps her themes simple — in this case, it pertains to the farewell of a police inspector from a small village after two years of service and how a simple gesture by a young boy touches him. The story is as interesting as it is moving, especially the ending, and I do hope the readers enjoy it as much as I did.