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Mr. Mysterious

About Aparna Mondal

Aparna Mondal was born and brought up in Kolkata. Presently she lives in Mumbai with her family. She always loved nature and that prompted her to study Biological Sciences. She loves to paint landscape and nature. Her other hobbies are reading, photography, travelling, making costume jewellery, acting, swimming. She has recently developed a special interest in putting her thoughts into writing. Making new friends and interacting with them make her feel loved.

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Read the prequel here : https://tellmeyourstory.in/kutu-my-cat/

Life is a wonderful journey where we meet many people by destiny and we then become friends for life. So was this beautiful lady whom we called ‘Samanta kakima’ (in Bengali, we call our paternal aunts as ‘kakima’). She was our neighbour when Arnob and I got married.

Arnob lived in the ground floor of an apartment in the Triangular Park area in Kolkata. He was always busy with his office, so he never got friendly with anybody in the neighbourhood. If at all, he only moved around with his friends from childhood during his leisure time.

The initial days after my marriage were tough. I had to juggle between my job and home and maintain a fine work-life balance. I guess all young newly wed wives undergo this phase in life and I was no exception. I was gradually getting used to the new locality and my new life during that phase. It was also a learning experience for me to pick up and learn the skills of running an independent household without the supervision of elders. Occasionally my in-laws and parents used to visit us and provide us with invaluable tips of running a household effectively.

Soon after settling down with our lives, a small kitten came into our lives whom we both adopted. It was a cute and lovable little soul and our evenings were happily spent watching his antics. Days passed and the kitten grew up to become a handsome cat and with his regal gait, started roaming around on the low boundary wall which separated the two houses. On a Saturday afternoon after returning from work, I fell asleep. Suddenly, I woke up to the disturbing noise of barking and caterwauling of a dog and a cat.

On rushing out, I found my cat (we had named him ‘Kutu’) was perched on our boundary wall, ready to strike my neighbour’s dog with tooth and claw, and the dog too with teeth bared, was ready to fight back ferociously. Both me and my neighbour appeared at the right moment to prevent the quarrel from taking an ugly turn. We managed to separate them and bring them under control.

In our efforts to intervene and stop the fight between our pets, we both, the proud owners of these cute animals, introduced ourselves and thus a foundation stone for a long friendship was laid.

It is really amazing to think how destiny plays its role to bring people together and how the turn of events give birth to interesting and life changing experiences. We started calling our neighbour Kakima. She was an elegant lady with two adult children. They started calling me and my husband Aparnadi and Arnobda – and we have remained so till this day. Kakima’s husband was an engineer working with the merchant navy. He used to be on the high seas in a ship for the greater part of the year. Kakima raised her two children with utmost love and care, and we learnt a lot from her. She gradually became a guardian to Arnob and I.

We became so fond of kakima and her family that every evening after Arnob came back from office, we started visiting her house on a regular basis. This ultimately settled into a routine of playing cards and leisurely chatting. The old cook of Kakima’s household, whom the children called Thakur mama, used to always welcome us with a wide smile and serve us tea and snacks happily.

Arnob was a lean, thin and a bearded man when we tied the knot. During his bachelor days he used to work hard during the week and hardly had any time to interact with neighbours. During weekends his friends used to drop in and party till late into the night, playing loud music. More often than not, kakima had to request Arnob to turn down the music on weekends since the loud thump of the stereo system distracted the attention of her children – one of whom was studying Medicine and the other engineering.

Kakima later recounted a story – a story that she and her next door neighbour weaved in their minds based on the opinions formed by them due to the lifestyle my husband and his friends displayed.

Apart from Arnob being a bearded person, most of his friends were well built. Lifestyle and appearance coupled together gave them the reason to believe that Arnob and his friends were suspicious people earning loads of money from some kind of illegal business, which was likely to be something like smuggling. They were curious and kept an eye on the moves of this strange bachelor.

Their curiosity reached its peak when the smuggler boy got married and they saw him bringing home his newly wedded bride with pomp and grandeur. On that day Samanta kakima and her friend could not resist the temptation of watching the couple through their window blinds. They just wondered which parents could give their daughter in marriage to such a person. From then onwards they kept a stronger vigil on that poor innocent girl who they thought was extremely unlucky to have married a smuggler. The two friends also debated over the fact, whether it was an arranged marriage or whether the smuggler had chosen this girl from his smuggling gang.

Their doubt turned into belief when they saw the wife going out every morning draped in a saree with a big black bag, only to return after dusk.

“This girl too must be a part of her husband’s gang and she carries those smuggled goods inside the bag every morning to be delivered to the destination” – this formed the core of their serious and animated discussions.

They were both amused and impressed on seeing the young wife of the smuggler in a skirt, cleaning the window grills, watering the potted plants in the courtyard, bringing vegetables from the market and taking care of the household.

With the passage of time they noticed a change in the lifestyle of the smuggler. He used to hold parties but those were not as ostensibly wild or raucous as parties of previous years. But the life of the young couple was still under the scanner of both the aunties.

“The mysterious smuggler brought a small kitten Krishnadi and look how the couple is playing with the cute fellow in the courtyard.” Sadhana kakima told Samanta kakima and both friends rushed to see more. The couple had no clue that they were under this type of surveillance.

Then came the day that the fight between her dog, Laza and our cat ,Kutu happened. Our lives took a different turn and lent a different colour to the “Mr. Mysterious” story.
On that day we learned about Samanta kakima and she too learned about our family background and the occupation of Mr. Mysterious through this incident. On that day the spirit of new friendship unfolded along with all the preconceived stories which they had woven amongst themselves when they did not know us well. We had a good laugh about all this when we got to know each other. Destiny played its part in solving the mystery, which both the aunties were eager to solve. Thus, our beloved Kakima came to know about the true story of Mr. Mysterious, the name which she coined for Arnob before our families got close to each other.

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