Assamese men rarely marry Non-Assamese girls although Assamese girls go-over to their
Non-Assamese Lovers. But this time it was different!
In the small town of baalinagar, there had been living about a hundred families from almost
all the states of India (except Jammu & Kashmir) to work in the Government run cement factory. And
among these hundreds or more families was one from Manipur. Singh, the Patriarch of that
Manipuri family was a driver who drove one of the vehicles of that factory. His was a small family,
comprising of his wife and a daughter. When his only daughter was three years of age, he admitted
her to a local English Medium Missionary School where she learned her ABCs. She progressed in her
class in a steady manner and in course of time entered into the threshold of womanhood. That was
the age when handsome boys catch the attraction of the girls and Mr. Singh’s daughter Padmavati
found one of her classmates ‘Padmanav’ handsome so-much-so that she would smile when he
would look towards her.
And Padmanav would truly look at her. Being of the same age as Padmavati Singh although
older by some months, Padmanav had a liking for Padmavati since his childhood. Whether it was her
round moon like face or, her fairness or, her rotund body, he could not actually say; but he felt a
liking for her from the day he saw her at School. And this liking turned into love when he reached the
eight standard. He proposed his love to Padmavati one day and she readily agreed. Soon they were
heels over head in love, a unique happening in Assamese Society with an Assamese Youth loving a
Manipuri Girl. In this way they moved into adolescence and their love becoming bigger and getting
stronger year after year till, they moved into the twelfth standard, out of their first school but
together in a different school.
Now, baalinagar being a small town of a few-thousand people, rumors fly fast and rumors
about love affairs involving lovers of two different religions or communities fly faster. And so, as
Padmanav and Padmavati got admitted into their twelfth standards, Padmavati’s parents got wind of
the affairs of their daughter. At first, they did not heed it but, when her father began to hear it
regularly in his workplace and her mother in the ladies ‘gossips’ then, they became alarmed
especially when the members of their minor Manipuri community showed apprehension at the
prospect of Padmavati’s marriage to an Assamese boy. So Padmavati’s parents eagerly searched for
a groom for their daughter to marry her off and break this ‘love affair’. And in this Endeavour they
were lucky; for in a couple of months, they were rewarded with a Govt. employee who was about
forty years of age and who, although hailing from Manipur, worked at the capital of Assam and had
settled himself there by building a house of his own. So even before she could pass her Pre-
University exams, Padmavati was married to a man who was about twice her age, much to the
chagrin of Padmanav and grief of Padmavati. Padmavati was at the point of heartbreak; for two days
she did not eat anything but at last after much cajoling from her parents and uncles, she was able to
be taken to the marriage alter.
- Taking it as a part of her fate, she went to live with her husband in
the capital at lower Assam and concentrated on raising a family. In this way, years passed and
Padmavati almost completely forgot Padmanav or, even the contours of his face. She left her
qualifications as a matriculate and a few years after marriage, was presented with a female baby.
On the other hand, Padmanav had been recalling Padmavati and his love affair with her
whenever he found the time. He was tormented by the fact that her parents had married her off at
such an early age. He was determined to meet her once more in his life… to be close to her… to
share his thoughts and feelings with her, thoughts that were not bared to her during their loving
days… even embrace her to vent-off that feeling of hugging her that he felt when she first
reciprocated his teenage love and, which every lover feels during their first love… if only he would
- get the chance in his life. Only time can tell! But time showed that he will of course get that chance
- in another way.
- As Padmavati got fixed in her married life at her husband’s home at the capital, looking after
- her servicing husband and bringing up her single baby-girl, in the same way Padmanav, after
- graduating apprenticed himself in a vehicle garage and learnt the skills of a motor-mechanic. In three
- years, he became a fully fledged mechanic and when his father retired from service, he put up a
- garage at Sonari, the town where his father’s ancestral home was and, began running the family. It
- was time for his marriage for his only younger sister had been married off by his parents prior to his
- father’s retirement and Padmanav was at his prime and in need of a life-companion.
- But Padmanav could not focus on the thought of marrying another girl. True during all these
- years-after Padmavati had been married off and till the age of his marriage-Padmavati’s face or his
- love affair with her had not come to his mind. But when the question of his marriage was mooted,
- his affair with her and her face came before his eyes every day. He became irritated and refused to
- be led to marriage by his parents. If only he could get a chance of seeing and meeting his Padmavati
- again… He indeed got it one day!
- On one of those tumultuous days, after having partaken his lunch, he was reclining on his
- chair and glancing at the Assamese Newspaper. As he was passing the pages by with a careless
- attitude, he came to the ‘obituary’ part of the newspaper. As his inattentive eyes moved by the
- pictures and names of the persons featured, he came upon a picture under which was written the
- name of that person and whose death was condoled by his wife, daughter and his family members.
- The name of the wife was written as ‘Padmavati Devi’. He began to look at the other pictures and
- the words underneath those photos when instinctively his eyes re-focused on the photo where the
- wife’s name was written as ‘Padmavati Devi’. Queer! He felt a strong inclination towards that name.
- ‘Why were his eyes so drawn towards that obituary?’ he thought. ‘Is it his Padmavati Singh, his
- Manipuri ex-girlfriend?’ Sure, Manipuri women write ‘Devi’ as their surname after their marriage,
- but God forbid, surely his Padmavati has not been widowed at so small an age (he was only a month
- or two older than her). And also, he had no clue as to her husband’s name or her daughter’s name
- (which were supplied therein). Only their address has been given as in the state capital. But there
- was one thing that may help in Padmanav finding an analogy: a mobile number has been given
- under the names of Padmavati Devi and her daughter. Padmanav has only one chance; to phone at
- this number and ascertain if this is ‘his’ Padmavati Singh or someone else. One thing is for sure; he
- should be ready to face some embarrassment if his hunch fails. But he was determined to try. He was eager
- to meet his Padmavati once more in this life; here is this chance. He will wait for the ritual
- ceremonies to pass. There was given a date for the ritual ceremonies. He will phone to her on this matter
- after a day or two.
- A few days later the ‘D’ day arrived. Padmanav had readied himself for this occasion. Real
- lovers are truly in want of shame although not in courage and, Padmanav showed to everybody his
- potential of a real lover. The day he choosed was the day after the rituals and the time selected was
- in the evening. On that evening, after returning from his garage, he had a tea and then went outside
- to have a walk. Then taking out his mobile phone, he connected that number. It was answered after
- some rings. Padmanav’s heart began to pound. He summoned all his courage to speak up. Hearing
- the ‘hello’ from the other end, he spoke up:
- “Hello! Is that Padmavati Singh, I mean Padmavati Devi, over there?”
- Padmavati: “Yes! It is me, but who are you, Sir? I do not recognize your number.”
- (To be continued)…