Ms M. Das had been brought up in Bowbazar, a bustling area of Kolkata, erstwhile Calcutta. So, life brought her way quite a few surprises when she married an officer from the Indian Airforce, who hailed from Nirakarpur, a remote village in Khardah district.
Her sister accompanied her on her first trip to her husband’s ancestral home in Nirakarpur. She had been advised by her mother-in-law to cover her head till the nose and she had obediently done so. After getting down from the bus, both the sisters boarded a rickshaw which was entirely covered with a blanket, so that no passer-by could see them. The seemingly never-ending ride finally ended when the blanket was suddenly removed. One of her sisters-in-law, who came to receive them, helped her get down from the rickshaw. “It was extremely difficult for me to move an inch with that ghunghat (head cover) and I could not see anyone. That’s how I met my extended in-laws. And it was there that I first tasted ’Chalta’ (Elephant apple), a sapling of which, brought from there aeons ago, has grown into a tree which still thrives in my garden, reminding me of that time.
After 15 days, Ms Das set off with her husband for her very first plane journey. They were to go to Jorhat from Dumdum airport. She was rather excited to go to an unknown place with a not-so-known person. When they landed in Jorhat, she found that her husband’s scooter was parked at the airport. Much to her surprise, her husband tied all their belongings to the scooter, and with her as the pillion rider, started for their home.
Her husband took her first to a dairy farm, home to around 45 cows, each in a separate shed, that were well-lit and properly maintained. He started calling them by their names and introduced her to them. The cows had unique and elaborate names like 'Aradhana', 'Kadambini', 'Mousumi' and so on. Ms Das was shocked and bewildered. She could not imagine why she was standing in a dairy farm getting introduced to cows when her parents had said that her husband was an Airforce pilot!
Soon, however, she met some airmen, who saluted them. Her husband in turn asked whether the cows had been given their injections on time, during his absence. He even injected one of the cows leaving Ms Das completely flummoxed and very homesick as she remembered her very different life in her Bowbazar home. After spending some time there, they went to a house owned by some of her husband’s colleagues, who had specially reserved a room for them.
She later came to know that the dairy farm had been set up to provide nourishment to the airmen’s children. Her husband had been given the responsibility of looking after the farm, as he had a PhD in Agriculture and he diligently managed all the responsibilities of his airfield.
Ms Das still cherishes the eventful early years of her married life. The bike, which had taken her from the airport to the farm, now stands in her garden as a memento of her husband.
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