A Life-changing conversation with a Stranger

from the memory

Suvasree Bandyopadhyay
Wed, 07/15/2020 - 23:17
Conversation with an old man

I was travelling from Sealdah to Puri with my friends. I have always been someone who has been extremely fond of travelling. Just scrolling around the streets casually makes me the happiest at times.

I love going on long trips and the best part is the company does not really matter as long as I get to travel. Even short trips are something I always look forward to.

I am about to tell you all about my experience that I had while going to Puri with my friends. It took all of us a lot of time to convince our families first that we could actually travel on our own without getting ourselves into any trouble.


Finally it was happening. We were a group of 7 girls who decided to start our trips with visiting the most anticipated place in India, Puri. Our train was at sharp 9pm. We all had dinner as soon as we got in the train and made ourselves comfortable on our own seats. Most of us were already very tired and everyone decided to talk for a bit and then sleep. They all went to sleep except me.

I am someone who loves the little things the most. The journey, those unknown people all around us, the weather, the outside view, these were enough to keep me awake. I decided to take a walk inside our compartment without waking any of my friends up for they all were extremely tired.

“Are you from Naihati?” someone asked.

I replied “no, why?”

The old man came forward and told me “you look familiar. Actually, you look exactly like my daughter”

I was scared. Confused and scared. More so, because he was blind. Yes, this man was blind and it was vivid. I did not know how to react when he said “Let’s talk. Are you free now?”

I decided to take a seat and have a conversation because by then I got interested to know more about how and why he said what he said.

I said “I don’t mean to offend you, but can you see?”

"haha. You got me! No dear! I cannot. I had a very beautiful marriage you know!”

“Where is your wife now?”

“We got divorced.”

Bing “I am extremely sorry, I didn”t know.”

“Of course dear! How could you! You just met me. We were married for 20 years. It was the best time of my life. It was a love marriage. We were classmates since pre-school and decided to get married soon after our college ended. Both of us were placed in good companies with high salary packages. It was very nice. It was everything anyone could ask for in their life. She is very pretty.”

“What went wrong then?” I asked with curious eyes.

“Both of us have been brought up in Naihati. We went to Jadavpur University to pursue Btech. These years were the absolute best years of my life. Friendships, love, free time, what else could I ask for? We got married with both of our families’ permission. Deep down they had always known we were made for each other. And honestly, we did not even want to look for other options because we knew we were perfect for each other.

After 3 years of our marriage, we had a daughter. We named her Shubhangi. She was a very pretty girl and also an extremely talented one. She wanted to become a painter. She was always busy with her swimming classes, painting lessons along with other stuff from school and everything. The best memory of my life still is our Europe tour. Subha was six years old then. We had so much fun in Switzerland! Subha loved it!

I got promoted later that year and so did Leena, my wife. We threw a huge party for all our friends, family members and collegues. That was probably the last we laughed together, all of us, the three of us. We got busy in our own lives. She had to prioritize her job more and so did I. We did not really have much family time left and little did we realize both of were getting miles apart from Subha. She was getting lonely. None of us knew or maybe did not want to know it. Both Leena and I had to go to work trips from time to time and Subha had to spend the time all alone.

After around three years with this kind of lifestyle both of us had no emotion or feelings left to give each other. We became robots. We were earning lakhs per month but little did we realize we lost our life. We forgot how to live. We were just surviving like animals and robots.

We started having fights often and some of them were really ugly. And now you probably can imagine what happened next. We thought we wanted a divorce and that would fix everything. As if that was the solution to every problem of our life that we were facing back then. We should not have done that. We should have given it a lot of thought. After a few days of our divorce I was coming home drunk from a date. I was driving and a truck hit me from the back and that is how I lost both my eyes. Look at me now! I lost everything!”

Bing “Where is Subha?” I could not contain my curiosity.

“She had been sent to a boarding school soon after our divorce. I did not know her whereabouts for a very long time until Leena called one day and invited me over for Subha’s birthday party that was about to be arranged by her. She was turning 18! I could not make it. Partly because of my office and mostly, because I did not want to face Leena. She did not ask me why I did not attend the party. Of couse, we were divorced after all!

After a few months I got a call from Subha’s warden informing she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and that morning she passed away.”

His eyes got wet. I did not want to disturb him but at the same time I wanted to break the silence as well.  I managed to tell him “She is in a better place now”

“Yes she is! You know this is where we go wrong. This is what we do not understand. We fail to understand how to respect everyone around us and how to enjoy and cherish the little moments of our life. We all are so busy dealing with our own issues we almost forget to be humans.

We become mere robots. We fail to nourish our relationships. We do not care about things until they are gone, gone forever. Had I attended the party, I could have at least seen her for the last time. But no, nothing but my ego stopped me from doing so. I am never going to forgive myself for what I did. Never.” He said and walked away toward his compartment.

I wanted to say something. I wanted to console him and tell him it is okay. But I could not. Because everything that he said was nothing but the truth. I never met him again in my life but the lesson that he left is unmatchable. It has changed me for good. It has made me a better person who knows how to live in little moments and how to let go of our petty ego issues when our close ones are concerned. It is always better to act than to regret forever.

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Suvasree Bandyopadhyay
Wed, 07/15/2020 - 23:17
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