Proposal to Visit Darjeeling
We were then living in Jalpaiguri, a northern district town of West Bengal. During the weekends we would go out mostly to the captivating dooars or other adjacent tourist destinations. Among all my friends Sunny was my most favourite for he was a man of many traits. The most remarkable was his power of acting. He could easily resolve any friendly tiffs by dint of his gift of the gab. We could not oppose his proposal to visit the enchanting Darjeeling hills the next Saturday. Like any other visitors we were also lured by the toy train ride and dazzling snow peaks of Kanchenjunga overlooking the hill town.
Enchanting Hill Station
Forewarning to Friend
The only problem with Sunny was his inclination to go for fun putting on an act when we did not take him seriously. Otherwise very humorous and honest to the core, he could not resist any scope of doing a bit of fun on the slightest pretext. We had some reservations as our wives had accompanied us this time. So Mon and I had warned him several times not to go for showing off his performances as that would only land us in rather embarrassing situations. We knew very well that being accustomed to his many tricks we could digest his fun but our spouses would definitely not take such merriment and fun sportingly like us and that would for sure bring in rifts among the friends. So our forewarnings continued over and over again.
Joy Ride in a Toy Train
We reached the hill station in the evening via Siliguri which was not that much buzzing with multifarious activities in those days. Infact Jalpaiguri and Siliguri were twin cities vying for better development status. Although Siiliguri could prosper better thanks to the blessings of the government and its strategic situation, our town was culturally superior and it produced many eminent people notwithstanding. We were engaged in such discussions and aspirations for our beloved small town as we travelled by the cute Himalayan toy train whistling its way through the mountains.
It was September and the air was a bit nippy. We arranged a good hotel for six of us. We did not get additional leave and so we would have to return to our town by Monday morning at any cost- that we knew well.Mon’s wife was a good singer and we enjoyed the night in total revelry with Sunny stealing the limelight by virtue of his humorous anecdotes all the time with unending enthusiasm.
Another Friend Joins
In the morning of Sunday we were hanging around the famous Mall which is the heart of the hill station. With shops lined up on one side it offers the tourists from every part of the globe to relax and admire the awesome nature with a panoramic view of Kanchenjunga. Enjoying a sip on a cup of hot coffee as we were observing pony rides by the travellers we could locate Tony, another friend, in the vicinity, accompanied by a woman. He was also our school friend and settled in Kolkata permanently. But we were not aware that he had already married. However, we presumed that he could not invite us at the time of his wedding ceremony due to some personal constraints. We moved forward inching towards him.Though a bit nervous at first he seemed to be very happy meeting us surprisingly and introduced us to his wife. We were assured that Tony had come to the place with his wife only and finding our dear schoolmate so close to us our resentment for not being invited timely paled soon.
Viewing Area Mall Road
We came to know that Tony had lodged in an adjacent hotel and we were agog with joy reminiscing the school days memories. The wives also became good friends in no time. Tony hinted that he would return to our town before leaving for Kolkata. Our joy became more pronounced as we would have the company of Tony in Jalpaiguri as well for a further period.
A Joke Embitters Relations
So long we were taking part in most of the discussions and Sunny was surprisingly found to be a mere listener which was quite unlike his usual nature. But that kept us truly worried considering what was our creative friend up to. However, he soon chipped in speaking pointedly to Tony “Who’s is that lady besides you?” ‘‘She is my wife” Tony replied coolly.
Spontaneously Sunny questioned again “If that be so, who was then giving you company near the Metro cinema last time when we met in Kolkata? Tony and his wife were flabbergasted. We remained totally confounded. It seemed to us that his wife began soon to bear a grudge against her husband for facing such a despicable truth in our presence. “What a cruel destiny for the couple! She could perhaps not even think in her dream such an ominous happening during her lifetime”- I thought within myself.
Reassessing a Friend
Even though we knew Sunny as an actor such a bizarre incident taking place so suddenly and unexpectedly startled us all. We also began to look at Tony with hatred for cheating his wife. He had left our town long time back and we did not know his whereabouts so long and we could easily believe that our bosom friend had changed a lot.
Reminiscing The School Days
Tony was the best student in our class in the district school and besides extraordinary performance in studies he also excelled in sports as well winning many a trophies in the district. His father was an eminent pleader and he must have no difficulties in doing higher studies in Kolkata. Further he was very decent and amiable though somewhat shy. We never found him losing his temper easily.
Attempt at Reconciliation
By the evening we discovered much to our embarrassment that such an incident had left the two separated and they were found to be not in speaking terms even. Considering the dire consequences that might follow I took the initiative and spoke to Sunny to prove his point at once or bury the hatchet at once for the sake of our friendship and the family. As we were also perplexed finding no reason to unnecessarily put our friendship at stake we began to look at Tony with compassion. It seemed to us that after sometime Sunny came to his senses. As we could know from him later he had so long been nurturing the idea that Tony had so far changed a lot living in Kolkata which produced far more polished and smart citizens. But that his friend had retained his usual sober and timid self was much beyond his wildest imagination. So perhaps Sunny could immediately realize the pain he had already inflicted on the innocent couple. Coming straight to me Sunny said in a theatrical gesture ‘’ you know my dear friend; I can easily make one weep and laugh at my will mending my fences with anybody. Just watch what happens next”
Fence Mending Exercise
Turning to Toni’s wife who looked to be pale and morose shunning even the company of our wives Sunny asked brusquely “ I am really astonished. I thought you were a very much matured and well educated lady. I now discover you to be just the opposite. Living with such a decent and well behaved gentleman that my beloved friend is, how could you believe a man whom you came to know for the first time in your life. Fie upon you. I really need to preserve your photo to show other women in my town. I have not seen any lady like you before I could chance upon you.’’ The wife became speechless in shame and could easily realize her tomfolery.Thanking Sunny for his real act in the nick of time we ended our journey on a happy note.