Anukul was born in a joint family in Kolkata in their ancestral home at Hajra. It was a huge mansion with a big courtyard surrounded on four sides by spacious rooms and another walled courtyard around the exterior as well. The mansion had been home to his last 5 generations. They had been a wealthy reputed family of zamindars. The wealth accumulated was enough to keep Anukuls next 2 generations well fed and in luxuries.
The mansion now housed Anukuls’ old grandparents, his Kakus (uncle) family and his own family. Anukuls’ kaku though younger of the two brothers had a bigger say in the household activities and decisions. His father being a simple man never really bothered or interfered in the house matters. Anukul could sense that in spite of the love between the two brothers his uncle did enjoy the supremacy and look down upon his father as a simpleton. He had managed to live with that but what he could not bear with was his cousin Raja.
Raja was a year older to him. Right from the time they were kids, Anukul had hated Raja. Raja was always the school topper. He was brilliant in all the sports he played. Raja was the perfect well-spoken, well groomed boy, teacher’s pet, family’s pride. Anukul on the other hand was brilliant but he preferred not to study. He had an extremely sharp, political and manipulative brain but he preferred sitting on the school wall with his friends playing pranks. Though good looking, he was extremely unkempt. In fact he was quite an uncouth hooligan. It was his rebellious attitude that made him indifferent in competing with Raja. He just did not want to be like Raja
Yes Anukul hated Raja. Anukul hated being compared to Raja. Anukul hated being told by everyone to be like Raja. What had increased this hatred manifolds when he overheard his parents say that they wished they had a son like Raja.
As they grew up, this hatred just kept increasing. In college all the pretty girls would hang around Raja like accessories while no one would give a second glance to Anukul. Even from home Raja got the best clothes and perfumes to wear. He got hefty pocket money. Life wasn’t easy with Raja around. Raja knew of Anukuls hatred but was indifferent towards it. In fact he quite enjoyed being the supreme of the two and never once lost a chance to humiliate Anukul
Anukuls only solace was his best friend Soorjyo. He was extremely affectionate towards Soorjyo. Soorjyo was a smart, handsome and a charming being. An excellent student and extremely dedicated to Anukul. They always hung around together and stuck by each other no matter what. Such was his dedication to Anukul that he shared his hatred for Raja with equal totality. He hated the way Raja behaved haughtily with his best friend. There were times when Raja had even taunted Soorjyo for being friends with a dimwit like Anukul. This had made Soorjyo loathe him. How he wanted to get back at Raja someday for demeaning Anukul. How he wanted to harm him. Soorjyo, while he was normally a quite sensible person who wouldn’t harm anyone, he participated whole heartedly in making plans with Anukul to make life miserable for Raja.
And now with the course of time and situations galore, they had found a bigger, much bigger reason to despise Raja
In their para (locality) stayed Jagyaseni. Jagyaseni was a woman of fiery beauty and intelligence. She was graceful. She had the looks and a body to die for. There were many who desired her…. Oh no! Anukul was not one of them, but Soorjyo was.
Soorjyo had been mesmerized by Jagyaseni from the time he was in his adolescence. Her very sight made him forget everything around him. He fantasized of holding her and kissing her tenderly. He wanted her to be a part of all his thoughts and dreams. He dreamt of spending the rest of his life in her arms. He wanted her to be only his. Oh he was madly in love with her. Shy that he was he had never expressed his feelings to her for many years. After being coaxed, cajoled and finally threatened by Anukul, Sooryo finally approached Jagyaseni. As it turned out that Jagyaseni also had suppressed undercurrent attraction for Soorjyo and thus started a beautiful love story. And as we can guess, the villain in this love story was Raja.
Raja was enchanted by Jagyaseni. He had tried to woo her number of times through a number of ways but Jagyaseni did not show any interest. So when he got to know about Soorjyo and Jagyasenis relationship, he was filled with wrath. To own Jagyaseni became a challenge for Raja. He desired her even more. Now it was pure lust. And lust as we know cannot be resisted. So he decided to go to any measures to possess her. He befriended her brother and charmed her parents. He portrayed the perfect son in law picture to them. He showered them with gifts. Smooth talker that he was, he indulged into charismatic conversations with them. And soon they grew very fond of him. All this while Anukul, Soorjyo and Jagyaseni had no inclination of Rajas intensions
And so when Jagyasenis’ parents informed her that they had decided to marry her off to Raja, she was devastated. She tried very hard to reason it out with her parents but it all fell to deaf ears. They blatantly opposed their daughters’ commitment to Soorjyo. For them Soorjyo was wasted in the company of Anukul. They would hear none of it. The shattered Jagyaseni rushed to Soorjyo. When Soorjyo and Anakul heard the entire saga, they were furious. Eloping was not an option. Jagyaseni would just not hear of it. They decided to go speak to her parents. But both Soorjyo and Anukul were humiliated and threatened by them. Anukul could not bear to see Soorjyo in despair, in depression.
On the other hand Jagyaseni was locked up in her house. The family had started making major preparation for the marriage. Both the families had met discussions were happening every day. Saris and jewelries were being shopped for. Jagyaseni refused to give her opinion on anything. She would lie heartbroken, weeping in her bed cursing Raja. She was even contemplating ending her life before Raja could touch her with his filthy hands.
Even at Anukuls house preparations were on at full swing. He was angry, very angry. He refused to be a part of any activities at his mansion. He ignored all especially Raja, the reason for his anguish. He decided he would not be around during the marriage.
Soorjyo, well he was just keeping himself to himself, lost in his thoughts, kept walking all over Kolkata aimlessly.
Finally it was the day of the marriage. The entire Mansion was decorated with marigold flowers and strings of lights. All the family members were dressed in best of the attires. The women adorned themselves with gold jewelry. Everyone was in high spirits. One could smell all the traditional Bengali dishes that were being prepared. Sounds of music and conch shells filled the house. There was laughter everywhere. The place was full of life.
In his room Raja was lying on his bed. His eyes wide open. Empty, hollow, as lifeless as the body to which they belonged.