Chasing Dreams

Yet, two decades had dissolved away like ice in lukewarm drinks. They hadn’t gone anywhere. 

His debts had piled so high, he could no longer think of leaving. And now, with his heart condition, who knew what sort of treatment was available in Calcutta, where there were no health plans.

Once in a while, when he would look around his decrepit store—at the cracked linoleum floor, the creaking door that didn’t close unless properly, the dirty curtains whose colour had faded to an indistinguishable cream––the possibility of going back home flickered in his mind like a wavering flame. But he’d look up and down Lexington and realize that once he left, Gopal would die of diabetes, Nafisa, who was still stuck on her citizenship process, may wind up deported and Mohon like a crumbling terracotta statue would turn to dust in his store. 

Twenty Years

Twenty years. Washed away by the monsoon rain; had drifted far across the continents. But instead of being lifted into the endless skies he had landed somewhere in the rough. Even now he could picture his young self in the same blue blazer with gold buttons––one hand tucked smartly inside grey trouser pockets, sifting through the crowd at a party at the club, a glass of whisky in his right. And the women. Oh the women. He would ease the empty drinks from their hands, fill them at the bar and take a turn with them around the far end of the garden where few guests strayed. They talked about their lonely lives at home. He told them he understood.


How differently his mornings had begun in Calcutta––a walk around Victoria Memorial after which Bhaskar used to drive him to the club, that wonderful chilli cheese toast he had for breakfast. Invariably he bumped into a golf buddy, or a colleague, who pulled up a chair. And if no one came, he sat underneath the shamianah on his own, feeding the stray dogs, watching a ball that had just teed off; following its course till he couldn’t find it anymore; till the wind carried it away. In twenty years, Calcutta had been reduced to a fond memory. Usha still considered it her other life. 

Tangle of Lies

Mr Munshi wanted to grab the phone and say none of it was true. That it was only a store in Chicago that bought in small quantities. It added up to no more than a few hundred dollars. That the High Commission had called to make some inquiries but nothing had come of it yet. And Mimi? It had ultimately taken her six years to finish college and she temped through an agency and shared a one-bedroom in Woodside––a part of Queens Usha refused to visit as it involved switching the train twice. It made Mr Munshi nervous to overhear his wife’s conversations. He could barely keep track of her lies.

No small talk

“I know. Can you believe I’ve managed to make him come this time? Normally things are so hectic, we both can’t take off you know,” Usha said on the phone.

“Yes, of course we have someone working for us, but he has to travel so often. What with the clients on the west coast.” She said this in a hushed tone, with her face turned away from her husband, but he had heard.

 “No, Mimi can’t make it. She has her exams and she is so busy applying for jobs. There are three universities that want her, can you imagine? But she is still waiting to see if she can find something closer to us.”

Lexington Avenue

As he walked in, she raised her head but didn’t say anything. He too raised his eyebrows in acknowledgement of her presence. This is how they spoke after forty years of marriage––with signs and gestures. Lexington Avenue divided Mr Munshi’s life into two distinct halves. On one side was Mohon’s endless chatter, on the other, his wife’s infinite silence. 


She liked silence nowadays. It was the music she strained to listen to, in this bustling world, the music most rare.
Here, the bodegas were simple, the sidewalks untouched by organic clothing stores, day care centers, fair-trade coffee and tapas bars. The disrepair was romantic, commensurate with the direction her life was headed. She liked that she could cross a river and start all over.




Sometimes, she feared there were no new beginnings for people like her—people with no real longing and this was just the second part of the same journey. Different mistakes, the same failure. What a shame people would say. She had so much promise.

Over time, her parents grew more poised and reticent. They were worried these days that like many of their friends’ children, she would come back home, demand coffee be brought to her bedside at noon. With all bold ambitions, the greater is the risk of failure. She would tell them this, What did you suppose? It was you who set me on the path of great expectations.



She practically heard the sky exhale. The headiness of victory.
No. The relief.


Only when you do good things can you look back and say– everything happens for a reason. Else, it’s all a waste.