Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mrs Chatterjee's Toothbrush

Mrs. Chatterjee was very organised. She packed some chicken sausages and potato wedges into one of her over-priced microwaveable containers, one of the few hundreds which filled most of her pricey modular kitchen cabinets. The kitchen was her speciality. The jewel in her crown, in her overly expensive bungalow in the posh Vasant Kunj area of New Delhi. Like her mother, Mrs. Chatterjee was a brilliant cook. Probably the reason for her excessively lardy children, which by the way, is not a very uncommon occurrence in a Bengali household. But Mrs. Chatterjee was not rotund like the chowmein and chilly chicken gulping buffaloes who called her mother. No, Mrs. Chatterjee was very well maintained for a thirty seven year old woman, with a figure that could make any twenty-two year old shy away. She brought envy amongst her bus sized kitty party members and the constant source of admiration from their balding and portly other halves. And the secret for Mrs. Chatterjee’s voluptuous incarnation, nothing ! Some people are just born lucky.


So, Mrs. Chatterjee packed some chicken sausages and potato wedges. She tucked some chicken salami sandwiches in neat aluminum foils. Like a true Bengali housewife, for the mere six hour drive, she packed enough food to feed her family for a week.

“Did you pack my reading glasses”, her husband shouted from the living room.

“Yes dear.”

“and my tobacco”

“of course dear. I’ve also packed your pipe. Let me make sure the toiletteries are packed.”

“don’t worry, I have packed them with my shaving kit”

“please don’t forget my toothbrush”

“of course”

“don’t forget my toothbrush”

“Make sure the kids are ready to leave for their aunt’s place”

Mrs Chatterjee gave a disgruntled look and went over to her children. The Chatterjee’s recently won a free weekend trip to camp near Rishikesh. Finally the services of the swanky VISA platinum card of Mr Chatterjee paid off. And after so many years they get a weekend to themselves.

Mr. Chatterjee pulled the Mercedes in the driveway. Mrs. Chatterjee hurried to the sparkling new black Mercedes after making sure the house was locked.

“did you check everything, did you pack everything”, she asked her husband.

“yes ! Now please get inside. We are already twenty minutes behind”

Mrs. Chatterjee gave a disparaging look, her enormous mushroom nose fluttered, and she quietly sat in the car, while Mr. Chatterjee speeded his expensive car through the gulmohar covered metallic roads of New Delhi.


Mrs. Chatterjee was a good housewife and a loving mother. She left no stone unturned in her fourteen years of marriage. She quit her high paying job as a hotshot journalist, to become a housewife, an altruistic sacrifice. She met her husband an year before her marriage. Mr. Chatterjee was usually unperturbed by the daily affairs. In fact he hardly knew what went around in the house. He spent most of the time in expanding his software outsourcing business. And at home he would be found immersed in his vast collection of books and smoking his pipe like a chimney. A cold man, he was usually unruffled by the hustle and bustle of the household activities.


“You should have seen the drawings Rusheel made yesterday. All the teachers think he could become a true artist..With the brushstrokes, and the vivid colors he uses, his drawings becomes a pretentious piece of art. Are you listening?”

“Hmmm. ” Replied mr. Chatterjee and he turned on the radio.

Mrs. Chatterjee continued “Saanchi, called yesterday. She invited us for dinner next week. We could finally check out the new interiors of her house. We would go, right?”

“Hmmm”

“Are you even listening? All day, its only your books, your pipe or the stupid computers.”

“Hmmmm”

The crimson colored mushroom nose of Mrs. Chatterjee did very little to hide her vexation for her husband. She started to hum an old classical song she remembered. After all it was a bright sunny spring afternoon. She lowered her window pane and the fresh smell of gulmoher trees engulfed the tingling senses of Mrs. Chatterjee who had been longing to get out of the melancholy of her daily routine.

“Pull up the windows. The Air conditioner is running” Barked Mr. Chatterjee and Mrs Chatterjee’s Nature’s blast met a premature end.

“You never listen to what I say” whined Mrs. Chatterjee “You never do. Did you pack my toothbrush”

“Yes, I did”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes”

“Where is it?”

“In my shaving kit”

“I’ll check”

“I told you, its in the shaving kit !”


Mrs. Chatterjee reached for her husband’s shaving kit and started probing for her toothbrush. After minutes of prodding the contents of her husband shaving kit, she could not find her toothbrush.

“It’s not here”

“What?” Mr Chatterjee bellowed

“My toothbrush is not here”

“Yes it is. Check the compartment with the zipper”

“But this is a new toothbrush”

“Well, yes. You can use that”, replied Mr. Chatterjee

“But its not my toothbrush”

“Its a new toothbrush, isn’t it?“

“But its not mine”

“Just use the damn toothbrush”

A small flare of fire emerged from the dragonish large nostrils of Mrs Chatterjee. It was always the same, Mrs Chatterjee thought. None of her problems got any contemplation from her husband.


The rest of the journey passed without much significance except for a few loud growls of resentment from Mrs Chatterjee and the chide replies by her husband. After a comparitively uneventful and a six hour drive they arrived at the camp site near rishikesh.

The clear blue pellucid waters of the ganges, the chalky white sand banks, the plush green forest cover was enough for Mrs Chatterjee to make her forget her woes for she longed to be amongst nature every single mechanical day of her life. She started singing softly in her melliflous voice. Well, Yes, Mrs chatterjee was also a very talented singer. If only her nose were a bit a more proportionate, she couldve become a perfect sculpture from the machineries of God. A heartbreaking dissapointment indeed. Her euphonious humming met an untimely end when her husband perspicuously remarked that such juvenile behaviour could lead to embarrassment of his stature and she should stop immediately. Mrs chatterjee succumbed to her husband’s remarks and started unpacking.


The Chatterjees were bunked in the last tent of the camp. It was a beautiful location, just beside the blue waters and away from all the other tents. Ten years ago, It would have been an ideal place for a second honeymoon, but now, it was just another place. Mr Chatterjee, spread one of his folding reclining chairs on the sand and immersed nonchalantly into one of his voluminous uninteresting books.


Mrs chatterjee was gulping down the pulchritude of nature. But with the onset of the night, the issue which had been forgotten for some time recurred creepingly at Mrs. Chatterjee. It was almost dinner time and she still did not have her toothbrush. Mrs. Chatterjee, even though was a very adjusting woman, but there were somethings to which she could never adjust. For example, her toothbrush. Mrs. Chatterjee had a wierd obssession. She could never sleep without brushing her teeth. The thought of the bacteria, L. acidophilus combining with the proteins in the saliva of the food debris, forming plaque, spooked the life out of the poor proboscis featured fiesty bengali woman.


The campfire was lit. The extremeley delicious dinner spread was laid. But Mrs Chatterjee was too occupied to enjoy any of these. Spicy minced tandoori chicken kebabs, Roasted potatoes with a hint of lemon, and creamy, mouthwatering butter chicken with roasted naans, all of these delicacies did not help the cause for Mrs Chatterjee’s predicament. Only one thought spooked her mind, her toothbrush. How is she going to floss before she hits the sack. How is she going to sleep.


The night went on merrily for all the package tour winners. They hogged, they danced and they sang there hearts out. Everyone, except Mrs Chatterjee whose mind wandered to her exorbiant bathroom in Delhi, where her tootbrush lay comfortably inside the sleek, black cabinet. As the night grew older, people started leaving the campfire to proceed for a romantic walk on the moonlit white beach. Mr. Chatterjee, after a hearty meal and some generous quantities of scotch, remarked “Its getting late. We should head back to the tent”

Mrs. Chatterjee followed him to the tent with the thought of the long dark night with fear of leaving her pearly white teeth to the mercy of millions of bacteria.

“I am going to sleep. We have to wake up early tomorrow.”

“Hmmm” replied Mrs Chatterjee.”


Mr. Chatterjee switched off the electric lights inside the modern tent, and started snoring almost immediately. Mrs. Chatterjee on the other hand laid wide awake. The swirling sound made by the clear blue Ganges river seemed like a silent evil laughter, mocking the predicament of poor Mrs. Chatterjee.

“I told you to check my toothbrush. I told you to check so many times. But still you forgot. Its Jaipur all over again” muttered Mrs Chatterjee silently

Mr. Chatterjee gave a loud startling Hog-like grunt and rolled over in his deep slumber. Mrs Chatterjee was cruelly reminded of her traumatizing trip to Jaipur two years ago. She was accompanying her husband to one his boring and soporofic annual Cyber Trade Summit conferences. Luckily, that year, the conference was held in the Pink City, Jaipur. Mrs Chatterjee could roam around in the city exploring the majestic forts and palaces or shopping for woven jholas and authentic Rajasthani Jwellery. It was during one of these shopping sprees, that her husband left her small rucksack at the Amer Fort. It was only after they returned to the hotel that Mrs Chatterjee noticed that her rucksack was missing. She was absolutely distressed for the rucksack contained all her important stuff including her precious toothbrush. She knew her husband tormented her for her annoying habit of not able to sleep without brushing her teeth under all circumstances. He mustve left the bag on purpose, she thought. For because of that she could not sleep that night and the next morning she had to use the Hotel’s ordinary, plastic toothbrush. She could neither eat nor drink for the rest of the trip for the fear of the evil bacteria, brandishing their shiny intracellular parts menacingly .


It was Jaipur all over again, and it was her husband’s fault, thought Mrs Chatterjee. He always does this to annoy her, thought Mrs. Chatterjee.

It was almost dawn, Mrs. Chatterjee was still staring at the roof of the tent, without any hint of sleep throughout the night. She Rolled over and saw her husband snoring, with a jeering smile on his face. It was all his fault she thought.

“How can you always forget my toothbrush?”

Mr. Chatterjee did not respond, and his annoyed wife screamed

“I WANT MY TOOTHBRUSH !”


Mr. Chatterjee woke up startled. He stared blankly at his wife, and very casually picked his pipe and tobacco and went outside to enjoy his smoke in tranquility.

Mrs. Chatterjee was now very infuriated. Her big mushroom nose was now an alarming shade of scarlet. The small mole on her nose spewed smoke like a DRB Class 52 steam locomotive. She peeped from her tent’s door. Mr chatterjee was smoking his pipe, standing carefully away from the river’s edge, for the proud bengali never learned how to swim. Mrs. Chatterjee went inside and sat on her bed. She again got up, went outside, came back a couple of minutes later. She packed her bags, drove the expensive mercedes straight to her posh Bungalow in Delhi. She rushed to her bathroom, opened her cabinet. Her toothbrush was lying there innocently. For the next five minutes she brushed her teeth in peace. She checked her reflection in the mirror. She brushed away the tobacco ash from her sweater, put her toothbrush back to its stand, and went to sleep. And there it stood, its bristles grinning an impish smile in the darkness, its smooth red body glistened with water crystals, completely unperturbed by the recent events, Mrs Chatterjee’s Toothbrush.


Copyright © reserved by Gaurav Singha Roy

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