When Sheela married, her mother gave her a passbook. She meant it to
be a joint passbook.
“I've opened it for you on one condition.”
Sheela was silent. She was a little nervous - she will be two the
following day. Before the day of marriage, her mother summoned her. But
it was not her alone. She and her would be husband.
“Now you are my children,” mother continued, “You have to deposit Rs
1,000 whenever something important happens in your life.”
“What sort of important thing, mother?” That was Sheela's husband.
Everyone called him Abey.
“Like when you have a child. Like when you celebrate an anniversary.
Like when one of you does something really touching.”
Rs 1,000 was a heavy amount for both Abey and Sheela. But then again
it is for their own savings. May be their children will benefit from the
deposits. Sometimes they can divide the amount.
“But I'm not letting you withdraw any amount. At least, not while I'm
alive. I will tell you when it's right time to withdraw.”
Mother thought for a while.
“Ah, before I forget, whenever you deposit you have to write down why
you deposit it. The passbook must be somewhere you both can have access
to, but not others.”
The very first day after the marriage night both of them went to the
bank to deposit their Rs.1,000. Sheela wrote down in small letters: ‘Our
first night together’. Abey wrote down in small letters: ‘Our first
The next depositor was Abey. He wrote down: “She broke me the news of
our first baby.”
Next depositor was Sheela: “He kissed our first baby, even before he
Depositing went on like that. They both upheld mother's condition.
They did not mind the amount. Every time they went to the bank, they
deposited the amount, and wrote down the line happily. When a new
passbook was issued, they glued it to the old one. This way all the
passbooks were in one bundle.
Years flew by. They had anniversaries. They had three kids. They had
happy moments together. But as it happens in any marriage, they also had
incompatibilities growing between them. Another three years flew by.
Sheela could not endure Abey's behaviour any longer.
“Mother I'm going to file a divorce case against him.”
She was ready with the answers to the possible questions: What's
wrong with him? What happens to kids? But mother did not ask any of
“Great. But you have to do one thing before that.”
“What's that, mother?”
“You got to withdraw all that you have deposited.”
“He also deposited.”
“Doesn’t matter. I need all the money.”
Sheela could not find words to battle against mother. Her voice was
authoritative. Sheela also needed the divorce, badly.
She got hold of the passbook and went to the bank. The queue was
unusually long. Every deposit counter was like that. She wished she had
an ATM card. But then again there was no need of an ATM card as they
never withdrew. She had no option other than waiting in one of the long
Waiting in the queue she tried her best not to look at the passbook.
She knew what it held. But as it was a long queue, and she had nothing
else to do, Sheela involuntarily opened it. She felt like leafing
through the oldest passbook.
'Our first night together'
'Our first night together’
The lines went on.
'Our first anniversary'
She didn't know what's flowing down her cheeks. But later she knew it
was tears. Is it over grief, or happiness? She didn't know. But she
realized one thing - that they had a wonderful life.
What went wrong, then, she mused. The queue was moving slowly.
Has she got into the wrong queue? Is the cashier new to the job? Has
she taken the wrong decision? What made her take that decision?
Abey's behaviour has changed. He comes home on all fours. He uses
words of wrath at times. Why has he changed that way?
Sheela noticed the time gap between the deposits has gone up little
by little. Their intimacy has shrunken, that means. They are both
responsible for the change. Perhaps she encouraged that change. Any
change is inevitable. But those changes can be outdone but slowly. Her
memories came flowing, one by one. Whatever happened they are sweet.
By the time she came to the counter, Sheela had to take a quick
decision. She fished out - luckily she had a 2,000 note. She deposited
both. And in the passbook, she scribbled:
'I changed my decision of divorce. This deposit is for us both.'