‘And the Award for the Best Book of the Year goes to ...any guesses?’ the announcer looked around the auditorium and smiled ‘none other than the brilliant debut book by renowned artist Anusha Choudhury’.
Soumya's heart sank he had seen this coming. The hall was filled with frantic clapping and cheering. Anusha’ was dazed and didn't know how to react. She stood up and looked towards Soumya but couldn't find his eyes. Anusha’ turned and walked towards the dias.
Soumya couldn't take it anymore felt like leaving but he couldn't do it with all the media present. He didn't want to give them a story that “renowned author Soumya Banerjee whose successful book was also nominated for the awards had walked out unceremoniously when he was not declared a winner”.
He noticed Anusha’ had grown slightly fat but was looking all the more beautiful. Soumya remembered how he was startled to see tall, slender girl with specs been introduced to him as the new illustrator for the college magazine, of which Soumya was the ‘editor-in-chief’. That day actually he was waiting for Anusha’, the name which he had seen on the winning canvas and he was highly impressed.
Anusha’ had worked very hard with him on the cover of the magazine which was big hit that year but what had actually floored him was the illustration she had done for Soumya's poem. The picture seemed to depict each and every word that he had penned. It was as if she had got into his head and had got exactly what he had been visualizing.
He had said ‘Anu nobody could have done better illustration to my poem... you have got my imagination in that frame exactly... awesome’.
Anu had smiled shyly and said ‘Actually I have got illustrations for all of your poems and stories’. ‘I admit I am a very big fan of your writing’.
This was not new for Soumya, women who read his works generally became his fans but nobody understood his thoughts like Anu did. He had started admiring Anu for this.
Over the next few years Anu and Soumya had spent a lot of time together. They would go to Academy of fine arts for the painting exhibitions, they would watch films together at Nandan or spend time at the Rabindra Sadan complex. Every year the Boi mela(Kolkata Book Fair) was a must-see event for them. They would spend time devouring the treasure house of books at the stalls strolling around in soft winter afternoons and chilly evenings. Once Soumya had stolen a book and got caught but was let off with the book when he had written an instant essay explaining the reason why he stole the book, which had highly impressed the stall owners.
He also remembered that year, December of 1999 the Book fair was on for a week yet Anusha had not found time to go. Though Soumya had visited the fair once but without Anu he didn't find it that intriguing. Finally on his birthday Anu had said that they would celebrate by going to the book fair. That day Soumya had noticed Anu seemed to be glowing and very excited. After entering the book fair she walked straight to the 'Little Magazine' stalls much to dismay of Soumya. He always preferred to go around chronologically lest he misses some stalls.
On reaching a stall she was greeted by a middle-aged man ‘Come come Anu’ and then he looked at Soumya and said ‘This must be famous Soumya Banerjee, Welcome Sir’. Soumya was quite naturally surprised by the ‘grand welcome’, moreover his ears were not accustomed to be called 'Sir' till then. He had merely given a confused look.
Anu introduced ‘Well Mr. Soumya Banerjee this is Anupam-da he is the publisher of a Little Magazine’. Soumya folded his hands and uttered ‘Nomoskar’.
Anupam da laughed ‘Nomoskar bhai I know its your birthday, so I would like to give you a small gift’ and handed him a packet.
Soumya looked at Anu, who was smiling mischievously and signaled him to open the packet. He opened the packet and found a copy of the latest edition of Anupam-da’s magazine with a familiar cover artwork and when he turned the cover, he was completely taken aback, as there was his picture and he was the featured as the writer of the fortnight. Some of his best and favorite poems were published albeit translated in Bangla. He didn't how to react as that was the first time his work had been published in a publication outside his academic institutions.
Anupam-da apologized ‘Sorry we didn't inform you before publishing. You see Anusha had wanted it to be a surprise and she had done all the translations’.
Anu had said ‘I hope you are not angry’.
Soumya laughed and said ‘Very angry! How dare you translate without my permission. There is something called copyright and I hope you are aware?’.
But that was 10 years earlier. Soumya was jolted back to the auditorium when he heard Anusha utter his name, she was saying ‘ and last but not least it’s a great honor to have my book nominated alongside the book of author like Soumya Banerjee and I admit like millions of you I too am a big fan of his. Thank you’.
The media started questioning Soumya ‘Sir what do you have to say as to your book having lost for the first time to a newbie authoress who admits to be fan of yours’.
Soumya said ‘I congratulate Ms. Choudhary. I am grateful to her for mentioning that she is my fan and she's very talented and deserving writer. Wish her luck in all her future works. Now will you please excuse me’.
He moved away from the media glare to the solitude of the restroom and splashed some water on his face and looked up in the mirror and the man in the mirror laughed and mocked ‘You have not changed a bit. Still can't accept that she's more talented than you. But Why? Why are you like this?’