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“Aniket Sandhya” –(Abode Lost at Day’s End)

Bhismadeb was a famous classical and semi-classical singer until a few years ago. He is now an octogenarian paralytic who spends his days resting in an armchair surrounded by his music. Only his son Karnadeb, a retired Professor in his sixties, and his great grandson Papu can elicit some response from him. The family is now run by Karnadeb’s son Priyatosh and his working wife Malabika.

The first scene opens with Priyatosh and Malabika getting ready to go to work while Papu enjoys the last few days of his Puja vacation. Light hearted conversation reveals that caring for Bhismadeb is becoming a burden. Perceptive as he is, little Papu can also sense that something is amiss.

The second scene introduces us to Karnadeb and the domestic help Arjun who has been with the family for long. Bhismadeb, from the depths of dementia agrees to be fed only by his son Karnadeb. Music rules Bhismadeb’s heart and soul. Karnadeb understands and tries to rouse the old man by playing his choice of music and by reciting poetry.

The third scene opens with casual banter between Papu and Malabika and sets the stage for the underlying conflicts to be revealed. Rini, Malabika’s niece enters the scene, fleeing the marital battle at home between her parents. The root cause? Rini’s mother’s inability to come to terms with her husband’s joint family. At home too, trouble is brewing. Karnadeb has gone outstation for a day and his father is refusing food. Malabika vents out her frustration on Priyatosh who doesn’t keep quiet either. Into the simmering cauldron, in steps Kalidas Naha (KDN), Karnadeb’s old friend and a stage actor calling on his friend. KDN refuses Priyatosh’s hospitality but accepts cigarettes which Papu brings in. Papu then proceeds to quiz KDN and is successful in coaxing a theatrical performance from KDN. Beneath KDN’s bravado there lurks a tale of personal misfortune.

In the fourth scene, Karnadeb has returned to a tense atmosphere where Papu is the empathetic informant of the goings on in the family. Malabika and Priyatosh inconclusively try to present the difficulties of caring for Bhismadeb and how it is affecting their careers. The reunion between Karnadeb and KDN is a positive spark that cannot hide the underlying tensions.

In the fifth scene, Karnadeb presents KDN to his father Bhismadeb and the two try to rekindle the old man’s memories. KDN breaks down and reveals how he was thrown out of his own home by his son and how he was barely eking out a miserable existence.

In the sixth scene, Rini leaves after having spent a night and promises to visit more often in order to escape the unpleasantness at home. Malabika and Priyatosh have hatched a plan to move Bhismadeb to an old age home. Priyatosh is overcome by remorse and a sense of guilt for having to move his grandfather away from his own home. Malabika, on the other hand feels that everyone unrealistically expects her to be a co-bread earner as well as perfect homemaker.

But no one dares to tell Karnadeb until the end. In the final scene faced with the inevitable, Priyatosh balks from his own plan but Karnadeb takes the situation in his stride. Papu is distraught at the happenings. With a child’s instinct he can sense the end of a way of life. His heightened sense of right and wrong cannot forgive his parents for driving his ‘grandy’ away. Karnadeb on the other hand, has made up his mind. His decision provides the final twist to the tale.

‘Aniket Sandhya’ deals with the gritty reality facing us all as our seniors age and we unable to care for them in our homes. Are old age homes inevitable? Come and see this socially relevant drama and decide for yourselves.

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