Thursday, November 25, 2010

Into the Graveyard (Little Bile - Part II)

[Characters: Bile (pronounce as Bee-lay)]

Bile was walking on the wet roads in Kolkata, almost unnoticed, with the rainbow colored umbrella in hand and tiny steps taking him nowhere, but away from the cold, dark and silent house. The road was bustling, but quieter than usual days, when he comes out to go to school. He walked alone – slowly, but surely enough not to return again!

The umbrella was not heavy for him, but the slippers were. They were already wet and he was not able to walk wearing them. He looked around and after assuring that none was watching him, he bent down, took both the slippers and threw them into the drain, over the culvert. He bent down to see them float atop the drain water, which suddenly became livid with the morning rain. He walked past the culvert and the big stinky drain and he left the bakery behind. Mom never let him cross this drain. Never would Dad take him there. Bile always wanted to know what there might be, waiting to be explored. Today, he would not stop for anyone. He walked slowly, but surely enough not to stop until he is made to. The roads were slippery, in this sorry Sunday morning, with the morning rain all over the place. His bare feet would not grip well and he was slipping almost with every step.

He walked down the street. The sky was already clear by now – after the rains, it looked as blue as never before. The road narrowed in and was almost swallowed by those big, heavy and hefty iron gates. He never saw such a scene, when he got inside those gates. There was a big field around him and in front of him as much as he could see; with trees on it, spaced far from each other. The place was covered with tall green grass and there were big stones and wooden planks standing on the ground – some side by side, whereas a few, afar. He could relate this place to a picture he saw in his books – this place must be a Graveyard!

Bile ran in. He was very happy. For the first time in his life, he saw a graveyard – neither did he plan for this to happen nor was it allowed. The wet grass was cutting down his pants and his bare feet smelt like heaven. He could feel it. He could touch the earth, play with the tall grass and jump over the gravestones – for the first time. He felt like a king there. The umbrella was the only thing he knew with no living thing around him. He was tired and he lied down on the wet grass. Little droplets of water and a few torn grass pallets stuck to his body, all over. He was getting dirty, one thing Mom would not like at all. But he cared not. The view of the clear blue sky through the tall grass, below the gravestone was something little Bile never tasted. He saw the white clouds hover above him and the gravestone was a perfect ally to play hide and seek with. He was happy, in this sorry Sunday morning. He forgot everything that happened back home, when he woke up today. There was nothing much to remember, though. He was enjoying his time here. He could still feel the rain drops, the grass and the earth on his little bare feet and the smell of the wet grass on his hands. The milieu was silent, calm and he would here his own heart beat. As the morning breeze blew over his dreamy and sleepy eyes, he felt serenity. He held on to the umbrella and closed his eyes. He could not tell, when he fell asleep, behind the gravestone, lying on the wet grass on this sorry Sunday morning.

Part III (The Stranger)
... to be continued

Image Source
Part I
Written For: Thursday Tales

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A phone call

‘I told you, I do not know you. I never knew you. And I never left you. Neither did I want to leave you. You were the one who left – you left without notice, without a word and without a reason. I would have never stopped calling you, if you would have answered my calls. I would have never stopped mailing you if you would have ever returned an email to me. Did you even check my mails? Ever?

‘I was a fool. I have always been one. I waited for you – even when you never turned up. I wrote to you, even after not receiving a single reply for months. I called your ever busy or ‘out-of-reach’ number only to end up with the voice mail – you never called back – I waited.’

‘But Mrinal, I called you today.’

‘Yes, you called me – today, after nine long years. Where were you all these years? What were you doing? Did you not remember me for a single moment? How could you stay away for such a long time and not try to contact me. Why did not you call me all these years? And why suddenly, out of nowhere, on this silly, gloomy, cursed Thursday morning? Why are you calling me today?’

‘Yes Mrinal, I called you today to tell you something. Something I could never tell you and I wish you to hear this now. I am…’

‘What do you have to tell now? I know… I know it all. I do not want to hear about your kids’ school days; nor am I interested to know about your husband’s foreign trip. I do not want to get invited to your child’s birthday party and I do not want to know about the big bungalows that you and your husband might have bought over the years.

‘Look Tina, I am a very busy man now. And I am not sure whether you care or not, but I really do not have any time to stick to this call at present. I am very sorry, if I am being rude, but this is just what I would like to be now. I do not think I am anyone to listen to any of the nonsense that you might plan to tell me here. I have had enough of all these. I have lost my sleep and many a nights thinking over you and your talks. I have learnt a lesson on my own and thank you for teaching me that. Right now, I am going to office and I do not have the luxury to spend more time on this call.’

‘Please Mrinal. Please spare a couple of minutes for me.’

‘Don’t make your voice wear that phony rag of sorrow. That would not do any good anymore. These crocodile’s tears may be good for your friends, who would also cry along with you – not me! And before I cut this line off, I would like you to know that I would not expect any further call from you on this number. Hope there is enough courtesy left in you to make you understand this – straight and clear. Goodbye!’

Mrinal banged the phone on the receiver and rushed out of the house. Nishi never saw her husband raged like this earlier. She ran behind with his lunch box and could only push it through the rising glass windows of his Maruti. Mrinal zoomed away, leaving Nishi alone in the house for the entire day, yet again. She came back and shut the door behind her, probably with a deep breath and a couple of drops on her cheeks and thinking about the long day, until Mrinal returns from the office. She went passed the telephone; took the woolen cover and covered it to avoid deposition of dust – knowing absolutely nothing about the conversation that the telephone witnessed. She did not want to know – she would never dare and try to know either.

Three months passed.

‘Hey Nishi, where is today’s newspaper? If you are done with that, may I also have a look into it, for some time? I guess this is the only day in the week that I can lay my hands on it. So, please darling, if you have gone through it and mugged up every damn article in the classified pages, please get that paper here on my table – right now!’

Nishi ran out from her kitchen, as if the world is going to end the next moment and collected the newspaper from the balcony. She ran again and got the paper on the dining table within a flash, where her husband was taking a deep sip into the coffee mug. His eyes, were as red as ever; his voice was as rough as ever and his hands and shoulders were shivering with anger – as ever. She kept the paper on the table and left, looking downwards and thanking God, that he did not utter anything else; she knows for sure that he will not utter anything else until he finished reading the newspaper in whole. That hour would be her hour of having a happy weekend with her family!

‘Thanks a bunch!’ he murmured.

After almost an hour of reading the newspaper and going through all those unnecessary things happening around him, whom he wants to alter and align but never tried, Mrinal finally fixed his eyes on this small four by four obituary note. The note said that the deceased was a woman in her early thirties, who was fighting valiantly against breast cancer for more than a decade. She worked in the cancer relief charity association of the state, since she was diagnosed positive with this lethal disease. She gave up her entire lifetime, fighting and helping others to fight against cancer. The gratifying association could do nothing more than publishing this note in the paper and urging her family members to mourn on her ill-timed death – who left her in the association, in the fear of catching that disease themselves. The association, which had both elderly and mid-aged people, who were also left behind by their families and loved ones to die this slow but inevitable death, could do nothing but pray for the peace of her soul. The note also had the picture of the dead – of someone whom Mrinal knew – closely, for years. It was Tina, his college friend turned lover, whom he could not marry, partly because his father wanted him to marry Nishi, the daughter of his friend from the village and he could not give up his father’s dynasty; and partly because Tina chose to be away from him; lost in the darkness, which this unfortunate disease brought to her.

He read the whole note more than a few times and checked the picture minutely. He could not know when the paper fell down from his hands; nor could he realize that a few drops of tears have accumulated near the corner of his eyes.

Probably now, Mrinal knows what Tina wanted to say on that last phone call that she made to him.

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