Short story By Dipnarayan Maity
At last, the arrow sign to the right led him to find the desired place. He can now see the office building towering another side of the road. It took almost an hour to locate the office. It is a seven-storied building at Golf green road near Tallygung area. He perspires profusely walking under dazzling heat. The crazy sun mercilessly beating against his skin. His clothes are almost damped with his body fluid. The place is very crowded, enormous hype in this rush hour seen all over.
A big office, beyond his thought. A low noise streaming all over. A big cut out of a recent hit movie is set up at the left of the entrance. The portrait of a hero looked angry, but the heroine posing romantically. He can’t recognize them as he doesn’t watch movies. A woman sitting on the front office, has fixed her eyes on the computer screen, expressionless, a faint shadow formed under her eyes, asked him
yes? without looking at him.
I have come to meet Mr. Sharma.
Now she looks at him. Do you have an appointment?
Actually, Dr. Shukla sent me to him.
After a brief pause, little embarrassing hiding behind her face deeply made up with cosmetics, points out to the sofas for waiting where two men and a woman already occupied. The men are busy with their phones and the woman with a magazine.
It is very cold inside. He can feel the chilly breeze coming out from the AC’s tiny hole behind him. But still, he senses the sweat around his neck that creeping down under gravitational attraction. His handkerchief was no longer for wiping again.
He feels awkward perhaps remembering his mother and his wife always blamed him for his excessive body fluid without reason also added this distinct familiarity with his father.
It was Sandha, his wife who made the arrangement of all this. She has been working as a nurse at a multi-specialty hospital where Dr. Shukla also engaged as an ENT surgeon. She told him about her husband who is jobless for around six months after losing his job at a multinational company working as a peon because he had to go to his village home, Sultanguang, a tiny village of the district of Bhagalpur in the state of Bihar where his father was bedridden for nearly two months and had to stay beside him who was a victim of a stroke that led to paralysis. He died at the cost of his losing job. The office considered him an expired as dead absent and replaced him without notice. The news about losing his job came when he performed the last rite of his father at burning ghat. It was like a bolt from the blue.
After nearly two months, he returned to Calcutta. When he landed at Howrah station with an empty mind, it was raining cats and dogs. He was watching the rain standing at the edge of the platform. The rain stopped abruptly. He came out from the station but could not catch the bus as a procession had just progressed towards Howrah bridge. All vehicles were halted, unable to move. Huge jolt had been created on the bridge in no time. He saw the red flags were fluttering in the air advancing towards Strand road. He decided to walk on foot to cross the bridge. The sun again came out and shining brightly and reflecting from the iron pillars of the bridge. He saw the boats and ships were drifting on the river Ganga flowing under the bridge and the vehicles again started to move slowly.
He first went to his office to get his last payment. No one greeted him. Shibani handed him the termination letter and due payment and asked to sign, the last sign in this office after serving nearly 5 years.
What will you do now? Subodhda. asked Shibani
Her voice was sympathetic with feelings of some unjust that happened to him and also some fear of insecurity about the layoffs that have done over him, which could have happened to anybody at any time.
I don’t know; he answered with his tired and faint voice.
He turned around and quickly left the office and crossed the road and reached another side of the road. He returned to Dum Dum, a small quarter near the railway station where his wife and 7 years old daughter waited for him for a long time.
Bela was so seemingly delighted. She never stays for such a long period without her father. She often asked her mother when would her father come. But he was so exhausted. He took a bath and went to sleep.
Mr. Subodh Pandey. A man standing before him told to follow.
After crossing the corridor, he sees Mr. Sharma’s nameplate, and he enters into the cabin. The peon leaves. Two men were sitting and talking to Mr. Sharma, who looks at him and then continue to talk with them. The room is big and major portions of the walls of the cabin have been adorned with photos of various film personalities, most of them are in black and white color with wooden frames. But a big landscape of sunset at the sea beach was hanging behind Mr. Sharma. He can view the roads and buildings of Calcutta through the window on the right side.
They are laughing sometimes while talking suddenly. Mr. Sharma looks at him and tell, Dr. Shukla told me about you.
Where do you stay now?
At Dum Dum, near the railway station.
At present, no permanent vacancy here so I can’t offer you any job but don’t worry, it is a big production house so I can arrange some temporary job for you very soon then try to be permanent.
What kind of job do you like?
Any type of work. Sir. Actually, I was working as a peon at a multinational company for five years.
Yeah, I know, Dr. Shukla told me.
But no such kind of vacancy is here right now.
Sir, I stopped after 2nd year in college.
Then you call me next week. I hope I can do something for you.
When he reaches the bus stop the crazy sun has already gone down behind the buildings. Heat is now quite admirable with the afternoon breeze. He feels good at the moment. He wishes to have a cup of tea. There is a wooden bench lying in front of a tea stall. Two bus conductors sit and smoking there. He was thirsty. Sandha prepared his bag and reminded him about an umbrella and water bottle in his bag and also her night duty so as to come before evening. Bella has been ill; she has been suffering from a fever for the last two days. She is too weak. Bela also told him to return home early. Becoming a nurse Sandha always can manage the medication that is administered to her. Even when his father was ill and needed medicines, which are very costly than she also supplied those. He drinks the whole water and orders a cup of tea and likes to have some biscuits.
Tallygunge bus depot is very big. Bus and Tram both are here. Many gigantic trees are keeping the place cooler. A Belgachia bound tram are beeping to leave and breaking the silence of the place, a man and a woman with their children were running for boarding on it. He suddenly changed his mind and decides to ride on the tram.
It takes just 11minutes from the bus stop walking on foot and four turning to reach his quarter. There is also an alternative way to cut five minutes short but to cross a broken boundary wall of a deserted factory by jumping and then to pass by a lowland which is full of discarded household items thrown by the local inhabitants. The boundary wall is high and tries to protect the deserted factory from the intrusion, wooden posts strung with rusty barbed wire. The factory was built at the time of the British and nobody knows when it was closed. Hyacinth, unwanted bushes grown aggressively against the wall and try to hide the slogans written in red colors, which are now faded. Green moss draped on the wall vanished from some words.
The slogans are written in Bengali, he can understand and speak Bengali but is not able to read enough. But he could understand what is written on the wall. The image of a strong, feisty wrist of the hand of laborers with primitive arms in hand reminding him of the Naxal movement of 70’s which he heard from his grandfather in his village. How the farmers used to fight against the landlord and outdoors for land and crop which they produced. When he was young, he saw the police used to come to his village to interrogate the Naxals. His father had worked in a cotton mill. The laborers of the mill often went to strike for their rights for several months.
He sees Sandha at the door, talking with a woman from the corner of the main road and entering point of the alley of his house. When he advances towards his house, on the last lap, Sandha looks up and sees him. She eagerly waited for him. She quickly finished words with the woman who came for getting medical advice.
How was your interview? She asked.
It’s alright. Where is Bela as she is not seen. He asked.
She may be upstairs.
He throws his bag on the bed and hurriedly goes upstairs.
Daddy, today I again saw the parrot pointing out to the mango tree and you again missed it.
I saw a parrot many times in my village home when I was like you, and we used to keep it in a cage in our house. He said. My mother loved parrots very much. One day, I mistakenly opened the door of the cage and the parrot flew away and never came back. I cried for another parrot, but it never happened again.
You were like me, she asked surprisingly, then you have to tell me the story of your childhood.
Twilight grasping slowly, but not like at Sultanganj where darkness chased quickly after the sun disappeared behind the hill in the west and the little hamlet on the lap of hill plunged into the darkness long before and another part of the day began with the blowing of conch shell pierced the air to ward off evil. He also used to hear another sound of beeping of a train whistle from a far distance. His mother reminded him of Bhagalpur Express which was returning from Howrah station. She prepared a lantern for his reading. The yellowish scattering light of the kerosene oil lamp tried to drive away from the darkness and it illuminated enough to be visible the printing letter of the book nearer to it and gradually fainted as the last lines approached.
But all specks of amber light in the village were gone off only after the first quarter of night as the villagers chose to have their suppers early.
They come down. Sandha already prepared herself to go to the hospital.
Power has gone. It was dark inside. Bela fell asleep early. He touches her forehead. The fever is gone, and she perspires, as it is very hot., the wind has stopped coming through the window and street lights has entered the room which formed a huge shadow of iron rod of the window on the wall and the tiny droplets of sweat are twinkling on the face of Bela. looks like a prison.
Dipnarayan Maity, A fresh blood in classical essay writing.Government employee, ex Motijheel College Physics (Hons) student. He is a close friend of IBG NEWS Chief Editor. Upon receiving the friend’s request, this master craftsman with pen and paper inked few lines on the nostalgic nineties of India. A documentary of time with a personal journey through it. He shares a wide knowledge and interest in multi-discipline and subjects right from science to sociology to art. Traveling photography and music is his passion for life.
This short story is the first from his stable for the viewers. Kindly revert to email [email protected] with your comments to the author make the subject line “Red Parrot – A Short story By Dipnarayan Maity”.