The Dead Man's Eyes - Chapter 4

by Geetashree Chatterjee
(New Delhi)

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Chapter 4

The golden ball of fire slowly moved towards the West leaving behind pale strokes of orange diffusing into shades of light purple and the latter, in turn, getting gradually choked by a swab of deep blue which became stronger in hue and spread as moments passed by. A twinkle here and a twinkle there as daubs of crystals appeared in the horizon now just weak beacons of light which would soon become brighter as night claimed its rights. The moon looked anaemic but Manik knew it would soon regain strength like a weak patient did under the effect of a slow and steady glucose drip.

Nature did not hold any special delight for Manik but moments like these, when daylight and dusk hugged each other tightly before parting, made him uneasy and a little serious and sad. It was the time when he sat in his well-manicured lawn and sipped a steaming cup of black tea going over his day's programme. This was the time when he remembered the boy lovingly, and, sometimes, looked back into the past and thought about the old man, with an odd pang in the heart.

***

The letters arrived without fail keeping Someshwar informed about the boy's health and whereabouts. How he studied day and night and devoured knowledge, how he fared well in class, how his teachers adored him and how he topped the ranks. But Someshwar also read in-between the lines - the loneliness, the inability to mix with peers as well as seniors, the solitary wanderings of the boy - were all writ in un-penned words which made Someshwar cry inside as he read and re-read the letter umpteen number of times before folding them away neatly in a folder to be opened and re-opened again in leisure.

The boy never came back as his letters did. He said he would come once his studies were over. This way if he took a break in between to visit home he would get distracted and lag behind. Funny logic which Someshwar did not appreciate, or for that matter, understand! But he did not object to it either. He knew his grandson well. It would be best to wait. If he put pressure on him now it might have adverse effect and alienate the boy.

The boy had a quiet strength and iron grit about him which was not discernible to ordinary eyes. His shy demeanour, soft spoken speech and charming manners coupled with that ever-lost look endeared him to all and sundry. But there was a wall around his inner core which could not be broken in when anybody tried to come close to him. Just like his mother, thought Someshwar. Just like her!

***

There was something about the wind. There was something about the evening which made Manik ill at ease. Did he make a mistake in sending the boy away? He seemed to be perennially in search of something. His natural curiosity or something else?..Did he do good by paving the way for satiating that deep curiosity? Or would it end in a fiasco topsy-turvying their worlds?

Manik couldn't sit quietly any further. He got up to go. He had to attend patients in his clinic in the evening too. But before that he would make a call.

"Hullo"

"Kaku! How are you? Dadu spoke to me this morning and now you. Today's a nice day for me."

"It's your Birthday, beta! Happy Birthday! How are you doing?"

"Err!well. Yes .I am fine! Kaku, the book that I spoke about,the book on cardio-vascular surgeries and medicines!!..Did you get hold of it? Do send me by courier, will you?"

"Yes,yes. I will!"

There was lot of disturbances on the line.

"And the one on..?"

The boy's voice sounded as though coming from far away. Manik's heart skipped a beat. Did he hear right? He spoke again to reconfirm.

"Yes, beta the other book you said on....!"

"Yes, that's the one....right!"

The voice sounded different..almost inaudible. But the name of the book was clear, very, very clear.

Manik knew the boy was researching on the effects of cardio vascular diseases on other parts of the body. The boy had a passion for knowledge. But would learning make him wise and modest? Would it teach him to forget and forgive? Or?

The telephone went dead.

...........................

To be continued........


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