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In front of the Mirror - continued

by Jharna Banerjee
(Kolkatta, India)

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On the second day of his stay I managed to take time out went to the outing. Radha also accompanied her. It‘s a day of outing for me under the open sky. They talked and talked about their college days- recollecting memories. Radha looked like that through a time machine she had reached her youth. Radha insisted to stay him with us for the week. He excused that his clients will kill him, but Radha showed no mercy. Please imagine that this was good old days, when in our wildest dreams mobile phones couldn’t be imagined. So helpless Niloy had to gobble down the experimental cooking dishes by Radha and she continued her exploration to the jungle with Niloy. Then just before the day of his scheduled departure, that eventful day came to our life.

As usual, I went to the court. Still I can remember that was a Wednesday. During lunch break at the court, Radha rang me to inform that Niloy went out to the forest and yet to come back.

‘Don’t forget Radha, he’s a born artist. Probably some scenic beauty has attracted him and he’s now busy painting.’I commented.

‘But he went out empty handed.’Her voice was a curious mix of concern and worry.

It’s a matter of concern. Around this season wild elephants of the hill wander to the paddy fields of the village. If Niloy encounters one of such herds, then the matter will not be palatable.

‘Don’t worry. Wait a little. He’ll soon return.’

‘Without taking a single meal, he is out for such a long time- impossible for Niloy. Why don’t you try to look for him?’

Her concern for Niloy was making me a little jealous.

‘Let me see what I can do.’

I told my law clerk to contact the sub divisional office and arrange for the lookout. When I returned back to home I saw, Niloy still hadn’t returned. Now this is a matter of serious concern.

This time I rang up the Sub Divisional Officer. He is an energetic and enthusiastic young lad. He informed me he’d already taken elaborate arrangement to search Niloy and added that not to worry. That night passed and the morning after that. But neither Niloy returned to our bungalow nor the Sub Divisional Officer was able to trace his whereabouts. That was good old days, not the modern days blessed with inventions like cell phone when even a switched off phone can tell you its location. Leaving with no alternative I started crossing my attendants. It might happen that they had done something to Niloy in pursuit of money, albeit I knew it’s a fruitless exercise. They had worked here for years, served many an officer like me and their trustworthiness is beyond doubt.

Niloy came to our house like an unexpected comet. Even we didn’t know his residential address. I dropped a letter to his address-that was known to me in our college days,in hope that I’ll get some response. But no response ever reached me.

Days gone and then months and then year. But the sudden disappearance of Niloy remained to me like a mystery. But from the day onward I never had seen Radha’s natural laugh. Till she had died last year – every single second, every single minute, every single hour I‘d realised that an invincible wall is separating us both. We started living merely under the same roof, but two separate creatures, in soul and in mind.

Niloy had created a barricade in between us. Later I realised that our relation isn’t that deep rooted to give me strength to cross the barricade. Maybe those five days that he lived with us gave her something that I’d been able to give her in our entire married life.

Or it might happen that Niloy rekindled the memory of her college days-her boundless, free days.

The real problem started after my retirement. Now I’m alone-no duty, no office work. Always at home-leisure, leisure and leisure, started to make my life really monotonous. Then one night, a dream awakened me. The dream had started quite naturally- I was reading a judgment-a judgment of life penalty. But soon the face of the convict turned into a likeness with my face, smiling at me. Night after night –the same nightmare started haunting me. I just failed to find a reason-why me?

I found that I’m going to be insane soon. The doctors checked everything – from blood pressure, sodium content, and sugar to E.E.G, E.C.G, and M.R.I of brain – all possible tests that can confirm I’m not normal and yielded no result. Everything is more than normal. Then, taking the consultation of our family physician, contacted Dr.Basu. He is relatively young in psychiatry, but already had earned fame for himself. His specialisation is to take out the words that are deeply hidden inside the mind of people, through treatments. He heard my case with patience, with a long period of questions and answers.

Then he chuckled- "I’ll treat you with a mixture of truth telling drugs and hypnosis. It seems that your dream is somehow related to your past experience. Truth serum drugs will make your painful memory more tolerable when you reveal through emotional attachment."

It was three consecutive long sessions. Those sessions of hypnosis were followed by intense question-answers. What I revealed is like a faded picture- calling Niloy, meeting him at the edge of the jungle, we were standing near a hill top, a shrill cry and it all went blank.

At last I heard Dr. Basu speaking-his voice seemed to be coming from distant stars-‘You are ill Mr. Roy, terribly ill. In our terms we call it psychogenic amnesia. It’s a form of self -punishment in Freudian sense, with the obliteration of personal identity as an alternative to suicide.’

He made it all clear to me. The fragmented pictures, some snapshots –that used to cross my mind over periods are now crystal clear to me. The mystery of disappearance of Niloy is no more a mystery. All broken threads were now patched up. Even I told myself and Radha that I’d written letter to their family, but in reality never given that letter to anybody for posting.

Dr. Basu concluded –‘More than medicine –will power is necessary for you to recover. You had already suffered a lot; The most important thing is that you are repentant for what you’d done.’

So this is my story. Now my days are getting numbered. If there is any place after death, I’ll soon meet Radha and Niloy. May be they‘ll be able to forgive me, maybe they will not.’

His conclusion seemed like wailing of the wind.

He concluded his confession.

His voice is continued to be echoed inside the room.

We all remained silent-nothing was there we can comment.

I looked to the bag again. What a co incidence. This bag is known to me, very much known to me. From my childhood, I used to hate my father for his sudden disappearance. He never cared for my mother, never gave her the position she richly deserved. And my simple mother she is not fit to be the life partner of a talented’ genius’ man like my father. He used to go out for days without saying anything to my mother. That was like a routine. Nothing he said, never. I was never able to forgive him. Now I can portray a picture of the reason that prevented him from disclosing him anything when he visited their house. I can well imagine what may be inside the bag that might have prompted the person sitting in front of me to murder my genius father.

Whom to take revenge of? That dying person who is dying every moment repenting what he’d done? Or the person who had paid up with the ultimate price for his intention?

Who?

The clock continued ticking.

Two persons continued to look at each other-both of their lives threaded by an invincible thread.


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