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The Dead Man's Eyes - Chapter 5

by Geetashree Chatterjee
(New Delhi)

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Chapter - 5


The woman limped up the path to the cottage. The road was steep here. She panted slightly as she reached the cottage door and unlocked it. Nice, prim little cottage with a well cared for patch of garden. She entered and groped for the light switch in the dark. Finding and flicking it on, she flopped down on the nearest couch. The room was cozy and inviting. But the gout pain bothered her. Though Manik Daktaar had given her the medicines and told her to do regular exercises it would take some time for the pain to die down. She flinched as she moved slightly on the sofa.

Thank God she did not have to go to work regularly now. The old man had left her comfortable for the rest of her life. A surge of guilt mixed with gratitude engulfed her. In his last days, the disease had made the old man positively cranky and impatient. A number of times, Bela had thought of leaving the job and moving on. A number of times they had had heated arguments ending in Bela shouting an ultimatum and telling the old man to settle all her dues. But what made her tick even she did not know. Perhaps, a mere habit or fondness grown out of long association or something else which was deeper and stronger, something, which she did not want to delve into because it invariably led to anguish and remorse.

She tried to get up gingerly grimacing at the same time. Everything was so affordable now. Medical treatment, visits to specialists and even physiotherapy, if required, which the doctor did hint at during the check ups. All due to the graciousness of the old man and his little parting gift for her. A thought occurred which made her smile. A little bitterly though. Had the old man known, he would have had second thoughts. She chuckled to herself. She'd go and
lit the stove in the kitchen. Time for a hot cup of tea now!

***

The letter brought in bad news. It would take a few more years for the boy to come back. He had decided to do his specialization in cardiology. A cold hand gripped Someshwar's heart. Was this the beginning of the end? Was the boy distancing himself from his grand dad? Someshwar knew it would not be easy anymore.

He sat still as the letter caught between his frail fingers flapped under the roving fan. The evening deepened and the street lights blinked on. The slits in the curtain allowed thin strips of light to snuggle into the darkness and create a magical light and shadow show inside the living room. Someshwar did not want to put on the lights. He did not want to face the lit world. Night embalmed his bruises and soothed his pain.

A streak of light still stole in and warmed his cheeks which had caved in with age and the crevices shone like a silver salver wet and moist as the tears trickled down unchecked.

Someshwar cried after a long, long time like a child unabashed, alone and agonized. The sobs wracked his body and shook his soul. He cried to his heart's content till there was nothing more to feel and the senses were dazed by an overpowering numbness which was impairing as well as emulsifying.

The clock ticked away insolently impervious of the surroundings.

The wait would be too long and telling on the mind.

It would take lengthy days and nights to chase each other before the actual countdown began.

Truth was playing hide and seek as of now allowing restless as well as restive moments for the thudding hearts to be subdued and to subside into a calmness which presaged a storm.

And then the gong would sound the question hour. Someshwar knew the answers would be very difficult. Very, very difficult indeed!

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To be continued.......

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