The Journey

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Life's Journey
The Story is all about the Journey of a Girl, and her faith in Education.

Submitted: March 09, 2016

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Submitted: March 09, 2016

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JOURNEY

 

“You old Man, for how many hours will you make me walk like this?” Asked Shree, who is tall, healthy, and not so good looking, a girl of twenty-five, kicked off from the village earlier in the morning, stamped as the curse to the entire village community since she raised voice for women education, which was strictly restricted among the upper class and to the male member’s of all class.

“I cannot walk any more, I am hungry and my legs are tired, please listen to me” cried the girl. The sound of her pain was so piercing that it reached the heart of all the living creature surrounding the road but the Man seems to be un-moved by this. He just look back and found that Shree was almost about to fall from on the village road in pain and tiredness.

It was the month of May and in eastern part of India where the temperature goes up-to, forty degree Celsius in the daytime with hot wind (local name loo) engulfs the entire area. The paddy fields were dry; the soil was dry and they were as dry as the coconut shell, the dry tree leaves explains the entire story of the district and the village. A drought situation continued from the last year.

The Man slowly turned back, and found that the girl was about to fall on the road, but somehow trying to balance herself for the walk, with an unknown citizen into an unknown world.

The Man quickly came across and sheltered Shree, and asked her to sit on his wooden Violin box, by placing it on the road. “You play Violin?” questioned Shree.

“Save your energy madam, still a long way to go”. Answered the Man

With a very dejected and despondent voice, Sree replied, “Why you are calling me as madam?

 I am our servant now, you will order me, and I know that the village head and my father have sold me to you for just few thousand.”

Giving a pause, she added, “First women honours graduate of the village is now a saleable product of the society, especially to you. So, no need to be formal, just do whatever you want” She stopped taking a deep breath.

The Man was unmoved by the uncanny situation created by the girl few seconds ago. Taking out the half-filled water bottle from his torn out bag the Man requested the girl to give rest to her vocal cord and to kill the thirst.

Suddenly, a three-wheeled vehicle passed, keeping them aside. The vehicle was actually on the promotion of a mega star movie. On that scorching heat, for just some few penny the Man was paddling the vehicle, and announcing the date and time of the show.

Shree looked up straight and screamed “one day I will also be a star and people will take my signature, this village will salute me.”

Few seconds of silence and then the Man spoke “madam, it’s time to move on, or else we will miss the train. By, dusk we will have to cross the forest road, or else things will be worse.

Shree gave a grimy look, then looking straight up in the sky from where Sun god bathing down heavily she pulled her up with great courage to start the journey again.

It was 6 PM, when they reached Burdwan junction. Still the temperature did not drop. The hot wind continues to kiss the skin of all living creature present over there. The only blue lining was brightness of the sun, which has started to take shelter in the west.

The junction fortunately was not so busy that day. The Man asked Shree to wait in a particular area, as he will be going to purchase the ticket from the counter for their journey to the city of Joy.

Sitting on the chair, Shree questioned to herself “Is this the beginning of a dream or an end? Is this Man will be my first customer or first of Many? Is this what education gave me? I wish I were not educated! I would have got a family then with kids and husband!” Her eyes filled with water, her strength and aggression turned into fear and depression.

“Love u, my learning’s” perhaps for the last time she said so.

“Have some food”. She was shocked, as her concentration broke ways by a Manly voice.

Looking straight in the eyes of the Man and in no time she grabbed the bread and started chewing it. One, two, three pieces of bread, with a pause, again chewing continues.

“Relax madam!” exclaimed the Man “please do not rush; there is nothing to worry about. Be calm and have your Tiffin, as I am having mine.

After how Many days did the girl is having stomach full of food, god only knows. She was happy from inside, her eyes speaks the same.

 “Empty stomach is the greatest enemy of humanity” Murmured the Man.

“Bengal Biscuit”, Shree spoke in soft tone.

“What did you say?” the Man questioned.

Now Shree got scared, her eyes became big and her lips were sealed.

“Have I said anything wrong”? She asked to herself.

The man again questioned the same. With fear and tension, she replied “Bengal Biscuit”.

The Man was over-joy’ed and started clapping. Shree got confused, but her fear turned into smile and her hesitation turned into confidence when the Man said,

“Salute to your knowledge madam, I can bet on this that most of the young Bengali generation, the so called Gen-X ,does not know that Bengal Biscuit is actually our very own puffed rice which the British used to say in Pre-independent Era of Undivided India .“

For the first time Shree considered herself lucky from others Courtesy Education. For the first time she feels proud of her knowledge forgetting the fear of her unknown fate for few minutes.

“Madam, if you wish you can lay-down on this wooden chair, it seems that you are too tired!” The man spoke softly.

Shree unheard the entire statement and with broad opened eyes was trying to engulf the ambience of this big junction. As this is for the first time, she is watching such a big platform with so many trains arriving and leaving, presence of electricity, running water from the tap, so many food counters all seems to be a dream come true for her. However, her happiness does not stayed with her for long as she found herself all alone sitting in the platform. Her eyes turned red in anger and fear, she squeezed herself to one corner of the chair by folding her hands and legs together.

“Did he leave me? Will someone else pick me up? In sell for one, more time. She stopped and stood up but volley of questions continued to puzzle her mind. Tears started rolling down from her eyes, which was, then roaming in the entire platform in search of the man.  Alas! None found. She curse herself saying “God, take all my education and in return please save my life.”

“Madam, what happened? Why are you standing? Are you scared?” enquired the Man. 

A tight slap is what the Man received in his right chick. Shree shouted “you, Mr. where have you gone? Cannot you say before you leave? Remember one thing, I am your servant and not of others, leaving me all alone in this unknown place you went away to search customer’s? How a man you are?”

She was so scared, tensed, and angry that her veins were visible from outside. Her sound echoed the length and breadth of the long platform. Everybody was staring at them, even the street vendors.

One personnel of railway Protection force steeped into the situation to know the exact cause of this irritation, but luckily, the man managed to keep the police away from deep penetration.

After few minutes of silence, the man spoke, sitting on the other end of the wooden chair “Madam, I went outside for two things, firstly, to purchase a book on Bengal History, and secondly to know the exact time of the train departure.” Giving a pause the Man added, “Actually it’s a journey of long two hours and this book will help to engage your brain in some constructive thoughts”.

They both looked at each other when the announcement came “train to Howrah station via cord will leave platform no 4 at 7 PM”.

They both stood up from their present position i.e. from platform no one and started walking towards the foot over bridge. Walking just behind the girl the Man looked up the entire platform once and continued the journey.  None spoke a single word. Neither Shree looked back to enquire whether the Man is coming with her or left her alone nor even shouted to hear his voice. By now, she was quite sure of the fact that her owner will not leave her alone after coming so far.

The compartment was quite empty that day. Both of them got the left end of the window side facing each other.

As the clock reaches the 7Pm mark, the whistle blows off. “And so the journey began” the girl spoke to herself looking straight outside the window where the air is still hot and dry.

Platform after platform went by. They looked at each other for quite a number of times.

“Is she feeling comfortable now?” the Man asked to himself.

Its 9.20 Pm, The train reached the destination. Late by twenty odd minutes.

 “Madam, called the Man, as the girl felt asleep. Shree looked straight up.

The man said, “We have reached our destination, but one kind request do hold my hand tightly or else you be lost in this giant station amongst the crowd.

For the first time her legs were not trembling neither her thoughts. She was quite comfortable in comparison to the beginning of the journey.

Holding the hand tightly she step down from the train and started walking towards the main gate.

For quite a number of occasions she heard about this station and its ambience. It was her dream, which she dreamt while sleeping on the mud floor of her hut back in the village to watch this giant structure along with the “city of joy” at least once in her lifetime.

Her, sense came back when the man called her name for the first time “Shree get into the taxi, quickly”.

Quickly Shree got into the taxi and softly asked, “Where are we going?”

“Shyambazar”, the Man replied looking straight up into the eyes of the girl with a greedy smile.

“My last destination, Shree murmured and looked outside the window by taking a deep breath.

“Howrah Bridge, Hoogly River”, Shree shouted as she was very happy from inside as it was her dream to see these.

Looking straight into the eyes of the Man Shree spoke, “you know this is actually a distributary of River Ganga. I have read in a book”.

The Man was about to accept the correct information when the taxi driver intervened like a speed breaker.

“This is our river Ganga, you girl.” The driver spoke in a hard manly voice.

“Yes, you are correct but it’s not the.” Shree was about to say something when the Man stopped Shree by holding her hand from further interaction.

However, the taxi driver continued “for the last twenty five years I am driving on this road, I know better than you girl.”

 “Very true” said the Man.

The taxi driver added, “This is the problem with the girls of your country, they speak without knowing much”.

Again, this time the Man accepted the opinion of the driver. Shree got furious from inside but was unable to express herself. She released her hand from that of the Man and continued to look outside the window.

Shree felt asleep again as the cool breeze from the river giving relief to the hot and humid weather condition. However, with a sudden jerk her eye opens up. She looked at the Man who was actually calling her to step down as they have reached the destination. She did the same as instructed without questioning.

Saying good night to both of them the taxi driver left the place.

Both of them started walking now taking a left turn and taking some foodstuff for the dinner from the roadside restaurant. Their journey finally ends when they both stopped in front of a big gate.

The appointed security officers of this seven-storage apartment greeted them with warm welcome.

The security guards were quite curious to know the relationship status of the man with this girl. Their killer look made Shree more irritated. She was trying to hide herself from the looks of these officers behind the Man.

Understanding the gravity of this situation the Man softly spoke “Shree do not worry, they are very caring. From tomorrow when I will be out for job, they will take care of our family needs.”

“Oh, by the way “looking straight into the eyes of these officers the Man spoke “Her name is Shree and she is my wife. We married few days ago. Within a flash the killer look turned into respect one. Shree was shocked and speechless.

However, they reached the fourth floor flat no four hundred and five through the lift.

They both steeped inside the room. The Man put on the lights and shut the door. Before Shree could say something, the Man eased the situation saying

“Madam, please open the window let the fresh air enter, to kill the stuffiness of the room”.  Shree did the same as instructed by his owner but was surprised to hear the word madam.

The flat is quite big. However, to Shree it was nothing short of a palace. It took few minutes for her to digest the fact that she is now safe from the hands of weather disturbances.

It is a three bedroom flat with drawing room, kitchen and toilet. Shree stood still in the middle of the room without understanding what to do and what not.

Like always, understanding the condition of the girl, the Man spoke while opening the lock of all the rooms “do not worry, just relax and yes, go and have a complete shower, you will feel better. We will talk after that”. Adding to this the Man said, “For this night do wear my cloths. I will arrange something for you tomorrow.”

Hearing this, Shree replied “I am ready for everything, do not rush”.

Ignoring her statement the Man opened the door of the washroom and asked her to step in.

To the girl whatever is happening now is for the first time. She dreamt of all this.

After listening to the entire demonstration of how to use the washroom, she locked the door from inside.

Standing in front of the long mirror attached to the wall she undressed herself. Giving a complete look of her virgin flesh from head to foot and from right to left, she took a deep breath and questioned to herself “ is this what education gave me?”.

After spending almost thirty minutes inside, she came out wearing a men’s cloth. She was looking very pretty in white shirt and blue jeans. However, the size was not matching but acceptable.

Her tiredness and tension deluge the prettiness of her face.

It was 11.45Pm when both of them started taking their dinner facing each other. It was a dead silent situation when the Man spoke “You need to know few things madam. I have not purchased you. Instead, I have protected you from being beaten unto death, in the hands of the mad village heads.”

“But you paid five thousand rupees. I have seen that”. She proved.

 “Yes it’s true. However, as said to protect you. In addition, when they asked my intention of this purchase, I told them that my kids need a servant to take care of”.

A minute silence, again, the man continued, “I have given the same amount to your father and a phone number to your mother”.

“Phone number? What number? My mother does not know anything. She does not know how to dial. Shree replied.

The Man quietly said, “I have given my word to you mother that I will protect you from all odds

And will help you to fulfil your dream.”

Adding onto this the Man said” regarding technique? Trust me Shree; every mother learns everything for her children safety and happiness.” Shree started crying but softly.

“It’s too late now, let’s all go to bed. We will talk in the morning. Many things left to discuss. Please keep in mind that I have brought your here and not bought you. You are here for a constructive mission”. The Man added.

 Guiding Shree up to her bedroom, the Man shut the door and went to bed in the other room.

They both were so tired that nothing more came to their mind except for a sound sleep.

It was almost eight o’clock in the morning when the Man knocked the door of Shree’s room, with a cup of black tea for both. Opening the door, Shree was quite surprised to see that her master was serving. With a sweet smile she uttered.” Irony of life. A servant is getting the service.” The Man smiled taking the cup in his hand.

Shree questioned, “May I know your name, age, profession, etc. you know almost everything of mine but surprisingly your details still kept in darkness.”

The Man opened the entire window pane all, looked straight into the eyes of Shree and answered.”

Here is your toothpaste, toothbrush, pen and paper. Just quickly fresh, yourself up and do provide me a list of all your basic needs. I will purchase those from the departmental stores nearby.”

The Man was about to leave the room when stopped suddenly and looked into the eyes of the girl. She was bit confused by this professional behaviour of this person.

“Do not even dare to open the third room, its forbidden. Apart from this the entire flat is yours.”

This early morning class took Shree by storm. Her mind, were stuck between many questions but cannot find words to express. She continued to stare at him. The Man again puzzled her mind by saying “we do not have much time left, so please rush. From today evening, we need to finish everything in time.”

Shree took a deep breath and went to the wash after closing the door. However, before entering to the washroom she noticed a calendar having the date 29th June as dark circled.

Spending the entire day in the new market zone of Kolkata city, both of them had their lunch at about two o’clock in the afternoon. The menu was quite mouth-watering.

“Still many more thins to buy”. The Man said, giving a bite o the roasted chicken leg. However, Shree remain unmoved by this statement of the Man, as her mind was stuck in front of the gate of the third room.

“What might be there inside the room? She questioned herself.

“May be many more girls like me were kept hidden?” She answered to herself.

“Or may be some unknown treasure? She again questioned herself.

“This Man seems to be quite rich, or else an agent of some unlawful activity,” She answered to herself.

“Why am I getting scared? I know my fate” She added, “This man seems to be good, has done nothing wrong with me as of now. Then why am I thinking so negative”?

“Every Man, a hidden Fox” the girl uttered.

“What did you say?” questioned the Man.

Giving a minute pause to her thought Shree replied” Nothing, I was just thinking of the last twenty-four hours journey. After paying the bill, they both started their final phase of marketing.

By evening six o’clock both of them entered, the room being tired and exhausted of the hot and humid weather condition. The security guard by now were quite sure of the fact that these two individuals are couples.

Keeping aside all the purchased product, the man went straight into the kitchen and asked

“Tea or coffee”?

Like the queen of the house, Shree replied “Preferred Black Tea with a biscuit”

The Man answered “Bengal Biscuit or the Normal one?”

Both of them laughed, and the sound echoed the entire room but unable to penetrate the door of the third room.

Her laughter made the Man very happy from inside. Actually, it made the girl very happy. She cannot remember the date when she laughed last time.

“Ok”, now get down to some serious business”. The Man spoke with a tough voice.

Like an obedient student Shree, started listening. The Man added, “Unless I finish my saying, do not interrupt me.”Shree bent her head certifying the statement.

“You will have to write a Novel in just fifteen day’s. A competition is going on in the city organised by the Academy of Literature and fine arts, to bring up the new talented writers in front of the society. A cash prize of one million, a certificate and a yearly contract with a top publishing house of the city.

All you will have to do is to write and it is because of this that I have brought you here.

The Man paused himself and looked straight into the eyes of the Girl.

By this time, question after question blocking the minds of Shree. With great effort, she was controlling herself. Question from all direction and in all format bisecting her mind. Understanding her pressure situation, the Man opened the floodgate saying, “Now you speak”.

Shree started,” I will write a novel. Who told you that I could write? Moreover, for this reason you took me here. ? What, if I fail? You will again send e back to my village. Is this your strategy to protect me? Are you crazy? Are you sick?

Shree was about to question many more like this, when the man placed a book in front of her, in the table.

Shree, immediately looked down when the Man started” If you can compete with thousands of college student to win the best short story writer prize, of the inter college short story competition few years back, then why not with the entire world?”

A silent warm wind passed between these two living creature from one window to the other. Facing the challenge was the only option left for the girl.

Shree picked up the magazine from the table and opened the third page where, in the content part she could see her story title “Where life ends” and the page number forty-two where it was printed.

The memories of the girl took a reverse turn. Closing her eyes, she tried to recollect those nights when after hard day’s work she used to spent writing this story.

“The title was quite unique”. The Man said, to ease the situation.

“Yes, it was” replied Shree softly as she is still playing with the memories.

“Actually, few days ago I went to your college to get in touch with you. The authority gave me your address, snatching the word from his mouth Shree continued “and when you entered my village you found...”

“Forget all those and focus on today’s life,” uttered the Man.

“One More question I have, may I?” The Girl asked for permission. Getting a silent reply, she continued, “How you got this magazine?”

Ignoring the question, the Man called Shree to her room and handed over the bundle of white sheet, two packets of black gel pen, few wooden pencils, a sharpener, eraser, wooden ruler and a small plastic ruler.

“Fifteen days from now, I will be taking a complete novel from you. In addition, if selected it will be taken for publication after passing through the editor’s room.” The Man left the room being confident of her ability.

This time the girl did not close the door, she was happy from inside. She thanked god for giving her the education. Leaving the Men’s cloth, she dressed herself in Saree and other required garments, which she purchased this morning from the market.

She is very happy today. Truly and honestly, very happy. Taking the name of her mother, without wasting any time in the washroom (like the other day) She got into her bed and picked up a single sheet of paper from the bundle and a pencil, when the man from the kitchen shouted “ use pencil, the errors will be then easily rectified. And after that we will compile in Pen.”

“That’s what I am doing “replied Shree.

“Good girl” the Man uttered.

“What will I do to write a Novel?” Shree asked to herself, scratching her head with the sharpened pencil, lying down into the bed. Thirty minutes went by, but she could not even found a clue to start the proceedings.

Suddenly her mind lit up, she looked straight into the calendar where the date 29th June marked.

“But, this is May”, she uttered. That means these thirty days is very vital to me; it is a journey of a lifetime. “

“Journey, yes I got it!” Shree Jumped in happiness on the bed itself.

This moment her happiness seems to have crossed all barriers of the society. Once again, she feels proud of her education. It has for the education that she is now saved from the rotten thoughts of the world. Education gave her the chance to build her Identity. It was such a pleasant moment.

Moving herself up from the lap of bed, Shree went in front of the window, and opened it. Fresh air rushed in from outside. Shree for the first time feeling confident and happy to get the chance to witness this refreshment with such a feel and vision.

“What a pleasant weather!” She spoke to herself.

“The weather is same as it was yesterday, and the day before, your vision took a new turn.” Replied the Man, as he seeks permission to enter the room with a cup of hot tea and snacks.

She turned back and requested the Man to get in. A quite respectful smile exchanged between them.

The Man stared at her, as she was looking very sweet, in her saree. Appreciating her beauty, the Man questioned, “Have you thought anything of what to write and how?”

Shree, after hearing such an appreciation of her beauty from a Manly voice, felt very shy, which was quite visible through her eyes, but soon recovered from this heavenly feeling and answered

“Yes off course, have got the title. Promise you, will not let you down” landing straight into the land of hard reality.

  “Now do not waste time, please!” Saying this, the Man left the room closing the door.

Sitting on the wooden chair, Shree first looked at the bundle of paper, and then looked up straight at the calendar. God knows what she thought; perhaps she thought nothing but started writing.

Hours went by. It was eleven o’clock in the night when her concentration was distracted, taking, the permission the Man entered the room.

“Its dinner time madam,” the Man said giving a look at the bed, which was by then completely messed up. All the sheets were scattered and few were thrown to the use-me box.

The Man smiled and said, “Finally it began.”

Post dinner both of them took a break. The man, also engaged in some kind of writing, but what was that Shree unable to find out. Before going to bed, Shree took a bold step of asking an important question.

“What do you do?” giving less importance to the question, the Man engaged himself in cleaning the kitchen and its stuffs.

She was about to ask the same question gain when the Man replied-“If you succeeded in winning the competition, then her soul will be at peace.” The sound of the Man’s voice was so Dolby that Shree engulfed her curiosity of asking few more questions.

Very softly, and quietly Shree went back to her room.

After completing the daily work of night, the Man, before proceeding to his room put off all the lights and entered into her room post seeking permission. Shree stood up, as if principle of a school is on inspection trip.

Sitting on the wooden chair, looking into the half scared, half curious eyes of the girl, spoke out “When time will come you will know everything Madam, do not lose your focus, on such stupid things.

Shree, felt very ashamed of herself and look straight into her feet.

Suddenly, the man shouted, “wonderful! You are a great writer. How did you know? You can read mind also. ”

Shree was so underprepared, that she lost her words. The Man continued, “I was actually thinking of suggesting you to start your story from that day when you took the certificate and prize form the hand of the Principle and the Publisher.”

Giving a pause, the Man added, “You have started in the same way, it’s so catchy!”

“I bet on this madam, no one can stop you to be the best writer on earth, just believe in yourself and please do not get distracted.

Being, over joy’ed and excited the Man left the room saying good night and closing the door.

Shree stood still for few more minutes in her place. Before taking the first step towards her bed, she promised to herself that she would never ask any question to the Man, unless he speaks for himself.

Going into the bed, she took the first page, which was taken by the Man to read, then kissed twice, thrice. Then continued writing from where she left before dinner.

Her speed of writing went up. Words and expression started flowing out like a river from the mountain, the style of writing started changing. It was started with deep pain and agony but changed to love and fight back, even Shree could feel the change and so after few more pages of left to right, she spoke to herself” This is also a kind of journey”.

Back home in the village, thinks were bit settled when the girl left. The head of the village and other deputy head’s were, quite sure that good luck will bestowed upon them. Rain god will show some mercy. Looking straight up in the sky, one of the deputy head screamed, “Oh rain god please come down, the curse has gone! Ignoring the prayer the star continued to glitter with a sarcastic smile.

Among the deputies, one of them were of rational thought, who quietly questioned, “ what will happen if  rain still does not fall this season?” The headman gave a glaring look and asked everybody to retire to his or her home.

The entire village seems to have taken under some kind of deep satisfaction, after sending the girl.

The women of the village were happy not for the good luck or bad luck issue but as they did not got the chance to study so, they will not encourage other women to do so.

The young educated male members were happy because, the knowledge of the girl was increasing up above their stock.

In addition, the middle-aged stiff minded, hollow knowledge Man were happy because, the girl did not allow them to get the taste of her flesh.

The most important person that is the head of the village was happy because, the girl refused to marry his only son who was literally uneducated and irrational.

However, two people in the entire village were not happy of the girl leaving the place. One, the father of the girl, who was about to mortgage her daughter to the branch manager of the local bank, to erase his name from the defaulter list, to save his son and wife from being ruined off.

In addition, the other, yes her mother, who fought with the entire world to protect her from the entire world, since the time of her birth.

Holding the small piece of paper that contains the phone number of the Man, she quietly stair at the door, to welcome her daughter once again. The tear’s of her seems to have dried up. Now it is time to wait, with a belief that the Man will take care of her daughter.

“Write Shree write, you have got no other option left to prove yourself.” The man murmured, lying on the bed. “You do not know the actual truth; education was not the issue “cursing his gender for this.

Putting of the light, with a hope that his mission and the girl’s dedication will change the fate of many more, he went on to sleep.

Next day Morning, Shree was still in her bed lying but with open eye’s thinking of what t write next. However, yesterday until 3 Am she wrote.

Her, writing was at such a speed that she completely almost nine pages. It was not the happiness that gave birth to such a speed; it was actually the fearless thought that helped her to do so.

Suddenly, the main doorbell rang; she immediately stood up and dressed herself in a presentable way, as if she is going to be, called for an urgent official presentation.

She was about to open the gate of her room when she heard some exchange of voices. She tried very hard to listen but failed, since her room was at a distance from the drawing room. She could only count the no of heads, which were five.

It was a meeting kind of thing. After a while, she found the presence of a packet full of food brought up by the apartment security guard.

Right now, everything seems to be very fishy to the girl, the locked room, hidden identity of the Man, this meeting and the dark mark upon the calendar.

She got puzzled with all this thoughts that she migrated herself to the washroom for shower. The meeting continued for another thirty more minutes.

It was 10 A.M, when both Shree and the Man came close to have their breakfast.

Shree asked-“you haven’t have breakfast with them?’

 The Man Replied “No”, straight and simple giving a bite on the bread.

Shree -“Who were they? Friends of yours?”

Man -“No”, giving a bite to the boiled egg.

Shree-“why are here then?”

Man-“”Official purpose”, biting the pilled Banana

Shree-“what I am trying to say is that” Suddenly a piece of bread entered in her mouth.

 The Man replied “No need to say anything, just finish your breakfast and complete the novel. Remember fourteen more days to go.”

With a pause, “writing a novel is not an easy task. Do not be over confident, I warn you”. The Man washed his hand and went straight into his room.

Shree stood still by this behaviour. Holding the boiled egg on the right hand and the banana on the left, she continued to chew the bread.

Things got very rhythmic after that almost for a week. Writing and eating and eating and writing. Both engaging themselves in their respective rooms, without interfering or disturbing other’s through unwanted questions and answers.

Within this few days, she groomed herself a lot. Now, she is not shy of using the luxury room, not even shy of singing in between.

Writing became more at ease. However, the Man was vigilant. Yes, he spoke less but his eyes kept on watching the girl’s movement. Almost twenty pages she has completed by the end of seventh day.

“It will be done on time” Shree spoke to herself by closing the eye’s to have a sound sleep.

On the morning of the eight day, like always, both had their tea sitting together, facing each other, when the Man asked, “How far your writing went?”

Shree replied-“almost completed, approximately few more pages left. It will be completed well within the time” As her confident, reflects her ability.

“Fair enough, just complete before time and then we will be having a time out, an evening rides to the city of Joy.”

Her, memory quickly turned back to those days when she dreamt of these things, while sitting in the college classroom, after listening from others.

From memories to reality, when Shree was about to retire to her room to finish the unfinished journey, the Man spoke out “Madam, I will be out now for some work. Will come late in the evening, Not to worry, your foodstuff and all other useful needs is present in the kitchen room.”

A few seconds of silence, the smiling face turned pale, irrational thoughts started creeping in from all direction. She glanced, the entire room and asked-“All lone in this big flat?”

“Alone? How can you say so? Your novel is there to accompany you, your memories are to puzzle you, and by 4 PM, I will be right back.”

Saying this, the Man retires to his room to dress. However, Shree stood there, caught between fear and; loneliness. She was about to revise the unsolved puzzles when the Man came out of the room and said, “Bye, do take care” Shree closed the gate.

As the sound of the Shoe faded away, Shree quietly got inside and asked to herself “What shall I do now? Let me complete the writing.”Moving a step forward, towards her room.

“What? if he does not come back?” She questioned to herself

“I will run away and tell the truth to the security guard,” She answered to herself.

She started crying, as loud as possible.

The doorbell rang. Shree was scared, tensed, and was trying to hide herself somewhere into the room. The doorbell continued to ring for few more second. Shree was absolutely, unmoved.

 The Man shouted, “Madam, it’s me. Please open the door”.

Hearing the known voice, Shree rushed to the gate to open within a flash.

Holding him tightly, she cried aloud. The Man remained at the doorsteps still she finds herself relaxed.

After few minutes-

“Why are you so scared madam?” the man enquired.

“Thanks for coming back. I thought you have, “giving a tight hug to the Man, she squeezed herself in.

Giving a sweet smile, the Man looked straight into the eyes of the girl, kissing her forehead, The Man uttered, “Come what may, I will not let you feel insecure; this was the reason why I came back, within few minutes.”

The Man then took Shree to the sofa and asked her to sit, as he will be preparing some breakfast for her. Shree continued to look at him.

As committed by the man, they both left the room in the evening to have a city ride. It was an awesome experience. Shree was very happy this evening. They had their dinner in a good restaurant and returned home.

Again, things went smooth for few days.

It was on the evening of the fifteenth day when she finally completed, writing the novel. Shree once looked around her room. Sheets were lying all over, the skin of the wooden pencil, justifies her passion and commitment. The broken led tip signifies her eagerness to prove that education does matters. It was an awesome feeling with which she is now going through.

However, this time she is not excited or over joy’ed in happiness. She quickly picked all the sheets and kept them aside, from the writing one. Taking all the forty-four working sheets in her right-hand, she moved closer to the windowpane.

It was seven PM. Still the humidity and warmness of the weather is at its best. Still the monsoon wind seems to be far away. Still the publication of her novel left. Still all the puzzles remain unsolved. Yet she feels very satisfied now. Opening the windowpane, she welcomes the evening stars and moon with stretched arms.

Holding all the working sheets, she knocked the door of the room of the Man for the first time. The Man opened the door and welcome’s her. He was wearing a white cotton trouser and shirt to protect his body form humidity and heat.

Shree was very surprised to see the condition of his room. It was immaculate.

“How come a bachelor’s room is so clean”? She asked. The Man smiled.

The room contains a single bed a two pillow, covered with a white bed sheet, placed on the middle of the room facing north-south direction. Two big windows on the eastern side, a big table, with two chairs, a table lamp, and a computer placed between the windows. Washroom is on the southern side of the bed. A phone charger placed just beside the computer, an astray, and few pencils.

The room is painted in white. Actually, the entire room is in white. A ceiling fan and a table fan kept just beside the bed where the pillows are covered. A use-me box, on the extreme corner of the room on the right hand side. Shree looked at the room for some time. 

The man took all the paper from her hand and started reading. She was actually giving a general look instead of detailing. However, the good feeling comes to an abrupt end when she finds that the date 29th June, marked in dark. The same as she found in her room.

“The same date, the same dark circle, and the same calendar in both the rooms?” She questioned to herself, giving a side look towards the Man who was busy in reading her stories.

“Post dated same day mark in a calendar in both the rooms? Locked third room, staying with me for fifteen days and spending money like flowing water, meeting with some unknown person, few weeks ago?” she whispered to herself. As she quickly revised the unsolved puzzles, whose count is on the higher side from day to day.

Shree for the first time kept her nerve relax along with her emotions. She was about to ask something when the Man spoke out.

“Madam, the writing seems to be quite catchy, as it seems from the first few pages.”

Shree smiled, when the Man added-“I think now we must work together for the coming few days to give this writing a professional shape.”

Shree grabbed this opportunity in both hands. She was actually searching for this kind of moment when she could get the chance to penetrate deep into the mind and soul of the Man, to solve the mystery.

With controlled emotion and passion, she smiled to agree upon the statement of the Man and moved herself to the kitchen to prepare a cup of tea for both off curse with due permission. Alas! She forgot the fact that she does not know the process of how to lithe Oven.

She was about to call the Man, when a voice of an unknown tone whispered keeping the lips just below her ear. She got scared and turned back giving a very curious look. She found the Man standing but with a different tone altogether.

 “Are you scared”? The Man asked, giving a bright smiley.

 “Not because of your presence, but of your changed tone” replied Shree relaxing her nerve by closing her eyes for a minute.

After taking, the tea together both went to their respective room. When the girl was about to start something new, the man called him up to his room.

Keeping the drawing page under the pillow, Shree went to his room. This time She feel very uncomfortable in this room, not because of the Man, but because o the calendar.

“Sit” requested the man, adding, “Your writing needs few, very few corrections as of now. It has improved a lot.”

Giving a sweet smile Shree returned the compliment, when her eyes constantly loitering in the room in search of bits and pieces.

“Initially, I have told you thirty day’s remember?” asked the Man.

“Yes I do.” A prompt reply, adding, “Then it changed to fifteen days, why?” asked Shree.

“Just to push you hard for fast writing; Management strategy” replied the Man, giving a pause

“What are you searching for in my room? May I know?

Shree got nervous with this sudden question but controlled her nerve and replied “How come your room be so clean? That is what I am seeing.

The Man smiled and returned the compliment by praising her beautiful eyes.

“Now let us get back to some serious stuff!”The Man said, sitting on the bed and asking Shree to do the same.

“I guess you have got a good drawing skill?” asked the Man.

“Good or bad I do not know; but yes I can draw a bit.” The girl replied.

“Fair enough “with a pause, the man added, “In a single sheet of paper give a sketch of your Novel, and do remember it will be the Cover page of the book. Can you do it?” asked the Man.

Shree was over joy’ed from inside since from now onwards she will not have to hide her drawing from this man.

Grabbing the excellent opportunity with both hands Shree replied with a soft tone “Yes I could.”

 Giving a thumb cheer, when Shree was about to leave the room, she turned back and asked, “Where is your violin and the box?” By looking straight into the eyes of the Man.

The Man was bit nervous by hearing this. Soon recovered from this uncanny situation and answered, “Kept in the third room”.

“What is there in the third room”? Shree asked being confused and excited

Now the Man got irritated and replied,” Go and complete your task or else..”

Shree understood the gravity of the situation and retired herself to her room. Taking out the drawing sheet from under the pillow, she continued her drawing, but this drawing is not what the Novel wants. This is actually the sketch of the flat and its surroundings. She is actually preparing an escape plan, if something wrong happens to her.

Since then days went peacefully. Peace from outside, but not inside the mind of the girl. As the 29th  

 June is approaching; her eagerness, tension, fear started accumulating.

Evening of 27th June, Shree with permission entered into the room of the Man when the man was also painting and handed over the diagram. The last assignment of her life, as of now.

The Man continued to look at the diagram for minutes and then said “A masterpiece. Trust me this will going to be the best diagram of the decade. You are a talent, a special talent“. His face was full of happiness and joy as if he has won the first battle and preparing for the final one.

Holding her hand, the man took her in front of the third room. A double shock to Shree.

Firstly, the Man holding her hand and secondly, taking her in front of the third room.

“Will he now be going to cage me to the room like others? Will he actually sell me? Will he beat me? Waves of questions creating havoc in her mind. Her heartbeat started beating fast. She could even hear the sound of her heartbeat.

The Man releasing her hand, first unlock the door and before giving a final push he looked straight into the eyes of the girl, she was literally sweating in fear and agony.

A final push and the door open, few seconds of silence.

It was dark inside, Shree was about to lose her nerve, when the Man put on the lights and fan, and then what turned out was an absolute miracle.

The structure of the room was very much the same like the other two.  An attach bath, facing the door, covered by the sidewall, a bed in the middle facing North-south, two big window facing west. A wall clock, two giant canvases, one of a Man and a women, bundle of white sheets, a book shelf, pen pencil, sharpener, eraser, stapler Glue, paint brush,  pastel colours, water colours, paint brush and a Mug full of water. In addition, three chairs and a big wooden table with sheets lying on it and the calendar, which has the same dark mark on the same date.

The bed covered with white bed sheet and a black carpet covering the floor. Moreover, on the bed lies the Violin box with its box.

The man immediately, went on to open the window.

“The room was not open for a month,” The man uttered, asking Shree to sit on the chair after dusting it since the bed, was occupied by the books and the Violin.

Sitting on the Chair, Shree started crying and it was quite loud. Her tears, this time not only signifies the end of her unknown fear, but also her happiness to be associated with this man, a real man.

The Man quickly moved out form the room and went to the kitchen to bring a bottle full of water. Offering the same to the girl, the man asked, “Why are you crying madam? I have not said the whole story yet. Please hold on to your tears and do have some water.

Drinking almost half of the bottle, she calms herself down. Wiping her tears drops, with the hand and her saree, she turned in front of the man when he started with a question”

 “Hope you have read about the Mother’s publication house?”

“O, yes I do”, replied Shree promptly, adding “A very famous and reputed publication house”.

“Yes, now let me introduce myself, I am the owner of this Publication house Mr. Aditya Basu”.

  Shree stood up hearing the name holding the bottle tightly, staring into the face of the Man.

Mr. Basu continued, “Twenty years ago when I have just completed my bachelor’s degree and planning for master in Film and music, my parents died in a road accident. An un-natural accident designed smoothly because of business revelry.

An unwanted pause, when Shree questioned, “No enquiry took place!”

 “No” Answered the man, adding, “we were not in a stable condition to do so, we were almost penny less. My maternal uncle and his family sheltered me, though I was quite, grown up by that time but was not matured enough to handle the crisis.”

Looking straight into the calendar the Mr. Bose questioned, “You want to know why this date 29th June marked in dark?”

“Absolutely” as she was very keen to know the answer, from the first day.

“My parents died on this day. They have started their business on this day; I was born on this day.”

With a pause, the Man started “I, started my publishing house form this day, eighteen years ago and you know what, since then every single years my team roam around to find talents like you to publish their stories along with a cash reward, too give them a solid platform to start their career.”

A minute silence, Shree shared the half-filled bottle of water to Mr. Bose.

Sitting on the other chair, Mr. Bose spoke softly, “It was the dream of my mother to search and to stand beside those who actually need the push to grow up in future. However, the sad part of the story is that every single individual turned professional after getting success.”

Again, silence for few seconds, the man started “Unfortunately I was not their when you got the prize in the college, but your writing and your presentation gave me the hope that if I stand beside you, then in the years to come you will follow the legacy, by being a true human in nature.” As for the first time tears started rolling from his eyes.

Picking herself up from the chair, Shree moved to the other part of the room where the two canvases kept standing and said, “I will not let your parents dream go in vain, if do win the competition or if I lose, I will stand beside you to assists and continue to fulfil your parents dream.”

Mr. Bose stood up from the chair, came in front of her and handed over the cheque of 1 million, as committed by the publishing house to the winner in addition a cash amount of twenty-thousand.

“You have already won. There were, no such competition going on in the city. It was told to make you feel competitive else your mind would have being roaming around the roads of the village without concentrating in your ability, and one more thing your story has already been given for publication. Guess what, as many as fifty thousand copies will be printed, a record for a new comer.”

Taking a deep breath, the man added” not finished yet, you drawing, also been given for publication, to create a visual impact to the reader, but it will be published in the next edition.”

 Shree started crying, her joy turned into tears as what came out from behind the door. For the first time actually she felt very secure from inside, she felt as if lord almighty has showered all thy blessings upon her.

Shree gave a tight hug. By hiding her face in the chest of the man, she whispered “Thank you for everything”hugging him more tightly. Mr. Bose blessed her by placing his hand above her head.

It was 11PM. When they both had their dinner, none spoke a word, yet there eyes spoke so many things.

 Mr. Bose was about to get into his room after finishing the dinner when the girl said “may I sleep in your room toady actually I am very tired”.

“On one condition: Mr. Bose said.

“What”? Shree asked.

“I will be the first to get your autograph on the 29th of June, the publication day.” They both smiled looking each other.

Next day morning when Mr. Bose was getting ready to visit his press, the girl said “May I come with you? I need to buy something for mine.

Mr. Bose “Hurry up and do get ready lots of work left to do today”

Shree was over joy’ed hearing this. She quickly took the shower and dressed herself in red saree, and came out of her room.

Mr. Bose looked at her face and spoke “absolute beauty”. Shree felt very shy.

Mr. Bose then holding her hand tightly came out of the building via the lift. They were actually looking like a couple happily married.

Hiring a private taxi, as the car of Mr. Bose kept in the garage for some urgent repair. They started their journey “where shall I drop you? Mr. Bose asked.

“To a musical instrument shop” Shree replied.

“What for?”  Mr. Bose questioned.

“Time has come for a new beginning” Answered Shree.

Mr. Bose looking at the window smiles by hold in the hand of Shree even more tightly. Shree felt very confident from inside regarding her choice. The Man was looking very bright today with light blue jeans and white shirt with a black goggle.

“I forgot to tell you that your mother called me up yesterday from the headmaster house” The man said.

Shree was surprised, also happy from inside. Giving a surprise smile, she asked, “How is she? Why you did not called me? It has been a month since I have heard her voice”.

Holding her tightly the man said “She will call you up tomorrow after the successful completion of your first publication.”

Shree felt very motivated and confident.

On reaching the musical instrument shop, the driver parked the taxi on the opposite side of the shop; Shree quickly opened the gate, to cross the road as the signal was about to go green.

By this time, Mr. Bose also came down from the taxi and purchased English daily. Instead of reading the newspaper, he was observing the activity of Shree.

 Shree was very happy today as she is purchasing a Violin, the first gift for her love, from her first earning. She was literally very happy. She was actually jumping in the store only. 

Coming out of the store with the violin and the box in one hand and her purse gifted by the Mr. Bose last night on the other hand she was about to cross the road ignoring the signal when Mr. Bose shouted, by waving his hand.

She got her sense back. The red light just turned green, when she said to herself, “I cannot wait any further, and the traffic seems to be bit light, let me cross the road.”

Mr. Bose constantly shouting and asking shree not to do so. The girl took the chance of crossing the road instead of waiting for the signal to turn red. Holding the violin box and the purse tightly she started running.

 Both the taxi driver and Mr. Bose, constantly waving their hands to stop the girl. Even the driver blowing the horn to bring her sense back.

She was just few meters always form crossing the road when a four-wheeler who was at its peak to cross the road to avoid the next signal passing through.

Bang! The girl, the violin, the box and the purse all were flying in the sky.

It was 12.30 Am, when the doctor came out of the operation theatre. Mr. Bose slowly walked towards him, giving a tab in his left solder the doctor said,

 “God’s grace, she is out of danger but I am extremely sorry to say that we need to operate both her hands to save his life.”

Mr. Bose was rift apart from inside after hearing this.

“Your wife needs lots of love and care from now onwards,” saying this, the doctor moved to visit the next patient requesting the nurse to change the calendar date to 29th June, and requested the nurse to close the entire windowpane as monsoon has finally arrived in Kolkata from this night itself. Leavinghim all alone in the corridor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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