Tuesday 1 September 2015

Short Story 2015, Second Prize Indranil Ghosh

Debanjan and Lacan

It was Debanjan among us, who usually harangued over Lacan. It was he who had located the point de capiton in my house. On the day when the wife of Barai Tudu eloped I left the same point de capiton under the lamp light in his lone and mourning house. Sorry that nobody remained to look and cook for him, let this be his for today. Time and again such philanthropy does occur to me.
So, my troubles seem endless. No sooner I start writing than all the cars shall back and start a clamor. All autos of Jamshedpur with their ugly and offensive beep and bonk shall start moving by my window. (At least eight went by the time I wrote this). All neighbouring children will start crying (as happening now). And men, they reproduce at such rate, I curse the whole lot of humanity wondering at what point in the history of reproduction man shall be content. Among all these the Lacan talks of Debanjan irritated me often. You had Film Studies as your subject, as a topic you had Lacan. So why would you bicker me with that? Have I ever started on with Soil Mechanics or Pavement Design or at least Organic Chemistry? And if you would say, knowledge of all these are required for writing, I can argue that it is Geometry which is required the most. Do you know that, like me?

Getting back to the point where the story started. Point de capiton. It is yet another winter night and the pestering started. Comfortably I have settled down in front of the computer with a glass, water and Royal Challenge to write.  All autos return home, all lament, all the exchanges of life….. Gradually I am getting engrossed in writing. Suddenly a loud sound of counting coins wavers me.  Might be from the next room. The first time I did not notice. It seemed like it had been going on for quite a while. I get up to find out the source. How peculiar it is, from a particular distance the noise sounds same from all directions. No sign of any fluctuation. Another thing is sure that in order to heighten the noise the coins are being dropped from a height. I come back. Go again. Again do I come back. My writing becomes all held up. I cannot sleep till dawn out of fear and curiosity. Once I think of calling the police. It might be ridiculous. Is it my intoxication? Can alcoholic intoxication lead to this? Weed can. Hemp can. But not alcohol. Okay, let’s say alcohol can and this is the first time. What good can come from theorizing intoxications? The matter can be investigated in the morning. I gulp down some more whiskey and put myself to sleep.

Next day the sleep will fade into a dream. I and Srabanti are at a fix. She has come to Jamshedpur from Kolkata to see me. Now she will return home. We are quarrelling about something and she is throwing coins at me. I am not hit but I am in much fear. Much. And there is so much noise of the coins. Cling clang clikety clack…. So much noise that even the neighbours might rush in to solve the problem. Like ice, the floor has been covered with coins and inside it I am hiding my ears. Getting into foetal position.  As I wake up I find myself in a similar position. Such a headache there is and ear splitting noise of coins everywhere. Even now. Aargh. I skip brush and go out straight away.

There is such calm outside. As if after a long time. How about getting jhalmuri as breakfast? nah... where to find jhalmuri at this hour! Rather bread-ghugni will do. I even like the sound of it. Well. I cannot express it. I skip brushing, I skip bathing, and today I shall roam about here and there. I will skip office too. Shall spend the night at some friend’s. I shall not face home until that hitch is solved. I shall have to call up at office and ask for a few days leave. I feel light. I head towards Sanju’s shop. Suddenly the taste of ghugni right under the tongue you have got a lesion, why haven’t you told me so? I could have taken you to the dentist’s. Abani you are growing a habit of making an issue out of nothing. I earn, is that all? This is your what your problem is, isn’t it? Have I ever mention that? Ever bash about? Why so ungrounded you are? Anyway, get up now, please. If you keep up such an expression... see, we have a child. If he always sees his father in this way… why aren’t you saying anything? So weird. Why? Why did I think of calling Debanjan? He went in no shock as he received the call. In his usual calmness of voice he asked a few questions, provided some tips. Then he said that he would come by the morning train tomorrow. I felt happy. Not at any friend’s but I shall spend the night at some hotel. What mirth! I don’t even know why but I have always depended on Debanjan. May be for his conduct, mature behaviour and responsibility. Everyone thinks that he is dependable.

I take a room at a hotel in the Sakchi area. An air conditioned one. There definitely is a television. Nowadays it is to be found in most of the hotels. The channels were then gradually coming up. Later when there came more than hundred channels, I got confused of what to watch and stopped watching. Anyway I took a bath. Milky white towel. I ask for toothpaste. I brush. I wear the same cloths after bathing. Not a bad feeling it is. Putting the air conditioner on I lay down and think whether to order the food. The menu is beside the phone. I call. I think whether to bring a pint I should get out of here, why are you keeping the door blocked? Why such dorks do board the train at office hours? Get yourself fucking down. Let the others get down. Why don’t you push, he will fall back. Already it’s nasty in this line during the office time. Such dorks everyday will board the train here. Having a glorious ride standing at the door. And others in the heat, can’t even feel it is November. Though at night it is cool. But air conditioning is required during the day. Gradually the seasons will all fade. I am sweating as I have come to receive Deba. The train is nearly half an hour late. As soon as he gets down Debanjan asks, “Where are we staying? Are we heading straight to your house?” I said, “no, a room has been taken at the hotel, we have to check out first.”

-Well then. I need to freshen up at the hotel and learn the details. We have to buy a few things. The list has to be made. After the lunch we can move to your house. Said Debanjan.
Reaching the hotel, I tell the details to him. Listening he asks, “So, did you sleep well? I said, “Yes, at first I was scared that the noise will follow me here too. Man! How it all happened the day before. Yesterday it was cool here, slept well. Debanjan is making a list, he asks, “See, do you think you can manage to get hold of these things?”

--empty bottles
--I have wine bottles
--done. Some useless utensils
--hmm. Manageable.
-- A few cats.
--huh, where from do we get cats?
--why, from Sonai?
--She is not home. They have gone to Rajasthan. Moreover those are her pets. Why would she give us?
--okay. Birds. Let’s get some crows or pigeons.
--hmm, the pigeon can be arranged. We can get some at the Sakchi market. But what will all these do?

“Just watch what happens.” – Debanjan wants to put up the suspense by his words and smile. I do not press him. We finish lunch accompanied by beer. Then a bit of rest. Now we go to the Sakchi market to buy the things. Then to home. After long, then at the college; we used to get alcohol at our dwelling place. Sushanta, Abhinav all together. Abhinav’s actual house is in Uttar Pradesh. They are at Kharagpur since the last two generations. He has come to study at Surendranath. And Sushanta had come from Santipur. Once he was consoling me after a few pegs. My voice got all slurry. Sigh. I said,
-that’s not my problem Sushanta

-Then...what’s thy problem?
-I feel…I feel
-Aww, so it’s a problem of class two- fill in the blanks, you will get a readymade 5 points for each.
-Hmm, the method of substitution. I feel pee. I know that the correct is I want to pee, but I feel pee.
-should I hold you?
-Don’t abuse. I will pee right here. You will stand guard. Right here. At this very point.

-“the point around which all concrete analysis of discourse must operate I shall call quilting point… this is the point at which the signifier and the signified are knotted together, between the still floating mass of meanings that are actually circulating between these two characters and the text.”- Debanjan is reading out loud while on the rickshaw.  Now, putting the note of ‘The Psychoses’ he asks, “Got it? This is the point de capiton or the quilting point. Did you get it? What a quilting point is? I say, “The place where Lacan sat for a tea and Barai Tudu sold Jhalmuri.” Returning to his selfsame seriousness Debanjan says, “Hmm, listen, as the house is yours, you have to put up with my theoretical discussion even if you dislike it. Recent research says that due to some structural problems in the house, such point can occur. You will understand this better.”

I get excited on hearing my friend talk about civil engineering. Debanjan goes on, “to put it in another way, master signifier is activated at these points of the house, which indifferent to all the understanding and misunderstanding and the non-understanding and inconsistencies creates one rigid meaning of the house. As in your case it is the sound of counting coins. As long as you are there you will not be able to do or think anything barring the noise of the coins. Once this point de capiton is created it cannot be erased. All we have to do is …” We reach home before he finishes. Getting down we pay the rickshaw and unlock the door. In the mean time we remained silent. As soon as the door is unlocked that same ear splitting noise of coins. As if, it will take us over. Debanjan bellowed, “once created this point cannot be erased, all we have to do is we have to make several other points as this one, but in different directions of force. So that one nullifies the other.”

I feel astonished at Debanjan’s sense of science, even under the strain of this noise. I shout, “Got it. The net force will tend towards zero.” He smiles and starts working. At first I observe him breaking the bottles. Then he goes running to the second floor room. Rapidly he is working on. His swift and nimble with the background ruckus reminds me of the danger signal of workshops. I follow him to the second floor. Debanjan is standing on the bed throwing shards of glass on the floor. Seeing me he says, “Go downstairs and get the pigeons.”

As I go down I hear loud noise of glass breaking down. One continuous flow of sound. And how amazing it is, these new noises have already suppressed the previous one to some extent. The condition of my house feels somewhat better. Climbing the stairs Debanjan is coming down over the eyes are too heavy to stay awake. So much sleep, after long…I had always thought that suicide is one kind of an accident. It can only happen in impetuously. Closing the doors and windows, turning off the fan, I nurture the stifle for a while. Next, a lot of pills. I open the windows, turn on the fan. Not that I am angry with you. I have broken the mobile. Cannot make a call. I am going through the old albums, the letters. However, nothing reaches up to the eyes. Comes and fades away.

 This oscillation…. The leisure that is… being a child you used to ask, “Time flies so why does a pendulum oscillate?” ha ha, your mother had told me this. Can I write anything? Any letters? I am feeling sleepy. The thought of my death gradually sinks in deep. I feel worse. The loss of options at such a situation. I open the door hatch. If there is still a chance do take me to the hospital when you return. The foils of the pills are lying on the floor. Show the doctor. Now all depends on your return and the traffic jam of Kolkata. Ha ha.

Debanjan has created different noise points at different corners of the house. Somewhere it is the flight of pigeons and at another that of throwing the utensils. In its entirety one in nullifying another just as he had said. No noise can now parade itself to our ears. Easily we can now talk, work. Peace it is. I hug Debanjan.

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