Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Short Story 2015, Shortlist Biswadeep Ghosh Hazra

City of Joy

I am a reporter and my work takes me to all sorts of places and helps me meet various sorts of people as well. Last week I encountered a young man who had lost everything and was on a quest for, I don’t know, maybe revenge, maybe to clear everything between him and her. I had discovered something that might even shatter the base that supports love, for I had discovered greed in its most primitive and primordial form.

Place- Howrah station, Time- Around 6:30 pm
I had come to see off a dear friend of mine and while leaving I saw the Rajdhani arrive from Delhi and as soon as the train stopped it vomited out thousands of passengers, I personally liked to watch people disembarking from a train, only to hurry and run towards the exit of the station- this process comes to us automatically and I myself was amused every time I did this as well. However, this time my eyes caught the attention of a young man aged somewhere in between twenty-five to twenty-eight crying inconsolably; in between sobbing, he managed to sit on an empty bench with hands onto his head and looked like someone who had definitely lost something big in his life. Tempted that I would just get another story out of him, I managed to occupy a seat right beside him in the nick of time (an old man had already aimed the seat, but me being fast and wanting a good story so badly, I had to take the seat)

ME: New in the city of joy? Hi, I’m Deba…
ANIKET: (between repeated sobbing) I am Aniket…
ME: So, Aniket, what’s the matter why are you crying in the city of joy man?
ANIKET: I need to go to Kesta-pur…
ME: It’s Kesto-pur and I can help you go there…
Aniket looks at me, in his eyes, I can clearly see a battle being waged within him about trusting me,
ME: You can trust me completely, actually my apartment is on the way and I can come with you on the same cab if you don’t mind.

Aniket picks up his only bag and leaves clearly indicating me to follow him; the cab leaves Burrabazar and Aniket till now managed to tell some parts of his tragic love story… For any other random people visiting Calcutta for the first time, the Howrah Bridge is sure to attract attention and continued glimpses but Aniket had no interest in mega-bridges, he had come for answers…
Aniket and Disha met when they were studying in Delhi University in the same department of Comparative Literature; though Disha was one year younger, Aniket gradually fell for her. Disha too liked Aniket and gradually they both gained the status of boyfriend and girlfriend. The only problem was that Aniket’s family did not approve of Disha but he was undeterred in his decision and told his family that he would be marrying her once his course was over. Disha was regnant over Aniket’s heart and soul and little did he realize that everything was a set-up.

Life is not a bed of roses, someone said the right thing, my life with Disha was not at all something unexpected; yet one day out of the blue she left me and with her she took everything… All the jewelry, the money, even my favorite car, a BMW, she sold it and took the cash with her! 

ME: So everything for money? All these years? She was just faking it?
Aniket became very much animated and wanted to tell me something but regressed back and spoke of nothing, seeing his face pained me to great extent. His face clearly showed that he demanded answers from Disha…
ANIKET: I should’ve listened to my parents you know, Disha ruined my life… I had been allured towards her; she had bewitched me; now she left me for good.

As the car sped up a little, a little drizzle provided some comfort in the hot weather, Aniket sat still, with his eyes glued to the outside- he was first to visit Calcutta and seemed to like it. Disha had been tempted by money, but why did she leave Aniket? Aniket’s money meant the same to Disha; it was her money as well. They had barely completed three months of marriage- was Disha into an affair with someone else? But Aniket found no trace of her being involved with someone else. Aniket’s mind as well as mine was flooded with questions, questions that only she could answer. Aniket was frazzled he could take no more…

ANIKET: I have lost everything; she even took my grandma’s gold worth more than eighty lacks. My wallet got picked in the journey, look at my condition Deba, look how I’m suffering for her,
I looked at Aniket urging him to describe the last day that led him to his doom…
ANIKET: Like any other day I had gone to my factory to supervise and after returning I saw my driver standing in my front gate his mouth wide open in amazement, confusion, fear whatever you can call it. His head was bowed down, weighted with fear, as if he himself had committed the mistake. He told me that madam within one and a half hours took everything, even sold the car and left with the money. I just stood there as if lightning had hit me (I wished it did) - I did not detect any propensity of her leaving with the money that morning. I thought of the irony that my driver was loyal, obedient, and faithful to me but my wife was not. Out of love and greed, greed had won the battle. From then on I’ve tried to contact her with emails, phones, messages and what not…
 
Saying this Aniket again hid his face in his hands, I could only console him as his first friend in the city of joy. The cab now had crossed Laketown and was approaching; Aniket and I did not talk for quite some time now; the images of people, vehicles, the street lights and buildings amalgamated into one; I imagined keeping myself in his position and found it terribly frustrating and saddening. If I had my way, I would definitely kill that faggot of a woman that I loved once.

Aniket knocked on the door on which the plaque read Disha Singh, the doorbell had been pressed more than twice and still there was no answer, I decided to leave Aniket deal with the problem and gradually climbed down the stairs, as my vision parted, I saw the door open and Aniket entering with a strong push…

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