Rosie - 1

Glory Sasikala

Serialized novel, by Glory Sasikala

CHAPTER-1
unfurling my light days for scope when there is room
I'm moon in the making, a moon yet to bloom
He was searching for the lighter in a chest of drawers, but instead, he found a letter written by his friend, Sudhir. From the date mentioned, February 1986, he made out that it had been written two years back. But he had not seen this letter. It was unclear why he hadn’t seen it till then. He thought about this for a while and came to the conclusion that he had received it and read it while he was drunk, and then, still in the state of intoxication, he had pushed it to the back of the drawer and forgotten all about it. This was interesting to Prateik because he wasn’t very sober even this day. Would he forget the letter again? Maybe if he wrote a note to himself? That, he decided, was a very good idea. So he picked up a piece of chalk and went over to the mirror and wrote, “check Sudhir’s letter” across it. Then he stood back and read his own message. Satisfied with it, he put down the chalk, and moved over to the huge, four-poster bed.

Prateik forgot all about the lighter and lay sprawled on his stomach, supported by a number of pillows on all sides and started reading the letter. Time to this piece of aged paper was immaterial. As Prateik read on, it managed as it always would, as long as exists, to bring his friend back to life, into the room, by his side on the bed, lying across the pillow, talking and laughing.

Dear Prateik, (the letter began)
I hope somewhere in the recesses of that well-stocked brain of yours, there is a tiny bell that rings when it hears the name ‘Sudhir.’ If it does, then, hi! How are you? Now, you might wonder why I am communicating to you all of a sudden, and after all these years. Well, I happened to be looking through some documents of mine, and I came across this photograph of our class, taken the year that we all left school. And it brought back memories of those good old days and all the fun we used to have. And I had this impulse to write to you to see how you have fared? Remember the times when we pelted down mangoes in the forbidden grove? And how we placed a rickshaw horn on our master’s chair, and it went ‘boink’? Poor man! I cannot laugh over that joke now. Time and age are mellowing agents, and we see everything in a different light as we grow up. Remember the time when we used to tie empty kerosene tins to our backs and swim in the lake? I see that differently too. It sends cold shivers down my back, something it never did then. To think what would have happened to us if somehow the rope had come loose.
Well, today I teach just such a class of bright-eyed pike-headed little boys, all waiting for me to show the smallest sign of weakness so that they can take advantage of it. Every time I confiscate a catapult or empty a pocket of its prized possessions, I feel a pang of guilt. And when my long day is done, and the last little dizzy head has made his way home, I walk jauntily back home, a spring in my step, because there, waiting for me are the most precious people in my life, my wife and my little daughter, Nisha. Yes, Prateik, I’m a married man now. I did send you my wedding card. I hope you received it. I could not come home and personally invite you due to unavoidable reasons. My most sincere apologies.
Your sister-in-law’s name is Meera and she is a beautiful—and a little shy—and rather simple-hearted young woman who has the whole of me wound round her little finger. If you are not already married, then my advice to you, my friend, is to soon do so. If bachelor days are heady and thrilling, then marriage to a good woman who does not tread on your toes too often, and one who is blessed with culinary skills, is intoxication. It is true that there are a lot of things that one has to give up, like coming home late, and even simple things like going to a movie on one’s own. But it is also true that we give up this individual freedom to gain something better. I would call it freedom at a higher level. Once we realized that we were both moving towards greener pastures, taking in more experience and education that either of us could have done by ourselves, this suffocating feeling of being tied up for life just vanished. Now we live in full faith that this togetherness will only ultimately enhance our lives and make it more enriching and a happy experience. But for you to fully understand what I’m trying to tell, make sure that you marry a good woman.
And as for my little daughter, Nisha, I believe that she is not a baby at all but a walking, talking, living doll. It’s fantastic how one small little baby with those tiny hands and legs and a small bubbly face can change one’s life so completely. For some time, all we seemed to be doing all the time was changing diapers and looking sharply at the clock to see if it was feeding time. Now she has begun to talk a little bit. She is now one and half years old and every time she lets drop a word from that rosebud mouth of hers, it’s like discovering a flower in early spring. It fills us with the same feeling of delight and anticipation. Soon, spring will be here I know and there will be flowers aplenty, but this time, this precious little time, I want to hold on to forever because of the wonder it brings.
Well, let me not go on about a topic that is so much my happiness alone that it is selfish. Do write and tell me how you fare? What are you doing nowadays? Are you married to the most beautiful girl in the world and surrounded by beautiful kids, or are you still seeking? Was there ever a person who cared so much for beauty as you do, I wonder? Not that anyone could find fault with your taste.Goodbye pal! If you happen by any chance to visit this part of the world, please do drop in to see me. It would bring us the greatest joy to see you again! Please do drop in a letter meanwhile to this address: No. 16, Basheer Bungalow, Second Street, Kolkata.Please give my regards to all at home. With lots of love and best wishes to you.
Your Pal,
Sudhir.

Prateik had, of course, never written back or tried to contact his friend. How could he when he didn’t remember the letter at all? As is usually the case, he regretted it deeply now. He took a second look at the address. He would have to look that up some time he said to himself. He shoved the letter behind the mirror and reached over and pulled a small side table towards the bed and sat down. The table held a decanter of cold water, a bottle of wine and two glasses.

Prateik was the third of four sons, and his parents had been wealthy estate owners. They had been tragically killed in a road accident that had taken place several years ago. Prateik had been but a young 15-year-old lad then. His two elder brothers had been at college and high school, respectively. His youngest brother, Akshay, had been a toddler when it took place. Since then, the children had been taken care of by their fond but strict grandmother and a faithful old servant whom the children fondly called “Chacha.” Even when their parents had been alive, the children had remained under the guardianship of their grandmother, for both of Prateik’s parents had been very busy people, tending to the welfare of the people working in their huge estate, attending parties and meetings and organizing functions. But this had turned out to be to the children’s advantage as both Chacha and Grandma were soft-natured, gentle, and yet, firm people whose lives were built around strict principles and who knew the right balance between being too severe and too gentle with the children.

Prateik’s father had made it very clear in his Will that he wished his property to be equally divided amongst his four sons. This division of property, however, had not been carried out so far although Prateik’s two elder brothers were married and had two children each. Prateik himself was now 32 years old and still showed no signs of settling down. With his unerring eye for beauty, one would have expected him to have fallen in love and married by then, but curiously, this hadn’t happened. For some reason, Prateik did not show any interest at all in the women of his acquaintance. He made no effort to meet anyone outside of his circle either. When questioned, he said, after thinking it out, “They’re all so similar. They’re all smart and beautiful and well dressed…”
“And those good qualities are not attractive because…?” prompted this brother, Uday.

“Well, I could marry any of them, it wouldn’t matter which one. It would all be the same. I…my soul is not stirred. I don’t know why. 
Maybe I’m not a passionate guy.”

“So maybe you should stop expecting passion and just marry one of them,” said his eldest brother, Tushar.

“Maybe....” Prateik agreed doubtfully.

Not having any real purpose in life, Prateik just got on with it. He did work at keeping the estate running along with his brothers. He visited the tenants, took care of them, helped dispense funds where needed, etc. That apart, however, he just did whatever held his fancy at the moment, such as buying unique art, attending exhibitions, and visiting art galleries, attending parties, reading books, listening to music… and drinking.

Prateik often got drunk at the bar at the end of the village in the evenings. His chauffeur, Jahangir, would then have to carry him to the car with the help of the men in the bar. Once home, Chacha and Jahangir would have to take him upstairs to his room and get him into bed. He had made countless resolutions so far to stop this drinking habit. He no longer enjoyed the liquor. It burned down his food pipe and hit his stomach. But like all aimless people, who, in their unproductive state of mind, thrive on the temporary comfort of bad habits, he could not find a proper reason to stop drinking. What was there in life for him to live for? What was there in life for him to strive for? He had all the wealth a man could desire, and besides, drinking was something to do to fill in those dreadful, boring, empty hours.

3 comments :

  1. Waiting for the next ! This is rivetting ! Thanks Glory, thanks Setu for bringing it to us.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Looking forward to the rest Glory. Keep writing

    ReplyDelete

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