19 Apr 2011


Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 8:41pm

Waving at the neighbour's baby, Sudip entered the house. He noticed Sucharita in the kitchen. "Here, on the table", Sudip told Sucharita, putting the packets of milk and medicine on the dining table. Sucharita looked at him and acknowledged. "Thank you", she said with a smile. Sudip responded with an indifferent shrug before walking into the bedroom. 

Ten minutes later, he walked to the kitchen to check what Sucharita had prepared for breakfast. Not finding her there, he called out her name. "Yeah, coming", she replied. He walked toward the table and found tea and breakfast arranged neatly. Serving tea for himself, he looked around for Sucharita. He found her administering medicine to Tanmoy. Tanmoy looked rather weak. "Two more doses through the day and you will be fine. Don't worry", Sucharita assured him fondly and took from him the glass of water. "Have these and tea", she gave him the plate. Sipping tea, Sudip observed her. As she stood up and walked toward the hall, he pretended reading newspaper. 

Sucharita pulled the chair beside Sudip and served breakfast for both. "He is quite down, poor fellow. Medicine should help. I advised him to take rest", Sucharita told about Tanmoy. "Okay, good. He should be fine", Sudip replied. He avoided looking at her, and his reply was rather terse. "Are you taking me for the movie next evening?" Sucharita asked. "Let's see", Sudip said, following the sports page.


Sudip returned from work early. He looked cheerful. Tanmoy was plucking flowers in the garden. "How is it going?" Sudip asked, without expecting any reply. He walked in and noticed Sucharita lying on the bed. Naina, the maid, arranged for tea and snacks. "Nilanjoy is staging a play at Nandan tonight. We have the passes. Shall we go?" he asked Sucharita. She remained quiet. "Suchi", he said and moved toward the bed. As she saw Sudip, Sucharita began to weep.

"What happened, Suchi?" Sudip enquired. She wouldn't answer, but couldn't stop her tears either. Sudip insisted her. "Suchi, what happened?" She nodded her head disapprovingly and said in a faint tone, "Nothing". Sudip held her shoulder and insisted, "What happened?" He shouted loudly, "Naina". Naina rushed. "Yes, dadababu".

Sucharita meant to stop him. "Shh, nothing happened!". He ignored her words. Looking at Naina, he asked, "What happened? Why is she down?" Hesitatingly, she said, "No idea, dadababu". "Nothing happened", Sucharita repeated.

"Tell me what happened", Sudip demanded an answer. Wiping her tears, Sucharita spoke to Naina. "Naina, arrange tea and snacks". 

"Just done, didi". She, however, knew that Sucharita wanted her to leave. She walked to the kitchen.

Sucharita looked at Sudip. "I am not finding the necklace that mom gave for Puja. I fear I might have misplaced it, but I have no clue where". Trying hard to suppress tears, she said, "It's her last gift to me and it's precious to me". She broke down.

"Do you remember where you had put it last?" Sudip asked. "It's unlikely you have misplaced it. You hardly do. And if someone has taken it, that's a dangerous move. It must not happen".

"No no. It's not possible that anyone has taken it. I must've misplaced it", Sucharita assured. 

"Suchi, I know how precious it is to you. You cannot be so careless about it. This is certainly someone's doing".

"But who can it be? That's impossible".

"Naina", Sudip called. "No, Sudip", Sucharita held his hand and suggested not to call her. Sudip ignored her gesture. "Naina, Suchi di has lost her Puja necklace... her mom's gift. I am sure she hasn't misplaced it. Someone has surely taken it. And I don't tolerate that. If you did, you better admit. If police step in, it will be, let me tell you, very bad for you". Naina has been working for them for years and it came as an insult for her, although she very well knew Sudip's outspoken nature, sometimes bordering on rudeness. All the same, the mention of police scared her. "Dadababu! At least for my belief in God, I wouldn't be doing such a thing. I swear on my children", she pleaded. "Sudip, please. She cannot have done that", Sucharita said.

"Okay, okay! I had to ask anyways. Don't mind. Get the tea", Sudip looked at Naina. Naina gestured obediently and reflected a sense of gratitude. She went to the hall to fetch tea.

"Sudip, relax. We will find it", Sucharita stressed.

"Rubbish. Your decent nature makes others easy to exploit. And necklace is not a small thing, Suchi... if only not for money... it's precious to you for deeper reasons. Let me check with Tanmoy". 

"Sudip, that's ridiculous. You are not doing it".

"Stop it. I don't know why you defend him so much". The tone of arrogance and a deeper grudge surprised Sucharita. Naina walked in with cups of tea. "Naina, call Tanmoy in".

"Sudip, please! This is getting unpleasant. We will ask Naina to search the house. Am sure it is somewhere".

"Suchi, enough. A precious thing is gone and it's fair to check with people living in the house. What's so outrageous about it?" Sudip paused. He added, "He asked me for some money the other day. He needs money. I feel he is the one".

Sucharita feared where this would lead to. She is fond of Tanmoy and it pained her heart that he was being put to the wall. At the same time, she didn't know how to convince Sudip to stay quiet. But she feared the worst and wanted to stop. "Sudip, please stop. I don't care if it's lost. Let it go", she said in a firm tone. 

Sudip ignored. "Stop defending him. I am only doing a fair job. Why don't you let me even check with him?"

Tanmoy walked in and sensed an air of grimness. "Sudip da", he looked at Sudip.

"Tanmoy, I saw you at the jeweller's the other day. What work did you have there?" He was brash in tone.

"Sudip da! Not at all. I never went to the jeweller's", Tanmoy answered hesitantly. 

"Oh, so you mean I'm lying?"

"No, Sudip da. I don't mean that. But I never went there".

"So who was it then? Your clone? Your apparition? Or you are saying my vision is at fault? Now I get it! You wanted money. I didn't give, so you stole Suchi di's necklace. You sold it or mortgaged it? How much did he give?"

Sucharita was completely taken aback by Sudip's words, but she knew it would get worse if she interfered. She just prayed it ended soon. Naina watched helplessly. 

"Sudip da, I swear!" Tanmoy broke into tears. "I couldn't have done that", he pleaded. "Believe me, didi", he looked at Sucharita. Tears rushed to her eyes.

"Stop this mushy drama. It's okay if you did it. I can understand... people do all sorts of things for money. Just admit and tell me if you sold it or mortgaged. I will convince police to not handle you roughly".

"Sudip da!" Tanmoy fell on Sudip's feet. "I didn't do it. I swear. Please believe me".

"This is useless. Thieves cannot be trusted with promises. Nobody else could have done it. None has the need to do it. Except you... except you. I know you did it. You better admit".

Sucharita couldn't take it anymore. "Sudip, I beg you. Please stop this", she said, tears running down her cheeks.

"I plead you, Sudip da. I swear I haven't done that". 

"Okay! I know you did it. But I don't intend to hurt people. I know you did it. I will forgive you. Will not take it to police. Only, walk out of the house this very moment and never come back. Go!"

Sucharita cursed herself why she had told Sudip about that necklace. She wept. But she realised there's little she could do to stop Sudip. After the deathly blow on his credibility, she felt it's better if Tanmoy left and went on his own. She was heartbroken, though. 

Tanmoy took his belongings, thanked Sudip with folded hands, bid a moist-eyed farewell to Sucharita and Naina and left the house. Sudip sported a faint smile of victory. Shortly after, Naina finished her errands and left for the day.


At midnight, Sudip woke up. He noticed Sucharita sleeping. Quietly, he walked to the next room. He pulled on shawl, picked up his two bags and walked out of the house in silence. Thirty minutes later, he reached the railway station. "When is Guwahati-Trivandrum Express arriving?" he checked at enquiry counter. "In ten minutes", the attendant answered. 

The train approached slowly. Standing on the platform, Sudip pulled the necklace out of his purse, looked at it carefully and smiled, and put it back. He located the bogey, checked his name on the chart and stepped in. Two minutes later, the lady made the departure announcement of the train.