Mr. Sunandan lifted the portrait of his wife from the placid wall cupboard left to his door.
‘You don’t even know if I am alive or dead. But I still follow you on your social media accounts. You have not changed. You look the same as you are looking my hands. But you know what?’
He keeps the portrait of his wife who was draped in a lustrous saree looking shabby because of the dusky photo cover. The sky was the same as the photo cover. The sky was crowded with rain.
‘I starve for another person’. The man in his early 40s lifts another stamp sized photo frame adjacent to the enormous bookshelf. The face was visible only to him in the unceasing yellow light hanging from the top.
‘I remember the date. Happy birthday, my dear daughter’. He got hold of the photo frame as quickly as his glasses were getting faded.
He picks up a coffee mug from the table and takes in the tiny in the shelf by filling in the book ‘100 years of Solitude’ by Garcia Gabriel Marquez falling somewhere nearer. The compassionate man pressed the starting button of the music player. The song began to play ‘Rab So Neha Lagao Re Manwa’ of Raga Bilawal’. He moved and stood in front of the long transparent glass window and with all his fingers in his left hand tried to touch the droplets outside knowing his hands would not become moist.
The door bell rang.
A boy pushed the door. His yellow raincoat had protected him from the rain. His pump shoes were dripping out water as he stepped in. ‘I am entering Sir’
‘Who comes to take tuition on a rainy day?’
The boy while opening half of his garment looked towards his teacher and said ‘I was absent the last two days and Ma is also scolding at home for poor results… Hence I was bound to come’.
‘Well, sit down since you have already arrived’.
The teen sits on an early garlic mattress over the white marble floor still opening his coat. Mr. Sunandan stops the Avogadro music player and pulls a chair in front of him.
‘That day,’ he fumed, ‘I saw you with a girl near new market’. He gave a lunatic smile with both his eyebrows and mouth as if he were remembering his good old days.
The boy gave him an image of him and a girl partly his age. ‘She is a good friend of mine’.
It wasn’t usual, but Mr. Sunandan took the mobile. The boy looked down placed the coat on the floor surpassing the mattress and started to look in his bag.
Mr. Sunandan’s forelocks glistened from the dark admiral rays coming from behind. He touched his phone with his finger. As a single anomaly sometimes is enough to break a formula, Mr. Sunandan knew what he has to do.
‘What kind of friend is she to you?’.
Soumya was cramping.
‘Oh. Come on, I understand. Is she your girlfriend?’
‘Sort of. I don’t know if she…’
‘Feels for you. Yup. You look good. How far are you thinking this to turn?’
It was as wacky to Soumya as the death of a candle.
‘She has a single mother. She is rich. Sometimes I feel a below dignity to talk to her. Though she is never boastful’
‘A white suits best over a darker background’. Soumya engulfed that the old wretched man whom he thought to be a brick consisted some wet unbaked clay in him.
Mr. Sunandan tried to peruse his student a bit more. ‘Do you smoke? You know it’s a kind of legitimate fashion in today’s youth. So we don’t mind them if even they utter that they drink’
‘Sometimes, as it goes’
‘You are declaring a yes. Isn’t it?’. He gave him no time to reply. Soumya kept on speaking about his greet ups from the Calcutta CCD to the kiss on the dark Amherst Street.
‘Why don’t you call her for tuition with you?’
‘Here?’ He knew that Mr. Sunandan had enough money and he wouldn’t care throwing 2-3 students out from his classes.
Soumya suggests Nalini for an English tuition. Her mother seemed to have obliged. The breezes were a lust to the unambiguous sun. Nalini steps inside the flat apartment. The cushions, the pillow covers were new. The vase smelt. The tube lights in the room were exhilarating than never before.
‘I was waiting for you to come’ He looked at Nalini, who looked as if she was wrapped in gold with a pendant of ruby. He didn’t dazed to Soumya. ‘Please here’ he was moving closer to touch her, but looked down and withdrew his hands and folded them back. Nalini spoke for the first time. He rejuvenated and froze.
‘Umm… you please sit’ He sat down too in the mattress ‘The session is half in its way. You are having the full syllabus in the final so…’ the intellectual man stood up. Let me give a book, the passages and composites are very clearly stated there in simple verses.
Mr. Sunandan didn’t use his chair. He rather preferred himself over the mattress.
‘I purchased one new cell’ he said ‘Let me use its camera’ taking out his new mobile. ‘Will you give a pose please?’
The young generation photo affinity girl made a sugary face like her daily plod.
The man had grow very affectionate to her day by day. Just after the results of the unit test were declared, no one did well in the test, in an exogenous scolding Mr. Sunandan put out Soumya from the tuition.
One customary Sunday noon the bell rings. Mr. Sunandan opens the door. A delivery man from a nearby shop stands there with a big portrait frame wrapped in a newspaper and coconut rope. As soon as the payment was over he tore off the cover.
It was the portrait of Nalini in golden yellow Kurti stripped in its bents and lustrous red cape on chest. He keeps the portrait in the cupboard shelf in front of the other two pictures. The small stamp sized photography was as old as younger Nalini had been since then.
The Raga still played in the music player. Mr. Sunandan takes out the book ‘100 years of solitude’ from the shelf and placed ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ at its place. He moves towards the dining to find any textile to cover the shelf.