The ‘10 meter X 10 meter’ cell caged the vermin of the society, along with them was Rajeev, a senior accountant of a brokerage firm. Amongst the bloodiest criminals of the city, Rajeev uncommonly stood at the doors, holding the iron grills. His face was stiff, eyes were motionless and transfixed, and there wasn’t a hint of any emotion except the guessable shock. However, he was not shocked. The clutter of the cons failed to distract him, for them he was in his own world. Cons chatted about many things, from daily sodomy at the bathroom to latest policewoman in the jail. But Rajeev was in his own world, he listen nothing. He was in a lonely field with broken earth, encapsulated by a dumb silence, watching the bioscope of life, as the moments passed like frames.
A stout youth wades through three buses to reach his destination. He has just graduated, it is his first job. His father has promised that after he has saved enough, he will further pour some more for his further education. As he enters the air conditioned room in an old creaky building, he is welcomed by the array of computer screens and clamorous uttering of numbers and codes. He is a junior accountant, to count up the days trades, he was told by the owner. Six months down the line he has saved enough, he is sick of the same daily routine. He asks his father for pouring in. You are settled now, his old man replied, now this is your profession. The things go black and white, and the frame changes.
A baby is bought into a big house. The baby grows up to a young boy. But with each year of growing up, big house becomes seemingly small, the open verandahs gives way to closed doors. Soon the boy find himself in a smaller house with six members, but still can’t call his own. The teenage slip in and there is still no dwelling that can be called own. The brat becomes a man and the man gets married but still he owns no roof. The caravan moves on. The things again go black and white, the frame changes.
An opinion is dictated and the helpless man has to obey the injunction. He will be married against his wishes. He has to live with a woman he doesn’t like, so does the woman. He gets married. The things reconcile, in the small house sprouts apparition of a family, few years pass. The man takes a walk from the office to the bus-stand; from the bus-stand he will take a bus to his home, a home where he has a family, his family his home but not his house. He sees his wife in a car, he waves, but there is someone else there, they look happy and gay, they kissed. The glass shatters, the arguments builds up, the accusations and abuses fired from each side. The woman walks out of the house. A single stroke of hammer breaks the sacred thread that would have bound them for ages. The things go black and white, the frame changes.
An inebriated man rambled along, sniffing at the corsage around his wrist. A moll touches his head and he responds by kissing in air, he keeps walking to the way of twinkling lights and enmeshed voices. The soliciting blossoms passing uncanny remarks welcomed him to their dens. The man feels like king, he slips into one dungeon. The red light ceased to signify termination, it now signified initiation. Pleasure grips him and binds his body, he is lost. He wakes up under the bridge; the corsage is gone, so is his wallet and watch, he walks back home. The things go black and white, and the frame changes.
Man sees his old man dying, he coughs and there he goes. The man can hardly walk to complete his old man’s final journey. He rambles along. When his father is reduced to ashes, he comes back home. He is alone now, his mother died years ago. His wife now divorced. He searches for a bottle and gulps its contents. He is alone now; he gulps again and crashes into the bed. The frame changes, nothing black or white appears.
A man argues with his landlord. He has missed three months worth rent. The landlord serves him a verbal warning, pay up, he said, or leave. The man surrenders into his house. He is enraged, he pours a half for himself, and gulped it at one go. It was half past dead, the man walks to his landlord’s house; he knocks at his door. ‘Who is this’, the landlord scorned before things turned red for him. A glass bottle crashes into his head, pieces of glasses piercing into his skull and then to his brain. A woman screams, two children cried. Breaking into the house the man stabs the woman with the broken bottle. He takes the children and smashes their head to the wall. The things turned black, white and red, but the frames have disappeared. Rajeev sees the cell.
There are thirty inmates packed inside, which each has something to tell, each with a murderous history. Some were looking at him, few with scorn and few with lust. But why? Why are the things turning bright? Why he can’t see any inmates? What are those red silhouettes? Why have those encircle him? Why are those coming towards him, with their hands straighten to grab his neck. No, it can’t be, how can they be here? Aren’t they dead? No, leave me alone, leave me. He falls on his knees, and screams out loud.
He wakes up blinking his eyes to the old rickety fan hung in the ceiling. He can hardly move anything, even his head. His legs, his hands, his body seemed belted to the bed. His head was strapped to something, his mouth being stuffed. He cannot speak. He was surrounded by people dressed in whites, they seemed doctors and nurses. He wants to talk, he is thirsty; he tries to turn his head. His body stiffens, a strange sensation ran throughout his body. He hasn’t felt it before, he felt drowsy. When it stopped, saliva flowed from his mouth to his cheeks. He can’t feel any pain or feel any sense. He is a vegetable now.
An old man loiters throughout the neighborhood. His face covered with beard, his body covered in rags. He hasn’t taken bath for ages. He doesn’t remember anything. The only thing that keeps him busy is seeing the cars passing by. He survives on the food thrown in the road. Hard to believe that he stayed here once, carrying a name called Rajeev, an accountant. He walks clumsily, he eyes are dry. An urchin throws a peel into the pavement. The old man steps on it, he slips on the pavement, striking his temple down on the hard concrete. It was all black, till corpse was cleared by the municipal van.
© Tarun Mitra