Friday, September 26, 2008


He was the only man I knew who had no human links as far as blood relations were concerned. He was not an orphan, he had his relatives. But for some reason they had vowed not to “see his face” ever. He had a wife. She had run away with someone very long ago. I had never seen him mourn any of these losses. Of course, when I met him he was past middle age, and he was beyond the age of confiding to someone fifteen years younger. There was another difference which I think was vital. I was a school-teacher then, and he ran the small tea-stall on the boundary wall of the school.

He was everybody’s favourite. Beginning from the Head Master to the Door Keeper, every single person always remembered him. Not only for tea, but we often passed our time of day with him in inane conversation. Quite often he would participate in serious discussions about the school – things which usually generate teacup tempests! He was to be seen in all the School events, may it be Sports or Annual Prize Distribution programme or Students’ Drama Presentations. Without him the School would not run. Everyday after taking my seat in the Staff Room, I would holler through the window and a small glass of tea would be ready for me. I remember I introduced him to someone as belonging to the School, he was unfazed. He did not even look happy because of such an august introduction. I believe he thought of himself as belonging to the school, so my introduction was normal as far as he was concerned.

His great love was country liquor. He would often be under the influence. During these times he would rarely make an appearance within the School campus. Most of the time he would remain covered from head to toe in a multi-holed bed-cover which I don’t think had ever covered a bed in its life. He lived in his 6'/4' tea stall. Morning, evening, night he would be in it. Drunk or sober, happy or melancholy, that was his refuge. Lately he had started to sleep in one of the classrooms – an arrangement probably secured with some financial assistance to one of the night-guards.

I left the School eight and half years ago. There was a bit of money I owed him for the last cups of tea. We never paid him everyday, he kept the record of our tabs. How honestly we never asked! I believe he was very honest. Sometimes a bit of hangover might have made his accounts tipsy, but that’s about it. When I went to pay him he refused. He was not sentimental, he simply told me to pay him later. I tried several times. But his reply was always the same. One of my friends from the School jokingly asked me not to worry, he probably has already recovered his money from their accounts! Probably. But I still owe him that money.

The day before yesterday I was talking to my friend, who is the Assistant Head Master now, and he told me that Tapas-da is dead. He was not that old, was my first reaction. Apparently he was sick and was sleeping in one of the classrooms (someone was being kind to him), had a massive heart attack, fell down from the bench and cracked his skull. No one knows if he suffered, if he did then for how long. There was no one else in the building. His body was taken away by the Police. They would do all kinds of things to his body. And since there is no next of kin available – they all summarily refused to accept him even after his death – his body would be cremated as an unclaimed one. Unceremoniously, without anyone to bid goodbye.


Sucharita Sarkar said...

Death is always sad, such neglected deaths are even sadder.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

BTW, I've tagged you and also awarded you. Both award and tag are waiting for you at my blog.

Jaquanda Rae said...

interesting...and sad.

Sayani said...

i sometime feel nobody in this world is crueler (leave aside reality) than human

gr8 one again :)

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