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Sumita Chakraborty |

Ever since I grew up, a ghost stalked me everywhere. Much to my annoyance, it criticised my every movement. If I expressed joy and rapture at a dazzlingly blue sky or at a beautiful bird singing on a tree, it would leer and snub me. “Color is a ruse, a façade.

It hides more than it reveals. So don’t trust colour readily.”As for the bird, he made a searing remark that the bird was yelling for some crumbs, mainly for its babies who were crying their heads off. “U misinterpreted her voice. U turned a genuine grief into an ecstasy of your choice.”

‘Oh! I’m sorry’ I said, ‘but I’m searching for beauty. Isn’t there any beauty in life?’ The ghost snapped, ‘Life is not metaphysics. Don’t add any seraphic colour to life. You stretch your eyes far & wide & you’d realize that life is nothing but a killing field where the strong kill the weak & boast of their superior survival power.’

‘What rigmarole!’ I protested, ‘But life is a continuous movement. When I walk in the maze of a busy street, the gushing & streaming life along with humming & buzzing of various sounds captivate my mind. What do you want, life becomes stagnant and sterile?’ I asked him. ‘I wish it were.

Then the world will be purged of many sins & will regain its pristine glory’ he said with a finality in his voice, which sent shivers down my spine. My spirits already dampened have now reached its nadir. I said meekly, ‘Daily they are inventing more & more truths about life, its origin, its molecules, its evolution…’ The irresistible ghost cut me off & snarled, ‘Look hunger & violence each complementing the other, are the permanent truths of life.

It remained from the first day of the universe and will remain till the last day. Some clever men because they can speak, they think they are the owners of this universe. Whatever they say doesn’t alter the colour of the universe, outwardly, a paragon of blue, green, yellow, magenta, red etc. but underneath a stark, black monster. I put in hopefully, ‘Surely some day they will invent a scientific method to eradicate hunger & minimise violence for the sake of all the species of this universe.’

‘My foot!’ The ghost snapped, ‘Who cares for starvation deaths? Who cares for reducing birth rates and death rates? These clever men are only interested in moolah. So they welcome violence because it helps them in snatching and grabbling.’ In desperation, I shouted, ‘please stop. You are breaking my faith in life.’ I then burst into tears. Unmoved, the ghost said, ‘Tears are the best catharsis of penance.

I wish all the members of the universe begged forgiveness for their daily sins and self-deceit instead of gloating over it.’ I knelt before the ghost, ‘What about the outbreak of dawn after a long dark night? What about a lone flower popping in the crevice of a stone? What about the love between the tigress and its cub? These are not pseudo-colours of life, I’m sure. So there is scope. There is still hope.’ The ghost said with a grimace, ‘Good luck to you.’ And it whirled and melted into the air. I stared awe-struck. When I entered the college, it was strangely silent. Then my eyes fell on a notice.

Today is a holiday. Just then I saw a person coming from the other side. I got a creepy feeling. Almost at the same moment, a ghostly voice whispered into my ears, ‘Do you know who he is? He is your nemesis.’ It must be the ghost. It has followed me even here! When the man came nearer, he smiled at me. It was a very attractive smile, almost magical. He then asked me in a nice, confident manner, ‘ Are you a student of this college? Today the college is closed.

Why don’t you go home? The whole college is deserted.’ The conversation then ran like this: Me: Yes, 1st year. He: Does your guardian pick you up from the college? Me: No, I can go by myself. He: O.K. (The conversation stopped, but the ghost nudged me, ‘Carry on,’ it said urgently.) Me: (Being prodded) Are you a student of this college too? He: (He smiled enigmatically. Was there a tingle of sadness in his smile?)Yes and no. I got a T.C. No other college takes me.

So I’m suspended in mid-air. (I wondered why. Again the ghost poked me and I blurted out) Me: My name is Susmita Basu. May I know your name? He: My name is Sabyasachi Chakraborty. Where do you live? Me: (Where have I seen this name….I was wracking my brains…..and in a flash a series of posters on the walls of our college paraded before my eyes: “Red salute! Red salute!” “Azadi!” “Down with capitalism” “We demand unconditional release of comrade Sabyasachi Chakraborty.” Oh, my God.

I’m standing before a Che Guevara! This time I said automatically, ‘You are out of the jail. (and hastily added) I’ve seen your name in a poster.’ He: I may go in again. I’ve become the blue-eyed boy of the police. If anything happens in Krishnanag.