I got up to pick some fallen branches, weak woods, papers, and other stuff to maintain the fire. I took what I found in that foggy night and then I heard the sound of Mr. Mishra’s car. I opened the gate and nodded. He nodded back but that old cheerful smile was nowhere to be seen as his face was covered with a black muffler. After that incident, the smile from whole Mishra family’s faces had eradicated as if some scoundrel had robbed it. To see him leaving at the night didn’t surprise me as he had night shift more often in railway but what surprised me was the call by Damini after Mr. Mishra left.
“Gyan Ji,” said Damini.
“There will be a car by no 4278, let it come.”
“Ji, may I know who is to arrive?”
“No, Why should you know?” She said in a contemptuous way.
“According to this society’s rule no stranger is allowed after 10 and if someone’s relative or friend had to arrive after 10 then his name should be registered by me.”
“Ah! Vyom is his name,” she said.
After she hung up I thought more about the unusualness of my name rather than the situation. I wondered in what expectations my parents had named me ‘Gyan’. My parents should have known that by naming someone something, one would not acquire those qualities. Those qualities can only be acquired by putting me in a school which they forgot to do. Though after a long time I learned to read and write and it helped me a lot in this dull job to endure this lingering loneliness. At the age of 60, I was able to read Dickens as well as Premchandra and I wrote some poems when only darkness and Moti was my companion.
After 10 minutes a black car with number 4728 arrived at the door. It was a black swift with tinted car glasses. I could not see who was inside but just a silhouette of a man with face covered with something. I opened the gate as that car made its way to Mr. Mishra’s house while I stared at it blankly.
“Gyan Chacha, Gyan Chacha wake up.”
I had no idea when I dozed off like every day but when I woke up I realized that black Swift was gone. Mr. Shukla stood next to me smiling and the little sunlight on my old wrinkled skin was falling like nectar. The cold breeze still blew while Munna arrived at the gate.
“Wake up Chacha, time to go home,” said Mr. Shukla. He smiled with a newspaper at his hand. He looked at it and then at me and sighed. Munna put his bag on the desk and looked at me and then at Mr. Shukla and then again at me.
“Dada, Who Is this Vyom?” Munna asked as he looked on the entries of night register.
“I don’t know, someone related to Damini.” I said
“I don’t know, he came after Mishra Ji left.”
Munna looked at Mr. Shukla, then started taking out his things on the table while Mr. Shukla read the newspaper.
“In neighboring society, a theft had occurred last night while the Watchman was found sleeping.” Mr. Shukla looked at Munna, Munna looked at me.
“I have said earlier let me work at morning hours.” I retreated.
“No!” Munna said.
“Why?” I and Mr. Shukla both said. He looked back startled like a frantic but didn`t utter a word.
“I think it would be better Munna if you work at night hours.” Said Mr.Shukla.
“Because…… because I was married last week.”
Mrs. D’Souza arrived with tea for us.