As Bipul turned to the gravel layered by-lane from the highway, the last night super to Guwahati had just passed him with a high speed leaving behind a mixture of dust and exhausted carbons in the air. It usually left the town at 9.30 or 9.45 pm, supposedly to reach this place after 10-15 minutes, that meant it was almost 10 o’clock at night. This road to his home was very familiar to him. The sky above him was pitch black intermingled with tiny dot like stars. Bipul inhaled a gush of fresh air into his lungs, thought about his mother. Perhaps she was waiting for him for supper as she always used to do. When her wrinkled and sunken eyed face came to his mind , he felt a strong sense of helplessness and a deep sigh came out with his deepest exhale.
Bipul worked as a salesman in a grocery store in one of the busiest place in the town. These days his bicycle was out of order, so he had chosen to come home walking after closing the store at night. He had been doing this monotonous task for the last ten years and spending all these years there had made him known to most of the people in the town. When his father died he was about ten. At that time he was unable to comprehend the complexity of life. But gradually the situation and time had taught him everything. For many years he had not seen the beautiful sight of setting sun beyond horizon in an open field, for many years he had not been able to appreciate the blooming Krishnachudas or Radhachudas glittered in bright sun light, he had not passed any careless night with his friends. Time had changed him. Time had matured him too early.
Bipul slowly strode along the dark, deserted road towards his home. Suddenly as he was about to cross the huge paddy field past the village school, he found a silhouette of a SUV car being parked by the side of the road. He halted for a moment, who might be here at this unusual time? The fields on both sides of the road were partially submerged under the rain water of a few days back. He waited there for a few minute , then he heard some indistinct chattering . Gradually the voices became clearer…..
” You rascal, what do you think? I had warned you before, but you didn’t listen to me! You will disclose that I killed Resma!”
”Please let me go, I swear I won’t disclose it,”- said a weak voice.
” Ha ha ha”- a harsh laughter with devil intention roared, ” You liar , what did you tell Abdul?…. you know everything…yes I , Bichitra Phukan have killed Resma. It was her fate. But you told Abdul that we can do nothing to you, you will send us to jail?!”
A few mobile flash lights were seen like fireflies flickered in the dark field. A few days ago, there was a mysterious murder of an unmarried girl in one of the rented house in the town. The news almost widened everyone’s eyes, everybody was terrified about their safety and security in the town. Police too couldn’t find out the culprits. Now that very familiar mysterious death was becoming clearly evident in front of his eyes.
”Please let me go, I have wife, children”- the weak voice continued begging.
”Ha ha ha…. who will look after our families if we go to jail , you, huh? You poor creature want to blackmail us?”
Then Bipul heard the sound of a hard hit… dhap…and an agonized painful reaction immediately followed…..”Ah!”
Suddenly Bipul’s one clumsy leg collided with a bottle that was lying near the car……thong!
”Hey, who is there?”- a ray of bright torch light beamed on his face.
Bipul felt as if his heart stopped for a moment. He began to run. Some dis -organised hurried footsteps splashing the water in the field followed him commanding and shouting at him to stop. He ran at a stretch for sometime until he felt as if his pounding heart would come out of his chest. He felt dizzy, but he feared to stop and he dragged his tired body along the dark road till he reached his home.
Having finished his supper with his mom, Bipul retired to bed . He tossed over his bed again and again, but failed to sleep.Towards late night, his mobile phone rang with an unknown number on the screen, hesitatingly he picked it up, his voice muffled- ” He..l.l.o.”
”Hello,”- a heavy voice came from the other side. A voice mixed with complexity and roughness.
”Are you Bipul ?”
” Ye..s”- Bipul fumbled to utter his name out of fear.
”Yes, I know you,”- the voice on the other side was confident……” You don’t know me, but you’ve known the name of my son, isn’t it”
” What has happened to the man in the field?”- somehow Bipul gathered courage.
” Perhaps he is dead by now,”- the voice chuckled, then continued-”This news too will appear in tomorrow’s news papers, news channels will telecast it with their breaking news,”- the voice continued in a cruel tone, then jiggered, ” I hope you’ve not seen anything , have you?”…..silence….” If you love your life, if you love your mother, I think, you won’t disclose it.”…. with a beep , the voice disappeared.
Never was Bipul so frightened before. The dramatic occurance of the incident and its relation with the previous crime, and the threat to him, all had suffocated him with an intense sense of fear and helplessness. A crime had happened just in front of him, as a true human being he should disclose it so that the culprits were punished, but would he be able to gather enough mental strength and boldness to disclose it?
Bipul felt sweat beads accumulated over his forehead, he felt his whole surrounding had started rotating and he was being dragged to a whirlpool of uncertainty from which he could never climb up to a world with fresh air.