Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trip Of Desire - A Short Story by Arin Paul

Rounak Roy, a man in his Forties is a failed Police Officer. He is still a Sub-Inspector of Police at Park Street Police Station. He lives with his wife, Tapati and their son Uttarayan at a rented place in Howrah. Uttarayan is eighteen years of age and has just appeared for Madhyamik Examinations. Tapati is a simple house-wife. Rounak had an arranged marriage and quite early in his life. Within a year of Rounak & Tapati’s marriage, Uttarayan was born. Rounak then was a constable. It was quite a while that his job was not satisfying him and his promotion being delayed. Of late Rounak was very much into alcohol and didn’t have a healthy relation with his family. Also, the economic condition of the family was not good. It was deteriorating day by day with higher expenses and limited income. And with every passing day, Rounak was becoming more & more irritated with his situation. Tapati was having a hard time to run the family and often the couple would end up in big quarrels. Uttarayan would always watch but keep quiet because he knew his Dad would thrash him if he interfered.

Uttarayan was mad about cycling. He would often take his bi-cycle and roam around like a free bird. He loved exploring places. And that too, alone. Though he was in love with a girl Soma but his trips of desire were always alone. Uttarayan dreamt of visiting Cities, States, and Countries on his cycle but he feared his Dad would never let him. His Dad never let him visit Calcutta. Though, Uttarayan had visited many cities, states and countries, not in his cycle but through the glorious cycle of internet. And the places would attract him like hell. He used to dream about cycling in big cities, mountains, etc. He would go mad discussing them with Soma. And maybe, once in a while, Uttarayan would take Soma for a ride. Soma, usually would be thrilled after such rides because Uttarayan would talk crazily all along.

Rounak was really having serious problems at his workplace and would remain tensed and frustrated all day along. It was one such time, when Uttarayan couldn’t stop himself and asked permission from his Dad to visit Calcutta on cycle. Rounak was furious. Rounak never liked his son roaming all around on a cycle. Rounak wanted his Son to complete his studies and join a job, so that the economic condition of the family improved. Even Tapati wanted the same. But Tapati also being a mother supported Uttarayan’s dream though Rounak was not aware of this. Rounak almost thrashed Uttarayan and the poor chap somehow managed to flee the room.

Madhyamik exams being over, Uttarayan was getting restless and frustrated with every passing day. His desire was winning over his fear. And Soma always used to support him. Once again, Uttarayan one evening asked Rounak about the No-Cycling Zones in Calcutta. Rounak was so mad that he went and thrashed Uttarayan’s cycle with a cricket bat creating severe damage to the cycle. Uttarayan was in tears and couldn’t sleep that night. But that night made his desire, destiny.  With Soma’s and a few other friend’s help Uttarayan’s cycle was back on track. And he decided to visit Calcutta on his own, without his Father’s consent. He fixed a date. And on that day, he left with his cycle, early morning. Rounak had not returned home the previous night because their was a big political rally the next day.

Uttarayan seemed to be the happiest person on earth, cycling, as if to Glory. He had waited for months maybe years and here he was on his first trip to a city. After almost cycling for 2 hours he entered Calcutta through the Howrah Bridge. He was thrilled. After roaming around like a vagabond, Uttarayan was resting under a tree in Maidan. His happiness was beyond imagination and expectation. After a while, he started his journey again, it was around noon and he was on Red Road. While cycling he saw a Police Van approaching him and the fear of his father coming to know helped him decide to flee. The police also started chasing him. On the other hand, a huge chaos started in the political rally. The police had to Lathicharge and through tear gas to the crowd. Amongst this, Uttarayan was fleeing. After a while, a policeman came down the jeep and shot the young man from a long distance. The bullet hit Uttarayan in the chest and he fell with his cycle on the road. Other policemen approached and took away the body along with the cycle.

It was quite late and Uttarayan had not returned home. Tapati was very worried. Rounak arrived quite late and seemed very happy. He hugged Tapati and said that the way he handled the chaos today will finally give him a promotion. And the family’s economic condition would improve to a larger extent. Tapati was happy and worried at the same time. Rounak also started worrying about Uttarayan. The night passed as the two helplessly waited for their son to return. They had already been to almost all his friend’s places. In the morning, Soma, almost broken like the dead, arrived at Rounak’s place and handed over the newspaper to Rounak. Rounak fainted after taking a glimpse of the front page.

It read, “Police Atrocity Takes Another Life of An Innocent” and the photo was of Uttarayan lying dead beside his cycle.

Perhaps, Uttarayan was on another “Trip of Desire”.

Trip Of Desire - A Short Story by Arin Paul | WBRi Online Magazine

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