It was an impulse that made Aniruddh ask the poor man to accompany him home. Maybe, he was bored of being alone or maybe he genuinely felt sorry for a fellow human being, we do not know. It was a casual talk in the now almost empty metro that reveled to him that Dinesh was a construction labourer and came from Kolkata. ” What made you come all the way here? You could have got jobs easily there”. He said casually. The old man looked down at his feet for a long time and then answered.
“I came to find my son”. Aniruddh who had become a little stiff when he had heard the name of Kolkata, now relaxed and infact smiled. ” O. so he also works here. But then why is he not taking care o you?” The old man looked up quickly in defense.He protested, ” No, No, Saab, I am not with him. I am searching for him. You see Saab, I lost my child at the construction site where I was working about ten years back. I know he is a big man by now, but I will find him. I will surely find him”. he finished emphatically. May be it was just then that something snapped, or perhaps later in his house when he saw the faded passport sized photograph which Dinesh showed him, but Aniruddh had to make up his mind.
There was no more conversation during the hour long journey as Aniruddh sat quiet reliving the past. No not all his past but just that fateful night when Arun Roy told him how his biological father a labourer, was working under the contractor of Barun Sen. That his father was perched on a high scaffolding when his foot slipped and he came crashing down on his back. Barun Sen had instructed, the man should be taken to the hospital immediately, which was done without any delay, but problem started when one worker came to Barun Sen and Nandini who was present at that time, holding a small child of about two years. ” Saab, this child is the labourer’s son. The child’s mother is no more and there is no one who is willing to take care of him. What shall we do with him?” The kind hearted Nandini had taken an instant liking to the large-eyed, dark boy. She had no children of her own and how she had persuaded Barun to allow her to take care of the child as long as the father was in the hospital. How, later the Sens had forgotten all about returning the little boy and had paid a large amount to his biological father to give up his right over the child. Arun Sen, had not forgotten to remind him, that night, that there was a legitimate heir to Sen Mansion and properties, — his own son Ajay who was overlooked by his foolish brother Barun Roy in favour of a labourer’s son! He had made it clear to his Bhavi that night that he had tolerated enough but no more! Having reached home, Aniruddh invited the old man to make himself comfortable. It was just a small one bed room with a tiny lobby and open kitchen kind of a flat where Aniruddh has been staying for quite sometimes, that is since he had managed to get a job at the Basin Architects. Aniruddh was neither happy nor sad with this existence, he was just living. There was no purpose until now!
He heated the rice and curry , which he had made in the morning and had kept in the tiny fridge. He looked for a second plate and finding none, he piled some of the food on an aluminum cover of his rice pot and offered Dinesh the food. Tears rolled down the craggy cheeks of the old man, he fumbled in his shirt pocket and pulled out a shabby, torn wallet. “Saab, can you help me find Munna, my son?” He asked, taking out an old faded photograph from the wallet and handing it to Aniruddh. There was not much visible in the picture, being much handled and old, just a discernible photo of a small boy maybe a year or two old! Aniruddh looked at it. ” How can you or anyone recognise your child now? This pic is of a baby” He said, putting his plate of food down. The old man, smiled a very sweet comforting smile. ” Saab, Munna had a deep cut mark on his chest. He fell down on some iron bars and cut himself deep. I will know it by the mark!” Aniruddh , had made up his mind in the Metro. I told you. Did I not? He put his plate down , went to the kitchen. Bringing the pot of curry he emptied it on the old man’s plate, who fell on it, eating voraciously. Aniruddh went to his bedroom and quietly returned, holding something behind his back. The next moment he had put a loop of the rope he was carrying round the old man’s neck. He pulled with all his might. The man taken unaware, feeble as he was struggled thrashing his legs and arms around , thereby, tightening the noose further, until the body went limp and stopped moving.
The Police Officer looked at the young man incredulously, open mouthed. He could only mumble, “What did you say?” Aniruddh said again what he had already said, ” I have just killed a man. The body is lying in my house” The police man, looked at him puzzled, this is one mad man, he thought. “What is your name?” He asked. Aniruddh looked out in the night, and answered wearily, “Aniruddh”. The police man opened his file to fill in details, “What is your full name?” he asked crossly. ” This is my full name”, said Aniruddh. Irritated by this late night interruption of a nice snooze, the police man rapped on the table, ” What is your father’s name, young man?” he asked again. Aniruddh smiled. “A Labourer” he said .”I’m not asking you his profession, what is his name?” barked the police man , now very agitated. Aniruddh looked at him, his eyes had stopped to smile, there was a cold fire in those dark eyes, ” His name is Labourer. That is how people know him. That is how I know him. In society you do not need another name for him.” The police man got up from his chair – there was something terribly wrong here, he felt. He had to go with this man and bring the body back, that is if there was a body. He was sure the young man was a run away from some mental asylum. However, he had to humour him. He called for his motorcycle to be brought around to the attendant. He turned to Aniruddh and asked, “Who is the man you have killed?” Aniruddh walked slowly out with the police man, to guide him to his house, ” Labourer!” he said quietly. His answer made the Police Officer stop dead on the track, “WHAT, YOU HAVE KILLED YOUR FATHER?” he asked. Aniruddh, slowly nodded his head, ” No! He is not my father!” The Officer started the motorbyke, ” Why have you killed this man ?” he asked at the same time gesticulating towards the pillion seat for Aniruddh to sit . Aniruddh, didn’t sit , he stared at the dark night and almost in a childlike voice answered. ” Because, he like my own father must have abandoned his innocent child, must have taken a handful of money. Made the child fatherless, nameless and unwanted burden on the society. Somebody had to take some action on these murderers of childhood. I have.”
The Police Officer waited for Aniruddh to sit behind him then started his motorbyke towards Sec.95, where Aniruddh had been staying, where the body was still lying. He cursed this idiot under his breath, ‘Samaj sudhar ne chala, Sale. Mera need kharab karke!”