Leela aunty, after lunch, was having oranges in her spacious balcony that overlooked the road that was enjoying its lazy afternoon siesta; there was no one on the road, the Indian Sun seemed very warm and comforting.
“Who are you?”
“This is Subrata. Class of 1977?”
Leela was referred to as aunty (not aunt) by her students as this was the norm to show respect to teachers back in those days. She leaned from her veranda and saw Subrata, an old man, known as a truant in his teens. She could easily overlook his age and recognise his body language, his smile. In her mind, she saw him in his school uniform and smiled back.
“Wait.” She yelled, “Why don’t you ring the bell. (she screeched to her faithful servant) Debol, open the door!”
“No, no, no aunty. Don’t open the door. I have a train to catch, getting late, I just came to say sorry to you, I misbehaved with you the other day. I am sorry aunty.” He ran away. She could see him no more.
“The other day? The other day indeed! After 42 years! Sorry?”
Leela threw the skin of the oranges in the bin, which she stored for her skin treatment, also as compost and for various purposes. She jumped out of her skin and called Sushreema from her landline. Subrata she remembers was her classmate.
“Hello aunty, how are you?”
“I am fine. Listen, I hope you remember Subrata?”
“Yes aunty, he was my best friend, shocked to know he had a train accident a while ago and died on the spot. But how did you know Leela aunty.”
“I opened the door Leela didi, there’s no one”, Debol replied, waking up from his afternoon slumber.
“Okay, okay, okay! Where is the remote??”, worried Leela screamed and switched on the television, heard the breaking news of a train accident. The number of spot deaths was increasing every minute. She became the newsreader.
Debol knows it’s a regular thing that’s happening in the house since a long time, her Leela didi did not talk to anyone. The landline, the television, the remote control are dead gadgets occupying the space in Leela’s room since decades. She will simply not let go of anything from her room, her world.
“Who were you talking to Leela didi?” Debol asked.
“Shut up and do your work Debol. I was talking to no one.”
Debol simled and went off to sleep.