Last year I decided to go to outskirts of Kolkata for a weekend trip but least did I know that it would be a holiday that would Jeopardize my night’s sleep.
I had everything planned out properly, like where I will stay, which places I will visit and stuff like. Thus I ventured out. I reached my destination at about 11 in the morning. I checked in, had my breakfast and slept off. By the time I got up, it was already 3, I quickly dressed up and went out. Outside I waited for long time, but could not find a auto. As I was in a hurry to reach the lake so that I could see the sunset, so I started walking in the hope of getting a conveyance. After walking for about 15 mins through a narrow lane I realised that I have lost my way. I didn’t know what to do. Sun went down, the moon peeped out but I was still standing at the same place, perplexed. Suddenly I saw the silhouette of a man at the end of the road. I ran towards him, stopped before him and asked, “Could you please help me? I have lost my way.”
“Where do you want to go?” He asked.
“To Shalimar Hotel.”
” I can take you there.”
“I can manage alone, if would tell me the route.” I said.
“Would you mind if I accompany you?” He said looking into my eyes. First time I looked into his eyes, dark eyes. Even the faint streetlight made them look beautiful.
“No” , I said and we started walking together.
“It’s not too far away from here.” He said.
For next 5 mins, silence prevailed as I looked at him and admired silently this young man walking beside me. Handsome, kind, polite.
“I am Naina. Your name?” I asked breaking the silence.
“Do you live here?”
“Not really. But I have been to this place my times, so I know every nook and corner of this area.”
“You are a tourist, I believe.” He asked
“Yes” I replied
“You are travelling alone?” He queried.
“Yes” I answered.
“You are quite brave, Naina.” He said as we stood in the front of the Shalimar Hotel. I smiled
“Can I ask you for a favour?” He questioned
“Defininately.” I said.
“I want you to deliver this letter”, he said handing me a white envelope.
He continued, “Please don’t ask me what this letter is intended to convey. Just put this letter under the doormat.”
He gave me a small sheet of paper with the address scribbled on it. I squinted at it as the light from the hotel behind, made the writing on the paper only partially visible.
“But….” I looked up and found that he has gone.
I called out his name but no one answered. I went inside, took the key, proceeded to my room, entered and sat on the bed. The place he wanted me to go was in Mindpore at least 4 hrs distance from where I lived and longer from here. I kept the paper beside the lampshade under my mobile and lied down on the bed.
I did not sleep well that night.
I was standing in front of the door of some Raj Khanna. I looked at the nameplate again. Then stooped down and kept a white envelope under the rug outside the door. The idea of coming here seemed absurd to my parents and somewhat to me too but a urge, a obligation made me took this step and thus I was standing here, having delivered the letter that was given by him, the stranger I won’t meet again, maybe.
Not been able to control my temptation I peered into the house through the window. What I saw next took my breath away.
Inside, hanging on the wall, was a picture, the picture of the same man for whom I delivered the letter. The picture had a garland around it and a pair of incense sticks were burning in front of it.
He is dead.
I saw a woman looking at me from the other side of the road, I crossed the road, faced her and asked,
“Raj Khanna, do you know him? He…he… Is …..dead?”
I found my voice trembling.
“Yes, he died a week ago. But who are you and why are you asking me this?”
But I saw him two days back.
Numerous questions were buzzing in my head, her voice fading, then I don’t know what happened next.
I woke up in my home next day, I found a paper beside my bed, the front page had a article. It said that previous day a anonymous letter was found under the rug of the house of a dead man which revealed his murderer.