“Dad, Tushar uncle has come” the voice from the hall disturbed my morning newspaper reading routine. It was my daughter Kalpana. I was surprised to see Tushar at the door after a long time. We have been childhood friends and we discuss everything under the sky right from the school days.
“So tell me Tushar, what brought you today in this morning to me?
“Nothing special, just wanted to pay you a visit and enquire about your well being.”
“Oh, thank you very much for your kindness. By the way, I smell something curious in your face. You never pay sudden visits, that too in this morning. Tell me what is that I can do for you?” I wanted to know his purpose of visit. May be he is planning for his son’s marriage.
Tushar spoke after a small pause, “I happen to hear things from your daughter yesterday. Sounds ridiculous, Roy! You seem to have grown old and you need to take rest from this headmaster job, you do in the local school.”
“Rest!! I need one, but I’m perfectly fine. But what did you hear from her?” I enquired. I knew about what he is going to ask.
“Kalpana told me that you talk to her about your past…” He stopped abruptly.
I guessed right. She has told this to Tushar. Now I cannot hide things from him. He would not rest in peace without knowing things from me. I’ve been discussing this only with my daughter. Now time has come to tell this to my friend as well.
“Yes Tushar,” I spoke, “I started remembering my previous birth.”
“What?” He stared at me in bewilderment.
“I saw my death. I wanted to discuss this with someone. Someone, who can understand me better, so I’m telling this to you,” I said.
“Roy, trust me as how you trusted me before. Tell me what happened to you. I’ll try to help you any time.”
“I see my past. My memory registers feeble scenes from my previous birth. I was a human being. I remember myself sitting in an old hall with people sitting in their chairs and tables. The walls are not white washed recently. The dried stains of dirty rain water mixed with dust remained unwashed.”
“Oh that sounds like an office, then…”
“An old clock was ticking and the pendulum oscillating left and right. I sit in a small counter and dispensing small sheets of colorful paper bits. I see crowd. They always come to me asking for this. I give them for money.”
“I see. This sounds strange!” He replied.
“I remember the building. It is kind of very old. Not properly maintained. Something like that of very old government building.”
“So you must have been working in some government office, I guess” He said.
“May be, I guess”
“So what happened then?”
“Actually it’s not a sequence of events. They are randomly scattered events. I remember them here and there.”
“Hmmm…so tell me, what else do you remember from your previous birth?” Tushar became interested.
“I went to meet my friend; he was working in some local school”
“Uncle Coffee…” Kalpana interrupted.
“Thanks…” Tushar picked the tumbler from the plate and both of us again became serious in the discussion.
“You went to meet your friend?” Tushar linked my previous statement.
“Yes, I went to meet him. Just then I was about to leave, I remember giving him something.” I said sipping the coffee from the ‘ever silver’ tumbler.
“I gave him something and when I came out of the house, he came running towards me and said something. I have no clue on what he said.”
“That’s so sad Roy. You should recollect things better.”
“But you know what happened after that? It is important.” I said.
“Tell me quick. I got to go.”
“I died. I died of heart attack. May be due to the information he said about me.”
“About you?” Tushar looked puzzled, and he took something out of his bag and said, “Roy, this thing I want to give you. I just came for this as well”
“What is that?” I asked looking at the small parcel.
“Money Order” He answered, “I saw this money order and your address in the envelope. I thought I can take this opportunity to come and meet you.”
“Oh, thanks a lot. My brother has sent this. He owes me this amount sometime back. Now he is returning this to me.” I was happy.
“Well then, I have to go. I have work in the office. I’ll come in the evening and will discuss the rest of your story.” Tushar was in hurry to leave.
“Okay, thanks for dropping by. I’ll recollect more and let you know much more details.” I said and he left my room.
“Bye uncle. Do come when you are free in the evening. My father would be happy to spend time with you.” I could hear Kalpana’s voice from the hall.
I wanted to sink again in the newspaper, but something struck me suddenly. I dashed towards the door and called “Tushaaaar……..”
He looked back.
“I remember something now.” I said in a hurry.
“What?” Tushar looked confused standing outside the house.
“I went to meet my friend who was working in the school” I said.
“Roy, you said this already, I have to leave now.”
“Yes, I do remember that. But I didn’t tell you what he was.”
Tushar looked irritated, “Okay tell me what he was”
“He was the headmaster of the school” I said.
“But what significance it has with you now. Good that you remembered now. Shall I leave? I have to be in my seat in another fifteen minutes. I’ve to dispense….”
Before Tushar could complete, I couldn’t control my curiosity to tell him this thing, “I remember one more thing now” I said in hurry without letting him speak.
“Roy, you are confused. Go and take some rest. I’ll be back in the evening and let us discuss this in leisure, I have to….”
I interrupted him, “In my last birth, I was working in the post office in the stamp dispensing counter” I blasted.
On hearing these words from my mouth, Tushar stood still as if hit by a high voltage surge and dropped in the floor, holding his chest and writhing and squiggling on the sandy road outside. A crowd gathered in the street lifting him and leading him to the nearby hospital. I couldn’t see the sight of my friend in that state and I ran towards the crowd.
Before anything could be done, he was no more. Doctor informed us that he passed away due to heart attack.
The next day morning, I was reading the newspaper. My heart stopped for a second, reading the headlines in the local column of the page. The small rectangular piece of column bore these words in black and bold
“Family & Friends offers condolences to Tushar, a resident of Ramnagar, who was working in the local post office in the stamp dispensing counter attained almighty’s abode.
May God give him eternal rest and may his soul rest in peace.”
P.S:- It happens again!