The Story-Teller of the Frayed Shopping Bag

He was awakened by the faint hammering thuds of sense of right and wrong on the anvil of his double-decker pillows. Routinely he noticed them as not very cheery as voices of the birds in the eerie hours of dawn for a late riser like him who had developed the habit of dreaming in the heaven of that hour. The sole thought that oppressed him throughout yesterday was: why did he select those two pieces in his handout for his undergraduate students? He liked to preach Whitman's romantic ideals but when he selected his poem "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" he did not realize that it would be difficult for his students and the point was this that he did not want it to irk their intellect as the speaker of the poem was vexed by the astronomer's scholarship in explaining the mysteries of stars. And he chose Jack Lewis's short story "Who's Cribbing?" for them just for the sake of sheer novelty of the form. It is also interestingly boring despite its concerns of art and craft. While taking pleasure in the trance-like state of debate he plunged again into the soft embrace of dawn and his closed eyes witnessed a dream….
Many years ago I was walking with my  oldest  brother in the bazaar when we  were sent there by our  mother to buy vegetables, fruits, cereals and spices which made  a home home and a woman happy many years ago and in most of the cases in some places even today. I  thought and still think now and dream. A bag was needed. The bags of the past years were worn and torn and my brother didn't feel publicly comfortable with them. A big bag was needed to carry the essentials home. We drifted into another lane and floated towards a shop called Bag Corner.   To buy a new one. My brother was interested in the place and the name of the owner of the person who owned the shop. I indifferently asked about the necessary information needed about the bag  and remembered Abhijit's insistence on analyzing the moves of the card games when all of us met during the summer break in our native place many years ago, years later. Then suddenly I remembered the invitation of Professor Millie  Shakespeare to visit her at her house at the corner of Chukker Maidan now does not bring back the memories to  one of Polo played by the colonizers during their heyday while their families were peeling litchis.  It was a strange house with a strange staircase like the hanging ladder in a circus, like the winding staircase of a  DNA structure which, they say, if stretched could reach the moon! Reaching near her strange house we  looked up  at the ladder, at the prospect of never living up to her invitation and wondered how Professor Shakespeare could manage to climb up and down the stairs and also wearing a sari. Then the painting of Desdemona being smothered by Othello which was on one of her saris floated before my eyes  which she bought from a family of Madhubani painters who lived in the birthplace of Shakespeare she happened to meet them across the black waters. I could clearly imagine the unflustered face of Desdemona  in contrast with that of Ms Shakespeare who was so fond of her and the strangling palms of Othello which were never brought so vividly  in our class consisting of   both sexes.  Ms Shakespeare's face was not the creation of the Almighty's mighty line nor was it such that launched a thousand ships during the prime of colonialism when Polo was enjoyed in the Chukker Maidan while onions were peeled up layer by layer in the remote places on the remote websites without getting nothing out of nothing and the pungent smell of red onions brought waters to my eyes and I was floating  over my remembrance of the things passed and I opened my eyes and my ears  hear ….
"Breakfast is waiting for you", the pale voice floated  in the air of the bedroom of a Sunday morning. He stretched his body to connect the parts of his consciousness still thinking of the dream of the days which were nevermore! Oh, nevermore!
A beautiful cadaver was sitting glum when he stepped into the dinning space. He remembered Desdemona's face and took his seat at the dinning table to eat and enjoy his breakfast.


More by :  Prof. Dr. Anil K. Prasad

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