Stories

The Accident

Phatik hurried towards the kitchen, and instantly emerged, carefully balancing the tray containing six steaming cups of tea. Cautiously, he laid them down, one by one, on the table.

Phatik has been working in Manorama Restaurant for a couple of years now. In close proximity to the famous Puri beach, this restaurant has a varied clientele from all segments of society. The ambience was quite cosy, and so always remains crowded and did brisk business.

It was a bright Sunday. As usual, Manorama restaurant was overflowing. There were no vacant seats available. The sea was about a mile away, and a cool, refreshing and pleasant breeze was blowing from that direction.

As he was returning towards the kitchen, Phatik observed a well-dressed couple along with their little girl. The girl had just spilled some water on the table, and was gently rebuked by her father for having been so clumsy. Suddenly, the child became invisible! In her place sat Phatik Ghosh, the jovial playful boy of Arup and Ratna Ghosh.

"Phatik, let's get started, shall we?" said papa Arup, gently giving him a smack on the back. Mother Ratna, in a green Benarasi saree looked ravishing. She tenderly scolded him - "Phatik, you've got to finish quickly. Else, we will be late for the ceremony at the temple. And don't spill anything in a hurry."

Phatik could almost taste the smell of the delicious meal again. And their white ambassador speeding along the road towards the sea, his hair was being blown backwards, the gusty wind lashing his face and papa besides him, giving instructions. Suddenly, an engulfing, overpowering silhouette dimming his vision, and then dazzling lightning, and then bang!

Phatik reached out his hand as if to avert the incident.

"Phatik, are you always daydreaming?," the manager shouted.

He wiped the beads of sweat that were already forming on his brow. There were so many things left to be done now.

"Good morning, sir. What will you have?"

"Give me the menu card, please."

"In a minute, Sir."

A little while later, Phatik was free again. The couple had left and can be seen leisurely strolling along the beach, with their little girl hopping along merrily ahead of them.

All of a sudden, Phatik felt a peculiar, magnetic attraction towards them. He began following them step by step. And there they were - moving further and further away towards the sea.

Phatik felt a gentle touch on his back.

"Phatik, chasing women, are you?"

It was Maya, the dishwasher of Manorama restaurant who had a soft corner for Phatik.

He managed a vague reply, while attempting to hide a tear or two that had inadvertently made their way outside.

Picking himself up, Phatik trudged back towards Manorama restaurant.

25-Apr-2000

More by :  Subhajit Ghosh

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