The Paper Boat

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That House That Age – Chapter 16

There has been rains for some days flooding the country sides and cities alike. Rano considers it is quite likely in July though he also feels disturbed like some other busybodies. Due to diminished ocular power, he finds the distance quite hazy, rains only. The cause of his disturbance is more for man’s clumsy activities than for rains which he does not dislike on the whole.

Some one of his close relatives has begun, for a couple of years, to take his ailing mother who’s quite close to Rano also, to the Forest Nursing Home, one of the biggest and costliest health-care centres of Kolkata, even on some insignificant occasions. By this other feel that he really cares for his mother more than many others. Rano knows that the present salary structure in some Government organizations including bank, insurance and educational institutions, have been hiked to a great extent; incomparable to what it was during his time. But the man in question wasn’t so spendthrift earlier, he’s rather miserly in nature. It dazzled some eyes like when one buys and displays a car is considered a rich man though it doesn’t entail that heavy expense. This is the typical middle-class mentality. Rano could not find the answer so easily. Maybe! He just left thinking about it until the other day while talking that close relative divulged that he has

contributed for a huge amount of health insurance in her name at employee's concessional rate so it doesn’t matter what are the expenses which the Nursing Homes are billing and getting reimbursed from the insurance company. Usually such bills are inflated, Rano was given to understand but easily reimbursed, a regular business relationship between the nursing homes and the insurance companies. Patients with such insurance backing are preferred more than others without it. Then while talking with him Rano enquired and came to know that his other close relative too was covered by insurance who the other day with danger signal in his voice said that for his ailing father in a nursing home he had exhausted all his till then accumulated several lakh rupees and that the expenses were getting increased due to unpredictable condition of the patient and that he didn’t have much left to help his father thus he sought Rano’s help. Rano immediately helped him with a good amount of money to save the life of his so close relative as it was usual for him. It was clearly understood by Rano while talking to that relative when his father expired that his father too had taken medical insurance of that amount in his name which the insurance company paid in due course to the nursing home. So that several lakh rupees was the amount of insurance not the expenses from his accumulated fund. Rano always warned the man expired not to indulge in unnecessary medical expenses at the advice of the doctors without consulting others but he wasn’t paid proper hearing. All this was due to the hidden fact of insurance. Both the relatives are or were an employee of the insurance company. Some suppression, some falsehood people indulge in their clumsy lifestyle.

Rano’s memory again dipped to the bottom of his teenage days. His youngest uncle was the one who always kept

watchful eyes on all the children with suspicion as to what they were doing, what they were at; if doing something immoral, unethical or not permissible to a child. Naughty boys doing mischief was quite usual in that house as none took care of them except their teachers who weren’t supervising them always. Boys were afraid of him. Once he called Ashok and talked to him for some time and finally rebuked him sternly for telling lie. Fact is that he might have observed him somewhere to smoke. He kept a portion of smoked bidi in the niche of the toilet at a time when Ashok usually visited it. As he came out uncle entered to find that the smoked bidi was not there and there was smoking smell in the toilet. Ashok never expected him at that time.

Such things often happened and were forgotten. Children lying, specially at teens when they are prone to venture into many new areas of life was usual in an ambience of trickery, falsehood and deceits. Rano felt vexed at people unnecessarily telling lies for jokes or simply to hoodwink people. And now all around him the politicians seem to be the epitome of falsehood, deliberately creating misunderstanding of all sorts. Rano at his old age having tried to live with truth and frankness throughout his life often feels disturbed at the show of falsehood.

In the hazy morning burdened with monotonous rains Rano was seen scribbling something in foolscap papers, may be for hours, unmindful of what was happening around. After the noon time was over, he was called for lunch, and he left his table keeping the papers on it. He knew the children of his house remained busier on holidays. For some days they are enjoying rainy days as the schools remain closed. The road below is fully waterlogged. Some boys and girls are wading

through the water. Their pleasant trip seems unending. Rano keeps a watch sometimes that the children of the house do not take part in it as the waters are foul and unhealthy but who can stop them from playing, making boats and airplanes! As he is engaged in taking his meal a child runs out to the edge of the water and Sarbani too runs to restrain him but before she could approach him, he sailed a big boat on the water full of words scribbled by Rano from the morning.

It rarely happened that someone picked up papers from his table, but they might have fallen when Rano left his table and the housemaid collected and left them at the waste paper box at the corner of the room. Children were in search of papers. When Sarbani tells this Rano smiles, “It wasn’t that important”, he says. But craning his neck he finds that the paper written in peacock blue ink though faded became a boat which is sailing in water, swaying lavishly still. There is some movement in it when someone wades through it. Events of his childhood including those happened recently were being written for no definite purpose. He remained silent for some time and then said, as if to himself that display of hypocrisy and falsehood are recurrent, leaders are leading from the front, who can check? They play the patriots who were born when the country was subjugated under foreign yoke but now, they try to utilize everything available in the country for their own benefits. Do Such stories need to be carried by paper boats to destruction! As he turned to go a hazardous sound of a loaded lorry entering the area was heard and with its entry the paper boat is violently shaken in disturbed water, it almost topples.

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More by :  Aju Mukhopadhyay

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