April 15, 2020

The Typist

He stood on the pavement watching her walk inside the bank.

Calcutta is not cold in January but he kept pulling his sleeves over his fingers to cut out the chill that he felt more out of habit than necessity.The party crowd was breaking out for their weekly pub hopping,ecstatic shrieks and giggles reeked of well being and money to be spent on mindless beer guzzling ….or so he thought. He could have done with a warm chair and a glass of cheap rum himself.

He was tracking her for a month. The money was good but he was wishing this to be over by next week so that he could get back to his day job as a roadside typist near Bankshall court.He remembered the short stout man approach him with a passport affidavit filled with typos.A mussalman from kidderpore who never seemed to find a reason for his soiled passport and he badly needed a new one to make it to Dubai. He wrote his standard affidavit for damaged passports and rattled it off in his creaking REMINGTON and pocketed the standard thirty five.The short stout man stood there waiting. “Dada apni porashuna janen. amar ekta kaj kore deben ?”, he said.The short stout man seemed to have some money on him. He ignored the man and started on his two other pending affidavits.The short stout man waited for a minute or two and went off.He finished his typing and waited for more work.

It was a beautiful January morning and Bankshall street was busy with people, marwaris with their paan masala ,bengalees with their sense of urgency, chirpy bihari labourers , court attorneys double talking some naive village folk. A smell of hot jalebis,cardamom tea mixed with the stench of the nearby municipal vat and traffic smog created that unique mix which was signature calcutta. He liked it as he had been liking it for the past twenty five years along with vinod’s tea and agru’s chanachur.Life was good and it was not good. He was short of money, as always.The day moved on,the dusty peepal’s shadow moved across the pavement and after six glasses of tea he finished with four new affidavits and one stupid appeal against a land encroachment on a public urinal.

The mussalman was there again.“Dada ektu shomoy hobe?” -the short stout man asked. He went on jabbering about some friend of his whose wife seemed on cheat on him.Now, this wife worked for a bank and was an english speaking modern girl and was averse to the idea of her husband escorting her to the bank.The short stout man’s friend needed an unobtrusive accomplice to keep an eye on her wife and report on any lovers outside the office if any and he wished to pay well.Illiterates with money making life hell for a decent girl- he thought but after 20 more minutes and a promise of a thousand in advance he complied . Besides, the bank office was just across the street with a branch at park street. Three hundred a day and with a thousand in advance life would be simpler at least for some time.The only bone of contention was that he had to give up his day job for a month and a half.

The car honked. He walked aside from the pavement which led to the hotel’s driveway. She never was this late. He could have easily duped the mussalmans but they seemed a tough lot and who cared ? It would soon be over. He walked across the road and bought The Evening Statesman. She was beautiful.He had known beauty as a child.He understood it.He did’nt hear the shot but felt it. The dampness closed on him.The flickering lights of a friday Park street changed to a flash, he fell dead.

© cloudgear.io 2020