Tossed By Time


Rishi Ram Paudyal

One day Chet Bahadur (fake name) returns home late, about 10 pm and knocks the door after he parks his motorbike on the roadside outside as there was no parking space inside. In response, a lady opens the door frowning. In her hand, there is a red cotton bag. He gives her his helmet first and she hands him over the bag for him to hang it on the door-handle from outside. The next morning a milk boy will come and put a litre of cow milk contained in a plastic bag. Chet locks the door and goes inside. Three doors are open but one door is closed in which there is a boy. 

There is one lady doing the dishes in the kitchen and another boy in the next room obsessed with computer games.

Everybody seems to be busy with their own business. There is nobody to welcome Chet. There is no one to talk to. Nobody asks him why he had been late that day or where he had been. Nobody seems to care. 

He is a ‘zero,’ i.e. he seems to have a zero value. He goes to his room straight away, changes his clothes, and drinks some water from a bottle. He's quite a bit hungry. He hasn't had that good lunch in the afternoon. He had a few errands to run. He is a bit tired too.

After some time, the lady from the kitchen comes to his door and says in a dry and negligent voice, "Bhaat khaani ho ki hoina?" meaning 'Do you wanna eat rice (dinner) or not?'  "Khaani ho," he replied meaning 'I will eat rice.' 

This much communication was also very hard to take place. When you have to do some communication to the people you don't much want to talk to, you make very short and negligent remarks. Long communication is not possible in such a situation.

He heads towards the dining table and takes a seat breathing in long breath. 

The lady brings him some rice in a plate with some pickle in it. The food today is not the same as usual. There is neither lentil soup nor any other fresh vegetable-curries. But in a bowl, there was fermented greens with soybean with some soup. After she places the plate, the bowl and a glass of water, she disappears. There is no one for Chet to communicate.

The food doesn’t taste that good but you gotta eat to survive. Needless to say, in the unfriendly and uncaring environment, even the best food wouldn't taste that good. In the eerie silence, as he tries to chew and swallow his morsels, his mind goes back to his glorious days when he was young, energetic and handsome. People said he was very intelligent and diligent. He worked from dawn to dusk to keep the family running. He bought the best vegetables and fruit from the market to give them best food. 

And he bought beautiful clothes from the markets and supermarkets for them to wear.

But today, times have changed. The very people Chet so well fed and clothed doesn’t much talk to him; don't much care for him. He's all alone and eerie silence has been his friend. He is outcast.

How did you feel after reading this news?

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