The story is of four people who once knew each other through a common string, which seemed broken for a long time until there came a weaver in disguise.
The Tooth Fairy
It was almost nine on the clock when Prashant got up from his chair, took a stroll in the room. He went near the window to take a quick glance outside. The city was gleaming with lights. Cars and buses all around the road struggling to find a way past another. Prashant was always fascinated by the city. The city of joy they called it- Kolkata. Yet somehow, he found solace in calling it with it’s previous name- Calcutta.
He lit a cigarette and took a long drag when his assistant Ratanlal entered the room.
“Sir. I have someone waiting outside”, said he.
Prashant was a little irritated. “What? Who is it now? Told you to not take appointments after nine.”
“Sir, he is an aged man. He insists upon seeing you once. What could I say?”
“You could have said that Sir isn’t available right now. You could have asked him to visit tomorrow”, the irritated tone was clearly in his voice.
Ratanlal stood silently in his place. After a while, Prashant said with exasperation in his voice, “Alright. Send him in. But don’t do it from the next time.”
“Yes Sir”, said Ratanlal obediently and went out.
After a short while, a man stood just outside the chambers.
“May I come in?” his voice had a clear note of embarrassment in it.
Prashant looked up and saw a person standing outside the door whom he had least expected to be there.
“Sir! Please come in”, he was clearly in a mixed state of dazed and confused. Prashant took off from his chair and walked towards the man.
It had been seventeen years since he had last seen his high school teacher. The long absence in these seventeen years had clearly taken a toll on his teacher for he looked frail. His appearance was unkempt, his eyes pallid and he seemed a bit lost in his own self.
Prashant held his teacher’s hand and walked him to his opposite seat, the one where patients usually sat.
“Prashant. You have grown up to be so big. Not only in appearance but also in stature. I feel so proud today to see you as one of the successful dentists in the city.”
“All that I am today is because of you Sir”, Prashant beamed.
The teacher kept quiet for a moment. Then he spoke but it seemed like he went over every word in his mind before saying it.
“Prashant, my dear! I have a problem.” he kept quiet for a moment. Then he spoke again, this time with a bit of intent, “I am an old man. And at this age, it becomes very difficult to ask people for…” he stopped mid-sentence.
“You have come to me, Sir. It’s alright. I am like your son, you can tell me.”
“At this age when you have no one to look after you, it becomes very difficult to live. At times I feel like I am being a burden on someone else.”
“Lie down Sir. I’ll just go through a basic check-up”
“I know that I have put you in a difficult situation. You might not say it out of respect for me but…”
“Sir, you are stressing yourself unnecessarily”, Prashant had the same smile on his face.
He continued, “Do you know where my classmates are now? Do you remember us?”
“The four of you. Yes, I do remember. You four were family to me. You were the quietest. Anshuman was the naughty kid. I remember all the pranks he used to pull. Remember how I used to scold him every day telling him to change his ways. Where is he now?”
“Anshuman is a famous advocate in this city. He runs a law firm with his partner. Haven’t heard from since a long time. But his name appears often in the newspaper. Quite a big guy he is.”
Upon hearing this, the teacher sat upright in his chair. His eyes sparkled before he said, “Is he now? And what about the others? Somesh? And what about Divyendu?”
“Somesh is a journalist now. Works for ‘The Oracle’. He doesn’t live here but keeps coming around in every month or two. And Divyendu works for an IT firm. He is the ‘Human Resource’ Manager there.”
“Good good!” the teacher seemed very happy.
“You seem to have kept tabs on all of them despite saying that you all aren’t in touch.”
“They are all big people now Sir. Even if we aren’t in touch with each other, I know what they are doing. Keeps coming on the television and newspaper.”
“You know Prashant. For a moment there, I’d thought that it might be a little awkward to come to you. Now that you are telling me about the others, I feel so happy. I feel life coming back to me.”
“Do you wish to see them, Sir? I can give you their addresses”, asked Prashant.
The teacher looked into Prashant’s eyes while tears rolled down his cheek.
Later that night
A cell phone rang. Somesh picked up the call.
“Can you recognize me?” said the voice from the other side.
“Who’s this?” Somesh’s tone picked up a bit of roughness.
“Forgot your childhood buddy. Eh?” the tone was evidently mocking.
Somesh kept silent for a while. “Prashant?’ he asked anxiously.
“Glad that you haven’t forgotten me completely”
Somesh was silent. He couldn’t think of what to say. Memories kept flashing in his head. Four friends sitting together on the back bench. Rolling paper balls to throw at others in the class. Pointing towards the girls sitting on the other side. All flashed in a rapid motion. Seventeen years. It has been a long time.
“How are you?” was all that Somesh could manage.
“I am fine. How are you doing?”
“I am fine”, Somesh couldn’t believe his ears.
“So big journalist. Where are you now? I know you are a big time guy. See you in the news every other day”
“Are you sure you don’t stalk my social media accounts”, asked Somesh in a light tone.
“Glad to see that you haven’t lost your sense of humor yet”
“So what’s up with you? Still picking up chicken tidbits from teeth?”
“As much as you selling fake news to the people”, Prashant was quick to the reply.
They both laughed at each end of the phone for a long while.
“So, where are you these days?” Prashant’s asked casually.
“Luckily I am in the city for a month. Don’t know where I’ll be after that”
“Say what? Over a can of beer again?” asked Prashant.
“Set up a date and a location and I’ll be there”
“Okay. What about Anshuman and Divyendu?”
“You find out. You are the one with the pro-stalking skills”, said Somesh mockingly.
“As you say!” smiled Prashant.
to be continued…