Suddenly some changes were noticed by few people who always smell foul in everything around them. Kalu was seen in good clothes, from his face it was realized that he was well fed and his hair looked well combed and beard was trimmed. His brothers who lived in the same large house built by their father had started living in separate quarters after their parents’ death. They had their separate kitchens and separate electric meters and they were not in good terms among themselves. While further probing it was realized that there was competition among his brothers to become closer to Kalu and each and every of his brothers suddenly started talking to him, their wives started feeding him good food, and his nephews and nieces also joined their parents. While probing further it was realized that each brother was trying to get Kalu’s share of the ancestral property in his name, and they were in a race about who could get it first. People in the neighborhood realized that if any of his brother could ever become successful in acquiring Kalu’s share of the property then Kalu would not have any place to sleep at night and the villagers would not only have to provide him food but also to find a room for him to sleep at night. Few of them went to the local police station and informed the officer-in-charge about their suspicion. The very next day the officer visited Kalu’s house, he also called those people who visited the police station the day before and in their presence threatened his brothers about the serious consequences they would face if they ever tried to deprive their brother of his due share. It was a terrible shame for Kalu’s brothers. As it was expected, immediately after receiving the threat from the police his brothers and their families did not see Kalu’s face again. However, how much that mattered to Kalu was unknown.
Everyone started taunting his brothers, their wives and even their children were not spared. His brothers realized that complaining to the police would not help as their evil intention was already exposed and they suddenly realized that since their father did not make any will before his death, their only sister who was married should also receive equal share of the property. When everybody in the neighborhood went against them it became impossible for them to stay any longer in the house and they left the house one after another leaving Kalu alone. Since nobody was there to pay the electricity bills, the power was cut. Soon the large house started looking like a haunted house where Kalu used to sleep alone at night.
Immediately after hearing the suicide attempt by Kalu, Shravanti’s family moved out of the village. People had no complaint against that family as they realized that Kalu had no income and there was no hope that he could do anything in life. But her parents never wanted their daughter to hear about Kalu from anyone in the neighborhood when she would come to visit her mother.
Gradually people forgot how handsome Kalu looked, how pleasant his voice was when he used to sing. Of course they did not know that he was also a poet as he used to write poetry only for one person, the woman he loved.
It was this Kalu whom my friend Tapan greeted with his first ‘hello’.
But in spite of this bizarre first attempt, Tapan still greets others by ‘hello’ every day. Whenever I call him the first word he utters is ‘hello’.
As for me, I do not know whom I first greeted with the word probably it was while talking to somebody on the phone.
Kalu died few years after I graduated. He died from some liver disease, he was even taken to a doctor and some minimal care was also provided but that probably was not enough.
Shravanti’s best friend got married a year after Shravanti’s marriage and she started living in a faraway place with her husband and nobody received any further information about Shravanti or her family.
Shravanti found the love of her life in her husband and immediately after marriage she resumed her education.
Nobody knows if she still hates Phillip Ray, the miller’s only son and if she has forgiven Annie Lee.
************* THE STORY ENDS HERE **************