Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mr. C Meets Dennis.

NOTE:  You may want to read up on the first story Mr. C although this story holds good on its own.


I love my family. But its nice when my wife and daughter go over to my in-laws place for a month every year. Its, after all, my daughter's summer vacation. As for me, I still have to attend school.

Yes, I am a school teacher. I teach the primary school here, and unlike what people think, we don't get to go home during the summer holidays. At least, not the entire 2 months.

So, I am here, sitting in the office. A big chunk of papers tucked up on the shelf in front of me. They are the exam papers to be graded. But the good news is that's the last bunch of papers I have to grade. And I am taking advantage of the free time by studying up for my masters.

What did you have for breakfast?” asks Ms. Nalini, the moral science teacher, sitting at her desk to my right. First of all, I can't believe Moral Science is even a subject. I never see her do any work. She's always reading some kind of stupid self help book, and always asks me pointless questions when I am really busy with something.

Dosa.” I said forcing a smile. I cleared my throat and looked back at my book, fidgeting with the pages. Hopefully, she will get the clue that I am busy and dont want to be disturbed. The first few pages of the book look worn out.
Manoj, whats wrong with this book? Did someone spill tea on it??” I shout at the office boy. He rushes to me looking scared.
Sir, I am not sure. I just checked it out of the library today,” he says.
I left out a sigh. Its probably one of the college students. People dont respect public property. I feel angry, and the bunch of papers on the shelf behind Manoj catch my eyes. I feel a dread come over me. To tell the truth, I hated grading the papers. It is the most boring part of my job. Manoj follows by gaze and almost as if hes reading my mind says,
The papers aren't due to be graded for another 2 weeks, Mr. Dennis. You can do it later.”

I thought for a moment wondering if it sounded like he was giving me an order. I have been noticing that sometimes he talks to me as though hes ordering me to do things. An office boy, trying to tell me what to do! He looks at me with a sorry smile. I sigh and nod. I will have to keep an eye on him. If he tries to be commanding, I will have to assert my dominance on him, show him his place.

Manoj walks away. I am once again irritated by the state of the worn out pages of the book, but make do with it. I continue to write down bullet points of the subject matter on a sheet of paper, and thats when Manoj interrupted me.
There's someone here to see you, Mr. Dennis.”
Who is it??!”
He says he's a parent.”
Why now? Its the summer holidays!”
I dont know sir. He said its important that he meet you right away.”
I sigh. “Ok. Show him in.”

A man who looks to be in his early 60s walks in with a limb. Ms. Nalini stands up with that zombie-like look on her face that she always has and walks over to the other staff members who are huddled around a table and excitedly chatting about something. These people just waste their time. They have no respect for the pay they get. Yeah, sure, I am doing something personal during my work time, but at least I am not chatting away pointlessly.
You a parent?” I ask the man.
No, I am not.” he says.
Oh! I am sorry, the office boy said that you were. What do you want?” I am starting to get irritated, but try to stay calm.
My name is Chaudhary, and I am... 'was' your student.”
I laughed. An old man saying that he's my student.
I am a primary school teacher, Mr. Chaudhary. Is this some kind of a joke?”
Yes. You were my primary school teacher.”
What the hell is this?? Get out of here! I dont have time for pranks. Manoj!” I am shouting. The rest of the staff at the table are looking at me. Manoj comes into the room and towards me, but he's walking gently. He's holding 2 cups of tea. As I watch in anger, he brings and sets it down on the table, one for me and one for this 'Chaudhary.' He's doing things on his own again!
Who asked you to get tea??!” I shout at him. He's standing there looking uncomfortable.
Leave us.” Chaudhary says, and Manoj just walks away.
Manoj!” I shout, “Get this man out of here!”, but Manoj just continues to walk and goes out of the room. The rest of the staff seem to have grown irritated of my shouting and are walking out of the room following Manoj.
Do you remember me, Mr. Dennis. I was that little boy you always targeted. Always punished for things I didn't do.”
“What? I dont remember you, and I have never targeted anybody.” Is he saying I am not professional? I always treated my students as equals. “Besides, you are a grown man! I have been a teacher for less than 20 years, so you can see how you can never be my student.”
What about the time you stripped me naked in front of the class because I didn't pay the fees, Mr. Dennis?”
Didnt you understand what I just said?? There's no way you were my student! I dont have time for this nonsense, so just get out!”
“Or the other times you humiliated me in front of my peers for reasons that I have no control over whatsoever?”
Do I remember humiliating my students? Actually, I do. At least, I think I do. This has got to be some kind of a sting operation by some NGO. Some kind of human rights group. They must be trying to get me to say something. Confess. Or may be a slip of tongue. This man is probably recording this conversation.
No! I dont know what you are talking about!” I shout.
Okay. I guess I wasn't very impressionable or important. A boy from a poverty-striken family and not to forget that I belonged to a lower caste. I guess you wrote me off as a nobody.” he said. Then he just sat there looking at me. Watching me. I can feel a drop of sweat trickle down my forehead.
Do you remember, Kiran?” he says.
Ki..Kiran?? Of course!”
He was a teacher's pet, wasn't he. 'Your' pet to be exact. But do you know that he grew up to be a criminal?” he goes on talking like a crazy guy. What he says makes no sense. They, whoever it is that sent him trying to get me into a trap, must think I am stupid. I stood up angrily and shouted, “Get out of here, or I will call the security!”
Mr. Dennis, why don't you relax a bit. You are going to love the next part. It is my favorite part.”
“I am listening,” I said after a brief moment's hesitation and sitting back down. What now?
How's your wife?” he says.
“Why do you want to know??? What the hell is this about??”
Chaudhary, or whoever the fuck he is, rubs his hands together giddily like a small kid, and brings out a bunch of photographs from his pocket. On the top is a picture of my wife. I try to grab it, but he pulls it away quickly. He throws the top photo on the table towards me.
Your wife, Mr. Dennis, is dead.”
I feel my blood rush to my head. I am going to fucking kill this guy. He throws the next photo towards me, and it is a photo of someone in a coffin. That someone has a familiar face. It can't be! Its my wife!
Died of cancer, Mr. Dennis.”
I pick it up with my hands shivering. How can this be? Why didn't the in-laws let me know?? Shouldn't the husband be the first person they call?? And cancer??? Why didn't she tell me!??
Whe.. when?” I manage to say.
The asshole Chaudhary just sits back and starts laughing, “You still don't remember, do you?”
Rem... remember what?” I say.
He moves closer to the table. Picks up the book with the fucked up pages, and flips the worn out pages towards me and says,
Why do you think these pages are worn out??”
Some idiot spilled something on it!” I grunt through clenched teeth.
No. Its because you have gone through the same pages hundreds of times. I visit you every week and you are always reading the same pages.”
What is he talking about? That I don't remember? That I somehow forget everything??
Do you remember how your daughter killed herself, Mr. Dennis?”
I sit there, shocked.
It was very hard to get this photo, Mr. Dennis.” then he chuckles, “Its funny because I say the same thing every week for the past 3 years that I have been visiting you.” He throws the photo on the table. Its of my daughter hanging from the roof with a rope around her neck. Her face pale. Dead.

A sharp pain pierces into my brain as if someone just stabbed me in my head. I throw myself down on the floor. I knocked down my tea in the process, and it fell on the floor beside me. The pain in my chest makes me think that I am having a cardiac arrest. I am finding it hard for me to breathe. Manoj rushes to me and tries to pick me up, but I push him away. In the spilled tea on the floor, I catch my shadow. The outline of my face. Its not like I remember it. Its awefully thin. The face of a very old man. My hair's almost gone. I noticed the veins on my hands. They are popping out and look fragile. How did I never notice this before. The memories. Some of them are coming back to me. I remember now.
The shock of your daughter killing herself a few months after your wife's death pushed you to the edge, Mr. Dennis. You went... eh, you know, crazy. So, they took you away to an institution. When I found you few years back, they told me you were losing your memory, that you still think your family is alive and that you are working at the school.” Chaudhary started laughing. He is picking up the photos and carefully putting them back away in his pocket. He catches me looking at him doing that.
Oh! I will need them again next week. You wont believe this, Mr. Dennis, but by next week, you would have once again forgotten everything. You would have even forgotten about this little conversation we had. And I will have the pleasure of helping you relieve your tragic past all over again.”
The sick fucker!! I find it hard to breath again. Manoj, the office boy, or whoever the fuck he is, is trying to help me while I keep pushing him away.

See you next week, Mr. Dennis” the man says and walks out of the room with a limp.

The End.

- Rejo John.

Other Stories:
Mr. C:  Mr. C visits someone on his Interested Person's List.
The Not-So-Amazing Superguy! - A Superhero Short Story.:  The story of..... eh.. well, you get the idea.

Future Works:
April  4th:  Two investigators who made a fool of themselves in a paranormal TV show is forced to investigate the curious case of a haunted floor in a multistoryed building.

April 11th:  Mr. C returns and encounters another person on his list.

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