The night passed on to dawn and dawn into the morning. Rohit’s eyes were still glued to the bunch of papers in front of him. Sometimes he was making some corrections and sometimes he was simply watching the flow of words on the paper. Sometimes again he seemed to be very delighted with the black words that were alive in front of him. There was an expression of unbounded joy on her face.

         Rohit completed the draft of his first novel that was going to be published very soon. He could not sleep for the whole night. In fact, for the last fifteen days, Rohit could sleep only after 2 p.m. In the morning he felt a strong desire to sleep but his tired eyelids were defeated by the thirst in his heart. It was 5.30 a.m. He would catch the 9.30 train. It was unthinkable for normal situations but today it was something special. He was ecstatic about his creation. He felt like God who always savours the taste of creating something. Perhaps He enjoyed the same kind of feelings when He created the universe out of chaos.

        He has given birth to his dearest object out of his own feelings, emotions, and imaginations. He stared at it for a few minutes. Rohit felt proud of himself. It was his long-cherished dream to become a writer! Now, that dream is a reality!

         Rohit felt restless. An inexplicable joy gripped his heart. He was behaving as if he were a child. He embraced the manuscript and kissed it several times. He felt the blood-tie. Rohit was in a mood to celebrate the ‘deliverance’. He hurried downstairs and called his wife, “Rama, it is complete! You see, it’s complete!”

       Rama was still sleeping then. Rohit shook her from her sleep, and said, “Rama, wake up!”

       At first she was shocked. After a few seconds, she was conscious of what was happening. She cast a glance of extreme annoyance at Rohit and then said, “When’ll you mature, Rohit ?” You’ve completed something rubbish and for that, destroyed my sleep!”. Rama turned to the other side and began another session of fresh sleep.

      He knew Rama’s mentality very well. She never encouraged his creative endeavour. Rohit was used to the nagging voice of his wife who always hurled bitter remarks like “What a worthless fellow! Always confined to the room, and doing nothing!”, “Except for a clerical job in a Govt. office, no extra income!” But the day of creation is always special, and Rohit did not expect such treatment from his wife today. After all, she is also an educated woman. He said nothing to his wife. He only said to himself, “Rama does not understand that it is a vital part of me! Nay, it is me!” Rohit hoped that she was not a fool to understand the importance of his achievement at least today. He went upstairs to his study but nothing could dampen his enthusiasm on that day.

          However, Rama heaved a sigh of relief when she woke up at around 7.30. That enemy had wasted her most valuable moments for at least a month. Now the thing was over. She prepared tea and called Rohit.

       After taking tea, Rohit said, “Rama, Today I’ll go to Kolkata to meet a publisher by 9.30 train. It would take one hour to reach Howrah and another to Classic Book Publications.”

       Rama said, “You must not do anything like that today. For a month you were possessed by that Ghost. Today you are free and is it a compulsory duty of yours to go today? You can go there tomorrow. Today I’ll go for marketing.” Rohit has just uttered the word “but”, but Rama snatched the word away from his mouth and said, “no but”. Rohit at last submitted to his wife and planned to leave for Kolkata the next day.

         It was ten minutes’ walk from Rohit’s house to the Railway Station. Yet, Rohit left his home early so that he can arrive at the station fifteen minutes in advance. Opposite his house was the grocery “Kamala Store” and the shop-keeper was well acquainted with Rohit.

       He asked Rohit, “To the office, Rohit Babu?”

       Rohit replied in a tone full of enthusiasm and excitement, “Not to the office, today, Ramkanai Da. I’m going to Kolkata with a job of much greater importance. Today something special is ahead. I’ll tell you everything after I return! ok.”

        On his way to the station whoever familiar he met he uttered the same words. He was enjoying every moment to his heart’s content.

       He was lucky enough to get a seat next to the window as this would ensure the least disturbance during his reverie. Since the completion of the manuscript, Rohit was completely engrossed in the thought of publishing it. Rather it would be more proper to say that he was visualizing the prospect of its success. He was so confident of the manuscript being accepted by the publisher. In his mind’s eye, he could see only the Director of the publishing company applauding his achievement and being glad to sign a contract.

      The Classic Books is a famous publishing company. Once it is published it would bring him a name, fame, and monetary affluence. His thoughts constantly shifted from the story of the novel to the Director’s room of the publishing company and again to the manuscript. To be doubly sure of its impact upon the Director and the Editorial team, he very carefully took out the manuscript from the expensive file inside which he kept it. Even on the train, he started reading the enlightened passages or dialogues. His own creation thrilled him. He remembered Lamb’s poem “The Tiger” where God himself was struck with wonder by his own creation.

        When he was visualizing the characters playing out their roles, a beggar stood in front of him and said, “Babu, Rs five, please.” He was startled to be aware that he was on the train. He was in such a jubilant mood today that he immediately brought a 10 rupee note and gave it to the beggar. The beggar blessed him saying, “Let God make you successful in life”. Rohit only chuckled and said to himself, “Success is only at the threshold!”

         When the train arrived at Howrah station, Rohit thought of visiting the bookstall which displayed books of various categories. He surveyed the books arranged from one side of the stall to the other, as was his natural habit whenever he reached Howrah station. But this time something very special was taking place in his mind. He said to himself with a sense of pride, “My book is also to be displayed here after a few months”.

      Rohit did not waste his time seeing other writers’ books. He hurried to the taxi stand to reach his destination. He entered the Publishers’ office with his head high. He met the Managing Director and introduced himself.

       The Managing director said, “Tell me, how can I help you?”. Rohit said, “I want to publish a novel written by me” and took out his manuscript. The Director replied with alacrity, “We publish books by only established authors”. “But, sir, I request you to place it before the Editorial Board, and then decide. Besides, every writer is not established at first. Please give me one chance”. Now the Director uttered a sentence that was very difficult for Rohit to digest. He said in a sarcastic tone, “I have some very important business to attend to. You may go now.” Then he left the chair and went to a different room and started talking to another writer. After enquiry Rohit came to know that the person being talked to was a widely acclaimed writer whose novels caught his attention a decade ago and enlightened his bookshelves.

          Rohit was greatly disappointed. His hope of his novel being published by such a famous publisher was dashed to pieces, but he still had great hope that a lesser-known publisher is sure to accept his manuscript. He went to The Diamond Publishers. Since his boyhood days, Rohit is well acquainted with this name and it is one of the top ten publishers of Kolkata. Here his experience was still worse. He was not even allowed to meet the Director. One person informed him, “The Director has no time to talk to you. You may take tea if you like, and then go”.

     Everywhere what welcomed him was a sense of frustration and ignominy and shame. When he completed visiting quite a number of publishers in Kolkata, it was almost nine in the evening. He was without any strength to stand, let alone walking. He was completely burdened with a sense of utter failure and hopelessness that was eating him up. He looked around and saw all successful people who were busy doing worthwhile jobs and returning home earning something valuable for their families. They all were worthy of the best that life had to offer. He looked at the mirror in a book shop and saw a pigmy standing, a pigmy on whose forehead is writ large “FAILURE”. Suddenly he lost his control and his file fell on the road. He saw it trampled by passers-by. Rohit collapsed on the road.

June 19, 2020 11:48

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