The slow moving, narrow-gauge Indian train had an awkward freak of an engine. It usually stopped unscheduled and unauthorized for no valid reason. Some of the passengers grumbled and thought of complaining to Authority or to the Press. Some other passengers availed of the opportunity to get merrily out of the compartment for a breath of fresh air and a view of the green fields.
Satyajit was a passenger in that train. He intended for a cigarette but gave up such thought afterwards. He told himself to restrain from luxuries and to ration his smoke. For over a month he has became a different man. He could not afford the unrestricted luxury of chain smoking. Life had come down to stark realities far away from the lights of dream. Saytajit went round and round along the orbit of reminiscence pulled by an invincible force. He had attained control of the banking establishment when fortune was in his stride. Starting as a mere clerk he could become the Managing Director of the bank.
Satyajit was tall and thin and was forty with sharp features. He wore smart glasses to hide the hated glare in his eyes. His hair was receding on his temple in wide smooth patches. His thin mouth suggested his strength of will. He breathed heavily on his present plight, which has become an obsession with him. With the sudden collapse of his bank all his private property was gone overnight. He had lost all his equities, the house on Tagore Street and the two cars. Therefore, he had to travel on that wretched train. His wife was away with her parents at Delhi. She was unaware of the extent of his ruin.
Satyajit received the news of the birth of his child. Satyajit sold off his diamond ring to send his wife money for the name giving ceremony. His wife knew all about his earlier life. That was like storybook stuff. Born in a humble village, Satyajit had struggle hard to attain that height. He was appointed as a clerk in a bank. The range of his life is quite dramatic. It was all about a forged cheque for Rs. 2000/-. The cheque was presented for encashment.
The man who presented the cheque looked frightened. His hand shook because the cheque was a forged one. The consciousness of his own guilt and the fear made him nervous and timid. Although signature tallied, the clerk suspected its authenticity. The clerk withheld it by ringing up the account’s holder. The man was caught. He admitted that he had committed forgery because his wife was suffering from tuberculosis. He had to forge the cheque to collect money to buy medicine. By detecting this case, the clerk became an accountant. By the bank, ckerk felt contempt rather, than pity for the man in the thrill of his own achievements. Ironically, this incident ultimately paved the way for his promotion and prosperity. The clerk had all the regrets for the man detected for forgery and put behind the bars.
With his trembling hand, that wretched fellow had turned the wheel of fortune for the clerk. Since then the wheel attained volition of its own and moved continuously. He had every reason to be grateful to the forger. But it was too late to seek him out in order to give him a chance to live. Rather Satyajit needed a chance for live. Each wrong step was now clear in time’s perspective. If the success had come fast, failure had come faster. Just before his journey, he received a letter, which was about the wedding of his Srinath Uncle’s fifth daughter Beena. “That was to take place on the 20th of that month. Satyajit was present in the marriage of the other daughters. Satyajit’s benediction can only be helpful for Srinath to pull him through the present daughter crisis.
Srinath was Satyajit’s neighbor at Shantipur village. There was no blood relation between them. Srinath had a belief that others would bear the brunt at the marriage of his daughters. Satyajit was liberal in the days of his prosperity. It was a matter of pride and self-satisfaction for him at that time. When Satyajit was young, the villagers had not seen any special brilliance in him. But his wealth could take him to a higher stage. But all that has come to an end. Satyajit had fallen from his castle in the clouds. He had to cautious before he spent every rupee. Satyajit made up his mind to go to Santipur to attend the marriage ceremony. The rural natural scene had been his starting point once again both inwardly and outwardly. He would also avail chance to look at his ancestral house and fishpond. He liked to give them to his wife as his last gift. So he had intimated Uncle Srinath that he would attend the marriage.
At the platform, the crowd came rushing towards Satyajit as he stepped down from the train. They welcomed him with a small girl garlanding him. Satyajit bent his neck to receive the offer. Satyajit was given a warm welcome. He was called as the glory of the motherland. He was welcomed in a chorus while the tricolor flag approvingly on the tall bamboo pole. In the village, a group of ladies came forward to wash his feet. But Srinath wanted Beena to wash and wipe his reverent feet. Beena was shy, slender with large pensive eyes in a graceful face. He smiled at her and touched her hair in the gesture of blessing and wished that groom to be worthy of Beena. He was served with a plateful of sweets and a glass of whey. The other daughters Kamini, Damini and Sahashi sat near him fanning with palm leaf fans.
Satyajit was praised by Beena’s mother and said that her daughters would have still remained unmarried had he not helped them. She wiped off her two grateful drops of tears. Srinath told about the arrangement of the marriage. Beena was given the old jewellery of her mother. Her three married sisters gave her gifts like sari, jacket, chemise and brass utensils. Satyajit had Rs. 200/- in total. He decided to give Rs. 101/- since Been a had all he needed. He wanted to save Rs. 50/- to buy a perambulator for his newborn son. Satyajit was treated as the pride of the village. He was entreated to present himself before the people who sat waiting as his devotees.
Satyajit followed his host to his devotees seated waiting on a floor mat. There was also the schoolmaster among them who had taught him as a boy. The schoolmaster had predicted that the Satyajit would be a High Court Judge. Satyajit told that he was not a High Court Judge. Arithmetic was his subject of fear. The old man said that the twin Goddesses of knowledge and wealth would down together on Satyajit.
Satyajit decided to enjoy himself. He felt sad for not coming to Shantipur to bask in the people’s homage. He wanted to be happy for the day even with a false echo. He wanted to bask in the twilight glory of his life. Satyajit went round the village meeting the elders through the rest of the day. He sipped green coconut water offered to him. He fondly visited his house his house let out to a tenant. The small house gave him a feeling of security, which he could not get, even from his palatial city house. He spent some time by his leased out fishpond and caught a big sized carp. Srinath praised him. He said that the curry prepared from that auspicious fish would be served to the newlyweds when they break their marriage fast at midnight.
The groom’s party arrived in ox carts and palanquins by the evening. Conches blew and the women gathered gave their shrilling greetings. Satyajit wanted to give Rs 101/-. Srinath requested him to give Rs. 2001/- towards cash dowry. Srinath said that only last item awaited his benediction. Satyajit felt burning inside. Srinath told that it would be a drop in the ocean of hism fortune. Satyajit asked why he did such a small amount to a millionaire. Satyajit wanted to tell about his misery. But he could not get a chance to tell it. Satyajit took an excuse that he was in a hurry and hence was not well prepared for the occasion. He wanted if someone in the village would advance a loan.
Srinath rushed out of the house with panic in his face. Satyajit sat quiet and looked much tired. His erstwhile peace had gone. He liked to see the face of the newborn son who would never ride a perambulator. Srinath came back and said that Harish, the moneylender would give the cash but he needed security, as he was doubtful of the repayment. Srinath’s face bore helpless sadness as he mumbled that the groom’s father was a man of stone. He would break off the marriage unless cash was paid before the ceremony started. Satyajit felt for his purse once again and decided to give Rs. 151/-.
Srinath told that Harish was willing to pay against the security of his house and fishpond. Satyajit wondered at the value of his house and the fishpond if they were more valuable than his signature. The house and the fishpond was his only possession. These were all he could give to his wife. Srinath came with folded hands before Satyajit in order to overcome the daughter’s crisis. Satyajit agreed to the condition and the problem was solved. The villagers hated the moneylender Harish for his activities. The story presents the greatness of Satyajit.