The magic of a moment sometimes lies in the silence of the eyes and sometimes lost in the words…it would not be until much later, that Inspector Rana would understand the true meaning of it.
Inspector J S Rana fixed his belt and tugged his cap, looked squarely in the mirror and admired his thick moustache perfectly curving up. His sharp rajputana features made him look really aristocratic in the department. Quite unlike a crime branch investigative official, to say the least. He had just been transferred to Mumbai from Rajasthan about a fortnight ago.
‘Sir your lemon tea.’ Interrupted Gopinath Thirkey.
‘Tharki –how many times have I told you not to interrupt me while I am fixing my moustache?’ he said with a hint of mock seriousness.
‘Sorry Sir I am Thirkey not Tharki’ he objected rather meekly.
‘Ah right, maybe next time’!
‘So, what are the cases today’ he asked dismissively.
‘Sir nothing much, except one missing persons file’
‘Ok, let’s have a look at it then’.
‘I really wonder what will ever come of it – it s the same story from Rajasthan to Rourkela, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, ...and from north Mumbai to south Mumbai. There was a slight hint of sarcasm in his voice mixed with exasperation.
‘But you know sir what’s different in Mumbai… ?
‘No, shock me’
‘Well here, sometimes people don’t want to be found’
Just for a split second Inspector Rana gave a sharp glance at head constable Thirkey.
A nervous Thirkey blurted…‘Yes sometimes I wish my wife would get lost…..but she…’ Gopinath trailed off as he saw inspector Rana’s converging eyebrows.Thirkey knew it was time to leave the room.
As Inspector Rana began flipping the pages of the missing persons file, one photo caught his attention. His roving eyes stopped on an old black and white hazy photograph of a small boy.The face was barely visible after all these years of dust and neglect.
‘Tell me about this case’ Inspector Rana gestured showing the page to Gopinath.
‘Sir this is one of our oldest unsolved cases.’
The boy,Veeru suddenly disappeared one day on his way to school. Hasn’t been traced since’. His mother Lajwanti Devi had filed a report…but nobody seems to have seen or heard from her ever since. In fact this is a dead case. We should close the file sir.’
‘Hmm, you are probably right, I think we should, it s just that this boy’s photograph seems a little familiar… you know , where have I seen this boy ? His eyes remind me of …of someone I know…but just can’t seem to place him correctly’ Inspector Rana trailed off.
‘But how is that possible sir- you’ve been in Jaipur and this is in Mumbai’
‘Hmm forget it – close the file, if we don’t hear from the last known contact person – call them, visit them do whatever, if we are still clueless then we will close the file in 14 days. Ok tharki?
‘Yes sir’ said the head constable pursing his lips.
As days passed by, it became increasingly evident to Gopinath Thirkey, that this case was going to be closed soon. He had made absolutely no headway in the case.
With Jack Daniels for company, inspector Rana sat by the window, and kept searching his memory - present to the past. He opened the old teak wood chest of drawers and took out the family album. His childhood memories came back flooding - That joint family, those lush fields, that splendid haveli, always decorated and so full of life, and his friends always up to mischief.
In one photograph with his friends, he was caught stealing guavas from the garden.The look on his face was spectacular – shocked and embarrassed at the same time and his friends looking on sheepishly. So many years had passed since then, but it still managed to evoke the same nostalgic feeling.
But this time nostalgia was short lived.
Suddenly that photograph triggered a strange feeling of discomfort. He felt uneasy. Something was not right. He dashed to the study table nearby, and opened the missing person’s case file he’d brought home. He saw the photograph there and the one in his family album with astonishment.
He studied the photographs again, this time under the magnifying glass. The result was the same. Veeru’s eyes had an uncanny resemblance to his eyes.
‘How odd is that – how can two different people from different times and different cities have the same eyes.?’ Inspector Rana’s mind was buzzing.
The next day he was at work earlier than usual when Gopinath walked in…
‘Sirji your lemon tea’,errr …Sir ,what happened to you sir? You look completely drained early in the morning? All well ?’
‘Nothing Tharki it’s just that this case is bothering me a bit more than I thought it would’.
‘Really? Why is that sir ? I was just about to close the file’
‘No hold on. Not just as yet.’ said Inspector Rana interrupting.
‘In fact I wanted some help from you - look at the photograph in the file carefully once more, and tell me, do you see anything similar in this photograph?’ inspector Rana handed over his childhood photograph.
Head constable Gopinath Thirkey examined the two photographs side by side...and then he started to shake his head in disbelief…
‘Sir I am not sure if it is my eyes, but do you notice something strange’?
‘Idiot, that’s why I asked you to see it’you tell me what you see’ inspector Rana snapped.
Thirkey finally spoke… ‘Sir I think the case file photograph is clearer than before – the black n white image is sharper…as if it was taken recently...
‘What?’ a puzzled inspector Rana exclaimed.
‘Well, it almost seems like, it has come back to life…’! Gopinath’s looked up with his hands shaking.
‘...and what about the one from my family album?’
‘Sir,I see a few boys looking at a guava tree...’
‘Don’t you notice the eyes’?
‘Yes sir, I do, what about them?’
‘Don’t they look similar to the one in the case file?’
For a second Inspector Rana breathed a sigh of relief, maybe he was imagining it all.
But that was not the end of the surprise…it was only the beginning.
As Inspector Rana took the file back from Thirkey and glanced on the photo once more, he slumped into the chair with his hand shivering….and body trembling.
‘What happened sir’ Gopinath mumbled.
Inspector Jayveer Singh Rana sat there bewildered, shocked and speechless…the boy in case file photograph looked exactly like the boy stealing guavas.
The magic of a moment sometimes lies in the silence of the eyes and sometimes lost in the words…
Gyanban Thoughts - This story has no element of reality and is 100% fiction.The element of deja vu is something we all go through in life.Who knows there might be some hidden message somewhere.In this story, there is a possibility of part 2.I would like to know what happens after this ? What does Inspector Rana do about the case? Why is there is a similarity in the pictures? Or is it just a figment of his imagination? I' ve deliberately strewn clues in the story right through the pages...maybe one of you will bring it up in the comments.
image courtesy :pather panchali