Everyone, irrespective of their age, used to call him ‘Jyoti Dadu’. He was a frail, old man with white hair and a hot temperament. He was a bachelor and lived alone in his large, two-storied house. He had not been feeling too well of late. But Jyoti Dadu did not think too much about it; he thought it was an effect of old age.
Jyoti Dadu also suffered from insomnia. He had to take a sleeping pill before going to bed every night. He had been suffering from acute depression for a few months. Sometimes he had a strong desire to commit suicide. But he would suppress it and somehow draw the will to live again.
But that evening was a different one. He took his time to think about it properly. He knew that no one would be affected if he died. So he planned to kill himself that night. He would consume all the sleeping pills at once.
The night was stretching its dark arms all over the city. The darker the night was getting, Jyoti Dadu’s dilemma was growing stronger. He looked at the starry sky from the window. He stared at the bright stars affectionately. They would be there once again twinkling brightly the next night, but he would not be here to see them. He tried to enjoy this celestial beauty for the last time.
It was true that he had been watching them since childhood. But it was not the right time for him to get nostalgic. He prepared himself. He took the sleeping pills in his quivering hand.
But something was definitely missing. He remembered that he needed water to swallow the pills. He got up to fetch it. He would have to go downstairs to the dining room.
Suddenly he heard the telephone ringing in his bedroom. Who could call him at this odd hour, he wondered.
It might be the last phone call he answers. He was certain that he would take the pills after answering the call.
‘Hello, Jyotirmay Dutt speaking.’
‘Are you the postmaster, Jyoti Dadu?’
‘Yes. Who are you? Is this a time to call someone?’
‘Actually I am in a big problem. I have written a letter. But I don’t know if the spellings are correct. Can you please help me? You are Bengali, aren’t you?’
‘What are you talking about? You should consult a psychiatrist immediately. Don’t ever disturb me. Go to hell!’
Jyoti Dadu put the receiver down angrily. He was feeling exasperated. He had planned to die peacefully, but this awkward phone call made him livid. It must be the useless son of his bosom friend Asit, who was himself quite a prankster and loved to irritate people.
But it was also possible that he was someone else. There was no dearth of jobless loafers in his locality. They always got happiness by causing pain to others.
He waited patiently for another phone call. He knew the nature of these prank callers very well. He decided that he would teach him a lesson before his death so that the prank caller would not dare to disturb him again.
‘Tring tring tring,’ the phone rang loudly. He was sure that it was the same prankster. The moment he answered it, he knew his prediction was true.
‘Dadu, how can I write a letter to the aliens? Do they understand Bengali?’
‘Do you want to get beaten up? What have you started? Do you know who I am?’
‘Please don’t take it personally, Dadu. I think the aliens don’t have a post office. Is it true, Dadu?’
‘You idiot! Go to hell! If you ever call me from this number, I will complain to the police. Is there nothing called law and order here? What do you think of me, you dimwit?,’ the old man prepared himself to use some more foul words.
‘Dadu, my brother is very naughty. I had told him to find someone who would check the language of my letter. I am very sorry for this disturbance,’ it was the sweet voice of a young lady.
‘You &%$$$, just put the phone down.’
‘But Dadu, you should not use such expletives on me. I am deeply hurt. I know that my brother is mischievous. But you don’t have the right to treat me like that.’
‘I have done the right thing,’ Jyoti Dadu put the receiver down.
But something stuck in his heart like a thorn. The lady was actually right. He should have behaved with her with courtesy.
He looked at the ‘display’ and called back the number. He could hear a mechanical voice, ‘The number you are dialling does not exist. Please check the number and dial again.’
He waited once again to get a call from the other side. But nothing happened. The more surprising thing to him was the lack of existence of the number.
Actually the number belonged to ‘Shiver 105’, an FM channel. RJ Sayak used to prank call various people. The call records were supposed to be part of a popular program Glad to Disturb. The female voice was a suitable example of his versatile range. That night, Jyoti Dadu was his prey.
But Jyoti Dadu could not execute his plan to die that night. He vowed to commit suicide some other day. Only after he had finished that one last task – he had to apologize to that unknown lady over the phone before his death.