‘For whom the bell tolls’[Special prize winner for Topic of the Month TOW contest]
Evening is setting in slowly in this town for the elderlies and the old. The sun is going downhill. It seems Dugadugi river is looking towards the setting sun. I am also looking towards the evening sun with my tired eyes.
Yes, it is a town for the old. The only hospital of the town only admits old and infirm people nowadays. No new birth takes place in this small town. No marriage happens. Only the news of death comes.
The town had seen the days of glory. When the town was founded, my father purchased three Bighas of land near Dugadugi river. My mother objected. She didn't want to leave Calcutta. But my father convinced her. He said her that the new town was exclusively for us, for the Anglo-Indians. Further, my father had been working as Railway Guard in the Gomo-Bar-ka-kana line. So, it was always prudent to live nearby.
My mother was ultimately convinced. So, the entire family came here in 1933. My mother was happy. I was only 2 years old at that time. My brother and sister were born in this bungalow. Every Sunday, we used to go to St. John's Church. We spent our carefree life in this small town. We were happy.
The happy days don't remain forever. Independence came. Rumour started floating. Immediately after independence, some people of our community left for Australia. They thought that they wouldn't be able live with the 'natives'. Bu our family remained. But tragedy struck our family also. Our parents left the world in quick succession in the late fifties. I joined Railway and left this small but beautiful town. My brother and sister also emigrated to Australia in search of better opportunities. The bungalow remained in a dilapidated condition.
My life also saw many ups and downs. I spent almost 35 years in various parts of West Bengal and Bihar, lost my wife, married off my only daughter in Calcutta. After retirement, I returned to this town, to the dilapidated bungalow of my parents, to spend my last days.
But the town changed. Almost all Anglo-Indians left by then. Even the Bengalis who settled here after the Second World War, also left. The town has become dirty. All the well-maintained bungalows have been converted into hotels. Other ones are in dilapidated condition like my own. No new birth takes place in my community in this town. Only news of death comes. Today another funeral service is going on in the St. John's Church. Nowadays nobody even calls me to attend the service as I am incapable to visit the Church at a distance of less than one kilometer.
In the gloomy evening at Mccluskieganj, the tired old man in me, is waiting in the old, unkempt bungalow for the final call and thinking: ''Who has left before me? For whom the bell tolls?''
(Competition entry: March 2018 Topic of the Month for TOW: Bell)