Two of them were
sitting in silence under a jambu tree. For a long time neither spoke a word.
Danu of course fell asleep and Nagen Ray was deep in thought.
A few minutes ago a girl
collecting dung had passed by. She was young but had an aggressive look. Nagen
Ray called her, “Hey, girl, can you tell me if that two storied house belongs
The girl observed him
with suspicious eyes. Nagen was not wearing any expensive outfit, just faded
pants and an ordinary shirt. The girl asked, “Why are you looking for him? Do you
belong to their group?”
Nagen Ray shook his
head, “No. We’ve just come to give him some news.”
The girl replied
grimly, “I’ve no idea where Abidyathakur lives. But this house is not his. This
was Kashishwari auntie’s house. Abidyathakur is such a nasty man, he threw out
an old lady of one hundred years age and occupied the whole house with this
That name Kashishwari
had been buzzing in his brain since then. Like a far away echo of something.
Was there a Kashishwari in his forgotten memories? Who knew! This morning as
soon as he woke up, the word ‘throne’ dropped into his mind. Who knew why? How
could a throne be related to him!
Danu had told, “You
remember all kinds of odd things. We are simple folks. And throne is a royal
Danu yawned and sat
up, “How long do you want to sit here? I say let’s go nab that guy Gokul.”
“There is a word
‘consequences’, know of it?”
“Very well. But what
is the point in thinking of consequences now? We are not getting anywhere.
Can’t you think more strongly? Perhaps a memory or two may pop up.”
“Too much thinking
gives me a headache, blurs my vision.”
“I’ve heard that
amnesia due to head trauma can sometimes be cured by another trauma to the
“I too have heard
that. But the doctors said that another injury will definitely kill me.”
“Then we have a
“You know how it
feels like? As if some cork has stoppered an important memory in my brain. If I
can just access that, everything else will come out in a rush.”
“Then you should
start reciting random words, like potato, beans, neem tree, Gaya, Kashi…one by
one, every word you know…”
“Don’t be silly,
that would make me more confused.”
Just then they a heard a rough voice, “Hey Gokul, hurry up.”
In reply someone
said, “Go ahead. I’ll catch up with you. Can’t you see I’m trying to light a
Danu and Nagen Ray
saw a short and a large sized man walking slowly by. The short guy was lighting
Danu said in low
voice, “Which one is Gokul?”
“I think the short
one. He should have a ‘with God’s help’ tattooed on his hand.”
“Wait a sec.” Danu
Nagen Ray was
annoyed, “You can’t handle it alone. There are two of them.”
“You tackle first,
then I will do the second one. Which one do you want?”
“The big guy. You go
Danu quickly caught
up with them and stood in front, blocking them, “Brother, can I borrow your
matches please? Need a cigarette bad.”
Gokul was a bit
annoyed, but pulled out the matchbox from his pocket and handed over to Danu.
The tattoo could be clearly seen on his right hand. Danu took the matches and
suddenly grabbed Gokul by the neck. And before the big guy could do anything,
Nagen Ray hit him on the neck from behind. The guy almost fell in faint, but
Nagen dragged him into the jungle. Gokul was struggling in Danu’s hand.
Deep in the jungle,
Nagen dropped the man on the ground. Danu pulled Gokul up, “What’s your
“What business is
that of yours?” Gokul hissed.
In reply, Danu flicked him hard on his cheek,
“We don’t reply. We only ask the questions.”
Gokul massaged his
cheek, “No need for physical violence. You will be sorry.”
“We do need that.
“I am Gokul, Gokul
“What do you do?”
“Various odds and
“Nagen noticed Gokul
was not looking at him in the eye. He kept looking away from him.
Now Nagen asked, “Do
you recognize me?”
“Danu slapped him
hard, “Look closely,”
Gokul didn’t look
up. Just said, “No, I don’t know you.”
“You do know him.
Because you have the tattoo on your hand. Now say the truth or we will bury you
alive right here. We are not nice folks.”
“How would I know?
I’ve never seen you!”
The next punch was
so hard that Gokul fell on the ground.
Nagen was annoyed,
“You know your problem Danu? You don’t know your limit. You have to be careful
while beating up a man. Now if he loses his memory due to your punch, what
would we do?”
“Don’t worry boss.
These guys are toughies. One punch wouldn’t do anything to them.”
Danu got a water
bottle from his bag and sprinkled some on Gokul’s face.
Gokul sat up and said sobbing, “I didn’t do
anything. I wasn’t even in the gang.”
Gokul shut up again,
“I don’t know.”
“You know what is
next for you?’ Danu said, “we will hang you upside down from that tree. All
your blood will pool in your brain and you will die slowly.”
“I told you I wasn’t
in their gang.”
“Then who was?”
“Raghu, Raju, Nyara,
Bateshwar, Katu, those guys.”
Danu pointed to
Nagen Ray, “Now do you recognize this man?”
Gokul bowed his head
and stared at the ground.
“Are you going to
confess or you need some more treatment?”
“I do know him. But
he looks different now.”
“Who is he?”
Danu cast a quick
glance at Nagen, who was frowning at Gokul.
“Why did you beat
him?” asked Danu.
“I never beat him,”
Gokul wiped his tears, “Those guys did.”
“Because of his son.
He wasn’t telling us where his son was.”
“Yes. Rupesh Chowdhury.”
Nagen Ray suddenly
clutched his head in his hands and flopped on the ground. His eyes were shut.
He kept mumbling something, “Throne, the throne…”
Danu cast a quick glance
at Nagen Ray, and then turned back to Gokul, “Where is Rupesh Chowdhury now?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t wish to
live, do you? If you do, you better tell us all, or else!”
“He is under
“Why with him?”
“That I don’t know.”
“I know you guys
wanted to kill Bhabesh Chowdhury. For that you should be punished by hanging.
How about if we do the hanging right here?”
“But I didn’t try to
Abidyathakur want from Rupesh Chowdhury?”
“Don’t know for
sure, but the rumor is that Rupesh knows where the royal treasure is hidden.”
“That means he is
“Not quite arrest,
but they are in the same house.”
Danu stood up and
pulled up Nagen, “Up boss. We don’t have much time to think. Got a lot of work.
Are you remembering everything now?”
Nagen stared at him
vacantly, “I think so. Rather haphazardly, but I think I remember.”
“You are Bhabesh
Chowdhury, not Nagen Ray. Remember?”
“You have a son,
Danu looked at the
guy still on the ground, “Your punch has really conked out this guy. Probably
he will sleep whole night. What shall we do with him?”
Nagen Ray, alias
Bhabesh Chowdhury said, “We may need him for more info.”
Danu also pulled up
Gokul, “Watch closely the people walking in the street, and tell us who are in
said, “But that will put me in danger.”
“Right now you are
in more serious danger.”
Two hefty guys like body
builders were walking by, Gokul pointed them out, “They are Raghu and Nobu.”
walked up to them and stopped them. Before they realized what was happening,
Danu punched Raghu in the jaw and hammered his fist into Nobu.
When he dragged both
of them in the jungle next to the first unconscious guy, Gokul’s eyes grew wide
and round, “Who are you?”
“We are very bad
people,” said Danu with great regret, ”Perhaps even worse than you guys.”
Gokul stared in
terror, but didn’t say any more.
Bhabesh asked, “How
many such guys are in your gang?”
Gokul counted, “Sir,
perhaps twelve or thirteen.”
Danu said, “Boss
this may take awhile then.”
Bhabesh said, “Don’t
be silly. Every gang has a few leader type men, perhaps four or five. The rest
are all sheep. Well Gokul, how many such are in your gang?”
Gokul now looked at
them with great respect, “You are absolutely right. Most guys in Abidyathakur’s
gang are hired goons. The leader types are only five. Out of which three are
lying here unconscious. That leaves only Preetam and Jharua.”
“Where will they be
“Must be resting,
after lunch. There is a gig tonight in Hariharpur.”
“Do they have cell
“Preetam has, Jharua
“Then call Preetam
on his cell and tell him he has a visitor from his hometown. Waiting under the
“If he asks who it
“Just say an old
Gokul took out a
cheap cell phone from his pocket and whispered something in it. Then told
Bhabesh, “Coming. Thought it is his father visiting.”
Bhabesh looked at
Danu, “Do you know that you have to break a bone if you want to put a man out
Danu said, “Even
kids know that. But which bone?”
“Jaw and kneecap.”
A little later,
Preetam came out of his house busily into the street.
He was built strong,
with red eyes and wild hair. Danu grabbed him hard by the neck. He was so
surprised that his mouth remained open and the surprised ‘Ah’ became an
agonized one as he fell unconscious.
Gokul looked at him
pitifully, “What now?”
“Come with us to
Jharua’s house and call out ‘There is a snake in the house!’”
Gokul stood in front
of Jharua’s house and yelled, “Jharua! Hey Jharua.”
face appeared in the window downstairs.
“Why are you yelling for me?”
“There is a snake
entering in your house! I saw just now!”
Jharua stepped out of his door and immediately got caught in pincer like holds
by both Bhabesh and Danu. One experienced chop from Danu and a calculated kick,
and he too fell unconscious.
Bhabesh pulled out
his heavy pistol and with Gokul and Danu, entered Abidyathakur’s house. He ordered
Gokul to call Abidyarhakur out, “Tell him we have important business with him.”
Gokul knocked on the
closed door next to the staircase, “Abidyathakur, please come out. We have
something important to discuss.”
As soon as Abidyathakur
peeped out of the door, Danu yanked him out.
“What is this? Who
pointed his gun at him, “Call all your goons.”
“Why? What’s going
“First call them.”
Hearing all the
noise, a few robbers came out. As soon as they saw guns, their aggressive looks
said, “I am giving you exactly three minutes to disappear from this village,
for good. Otherwise blood will flow!”
Danu raised his
pistol and fired an empty shot at the wall. A slab of plaster fell off.
Immediately all the goons started rushing out. Long before three minutes all
ten or twelve bandits disappeared from the village.
Abidyathakur sat on
the floor trembling.
Danu looked at him
with contempt, “Boss, is this guy the gang leader?”
pleading with them, “Please don’t kill me. Please!”
Bhabesh asked him, “Remember
me Abidyathakur? You sent those goon to kill me, didn’t you?”
at Bhabesh, then sobbed out, “Bhabesh? Not me! Never! I was trusted by you, how
could I be unfaithful?”
“You know what
happens to rotten Brahmins? Untouchables, outcastes. No amount of penance can
his face in his wrapper and wailed loudly.
A tall, slim boy was
coming down the stairs. He stopped half way to take in the scene in front.
Danu was staring at
the boy, “He looks like your spitting image, boss! Perhaps not as fair as you.
No need to ask who he is!”
Bhabesh too was
staring at him gravely, “Yes, there is a need. I’ve lost many things. Perhaps will
never get them back.”
The boy stood still,
then said, “I am Bholu!”
A severe headache
swamped Bhabesh. He shut his eyes and leaned on the wall for balance. Then
“Who is your father?”
“I am Bhabesh
Chowdhury’s son Rupesh Chowdhury. I think I know who you are, but can’t believe it. Are you my
father? And you are really alive?”
“No, my son. I am
not completely alive. Much of me have died. I had forgotten you. I had
forgotten even myself.”
“I remember you
carrying me on your shoulder, when we fled the village. I fell asleep on your
shoulder. You must have suffered carrying me such a distance. I heard that you
almost died trying to save my life.”
“I didn’t suffer at
“These guys brought
me here to help find the royal treasure. I am wondering, is there really any
need for it?”
“Yes, Bholu, there
is. These greedy criminals will always be after you till you find this
treasure. They will never leave you in peace. You will always be in
danger. That is why it is better to be
rid of this damned thing for once and all.”
That night, Bholu,
Bhabesh, Danu, Baburam, Brahmagopal and Gadai Khatik gathered in the dark in
the court room of the palace. A few flashlights flickered around the room.
“Well, what do you think?”
Bholu said softly,
“Yes, day before, I sat on this throne for a long time. I feel if there is any
clue, it is hidden somewhere in this throne. Pass me that trident, uncle.”
“Sure. It is yours
Bholu inserted the
trident in the hole on top of the back of the throne. First nothing happened.
But after pushing it deeper, the round disc fell off the back with a clatter.
Under it was a keyhole.
Bholu said, “Now the
“Here you are,”
Brahmagopal handed him the key.
inserted the key and as he turned it the throne suddenly went at least four
inches deep in the ground.
Then nothing else
happened. Everybody was keenly staring at the throne. Baburam suddenly spoke
up, “I know!”
still upset with Baburam about their ghosts. Now he grumbled, “What do you
Baburam said, “Come with
me. The treasure is not here.”
“Then where is it?”
house. Come, I’ll show you.”
He brought everyone
to the northwest corner of the garden, near a weed covered area. “There is a
stone slab under these weeds. You can’t guess from outside. Shine the light
There indeed was a
stone slab. Gadai said, “Wish we had a crowbar.”
They brought in a
few crowbars and sticks and pried the slab off the hole underneath. It was a
large hole, about six or seven foot deep, and within it were four large wooden
said, “See, didn’t I tell you?”
grumbled, “Hmph! Who brought the trident and the key?”
After a lot of effort, they managed to get the
heavy boxes out and bring them in the courtroom. They were very old boxes and
the wood at the bottom was rotting in places. The lids were opened easily with
the crowbars. What they saw in the flashlight didn’t really surprise anyone.
They all had expected something like this. All four boxes were crammed with old
gold jewelries, gold coins and golden utensils.
Bholu asked his dad,
“Do we need to declare all this to the government?”
Bhabesh said, “No.
Once government gets it, it will remain tied up in red tape for ever and will never
come to any use of anybody.”
“Wealth can be used in many ways. You can enjoy it yourself or use it for the
good of others. Using it on yourself would bring joy to one or two people,
using it for others would bring joy to many people in the village. Now you
decide what you want to do.”
Bholu paused for a
moment, the said, “Then let’s use it for all.”