January 22, 2018

The Missing Link-I

Short Story

Short Story

The Missing Link

by Shahinur Islam

Anik was sitting on the chair of their balcony for quite a few hours, staring at the cover page of the magazine in his hand. But he was seeing something else as eyes usually cannot see without mind. In this state, man sees the past and present, of which the former dominates.  To see the present, eyes should be connected with mind. Every sane person has the ability to connect them. But he lost this ability at this moment, so he was walking down the alleys of the past with his eyes on the magazine.

In the childhood of his motherland, he had heard from someone that horses lay eggs. After he had come home, he demanded to his father he need some eggs of a horse.

He had been sick of hen eggs. Besides, he had already eaten the eggs of a hen, a duck, a heron, a dove as well. But he had never touched a horse egg, much less eat it. Who knew how delicious it was.

Dad could not lie to him, so he tried to convince Anik that birds, hens, ducks, snakes, and even insects lay eggs, but horses never lay. Like humans and other mammals, horses also bear their kids. Anik still was not convinced at all. He thought Dad would not buy him horse eggs, so he was trying to skip. After Anik’s many insistences, Dad was compelled that day to buy him a big toy egg to pacify.

When he remembered this incident, his lip corners twitched a bit.

However, the tide of his cry swelled up again; the naughty memories were merely a short break from it. Most of his memories held the unnecessary hurting to the man of the cover. When he came back from those memories, he repented he could but hurt him. If he was a little bit sensible that time!

His every repentance as a river seemed to flow into the sea, for which it was overflowing and causing shocking waves. But this time the magazine in his hand was sending more shocking waves than the sea and victimizing him to tidal surge, which was overflowing his heart and wetting the beach of his eyes with its ruffling waves.

Unbeknown to him, water plopped down onto the magazine cover. As soon as two drops fell on the picture, he seemed to come to his senses. Now he looked at the sky to check if it was raining. No, no clouds! He came back to himself and felt the sticky, salty water rolling down from eyes to cheeks. Now he sat tightly on the chair and, carefully, held up the magazine where the tear-flow could not reach as this very page was now more valuable to him than his own tear-shedding.

He noticed there were two words printed on the top, each word having three letters. The shape of two words bespoke the man’s name of the picture. Anik had known the name for a long time; so to speak, he had been living with it even before his birth, especially with its pronunciation.

All of a sudden, a gentle tune came to play in air. As if a shooting star was falling from the sky while someone was gazing at the Seven Sisters in the sky. After he listened to the tune for a few seconds, he got stunned. He pricked his eyes and found it well known. ‘O Motherland! I bow down on you.’ This song his dad would often listen to and croon. Thanks to Dad, he inherited only two Bangla songs. The other one was ‘My Bengal of gold, I love you.’

But the song was not supposed to play here. The English or French music would resonate the air here. He concentrated on it a bit more, and discovered that it was playing from the pocket of his own pants. He put his left hand into the pocket and saw it was really so. Only three days ago, he downloaded Dad’s favourite song on his phone. Now he somehow pressed the phone and it started playing.

He stopped the song and put back the phone into his pocket. After that, he turned over the cover page, entered into the magazine, and noticed all the writings had made up parallel lines with three columns, each one carrying a separable bar. These types of bars had made up the imaginary parallel lines.

He ran his fingers adorably through all the lines of the page, then moved up to three pages, and did the same, but came back and fixed his eyes on the cover picture.

The picture gave him some relief only; the writings made him worn-out, so he returned to the cover photo after riffling pages.

What an immeasurable affection the picture was pouring! A live look. A smile-beamed face. Who would say he was now only a cover photo?

After a moment, Anik threw an indifferent look at the sky, which gave him neither shelter nor any relief, so he turned to the picture again and again. How many words he had with it!

Again, he flipped over an inner page and played his fingers affectionately on other writings and thought—perhaps all the writings here were on him as the editor had said to him.

He went back to the first page inside the magazine and noticed here were also two words of the same shapes as the cover page, though in the smaller shapes than the cover. He took it for granted that it had been written by the man of the picture. Out of great love and esteem, he touched it profoundly, hugged it tightly, and even kissed it with his lips. He said to himself, “I can’t talk to him any more in person but in imagination with his memories. Maybe, his writings could make a live communication, but it’s not possible, either.”

Now the man was speaking to Anik what not, and would speak only this way as of now. But he understood nothing of it. It would be a different issue if it was illegible; it could easily be agreed to if he had no education at all. After all, he was a highly educated man, working at a government office, too. Many immigrant parents failed to educate their kids in such a manner without their own will as the education and social system here did not allow forcing anything  on the kids against their will. But his parents had inspired, motivated, and instructed him enough to be established in life.

Despite his parents’ contribution to his education, he could not read the writings of the magazine. Never before had he felt the necessity to read the writings of the man. Now when he felt it, he did not have the ability and skill in his box.

No, he did not wear glasses. He turned forty only last year. He was not blind either, nor would he lose concentration when he started reading. There were around two hundred books in their room: philosophy, science, literature, etc. There were also quite a few numbers of journals and magazines published in different countries. Though most of them were written in English, some books were in Bangla, too.  Of all books, the man of the cover had ten books written in Bangla and three journal writings in English.

Anik had never read the research works of the journals as their contents had not attracted him ever, so he’d only gone through their titles, and skimmed through the covers of the books when published. But these books bound the man’s thoughts, sense of lie, life-history, reading of the world, outlook between covers. Perhaps the man lived very close to him; his thoughts, touch, and contact refrained Anik from the necessity to read his books. It proves that excessive proximity conceals and others some qualities of the near ones. A word still remains that if we get someone in person to communicate our ideas or emotions, who else takes pains to read the printed materials? But in a span of one week, his only medium of communication with his father was now his writings, which were now a useless recourse to Anik, in reality.

The magazine in his hand was out today. It was a special issue, for which the editor had urged all the close ones of the man to write some memoirs.  Some of those, who had really loved his father, responded to the editor’s call and wrote some memoir or something on the man within their hectic time.

Click here to read The Missing Link-II


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