The last day he was home, there had been no occasion as such. Yet, his mother had prepared a feast. For, Kalitada was leaving that day after staying with them for close to two months. Diganta had already lost his taste and appetite. His mind was in turmoil. He had talked to Kalitada about the plan at length. Yet, he did not have the courage to tell his mother or anyone else in the family. He had asked Mukul to break the news after he was gone.
That year, Diganta had joined the Barpeta College. He was not particularly interested in higher studies, except for the math paper. He loved mathematics, especially algebra. He could spend hours together reading the math textbooks, playing with the numbers inside his head. But travelling to town everyday just to attend the math class was not practical. Instead, he helped his father and elder brother in the field.
A few months later, Kalitada had come to live with them. Those were dangerous times. The state was under President’s rule. The green Army jeeps were roaming everywhere. The boys from the Organisation were in hiding; the villagers helped them in any way they could. Kalitada came to share Diganta’s room.
Diganta knew about the Organisation, but never really gave it a thought till he met Kalitada, who in turn revealed to Diganta the purpose of his life. Freedom. Sovereignty. First we need to save our land from the clutches of the Indian government machinery, other things later, Kalitada had said. So, when it was time for Kalitada to leave, Diganta decided to accompany him, carrying with him just a pair of clothes, some money and his trigonometry textbook.
That was a long time ago. Now, he did not even remember his mother’s face. She was just an idea — an image of unconditional love, very much like this woman sitting next to him, who offered him a place to sit, despite the fact that she was uncomfortable. What did she see in him? Diganta could not fathom.
[Excerpts from a short story, titled ‘The Decision’, that I’m working on]