Story of a disappearance


Published in United Press International Asia News (UPI) blog.

"Did you hear? he disappeared at 1:30 a.m., the last night he was at work," informed my friend, one of his colleagues. When I heard this news, I felt suffocated, as
though the earth had crumbled. I remembered how he told me last month, "I can be proud only if I get a chance to marry your friend."  He spoke as he lit a cigarette, sitting on the balcony that evening. "You're in here. Will she save her youth for you there in her village, while you get old?" I asked satirically.

Ignoring my words, he turned south and looked out of the corner of his eyes, saying at length, "She is a woman like a flower. 'A son of a brave man either should do or die,' she would say. I came here swearing my love for her. Sometimes I become sad, because the image of her comes to my mind day and night." He finished his pack of cigarettes and creased his forehead. 

He was the most candid person in our city, so it could also be said that he had no enemies. Despite being exhausted, he would wake up early every morning before the cock crowed, but that day he seemed to be in a cheerless mood. I teased him, "Why are you worried? Soon you will take your leave of twenty-five days, go to the village and get married there. The more you worry, the thinner you become, so you should spend your days cheerfully, to keep from looking old."  He was like a brother to me. "One needs to have patience in love," said our friend, abstractedly, while sitting beside us sipping tea.

He said, "I am ready to wait even my whole life for your friend. If anyone even says the name 'her,' I blank out." After speaking these words, he left us and went to his room. We guessed he hadn't enjoyed our joking manner, which had made his heart ache bitterly. Last year, her mother had told me, "If she gets married to someone of her own choice, my husband has sworn by the water of the rivers that he would not look at her face again." I had responded, "Whoever she desires to get married with, we should let her." Her mother disagreed with my view. It is said that was the reason why she spread rumors about me in our city.

At the time of my departure from to home, she had said to me, "If he changes his mind, I will hang myself." I had told her, "One needs to have faith in love. Otherwise the meaning of love becomes like pouring water in the sand. He, who was standing beside me, had said to her. "Don't worry,  I'm with you". Every evening, he would talk about quitting his job and going to city. "How will you bring her after quitting your job? You should not get frustrated in this way." I did not know how he would react to the advice I gave him. 

"If my mother does not let me marry her, I will catch a bus coming straight back to my place. I bought a return ticket too," he told me, showing me the ticket. I had scolded him, saying, "Hey, how dare you buy a ticket without letting me know first? You should have talked to me if you were planning on going! If you do as you please, then I can do nothing." At that point, he had left my house without speaking a word to me. Much later, an early morning phone call from her had woken me up from sleep, "It has been five days since he promised to return, but there is no sign of him. Do you think he committed suicide?" I sensed that he had not informed her that he was coming late.

Weeks before, he had boasted to me, "I have bought four pair of cloths, wrist rings, powder, a hair ribbon and scented hair oil for your friend. How do you think she will look with these cosmetics? The day after tomorrow, before the cock crows, I will leave for the home town." So, when my close fried Chandra told me over the phone, " Our friend disappeared at 1:30 a.m. last night, Kamala," I had nearly fainted and could hardly speak to him." He went on, " Maybe he is already dead, we don't know." I don't even know if he is alive or dead. After he disappeared,she also committed suicide in our home town this year. I feel lonely without them.
(Revised article)