Atanu’s Hon’ble / Short story by Manab Manik

Manab Manik

Manab Manik is a bilingual poet and short story writer whose poems and stories have been published in India, Australia, Canada, USA, Belgium both online and print. His poetry books ‘Dreams Shattered and Other Poems’ and ‘My Poetic Offering’ published in 2019 have got great critical responses in India and beyond. He also writes haikus which are receiving popularity among the readers. His stories like Wilde’s and Tagore’s draw tears of the readers. Recently Manab is teaching English literature at Mugbasan Hakkania High School about 70 miles away from Kolkata in India.


Atanu’s Hon’ble

Atanu could not go to school for two successive days. As soon as he goes to school on the third day the headmaster almost rushes at him. For taking leave without previous information the hon’ble becomes angry and fiery. He is asking other assistant teachers where Atanu babu is. Before prayer when the hon’ble goes on delivering the words of the ten notices and the right hand busy in itching below, Atanu is signing in the attendence register. After prayer when Suva babu and Tarak babu speak of Atanu-searching of the hon’ble, Atanu heads towards the head sir’s room to know the matter. Discovering Atanu in front of his room, the hon’ble roars from the centre of the campus —

“I ‘ll write medical leave of your two days’ leave”.
“Sir, I came to inform you for leave on Saturday”.
“But . . . ” (Stopping him).
“Yours ‘ll be medical leave” (Rolling eyes).
“Sir, I couldn’t find you in my off period. Coming twice. . . . ” (Again stopping him).
“Indeed, you didn’t inform me in advance”.
“I did come to tell you. On Saturday in the last period you ‘re teaching even after the ringing of the bell !”
“You . . . ” (Again interrupting).
“Sir, I ‘ve to catch the bus on time”.
“I don’t know that. Yours ‘ll be medical leave”.
Head sir’s words ‘Yours ‘ll be medical leave ‘ are as if a master’s telling his servant ‘I ‘ll cut your two days’ wages’. Now Atanu became angry. Four or five including the clerks and the peons are present in headmaster’s room. All are listening to silently.

Head sir is such an expert and seasoned that he controls office with some, even though he has a personal room. Again he has been calculating his own new increased salary for some days with a little itching. Again even the students covertly whispers that head sir will have to use B- TEX. Even in prayer he has to itch. Even head sir’s wife also teaches English in that school. Some say, husband and wife are running the school. How much humiliation they once gave Atanu about examining the answer papers of class eleven !!! How much insult by the husband and wife separately! Joining the school as a new teacher, while examining the answer papers of students, Atanu penned through the expression ‘committed suicide’ of Lady Macbeth. The students say that they have read head sir’s notes. Head sir is angry like fire. Again the wife of the hon’ble, showing the book of H.S Council, goes on teaching, “Understood Atanu babu? Understand what am I saying?”
“Wow! They have made hotchpotch out of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ and Charles and Mary Lamb. The successors of Lamb and Shakespeare will die of laughter indeed !!!”
Again the hon’ble writes every notice twice. How beautiful even after this !!! It is as if the English vocabulary went up, increased !!! Many new words !!! Shakespeare gave about twenty one thousand and Milton about eight thousand words. He too is increasing the vocabulary !!!

Now Atanu said in a loud voice —
“Yes Mr.! Write medical leave, medical leave”.
“I ‘ll do it later. Why are you speaking in a loud voice?”
“How shall I say then? You haven’t listened to my words from the beginning. You say nothing to those who don’t obey you, do everything according to their will. Be it meeting or examination you can say nothing, nothing to those leaving school before the right time. And you ‘re hissing in my case. How many shall I say?”
“You ‘re speaking beyond subject”.
“Speaking rightly. A man without conscience you ‘re !”

Opening the attendance register, Atanu hands it to the hon’ble and tells him to write medical leave. Then head sir snatches away the attendance register. Atanu’s voice becomes inaudible and weak and eyes flash with tears. Now the roaring of the hon’ble spreads, as if the building is shaking. Coming back to the staff room, Atanu breaks down in tear. Atanu’s hon’ble has forgotten days, months, years. The calendar says, there is no more time. Afternoon came rolling. Like the previous head sirs this head sir too will be none to earth in this world of time. Only his chair, pride, ego and vanity will be left.

Note: B-TEX is an ointment used to cure itching.

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