It was now about nine O’clock of the first working day of the week, with clouds hanging back and low. The atmosphere in the room was equally dull. Amid formal greeting session, one of the colleagues took his seat facing us with wrinkled forehead with crestfallen looks on his hanged face. It was obvious that something was eating up his affluent tissues of intellect and no one bothered to ask. After the dust settled he sighed deeply and attracted our attention.
One of the colleagues sitting just opposite to him asked politely and innocently, “why do you look dejected”.
He roared back, “Don’t you know”.
Everyone around felt as if a gruesome and repugnant cloudburst vibrated the room, a cry of hopelessness passed and he unbuttoned his heart like the pigeon just released from the old man’s cage to get pleasure from the enormity of the majestic blue.
The words gushed like a singing brook, smoothly and softly. In a voice much intense than dejection, he declared in a filmy style by holding his face in the hands that no holiday falls in this week. We laughed indecently, slapping each other, holding collars, knocking at each other down to register our madness. He kept silent for he was watching our madness and in a very low voice whispered.
“It was just a joke.”
This passing reference deteriorated the situation for we never believed in his incorruptibility, for he manufacture jokes at will and makes everyone to feel the rush within their veins. He expresses the whole gamut of emotions, from happiness to sorrow in the same tune. For most of my colleagues he was the one who lacks variety and variation. His smile and sadness seems alike.
Most often we suggested him to use his creativity in more constructive and all-encompassing ways. His answer as always would call all the sleeping owls out to laugh. He would laugh when others would sigh and sigh when others would add spice in their mood. He would consider himself as a citizen of fairy land with angels singing to keep his spirit up. He talks sense when claptrap conversations reach nowhere and vice versa.
A gentle man in the corner was seriously scanning the newspaper thus irritated him for he was like a third empire watch the proceedings off screen while the real thrill was on in the field, his calm and serious looks annoyed him to the extent that he directly approached him with some sharp words. Without any shilly-shallying, the joking machine declared that he can bear the wound at the heart but not on the stomach, for the gentle man was munching behind the paper. The avowal crushed the glass that we lying on the table.
The poor glass of the staff room had till date served many. For a smoker, it was ashtray. And for few the poor glass had served them whenever they had asked for so called a ‘glass of water’, which till date is mystery for the reason no one knows where from the gentle peon fetched the water. And for evaluators the poor glass was used as paper weight to over burden the answer script lacking relevant content on one hand and on the other carrying too much trash for the reason better known to highly creative and super sensitive mind behind the script. This super creative zeal to our joke making machine has always dished up his think tank. He would scrutinize the trash like a jeweler to find the latent symmetry from a stone. His semi permeable thinking would amazingly derive meaning out of trash and at times he would compel the evaluators to approve unimaginable concoctions.
Like his unending shaggy dog stories, his pretence would go on like his fairy world endless days with eternal sunshine in the course of rainbows and drizzle. One thing that made him a special one in the staff room was he would apply a balm of merriment to any wound. In whatever condition he may be his strange expressions hard to distinguish and impossible to recognize would leave you high and dry. His smile and sighs were alike.
At times we would nudge each other to comment on his eccentric expressions and he would out rightly declare “Your books have only made you puppets”
He proved his statement true when one day he openly declared his disease.
No one spoke; the staff room looked like a dead corpse before us, the walls appeared sooty though recently white washed against the money collected from the absent students as ‘fine’. Every one chilled in their chairs. We looked at each other, but he laughed. His maiden laughter shocked everyone. He pushed the window and steer at the blue sky for a while, rolled his hand over his head, sat silently at the window side and God knows how he uttered those words in much touching tune: ‘Last stage’
Everyone pushed their chairs in the directions varied and surrounded him with more love, with moist eyes and sighs. He sighed, his sighs this time couldn’t hide his tears, and they rolled down his cheeks. He wept bitterly. We tried to console but he preferred to let his much condensed pain flow out of his burdened breast.
Then all of a sudden he lifted his ached body, looked round and announced “How was the joke”.