Sukhomoy Samaddar is the English teacher in the local Bengali Senior Secondary school. He is that character which does not evoke any curiosity; he can be in a party physically without getting noticed by the host. In short, to most people, he simply does not exist. He, however, is an excellent English teacher to those students that are eager to learn. The backbenchers neither cared about him nor did he ever try to discipline them. He is the quintessential non confronting Bengali Babu. So it was quite contrary to his character that he went to see the latest Hollywood movie that evening. He had asked a few acquaintances about the story but all of them had advised him to go and see the film himself. Now that he has seen it, he is repenting it badly. Sukhomoy can’t even sleep at night.
Sukhomoy Samaddar is a confirmed bachelor. It is not that he did not try but somehow none of the women he met wanted to become Mrs. Samaddar. So after a while, he stopped trying. He lives alone in a two bedroom house with sufficiently large garden with coconut, mango and jackfruit trees besides a rose patch that his parents had left behind for him. A housekeeping lady by the name of Sandhya, comes in the morning to clean and cook for him.
Sukhomoy Samaddar had a very bad sleep the evening he went to see the movie. The story of the movie has been playing on his mind ever since he came out the theatre, particularly the two ferocious dogs or rather the spirit of the dogs. How they avenged the murder of their master by crooked nephew is the gist of the movie. The barking of the dogs is constantly ringing in his ears. He had kept all the doors and windows closed but somehow he had a feeling that some dogs are barking just outside his bedroom door. Sukhomoy’s fear of dogs is from the childhood when the local street dog Bholu in his playful gesture had jumped on him and he had a near heart attack. Bholu is long gone and now there is pack of 4 dogs that have terrorised him to no end. Sukhomoy at all times carries his umbrella which not only comes handy in rains and scorching sun but as a deterrent to these dogs as well.
In the morning, well after the sun shone bright, Sukhomoy, mustered enough courage to come out on his porch and checked the garden but there was no sign of any dogs anywhere. Sukhomoy sighed relief and went on to make tea for himself. As he took a sip from his cup sitting on his easy-chair in the porch, he could again hear the barking of the dog. This time very loud and clear and from somewhere close-by. Sukhomoy froze in his chair, he barking sound was coming from the garden where the coconut trees are lined. He tried to look for the dog but couldn’t make out. He got up and went inside closing the doors and windows. He decided to take the day off from school and called from his landline. He said about not feeling too well and the Principal was very concerned and advised him to take rest for as many days that he wanted. Sukhomoy has never taken any holidays in the last 20 years of his teaching job.
Sukhomoy was startled when the calling bell rang; cautiously he went to open the door. Sandhya, his housekeeper cum cook was at the door. He ushered her in and immediately closed the door. Sandhya felt a bit odd but did not say anything. She went about her job of cleaning. She was opening the windows when very uncharacteristically Sukhomoy shouted at her, “Don’t open the windows.” Sandhya was taken aback and looked at him askance. But Sukhomoy did not elaborate. Sandhya decided that the man is getting old and without a wife around is getting senile. She kept a watchful eye on him for any tell tale eccentricities. Sukhomoy sat on the living room couch trying to concentrate on the book he has been reading. When Sandhya finished her work and asked him if anything else was required, he said no and locked the door after her departure.
Sukhomoy got engrossed in the book and lost all sense of time. The call bell rang again and so did the barking of dogs. Sukhomoy was sure that the spirits the dogs from the movie have come to take revenge from him but he couldn’t be sure as to what wrong he has done. Sukhomoy started to perspire and could feel a stinging pain in his chest. He thought he was going to die, his mouth was dry and could not even shout for help. But who will come to help him from the spirits of the dogs, he thought. He tried hard to remember if he has ever hurt any dogs in his life but other than shooing them out with his umbrella he has never even thrown a stone at any of the street dogs. Sukhomoy didn’t know what to do; he kept sitting on the couch sweating profusely.
The bell rang again and this time accompanied by a voice “Sir, are you home? I am Keshto.” Hearing the voice, Sukhomoy felt a bit assured and got up to open the door. Keshto is local jack-of-all-trade and comes to Sukhomoy regularly for odd jobs like getting the tender coconuts or the ripe mangoes from the tree. Keshto gave him a big teethe smile with his paan stained teeth and said “Sir, did you see my mobile phone? I had come yesterday to take down the tender coconuts; maybe I have left it here by mistake.” Sukhomoy felt irritated and said, “I don’t know, you check it yourself.” Just then the barking of the dogs started again and it came from the garden. Keshto was all smiles as he said, “Sir the phone is here only” and rushed to the garden. Keshto climbed up one of the coconut trees like a monkey and came down quickly holding his mobile phone. He came to Sukhomoy and said “Now I remember, yesterday when I was plucking the tender coconuts, I had received a call and kept the phone on the tree top. Then I forgot to take it with me while climbing down.” “But how did you know the phone is on the tree over there?” asked Sukhomoy, a little perplexed. Keshto again gave a teethe smile and said, “He he Sir, the caller tune gave me the location.” Before he could elaborate further, his mobile ranged and the dogs started barking right in front of Sukhomoy. Keshto answered his call and thereafter said, “Sir this barking sound is the new caller tune in the market. This is from the soundtrack of the latest English movie. My son downloaded it yesterday only and made it my caller tune.”
Sukhomoy was speechless for a moment; he couldn’t believe that the caller tune of phone had almost given him the heart attack!!!
Then he remembered, Keshto had asked for 500 rupees yesterday and he had asked him to come this day. He took out a 500 rupees currency and gave it Keshto. “Why did you install such an odd caller tune? Nobody keeps barking sound as caller tune, just change this immediately.” Keshto agreed to change it once he gets home as his son only knows how to do.
Sukhomoy sat down on the couch and felt hungry; he had forgotten to eat his lunch.