- Books Name
- Yash Tyagi Coaching English Book
- ACERISE INDIA
- CBSE Class 8
Bepin Choudhury's Lapse of Memory
By Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray wrote Bepin Choudhury's Lapse of Memory. It follows the journey of a man named Bepin Babu, who is faced with a very unique problem: he has lost his memory of a single incident from 1958, when he went to Ranchi with a friend. Except for him, no one remembers his trip to Ranchi. As the story progresses, he realises that it was a punishment from an old friend named Chunilal, whom he did not assist during his difficult times.
Bepin Choudhury, also known as Bepin Babu, went to Kalicharan's after work every Monday to stock up on books to last a week. He lived alone, didn't have many close friends, and disliked idle talk. On one such Monday, while looking for his books at Kalicharan's, a man named Parimal Ghose addressed him as if he knew Bepin Babu. Bepin Babu was unfamiliar with him. When Bepin Babu visited Ranchi in 1958, the man claimed to have seen him. Bepin Babu, on the other hand, had never been to Ranchi.
He had been unable to visit the place despite his desire, so he told the man that he had been mistaken. But the man knew a lot about Bepin Babu and wouldn't stop talking. Bepin Babu left the shop and drove along Ganga. He was a hardworking man with a responsible job at a large firm. It was difficult for him to believe that he could not recall such a significant event in his life, especially one that occurred six to seven years ago. He didn't want to think about what the man had said, but he couldn't help himself. He thought of paying a visit to his friend Dinesh Mukerji, who the man claimed was with him on the trip. But he did not go to see him because he did not want to be embarrassed in front of him.
According to Bepin Babu, he was in Kanpur for the Pujas and stayed at his friend Haridas' house. He considered confirming with him, but remembered that he had moved to Japan and did not have his new address. He was finally at ease after dinner when he snuggled in bed with his new book. He didn't think about clearing this on call with Dinesh Mukerji until the next day in the office before lunch. Dinesh also mentioned that they both visited Ranchi in October 1958. Bepin Babu became increasingly concerned. Chunilal, an old friend of his, came to see him that evening.
Bepin Babu knew he had come to ask for help with a job that Bepin Babu had told him had little chance of success. He told his servant to send him away, but then he realised he could ask Chunilal about his journey. Chunilal, too, remembered the trip and claimed to have purchased tickets to Ranchi for it. Bepin Babu realised he had been working too hard and went to see a doctor. He goes to see Dr. Chanda, but his case is outside of his experience and expertise.
Nonetheless, he suggested that he visit Ranchi once again. Bepin Babu reserved a first-class ticket to Ranchi. He realised he had never been to this place as soon as he stepped off the train. When he went to see Hudroo Falls, two Gujrati gentlemen who had come to picnic with a group found him unconscious. When Bepin Choudhury awoke, he realised there was no hope left for him and returned to Calcutta.
When he returns home, he receives a letter from Chunilal outlining how Chunilal planned the entire punishment for Bepin Babu for being unfeeling towards an old friend when he was in need. When the doctor comes to see him, Bepin Babu tells him that his memory is fine now and that he needs a pain killer for his hip pain from a fall in Ranchi. The doctor describes it as "a unique case."
Every Monday, on his way back from work, Bepin Choudhury would drop in at Kalicharan’s in New Market to buy books. Crime stories, ghost stories and thrillers. He had to buy at least five at a time to last him through the week. He lived alone, was not a good mixer, had few friends, and didn’t like spending time in idle chat. Today, at Kalicharan’s, Bepin Babu had the feeling that someone was observing him from close quarters. He turned round and found himself looking at a round-faced, meek looking man who now broke into a smile. “I don’t suppose you recognize me.”
- Thrillers- a novel, play or film with an exciting plot, typically involving crime or espionage
- Close quarters- very near to a person or thing
- Idle chat- unnecessary; routine conversation
- Meek- quiet; humble
Bepin Choudhury made a habit of stopping at Kalicharan's in New Market to buy books on his way home from work every Monday. He usually bought crime, ghost, and thriller novels. He purchased at least five books to keep him entertained at home for a week. He lived alone and had few friends because he was not very sociable. He wasn't interested in wasting time on meaningless small talk. On that particular day, Bepin Babu felt as if someone was staring at him from a distance. As he turned to see who it was, he noticed a round-faced, humble-looking man staring back at him. When Bepin Babu made eye contact with him, the man began to smile and exclaimed that he did not expect Bepin Babu to recognise him.
“Have we met before?” asked Bepin Babu. The man looked greatly surprised. “We met every day for a whole week. I arranged for a car to take you to the Hudroo falls. In 1958. In Ranchi. My name is Parimal Ghose.” “Ranchi?” Now Bepin Babu realised that it was not he but this man who was making a mistake. Bepin Babu had never been to Ranchi. He had been at the point of going several times, but never made it. He smiled and said, “Do you know who I am?”
Bepin Babu asks the man if they have previously met. The man had a surprised expression on his face and tried to remind Bepin Babu of his identity. He told Babu that in 1958, they met every day for a week in Ranchi. He claimed to be Parimal Ghose and even stated that he arranged for a car to take Bepin Babu to the Hudroo falls. Bepin Babu realised it wasn't him who was mistaken when he heard "Ranchi," but the man who had never been to Ranchi. Despite the fact that he wanted to visit Ranchi and had planned to do so several times. Thus, he asked the man, Parimal, with a gentle smile, if he knew who he was.
The man raised his eyebrows, bit his tongue and said, “Do I know you? Who doesn’t know Bepin Choudhury?” Bepin Babu now turned towards the bookshelves and said, “Still you’re making a mistake. One often does. I’ve never been to Ranchi.”
When he heard Bepin Babu's response, the man bit his tongue and raised his eyebrows, asking, "Do I know you?" He went on to say that he wondered if anyone did not know Bepin Choudhury. Bepin Babu told him as he turned back towards the bookshelf that he was making a mistake and that it was perfectly normal for him to do so. One oftenly becomes confused. He declares that he has never visited Ranchi.
The man now laughed aloud. “What are you saying, Mr Choudhury? You had a fall in Hudroo and cut your right knee. I brought you iodine. I had fixed up a car for you to go to Netarhat the next day, but you couldn’t because of the pain in the knee. Can’t you recall anything? Someone else you know was also in Ranchi at that time. Mr Dinesh Mukerji. You stayed in a bungalow. You said you didn’t like hotel food and would prefer to have your meals cooked by a bawarchi. Mr Mukerji stayed with his sister. You had a big argument about the moon landing, remember? I’ll tell you more: you always carried a bag with your books in it on your sight-seeing trips. Am I right or not?”
- Bawarchi- hindi word for a cook
Bepin Babu's response made the man laugh, and he didn't believe a word he said. He goes on to explain how Bepin fell in Hudroo and cut his right knee, and how the man helped him with Iodine. He even mentioned that he had arranged for a car to take Bepin Babu to Netarhat the next day, but that he was unable to go due to knee pain. The man asks if he still has no recall of the trip. He goes on to tell them more about their trip. He tells Bepin Babu that he came with one of his friends, Mr Dinesh Mukerji, who was staying with his sister. Bepin Babu, on the other hand, stayed in a bungalow because he preferred having his meals prepared by a cook rather than eating hotel food. He also brings up Bepin Choudhury's debate about the moon landing. He asks if Bepin Babu remembers anything and then goes on to describe how Babu always carried a bag of books with him when he went sightseeing. He again asks Bepin Babu if the information he provided is right.
Bepin Babu spoke quietly, his eyes still on the books. “Which month in ’58 are you talking about?” The man said, “October.” “No, sir,” said Bepin Babu. “I spent Puja in ’58 with a friend in Kanpur. You’re making a mistake. Good day.” But the man didn’t go, nor did he stop talking.
- Spoke quietly- speaking in a calm and even tone
Bepin Babu, amazed by the precision of the man's details, asks him in a calm and even tone about the particular month of '58 he was referring to. Bepin Babu's gaze remained fixed on the books. The man stated that he is referring to the month of October. Bepin Babu immediately claims that he spent October of that year attending a puja with a friend in Kanpur. He assures the man that he has made a mistake and wishes him a pleasant day. But the man remained motionless and continued to talk.
“Very strange. One evening I had tea with you in a veranda of your bungalow. You spoke about your family. You said you had no children, and that you had lost your wife ten years ago. Your only brother had died insane, which is why you didn’t want to visit the mental hospital in Ranchi…”
The man goes on to say how unusual this is because he remembers having tea with Bepin Babu on his veranda in Ranchi and telling him about his family. The man describes Bepin Babu's family in detail and informs him that he has no children. He goes on to say that Bepin Babu told him that he lost his wife ten years ago and that his only brother died in a mental hospital in Ranchi, which is why he didn't want to go there.
When Bepin Babu had paid for the books and was leaving the shop, the man was still looking at him in utter disbelief
- Utter disbelief- complete surprise
Bepin Babu paid for his books and left the store without saying anything. Meanwhile, the man stared at him, bewildered.
Bepin Babu’s car was safely parked in Bertram Street by the Lighthouse Cinema. He told the driver as he got into the car, “Just drive by the Ganga, will you, Sitaram.” Driving up the Strand Road, Bepin Babu regretted having paid so much attention to the intruder. He had never been to Ranchi — no question about it. It was inconceivable that he should forget such an incident which took place only six or seven years ago. He had an excellent memory. Unless — Bepin Babu’s head reeled.
- Intruder- a person who intrudes
- Inconceivable- not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally; unbelievable
- Head reeled- he was shocked and confused
Bepin Babu walked over to his car, which was parked on Bertram Street near the Lighthouse Cinema. As he sat in the car, he instructed his driver, Sitaram, to take him along the Ganga. Bepin Babu felt immense regret as the driver drove up the Strand Road, having placed so much importance on the man. He knew he'd never been to Ranchi, and he was certain of it. He knew it was impossible for him to forget such a significant period in his life, especially one so recent. It had only been six to seven years, but he had no doubts about his perfect memory unless his head was shocked or confused.
Was he losing his mind? But how could that be? He was working daily in his office. It was a big firm, and he was doing a responsible job. He wasn’t aware of anything ever going seriously wrong. Only today he spoke for half an hour at an important meeting. And yet…
And yet the man knew a great deal about him. How? He even seemed to know some intimate details. The bag of books, wife’s death, brother’s insanity… The only mistake was about his having gone to Ranchi. Not a mistake; a deliberate lie. In ’58, during the Pujas, he was in Kanpur at his friend Haridas Bagchi’s place. All Bepin Babu had to do was write to — no, there was no way of writing to Haridas. Bepin Babu suddenly remembered that Haridas had left with his wife for Japan some weeks ago, and he didn’t have his address.
- Losing his mind- becoming mad
- Intimate- very personal and private
- Deliberate- done consciously and intentionally
Will it be apt to say that Bepin Babu was losing his mind? It was difficult to believe because he worked at a large firm and on a daily basis. He had a responsible job. Even if something was wrong, he had no idea that something serious was wrong with him. On that particular day, he spoke for only half an hour at an important meeting.
However, it is also true that the man knew a lot about Bepin Choudhury, including some very personal details. Details like his wife's death, a bag of books, and his brother's insanity are far too personal for a stranger to know. Except for the fact that Bepin Babu had visited Ranchi, the man was right. The man did not make a mistake, but he did tell a "deliberate lie." Bepon Babu was certain that he was in Kanpur during the Pujas in 1958, and that he stayed at the home of his friend Haridas Bagchi. Bepin Babu only needed to write to Haridas to settle the matter, but he suddenly remembered that he couldn't because he had moved to Japan with his wife a few weeks ago, and Bepin Babu didn't have his new address.
But where was the need for proof? He himself was fully aware that he hadn’t been to Ranchi — and that was that.
Then Bepin Babu thought that there was no need for proof because he was absolutely sure that he had never been to Ranchi.
The river breeze was bracing, and yet a slight discomfort lingered in Bepin Babu’s mind. Around Hastings, Bepin Babu decided to roll up his trousers and take a look at his right knee. There was the mark of an old inch-long cut. It was impossible to tell when the injury had occurred.
- Bracing- stimulating
- Lingered- spend a long time over something
- Hastings- rapidity of action or motion
The river breeze was comforting, but Bepin Babu's mind was still racing. In the midst of everything, he decided to roll up his pants to check for a mark on his right knee. He did find an inch-long cut, but determining the date of the injury was nearly impossible.
Had he never had a fall as a boy and cut his knee? He tried to recall such an incident, but couldn’t. Then Bepin Babu suddenly thought of Dinesh Mukerji. The man had said that Dinesh was in Ranchi at the same time. The best thing surely would be to ask him. He lived quite near — in Beninandan Street. What about going right now? But then, if he had really never been to Ranchi, what would Dinesh think if Bepin Babu asked for a confirmation? He would probably conclude Bepin Babu was going nuts. No; it would be ridiculous to ask him.
- Going nuts- going mad or crazy
He then began to wonder if he had ever fallen as a child and cut his knee. He couldn't recall ever injuring himself, no matter how hard he tried. Suddenly, he remembered that the man had also mentioned that Dinesh was in Ranchi with him. As a result, he decided to ask him about it. Beninandan Street, which was nearby, was where he lived. He was considering paying him a visit right now. But the thought of what Dinesh would think if he asked him about the trip, and the fact that he had never been to Ranchi, made him stop. He was afraid Dinesh would think Bepin had gone mad. So he didn't ask him because the idea was "ridiculous."
And he knew how ruthless Dinesh’s sarcasm could be. Sipping a cold drink in his air-conditioned living room, Bepin Babu felt at ease again. Such a nuisance! Just because they have nothing else to do, they go about getting into other people’s hair
- Ruthless- having or showing no pity or compassion for others
- Nuisance- a person or thing causing inconvenience or annoyance
- Getting into other people’s hair- to annoy or bother someone
Furthermore, Bepin Babu was well aware of Dinesh's mercilessness when he was being sarcastic. He finally felt at ease as he sipped his cold drink in the air-conditioned living room. He thought how irritating it was that people start bothering others simply because they don't have much to do.
After dinner, snuggling in bed with one of the new thrillers, Bepin Babu forgot all about the man in New Market. Next day, in the office, Bepin Babu noticed that with every passing hour, the previous day’s encounter was occupying more and more of his mind. If the man knew so much about Bepin Babu, how could he make such a mistake about the Ranchi trip?
- Snuggling- settle or move into a warm, comfortable position
He forgot about the strange man in the New Market as he snuggled in bed with one of his new thrilling books after dinner. But the next day at work, he realised that the previous day's incident was taking more of his attention with each passing hour. He began to wonder how the man could be wrong about the Ranchi trip if he knew even the most personal details about Bepin Babu.
Just before lunch Bepin Babu decided to ring up Dinesh Mukerji. It was better to settle the question over the phone; at least the embarrassment on his face wouldn’t show. Two-Three-Five-Six-One-Six. Bepin Babu dialled the number.
“Is that Dinesh? This is Bepin here.”
“Well, well — what’s the news?”
“I just wanted to find out if you recalled an incident which took place in’ 58.”
“’58? What incident?”
“Were you in Calcutta right through that year? That’s the first thing I’ve got to know.”
“Wait just a minute… ’58… just let me check in my diary.”
Bepin Babu decided to confirm with Dinesh Mukerji shortly before lunch. He reasoned that clearing the matter over the phone would save him from embarrassment in front of Dinesh. He dialled his phone number, 2-33-5-6. Dinesh answered the phone at one-six and said, "Hello." Bepin Babu confirmed whether or not it was Dinesh on the line. Dinesh responded by asking if he had any news. Bepin Babu didn't want to go round and round, so he asked him right away if he remembered what happened in 1958. Dinesh asked Bepin Babu to be more detailed. Bepin Babu inquired (indirectly) if he was in Calcutta that year. Dinesh advised him to check his diary for that detail.
For a minute there was silence. Bepin Babu could feel that his heartbeat had gone up. He was sweating a little.
“I’ve got it. I’d been out twice.”
“Where?” “Once in February — nearby — to Krishnanagar to a nephew’s wedding. And then… but you’d know about this one. The trip to Ranchi. You were there too. That’s all. But what’s all this sleuthing about?”
“No. I just wanted to — anyway, thanks.”
Bepin Babu slammed the receiver down and gripped his head with his hands. He felt his head swimming. A chill seemed to spread over his body. There were sandwiches in his tiffin box, but he didn’t eat them. He had lost his appetite.
- Sleuthing- carry out a search or investigation in the manner of a detective
Dinesh checked his diary, and there was silence between them. Bepin Babu could feel his heart rate going up and had begun to sweat at the time. Dinesh came back and resumed speaking. He admitted to Bepin Babu that he had gone out twice in 1958. When asked, Dinesh said he went out once in February to attend his nephew's wedding in Krishnanagar, and the second time he said Bepin Babu would know because he was there with him. They had travelled to Ranchi together.
Dinesh asked Bepin Babu the reason for his inquiry, to which he did not respond and hung up. He held his head with his hands, as if it head were swimming. He even got chills all over his body. He'd packed sandwiches in his tiffin box for lunch, but he didn't eat them because he'd lost his appetite.
After lunch-time, Bepin Babu realised that he couldn’t possibly carry on sitting at his desk and working. This had never happened in the twenty-five years he had been with the firm. He had a reputation for being a tireless, conscientious worker. But today his head was in a whirl.
- Carry on- continue
- Conscientious- careful and correct
- Head was in a whirl- confused and able to think clearly (here)
Bepin Babu realised after lunch that he couldn't keep sitting at his desk and working as if nothing had happened. This was so unusual that he had never seen anything like it in his twenty-five years with the company. He was well-known for his diligence and hard work. He couldn't think clearly today, unlike usual.
Back home at two-thirty, Bepin Babu lay down in bed and tried to gather his wits together. He knew that it was possible to lose one’s memory through an injury in the head, but he didn’t know of a single instance of someone remembering everything except one particular incident — and a fairly recent and significant one at that. He had always wanted to go to Ranchi; to have gone there, done things, and not to remember was something utterly impossible.
- Wits- intelligence
- Tried to gather his wits together- make an effort to become calm and think clearly
- Utterly- absolutely
Bepin Babu lay down in his bed at two-thirty in the afternoon, trying to calm down so that he could think clearly. He was well aware of the possibility of losing one's memory due to a head injury, but he had never heard of a case where one does not remember just one incident. He found it more difficult to believe because the incident he had forgotten was recent and significant. As previously stated, he had always wanted to go to Ranchi and do things, making it even more difficult for him to believe that he could forget about something he had wanted to do for a long time.
At seven-thirty, Bepin Babu’s servant came and announced, “Chuni Babu, sir. Says it’s very important.” Bepin Babu knew what Chuni had come for. Chunilal had been at school with him. He’d been having a rough time lately and had been coming to see him about a job. Bepin Babu knew it was not possible to do anything for him and, in fact, told him so. But Chuni kept turning up like a bad penny.
- Having a rough time- having a lot of problems
- Turning up like a bad penny- appearing at a place where one is not welcome
It was around 7:30 p.m. when Bepin Babu's house help arrived to inform him that Chuni Babu had come to see him about something important. But Bepin Babu knew exactly why he had come. They both went to school together, and Chuni Lal had been having a tough time, so he had come to seek assistance with a job. Bepin Babu had already told him that it would be difficult for him to help Chuni Lal find work, but Chuni Lal continued to visit his house. Bepin Babu especially in comparison him to a bad penny, implying that he was not well welcomed.
Bepin Babu sent word that not only was it not possible for him to see Chuni now, but not for several weeks. But as soon as the servant stepped out of the room, it struck Bepin Babu that Chuni might remember something about the ’58 trip. There was no harm in asking him.
Given the current situation, Bepin Babu communicated Chuni Lal that he would be unable to meet with him now or for the next few weeks. Bepin Babu had an idea as the servant left the room to deliver the message to Chuni Lal. He thought that there was no harm in asking about Chuni's Ranchi trip in 1958.
Bepin Babu hurried down the stairs and into the living room. Chuni was about to leave, but seeing Bepin Babu appear, he turned round hopefully. Bepin Babu didn’t beat about the bush. “Listen, Chuni – I want to ask you something. You have a good memory, and you’ve been seeing me off and on for a long time. Just throw your mind back and tell me – did I go to Ranchi in ’58?”
Chuni said, “’58? It must have been ’58. Or was it ’59?”
“You’re sure that I did go to Ranchi?”
Chuni’s look of amazement was not unmixed with worry. “D’ you mean you have doubts about having gone at all?”
“Did I go? Do you remember clearly?”
Chuni sat down on the sofa, fixed Bepin Babu with a long, hard stare and said, “Bepin, have you taken to drugs or something? As far as I know, you had a clean record where such things were concerned. I know that old friendships don’t mean much to you, but at least you had a good memory. You can’t really mean that you’ve forgotten about the Ranchi trip?”
- Didn’t beat about the bush- came straight to the point
- Off and on- now and then
- Throw your mind back- think back and recall a past event
Bepin Babu dashed up the stairs to the living room, and Chuni was about to leave when he saw Bepin Babu and turned back in a ray of hope. Instead of going around in circles, Bepin Babu got directly to the point and asked Chuni if he knew if Bepin Babu went to Ranchi in 1958. Bepin Babu told him that Chuni had to remember because he had a good memory and had seen Bepin Babu on occasion. Chuni was not sure if it was 1958 or 1959.
Bepin Babu asks Chuni Lal if he is sure that Bepin Babu went to Ranchi at all. Chuni Lal was taken aback and concerned. He asked Bepin Babu whether he had any doubts about making the trip to Ranchi. Bepin Babu asked him again if Chuni recalls his trip to Ranchi clearly. Chuni Lal sat on the sofa and stared at Bepin Babu for a long time after hearing this. He asked about Bepin Babu's use of drugs or other substances. Chuni Lal mentions Bepin Babu having a good memory and a clear mental record of his life's events. He goes on to say that he is well aware of Bepin Babu's disconnect from old friendships, but he couldn't believe he had forgotten about such a significant event as his trip to Ranchi.
Bepin Babu had to turn away from Chuni’s incredulous stare. “Do you remember what my last job was?” asked Chunilal. “Of course. You worked in a travel agency.” “You remember that and you don’t remember that it was I who fixed up your railway booking for Ranchi? I went to the station to see you off; one of the fans in your compartment was not working — I got an electrician to fix it. Have you forgotten everything? Whatever is the matter with you? You don’t look too well, you know.” Bepin Babu sighed and shook his head.
- Incredulous- unbelieving or doubtful
- Sighed- emit a long, deep audible breath expressing sadness, relief, tiredness, or similar
- Shook his head- an act to show agreement
Chuni Lal had been staring at Bepin Babu for so long that he had to look away. Chuni continues to question Bepin Babu about Chuni's previous job. Bepin Babu recalled and told him that it was in a travel agency. Chuni mentioned that he remembers his last job, but how could he forget that it was Chuni who booked his train tickets to Ranchi? He goes on to say that he went to the station to see him off. He remembered even the smallest details, such as how one of the fans in Bepin Babu's compartment did not work properly and how he had an electrician fix it. Chuni couldn't believe Bepin Babu had completely forgotten about everything. He observes that Bepin Babu does not appear to be in good health or shape. Bepin Babu agreed with a sigh and a shake of his head.
“I’ve been working too hard,” he said at last. “That must be the reason. Must see about consulting a specialist.” Doubtless it was Bepin’s condition which made Chunilal leave without mentioning anything about a job. Paresh Chanda was a young physician with a pair of bright eyes and a sharp nose. He became thoughtful when he heard about Bepin Babu’s symptoms. “Look, Dr Chanda,” said Bepin Babu desperately, “You must cure me of this horrible illness. I can’t tell you how it’s affecting my work.”
- Must see about consulting- (here) may have to consult
- Thoughtful- absorbed in or involving thought
Finally, Bepin Babu admitted that he had been working too hard, which could be affecting his memory. They both agreed that he should see a specialist about his condition. Chuni Lal left without even mentioning the job, the reason for which was undoubtedly Bepin Babu's condition.
Bepin Babu finally went to see a doctor named Paresh Chanda. The young doctor had bright blue eyes and a pointed nose. When he heard Bepin Babu's symptoms, he began to think. Bepin Babu expressed to the doctor how badly he wanted to be free of this illness. He described his situation as "horrible." He went on to say that the possible effects for his work had begun to bother him.
Dr Chanda shook his head. “You know what, Mr Choudhury,” he said. “I’ve never had to deal with a case such as yours. Frankly, this is quite outside my field of experience. But I have one suggestion. I don’t know if it’ll work, but it’s worth a try. It can do no harm.”
Dr. Chanda shook his head when he heard Bepin Babu's case and began to explain how a case like Bepin Babu's was something he had never seen in his career. He is honest and tells Bepin Babu that this is also outside his area of expertise, but he has a suggestion that might work. He considers it "worth a shot" and says that there are no negative consequences to doing so.
Bepin Babu leaned forward anxiously. “As far as I can make out,” said Dr Chanda, “And I think you’re of the same opinion — you must have been to Ranchi, but due to some unknown reason, the entire episode has slipped out of your mind. What I suggest is that you go to Ranchi once again. The sight of the place may remind you of your trip. This is not impossible. More than that I cannot do at the moment. I’m prescribing a nerve tonic and a tranquillizer. Sleep is essential, or the symptoms will get more pronounced.” Bepin Babu felt somewhat better the next morning. After breakfast, he rang up his office, gave some instructions and then procured a first class ticket for Ranchi for the same evening.
- Anxiously- in a matter resulting from or revealing anxiety
- Tranquilliser- a medicine to reduce stress and anxiety
- Procured- got (with a little difficulty)
Bepin Babu was nervous as he leaned in closer to the doctor to make sure he understood what he was saying. The doctor continues to explain to Bepin Babu that he believes Bepin Babu must have been to Ranchi, but that the entire episode has slipped his mind for unknown reasons. The doctor believes Bepin Babu is thinking the same thing. bThe doctor advises him to visit to Ranchi because the sights of the place may ring back his memory of the trip. He goes on to say that the possibility is not negligible and that this is the best he can do at the moment. He also gives him a nerve tonic and medication to help him sleep better by reducing stress and anxiety. Inadequate sleep would worsen the symptoms.
Bepin Babu felt a little better when he woke up the next morning. He called his office after breakfast to give some instructions and then arranged for a first-class ticket to Ranchi for the same evening.
Getting off the train at Ranchi next morning, he realized at once that he had never been there before. He came out of the station, took a taxi and drove around the town for a while. He realized that the streets, the buildings, the hotels, the bazaars, the Morabadi Hill — with none of these had he the slightest acquaintance. Would a trip to the Hudroo Falls help? He didn’t believe so, but, at the same time, he didn’t wish to leave with the feeling that he hadn’t tried enough. So he arranged for a car and left for Hudroo in the afternoon.
He arrived in Ranchi the next morning, and as soon as he stepped off the train, he knew he had never been there before. He took a taxi out of the railway station and roamed around town for a while. He'd never seen those structures, hotels, markets, or Morabadi Hill before. He wasn't sure if going to Hudroo Falls would make a difference, but he didn't want to leave with the feeling that he hadn't tried hard enough. As a result, he booked a taxi to Hudroo and left in the afternoon.
At five o’clock the same afternoon in Hudroo, two Gujarati gentlemen from a group of picnickers discovered Bepin Babu lying unconscious beside a boulder. When he came round, the first thing Bepin Babu said was, “I’m finished. There’s no hope left.”
- Boulder- a very big rock
- Came round- regained consciousness
Around five o'clock that afternoon, two Gujrati men who had arrived with a group of picnickers found Bepin Babu unconscious beside a large rock. When he regained his consciousness, his first words were , “I’m finished. There’s no hope left.”
Next morning, Bepin Babu was back in Calcutta. He realised that there was truly no hope for him. Soon he would lose everything: his will to work, his confidence, his ability, his balance of mind. Was he going to end up in the asylum at…? Bepin Babu couldn’t think anymore.
Bepin Babu had realised that there was no hope for his situation. So he returned to Calcutta the next morning. He began to be concerned about losing everything; his interest in work, confidence, abilities, and peace of mind. He even considered going to an asylum if the situation worsened. By that point, he had exhausted his ability to think.
Back home, he rang up Dr Chanda and asked him to come over. Then, after a shower, he got into bed with an ice bag clamped on his head. Just then the servant brought him a letter which someone had left in the letter box. A greenish envelope with his name in red ink on it. Above the name it said ‘Urgent and Confidential’. In spite of his condition, Bepin Babu had a feeling that he ought to go through the letter. He tore open the envelope and took out the letter.
- Clamped- (here) put
As he was now at home, he contacted Dr. Chanda and asked him to pay him a visit. He showered and went to bed with an ice bag on his head. Only then did his servant bring him a letter that he had found in the letter box. The envelope was green, with his name written in red ink on it. Above his name was written 'Urgent and confidential.' Regardless of how he felt at the time, Bepin Babu knew he had to open and read this letter. As a result, he ripped open the envelope and took out the letter.
This is what he read —
I had no idea that affluence would bring about the kind of change in you that it has done. Was it so difficult for you to help out an old friend down on his luck? I have no money, so my resources are limited. What I have is imagination, a part of which I used in retribution of your unfeeling behavior.
Well, you’ll be all right again now. A novel I’ve written is being considered by a publisher. If he likes it enough, it’ll see me through the next few months.
- Affluence- the state of having a great deal of money
- In retribution of- as a punishment for
- Unfeeling- unsympathetic
The letter started with a greeting to Bepin. The letter's writer was also dissatisfied with how wealth had changed Bepin Babu. He says it was unexpected. Chuni Lal asks him in the letter if it has become so difficult for him to assist his childhood friend. He goes on to say that he was short on resources because he didn't have any money and all he had was his imagination, which he used to take revenge on Bepin Babu for his misery. He reveals that Bepin is fine right now. He also tells him that a novel written by Chuni Lal is being considered by a publisher. If the publisher likes and approves it, he will have enough money for the next few months.
When Dr Chanda came, Bepin Babu said, “I’m fine. It all came back as soon as I got off the train at Ranchi.” “A unique case,” said Dr Chanda. “I shall certainly write about it in a medical journal.” “The reason why I sent for you,” said Bepin Babu, “is that I have a pain in the hip from a fall I had in Ranchi. If you could prescribe a painkiller…”
When Dr Chanda came to see him, Bepin Babu revealed that he remembered the Ranchi trip from 1958. As he stepped off the train, it all came running back to him. Dr. Chanda describes it as "a unique case" and says he will add it in his medical journal. Bepin Babu tells the doctor that he called to prescribe a pain reliever for the pain in his hip caused by his fall in Ranchi.
Satyajit Ray was an Indian film director, scriptwriter, documentary filmmaker, author, lyricist, magazine editor, illustrator, calligrapher, and music composer who was born on May 2, 1921 and died on April 23, 1992, at the age of 71. The legend is regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, having delivered timeless classics such as The Apu Trilogy (1955-59), The Music Room (1958), Charulata (1964), and The Big City (1963). Ray, who was born in Kolkata, a centre of art and literature, has directed 36 films, including feature films, documentaries, and shorts. Satyajit was drawn into independent filmmaking after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and viewing Vittorio De Sica's Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves (1948) during one of his visits to London. Satyajit has written a number of short stories and novels, primarily for young children and teenagers. Ray was also given an honorary degree by Oxford University in 1978.