Abhipsa Mohanty

A Change For the Better

The coals in the grate were turning into embers. Now there was no sign of the diary that he had thrown there with an excessively anguished mind and vehement emotions.

Though the fire was approaching its death, and the small, shabby room was starting to get touched with a damp chill, which absolutely signified a long time since this fire was given birth and nurtured; its nurturer, a burly man of forty, had been unable to sleep all this while, tossing and turning on his bed.

His was a small house and highly unkempt. He had been working as an apprentice mechanic at a nearby garage. For such a simple minded man, life could turn out to be so devilish was a thought not easily conceived by anybody. 

No, it hadn’t been his fault; at least a part of it hadn’t been. He had simply been pushed to the rash act. And after that, life had shown him four years of hell. Samuel Davis did not remain a man anymore, neither a name, but became a number. Criminal number 487301.

All of the gruesome past was torturing his mind that night in the form of horrible memories. Memories which were better forgotten, but couldn’t be forgotten so easily. The four years that he had spent in the prison had taught him reason and sense. He could never be angry ever again. He couldn’t either be the always jovial Sam anymore. All he could do was to try to forgive and forget, because that’s exactly how a person is supposed to move on.

So, the first thing that he did on reaching home, all the more dirty now, after being locked up for four years, was to build a fire and throw all the haunting memories away – his so much cherished journal, a personal diary, into the grate. The flames devoured the pages and leather hungrily. They licked and singed the words of love, anger and repentance, gradually, relishing them. There went the memories of six odd years, being brought down to ashes. For moments he just stood there - staring into the fire, tears and stinging light in his eyes, his mind full of pain and heightened emotions. Many times he only wanted to thrust his hands in and snatch his precious possession from those greedy flames. He could never have the nice moments again. He could try to harmonize with the past and live with it, live with the old Sam. But then, he decided that that would be useless. He ought to remain rigid – let things go. So each time the thought came, he restrained himself with a great effort.

And at last, he couldn’t take it anymore. It was too much for him. He whirled around with an effort, turned his back to the fire, flopped on his bed and tried very hard to sleep. But of course, could not.

No doubt, he repented, but he couldn’t be angry on himself. He couldn’t find a flaw that needed to be corrected in his character… All he could think of was trying to steady his anger. But, after all, what could a man do if he found out that the two people, who he thought the world of, had ditched him? What could a man do if he found his only love kissing his only best friend? Violence is obvious, isn’t it? And this violence landed him in prison, teary eyed. And then for years he was condemned to be there…

He was released that evening. And from tomorrow he was to start a new life as a salesman. He had arranged all that in the evening itself. He was a man who had now started believing in living for himself. And now that all the past had stopped to exist, he would think no more about it. The night was getting old. It was better to get some sleep and prepare for a bright tomorrow.

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