David Ahmed was a young man who had been living in a city full of buildings of hope, monotony and despair, in this present line of context. David never contested with the inhabitants of this city rather he gazed at them and gains incredible pleasure from this observational indulgence. This pleasure wasn’t just momentary but was an entity of his enunciation. David was a writer.
David lived in a rented apartment. Earlier he had received a lustrous covenant of material possessions from his father who readily accepted when his son placed the idea of being a writer. During that time he left his father’s house and started living alone. He started giving piano lessons in a school.
In a while he left the school job and finally started to write for a local magazine. He wrote fiction. His stories would stink of nihilism and delved into crime, murder, transgression and the extinction of the human kind. But what David excruciatingly wanted was to write a novel. A novel that would substantiate itself as a bestseller, a novel that would behold David in the invincible realm of remembrance and would fetch him ideas to follow up with another.
Contending with this intrinsic hope, David then started to lose words. He was getting inside a non-creative limbo. Even the magazine stopped paying their impotent writer who was fixated on discovering words, rather than putting them on a page. David smoked vigorously, at least thirty cigarettes a day. He refrained from drinking, as it dulled his senses even more. Everyday he settled himself in a café till sundown and drooled over abundant cups of liquid tar known as coffee. At sundown he walked again, down the streets of this unknown city scrutinizing the creatures and trying to cage the values they excrete.
One fine morning after a deep sleep David woke up to remember an image in front of his eyes that he had not experienced in the last few days. He gathered the impression that the image must have been a dream he had seen. With this effect he writes down the reflection in a notebook and tried to remember more of it but failed. He then brought out a fat book on dreams from his rack and tried to learn how to remember a dream.
After reading for hours he came out with a gleaming piece of fact. It was a process called ‘Dream Incubation’ through which one can review a particular dream more than once. A simple way to do so was to write down the images one remembered, on a page and think about it the whole day. At night again one had to keep on reading the page of images till one dozed off. Most of the cases came out with flying colours. In the morning, after reviewing and remembering the dream, it must be preserved in a journal without further delay.
Filled with utmost excitement of the new found detail David hinged his mind on repeating the dream through the images he had jotted down. And deep inside his subconscious mind a story for a novel began to make its way to the conscious. David took the process seriously and attempted at it every night with zero success in the morning. He had stopped visiting the café to stay away from coffee. Just at the end of a week David remembered a string of three images and writes them down on the notebook. Days went by and David kept on trying for more images but nothing came to him, except the three he saw. So he engraved the three images within his prolific structure and concluded the story in his mind. David then started his journey towards salvation.
David now spent most of his time writing, what he had just got acquainted with, while days dropped their colour to nights. But for David, the time he was living in holds the shade of light that came out of his table lamp.
The story he was writing was about the experiences of a con artist, written in first person. The final chapter of the book dealt with what David had been a master of by now – death. The climax was where the protagonist goes to a hotel to stay and befriends two men who had been living there for sometime. After few days of acquaintance the protagonist planned to manipulate these two men and escape the hotel with their material possessions. His simple plan worked out but with a complex turn, where one of the two men killed the other after getting drunk and the protagonist accidentally manufactures an ideal murder.
Satisfied with the turnout, David slept for hours almost compensating the amount of time he was awake. The manuscript was then printed and mailed to various publishers as David waited for a call.
And finally he got one, and after a month and a half, David’s first novel is published. It was named ‘Err’.
The book did well and soon became a bestseller. David, busy with press conferences, got a call from a man who said that he was interested to buy rights for David’s book in order to make a film. David voluntarily agreed and they planned to meet at a specific location.
They met at the undisclosed location and the stranger started a conversation. He stated that he was not in anyway related to film-making, but was a psychologist and what he has to say was of importance to David. David was gradually battling the sensation of perplexity and thus found it tolerable to listen to what the man had to say. The man articulated that he wanted to show a photograph to David before saying anything and without it David might not even consider him to be honest. The photograph consisted of two men; David identified one of them as his father and stated that to the stranger. The stranger pointed out that the other man in the photo was his father. The stranger then asked David of the way he had framed the story for the novel and mentioned that if David lied it won’t help anyone.
David, who was now amazed, described the dream he saw where he could see himself carrying a heavy object and hitting another man on the head. Then he exited the room. After that he saw himself, waiting on a staircase as another man entered the same room he had escaped from.
The stranger listened to David with utmost benevolence. Afterwards, he brought out a letter from his tasteless bag and read it to David. It was a letter that he had received from his father Paul Braganza, who died in prison a long time back due to starvation.
The revelation was the following:
You have grown up and now you have my ultimate testimony. I am writing this from prison and I know I am going to leave this world in a few days. Before beginning my story let me tell you that I have not committed any crime to be at this place.
The whole thing started at a hotel I was staying in where I met a man named Zubin Ahmed. He struck a friendship with me and we spent time drinking and sharing thoughts. He told me about his elder brother who abandoned him at the age of eleven when their father died and that he wanted to confront him one day if he could find him.
We took a photo together in the hotel, which you might have right now. After a couple of days Zubin secretively told me that his elder brother was at the hotel and he was confident about that. He was going to confront his brother and asked for my help him if something went wrong. I could not do anything but accept. Zubin told me that if he needed help he would call on my room telephone and so he asked me to stay in my room.
That night I remember like I remember the best moments of my life. A palpitating Zubin called me to help him deal with a situation that had occurred. I ran to his brother’s room and saw the door was slightly open and I pushed it a little to enter. In the dark and my feet collided against something. I picked it up and it felt like a vase. I switched on the light after seconds of struggle to find a body, faced down on the floor with a bleeding head. I was startled.
I went near it to see if the person was still alive and at that exact moment, four hotel attendants came rushing. Suddenly they were behaving as if they had caught me red handed. Well you can imagine the rest.
Police came, arrested me and said that they have found my fingerprints on the vase, the murder weapon. I told them about Zubin, but no one listened. He was gone for good.
I can’t have been lying to you about this as it will not get me off imprisonment. I have accepted this as fate by now. It felt heavy, but not anymore. Now you know.
I love you.”
The stranger concluded the letter and handed David with an old newspaper cutting. David read the headlines and then stared uncomprehendingly at the stranger who uttered: “And you never thought why you saw the dream.”
As the stranger slowly walked away, David stared at the newspaper cutting that read: “Paul Braganza imprisoned for life for the brutal murder at a local hotel.”
Budhaditya Bhattacharjee is a journalist and writer from Calcutta. He is the founder and chief-editor of The Leaky Pot. He writes and directs short and documentary films. Two of his short stories – “Beneath” and “Phenome” was published in two national anthologies, by Half Baked Beans and India Author, respectively. His literary interests revolve around death, nihilism, scientific and psychological aberration, and mystery. He works as an independent journalist and as a creative writer in an advertising agency.