THE YAKSHA’S TREASURE by Hemendra Kumar Roy (9)

by Jash Sen

Chapter 7

The Black Face At The Window

We drank a glass of cold water each and sat in the living room. It was then two thirty at night.

Bimal said, ‘No sleeping tonight. We’re leaving for Assam by tomorrow afternoon’s train.’

Surprised, I said, ‘What! So soon?’

Bimal said, ‘Hmm, it won’t do to delay. Karali rascal now bears us a grudge, he must have realised by now that only we could have snatched the skull from him, who knows what trouble he might create? We have to say our farewells and leave tomorrow itself.’

I objected and said, ‘Ma has gone to Shantipur, to my uncle’s. How can I leave without letting her know?’

Bimal said, ‘Send her a letter – tell you’re off on a sightseeing trip to Assam, but you couldn’t meet her because the plan was made at such short notice.’

I said with a worried expression, ‘Fine, I’ll write the letter, but we’re going on such a big mission, there’s a lot to prepare. Will I be able to organise everything by tomorrow afternoon?’

Bimal said testily, ‘You don’t have to do anything special, I’ll do all the organising that needs to be done. You just carry clothes and a couple of sets of coats and trousers, all right, my worthless genius?’

‘Why? What do we need coats and trousers for?’

‘We’re going to jungles and hills. Fussing with your dhoti like a dapper gentleman from the city will not do there – you’ll be in constant trouble then.’

I pondered this in silence.

Bimal said, ‘I had thought that the just two of us would go. But looking at how immature you are, I’m thinking it would be better to take one more person along.’

‘Who’ll you take?’

‘My manservant Ramhari. He’s an old family retainer; trustworthy, intelligent and very strong. He can give his life for me with a smile.’

‘Not a bad idea. Then I’ll also take Bagha with me. I hope you don’t mind -‘

‘Hush!’ said Bimal and stood up with one swift movement. Then he suddenly ran to one of the windows and pushed it wide open. I clearly saw a grotesque black face move  to one side at the speed of lightning. Someone must have been eavesdropping on us. Bimal didn’t pause either, he picked up a man-high thick bamboo stick from one corner of the room and ran out. I bolted the door and sat down stiffly!

After a while, Bimal returned and called me from outside. I opened the door and asked him hurriedly, ‘Could you catch him?’

Still panting, Bimal returned the stick to its old place and said, ‘No, I chased him for a long distance, but couldn’t catch him!’

‘Who do you think the man was?’

‘Who else? One of Karali’s men, most probably a hired goon. Kumar, do you realise the seriousness of the situation? That man’s probably heard every word of what we’ve said!’

‘Bimal, you’re right, we shouldn’t delay any longer. We have to leave tomorrow.’

‘That we will, but Danger will probably accompany us.’

‘Meaning?’

‘Meaning Karali will probably travel with us, along with his retinue.’

I was totally discouraged at this. Bimal too, sat and thought hard. After a long time, he said, ‘Whatever happens will happen. But curling up in our rooms like a pair of earthworms for fear of Karali Mukherjee, that is not going to happen. Its settled, we’re leaving tomorrow itself.’

I pleaded, ‘Bimal, don’t be pigheaded.’

Bimal punched the stool and said, ‘I will go, come what may. If you are afraid, stay at home. I’ll get the yaksha’s treasure and deliver it to you personally – let’s see who loses, Karali or me.’

I held his hand and said, ‘Bimal, I am not afraid. I’ll definitely come along if you’re going. But just think through this, it could culminate in bloodshed in the middle of the jungle. Karali has many more people, we won’t be able to do anything.’

Bimal smiled in derision and said, ‘To hell with Karali. Kumar, I am not just strong, I also have some strength up here in my brains. You don’t worry about a thing, come along with me and watch me lead him to a merry dance.’

I know Bimal very well. He doesn’t know what idle boasting is. If he’s reassuring me, he must have thought up a new plan. Therefore, free of worry,  I said, ‘Fine, my friend, I’m okay with whatever you say.’

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