The Melancholy Man: Part 1
The Melancholy Man: Part 16 mins 12.4K 6 mins 12.4K
I have always been a great admirer and fan of PG Wodehouse. Reading books written by him always made me feel light, laugh and chuckle with unbridled mirth. Recently, one of my friends shared a document titled “The inimitable PG Wodehouse” with 75 of the best quotes selected from his various books.
This series is inspired by some of these quotes. Imitation is the best form of flattery and I hope to flatter the soul of PGW, or at least try to by imitating him, though in my way. The stories in this series are born out of the quotes in the document shared by my friend. The first story, “Melancholy Man” is inspired by a quote from PGW’s “The Man upstairs”.
“A melancholy-looking man, he had the appearance of one who has searched for the leak in life’s gas-pipe with a lighted candle.”
(from The Man Upstairs).
Keep this in mind as I introduce Bitto Sardar to you and tell you about his misadventures.
THE MELANCHOLY MAN: PART ONE
Bitto Sardar is a sad man. He tries hard to be happy but always ends up adding to his sadness. His saga of melancholy begins from his days in school. His parents were keen, like other normal parents, that their only son should go to school as early as possible. At three, they put him in a playschool where they prepare children of tender age for admissions to convents and public schools.
Bitto was unhappy to be forced to move out of his home and its pleasant environs. It worried him that not being at home meant that he could not play with his toys when he wanted. He always enjoyed playing with toys, particularly racing cars, trucks, airplanes, and trains. Even as a toddler, he had an immense fascination for these toys and his infant mind wondered what made these contraptions move and make noise. He would spend sleepless nights dreaming about this and would tell himself that he must find out the secret part which propelled these amazing machines.
Bitto would set about with dogged determination and fierce tenacity to dismantle the toys. He would despair when he could not pull out a wheel or steering from the racing cars, but he was not the one to give up easily. After rigorous practice, Bitto finally mastered the art of breaking down anything that moved on wheels or in the air, or on two or four legs; anything and he could feel an immense surge of happiness sweeping over him.
Bitto’s parents initially shared his newfound skill at dismantling toys. To his dismay, however, he discovered that they had only flattered to deceive him. His mother started shouting at Bitto, something that shocked him, for she had always been loving. Then, one day, his father slapped him so hard that Bitto fell down from his little chair with the table toppling over him. His parents were seriously communicating something very important to him, but he could not understand.
Bitto, to be fair, tried hard to put the parts together, but they would just not stick together. It was soon after this and other such similar incidents that the playschool conspiracy was hatched against him.
Despite Bitto’s best efforts to thwart the conspiracy, he was overpowered by forces far superior to him. He tried to cling hard to his mother, crying himself hoarse in the belief that her soft heart would melt for him. His father, however, seemed prepared for this and dragged Bitto away from her and whisked him in his car to the school. Bitto made another unsuccessful attempt in the car as he clung on to the steering, refusing to get down. His father used his brute force to lift him out of the car and plant him outside the gates of the school. Bitto stood outside the gate in defiance, refusing to budge and daring his father to display his worst affections for his sole progeny.
This time, the attack came from behind Bitto. The school, having handled such defiant and deviant behavior for years, had hired goons for such eventualities. Bitto felt a pair of firm and feminine hands on his shoulders. Before he could retaliate, he was being lifted in the air by a monstrous-looking Ayah. This ended Bitto’s resistance once and for all.
You may wonder why I am delving into Bitto’s childhood misdemeanors when we should focus on his present miserable life. There is a reason, a truth behind this. If you want to know the man, know the child.
Well, his guerilla warfare marked Bitto’s childhood with parents at home, teachers, and staff at school and would later extend to other minor and major areas in his life. We will leave his childhood behind with one significant incident.
Bitto’s unhappiness at home and outside grew with passing days and years. He would resist everything that his parents would ask him to do. One fateful day, Bitto decided to teach his parents a lesson. They were all getting ready to attend a social function in a big hotel. His father was busy fixing his long beard with a special gel. His mother was getting hyper that she could not find a particular item of her jewelry that matched with her saree. No one seemed concerned for Bitto, who was still waiting to be dressed in party clothes. He chose this moment of lull and slid into the big wardrobe in the guest bedroom. He shut the doors and heard the click of the lock, and sat still in darkness, smiling smugly to himself.
After a while, he could hear the muffled shouts of his terrified parents, and his smile grew wider. Considerable time must have passed, for Bitto was now feeling suffocated. He can climb out of his hiding, now that his parents would have learned how important their son was to them. He tugged at the door but it would not open; just like the toys he had dismantled and found it impossible to put them together again. He was trapped and afraid.
Meanwhile, unknown to Bitto Sardar, his parents had searched every corner of the house except this wardrobe. They were now alarmed that their son had escaped from the house and was out somewhere in the big bad world. The police were informed, and neighbors and friends summoned to help them in the search. When even the combing of a five-kilometer radius of the area yielded no results, his mother feared that he may have been kidnapped for ransom or even worse had come to some greater grief.
One member of the searching party insisted that the child must be in the house and he started searching once again. This time they opened the wardrobe that was earlier overlooked. They found Bitto Sardar in a state of shock and swoon inside the wardrobe.
Bitto’s attempt had failed once again.
We shall progress to the adult life of our melancholy man in the next episode.