“Is that you, Moonish?” said a voice he had all but relegated to forgotten parts of his memory.
He thought he had seen the worst of it when Chanchal from HR had come over for his documents, a little after a month of being made permanent.
“Mr. Ghosh,” he’d said, “has little to do with practical matters … such as paperwork. You’re practically a ghost in our system, Mr. Moonish. We don’t even know if that’s your first or last name.”
“Both,” Moonish had grinned boyishly, flashing his newly fixed pearly whites, at the thin, studious-looking man looking up at him all earnest, blinking rapidly behind his thick, horn-rimmed spectacles, near opaque.
After treating the man to hot tea and samosas at the nearby tea shop, Moonish was promptly guided to a photocopy-wala who also dealt with forged certificates on the side.
He hadn’t seen this coming.
“Wait outside,” he said tersely, “by the gate.” They were nearing the end of the routine, a reimagining of Christmas Carol, where he played Mr. Scrooge, and his wife the ghosts of past, present, and future. They had taken to performing in the hall, where earlier he’d just been a moving statue.
It was just before Christmas and the turnout was fairly decent. Almost encouraging if you counted the journalist in the audience there to do a feature on them for the Sunday edition.
He jumped back into the performing area, when his part resumed and that poor family with the tiniest cave in the world had had a grand feast on the boar he’d caught earlier for himself. But he could hardly concentrate. Fumbling through his lines. But this only improved his performance in the eyes of the audience. A stuttering, forgetful Scrooge Caveman finding his emotional core had great appeal. And he could already see the headline forming in his head.
At the end of the play, he excused himself from the “green room,” a repurposed pantry, saying to his wife that he had some business to attend to and that he’d be late, and that she should go home on her own.
And then he went out and greeted his father with all the warmth of a cold December night.
“Why are you here?” he demanded.”How did you find me?”
His father, a white-haired, taller, drooping version of him, just looked on through fogged lenses. Past all the years of anger, remorse, and unspoken words.
“It’s your mother, son. It’s time that you came home.”
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