in Fiction

S. T. Dubey – Part I

He sits full on the seat, leaning back into the cushion, one leg over the other. He is packing tobacco into his pipe and his evening pour of sherry lies undisturbed on the table next to him. There is the silence of death here, though no one has died. Three men sit in front of him on stools, awaiting a decision. He is tired and he has no desire to entertain these men but they are here with a query that has left even him a little perturbed. Routinely he likes holding a small gathering with a few people from the town. It is like his own council and it makes him feel important. It is not that he isn’t important, though some would argue that he is mostly disposable were it not for his wealth. It is his belief, however, and a strong one too, that the small town of Kilbisi would likely not function without his summary judgment and advice. The council is pre-selected. Not everyone is allowed the privilege of meeting the great and honorable S. T. Dubey. By his side in the shadow of the only lit lamp in the room stands his aide and confidante Chatterjee. Chatterjee has summoned these headmen, as they are called, to discuss the matter. S. T. Dubey doesn’t recall asking Chatterjee to set this meet this evening but he is certain that has more to do with his memory than Chatterjee’s pro-activeness. Age is catching up to him and he knows to start paying attention to it. Besides, Chatterjee doesn’t do anything without seeking permission. Dubey has observed that Chatterjee is not like the other servants in the household – cunning people who would scheme behind their master’s back as soon as he turns an eye. Chatterjee, in fact, seems to want nothing from life at all. Initially Dubey felt that this too was a little strange – for a man to not want anything at all except the routine food and clothing. He monitored Chatterjee closely, watching him perform his duties, and asking the driver occasionally if Chatterjee was fitting along well. When he was new, Dubey would ask him at the end of the day if everything during the day went fine, as if he were a doctor monitoring his patient. Eventually he decided that Chatterjee was a loner, probably a little depressed, probably overcome with the sullenness seen only after the death of someone close. Either way Dubey did not inquire any further. Over time this non-enquiry into personal matters had suited both of them well.

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