Room Number Three

(This is a feeble translation of a story by Hemendra Kumar Roy)

We two friends, Sachin and I, have come on a trip to Puri.

There was a hotel, "Sagar Puri", by the side of the sea. Sachin had visited Puri earlier and stayed at this hotel. So, Sachin took me to "Sagar Puri".

But the manager of the hotel informed us regretfully that the hotel was full, and there wasn't any room available.

"Mister, I am a regular client of this hotel, but since there is no room available now, we will have to go somewhere else," Sachin told him.

The manager said, "It is the festival season, and all the hotels in Puri are full. Where will you find a room?"

"Where can we stay then?" Sachin asked dolefully.

The manager thought for a while and said, "Since you are a regular client, I can manage something, but it will not be very comfortable."

"That's okay; we can put up with a little inconvenience. This is a familiar place, and we wouldn't like to go searching for rooms elsewhere," Sachin said.

The manager said there was a small room next to the kitchen. "Will you be able to stay there?"

"That will be fine," Sachin said.

"Then, come with me."

It was a very small room like one used to store coal. It was dark and stuffy; the smoke and smell from the kitchen filled the room.

By evening, Sachin could not stand it any longer. Shaking his head, he said, "Impossible! We are not bricks or stones; I will die if I have to stay here".

"Where will you go?" I asked.

"Where people live," Sachin replied. "Last time I was here, I had the best room for myself. I wish we could stay there."

I pointed out the flaw, "That is asking for the moon; your wish can't be fulfilled. Someone else is staying in that room at present."

"That is the problem!" Sachin agreed while scratching his head.

It was 5.30 p.m. A bell sounded from the dining hall upstairs, announcing tea.

Sachin stood up and said, "Come, let's go to the dining room. We will feel better if we spend some time in a better place."

Looking at the sea through the window of the dining hall, I saw that layers and layers of dark clouds had covered the sky.

By the time we finished tea, it had become so dark because of the cloud cover that not the slightest streak of blue was visible over the sea. It was as though dusk had fallen prematurely! Soon there was a great crash of thunder, and it was accompanied by rains.

One by one, the people who were sipping tea left for their respective rooms. Three others, besides Sachin and me, remained sitting in the dining hall. One of them was a middle-aged person who worked as a head clerk in a trading office, the second was a gray-haired senior school teacher, and the third was a college student; all of them were from Kolkata.

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