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 had stayed at this hotel. So when we arrived, 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 to some other hotel," Sachin told him.
The manager said, "It is the holiday 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 somewhat familiar place and we wouldn't like to go searching for rooms elsewhere," Sachin said.
The manager informed that 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 which had been used to store coal. It was dark and stuffy; the smoke and smell from the kitchen pervaded the room.
By evening Sachin's endurance level had ebbed to a low. "Impossible!" he said shaking his head, "we are not coal; if I stay here another hour I will drop down dead".
"Where will you go?" I asked.
"Where people live," Sachin replied. "Last time I was here, I had the best room to myself. Wish we could stay there now."
I pointed out the flaw, "That wish is like asking for the moon; it 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 pm and a bell sounded from the dining hall upstairs announcing tea.
Sachin stood up and said, "Come, let's go upstairs and catch a glimpse of the room; the sight will at least bring some solace."
Looking out at the sea from the window of the dining hall I saw that layers and layers of dark clouds had covered the sky.
By the time we had 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, still remained sitting in the dining hall. All the three were from Kolkata - one of them was a middle-aged person who worked as a head clerk in an office, the second was a senior gray-haired school teacher, and the third was a college student.