2

Raicharan returned to his own village. Till then, he had no child of his own, and it was unlikely that he would have one. However within a year, his wife became pregnant despite her advanced age. A son was born. But Raicharan's wife died at childbirth. Raicharan developed a tremendous hatred for the child. He felt that the child had conspired and come to this world to dislodge his master's son from the throne in his heart. It was a sin to enjoy fatherhood after drowning his master's only son, Raicharan felt. He neglected the child, and it would not have survived for long had not Raicharan's widowed sister taken him under her care.

Surprisingly, this child also displayed similar characteristics of his master's son. The child would crawl on all fours and hide just like his master's son had done - he laughed and chortled just like the master's son. When the child cried, Raicharan would feel an overwhelming pang of distress - it was as if his little master was crying upon being separated from him!

Felna, that is the name that Raicharan's sister had given to the boy, had begun to address his aunt and the rest in the proper manner just as the son of Raicharan's master had done during his time. This convinced Raicharan that his master's son had been reborn in his own home. There were other reasons too why this feeling grew strong in Raicharan - first, his child was born almost after the master's son went missing. Second, his wife had given birth at an advanced age and this could not be a mere coincidence. Third, this child too does exactly the same things that my master's son did and displays the same qualities that could make him a judge when he grows up, thought Raicharan.

Raicharan suddenly recalled the words of accusation of the child's mother. She had believed that Raicharan had himself stolen the child. "Yes, that was true. It is only a mother who could know who had stolen her child," thought Raicharan. The thought grieved him so much that he felt a sense of remorse at neglecting the child. He surrendered himself to the boy.

Thereafter, Raicharan began taking special care of the child, and started raising him as if he belonged to a rich father. He bought a satin shirt for the boy. He bought a lace cap. He had bracelets and anklets made for the boy after melting the gold jewellery belonging to his deceased wife. The boy was not allowed to play with the neighbourhood boys; Raicharan was his sole playmate. The neighbourhood children, whenever they found an opportunity, would tease the boy and address him as "His highness". The people were surprised at Raicharan's behaviour.

When Felna reached the age to be admitted to school, Raicharan sold off all his possessions and took the boy to Kolkata. After much difficulty, he managed to find himself a job, and admitted Felna to a good school. While he himself led an impoverished life, Raicharan ensured that the boy had good food, good clothes, and good education. "Boy, it is out of love for me that you have been born in my home, and I will make sure that you suffer from no wants," Raicharan used to say to himself.

This is how twelve years passed away, and the child grew up into a fine boy with good education and good tastes. The boy did not look upon Raicharan as his father because although Raicharan showered a father's affection upon him, yet he served him as a servant. Besides, Raicharan had kept it a secret from everybody that he was the boy's father. The students in the hostel where Felna resided were curious about Raicharan's rustic manners, but they liked him nevertheless. Felna was also fond of Raicharan, but the fondness was not that of a son, and it had a tinge of loftiness.

Raicharan has become old, and his employer frequently finds fault with his work. Raicharan has, in fact, become weak and cannot concentrate on work - he keeps forgetting things. But an employer who pays a salary cannot be expected to be lenient just because the employee is old. Raicharan has also exhausted his savings. These days Felna grumbles about the lack of good things.

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Some useful links for
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  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu