That I had no clue to what waited for me behind those closed doors would have been a lie. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to believe what was about to happen. I was feeling misunderstood and misinterpreted. Everything about CSS that I had taken for granted was falling apart.
I held my breath and knocked on the doors.
VB opened the doors. I didn’t realise that he was going to be there. He was an added complication, and may be a part of the reason behind the events too.
He was there. On his chair. Looking frail as ever. I knew he didn’t want to do it, but there was a hint of determination in the sorrowful expression of his old face that told me that it has all been already decided, and that I had been invited only to be told about it. They did not want to know if I thought I was suicidal or not.
It was as ridiculous as that. But there may have been some truth in that if I am as deluded as everyone thinks. Probably I AM suicidal. Probably I should indeed be sent back home. I have no way of knowing what is true any more.
As I walked in, CS stood up and walked to me. It was a broken man’s walk. It had taken every bit of his strength to decide that we should be parted, and it showed in every bit of his body and soul. VB just stood nearby and frowned. He had never liked CS’ affection for me. Everyone thought that he was the right hand man of CS, and though it was him CS would always depend on for all his affairs, and though it was him who was going to succeed him, we both knew that the only man whom CS had ever loved from the depth of his heart was me.
“So you are here. Ah, come near me, come near me. How are you?”
I didn’t answer. The question was rhetoric. We sat down on the sofa.
We looked at each other for sometime in silence, till I looked away choked with grief. He knew that I understood.
“You know I would never have done this,” his voice was half tears, “you know that. But I must do this. For your sanity. For my sanity! Oh, please forgive this old man!.”
He said all that ceaselessly, restlessly, afraid that he would not be able to complete if he took a pause to breath. VB tried to look interested in the ceilings nearby. He had recently been married, which explained his mood.
I put my hand on his shoulder. He was my dear old man, and I still felt for him. I must have cried, because a drop of tear fell on his arm.
He looked up, and it was then that he completely gave up and broke down crying, sobbing into my sleeves. VB now shifted his attention to the cupboard nearby, and his lips were pursed. I didn’t know what to do.
That was when I left. I left the empty shell of a broken man on a sofa and a rival who took philosophical interests in ceilings and cupboards on a chair nearby, and I left.
I couldn’t tell you how it ended. As I was stepping out of that door, suddenly I no longer felt interested in knowing what happened to that crying old man on the sofa. There was a momentary sense of freedom before I became depressed again, and though I am sure now that VB would have walked up to CS to console him, I am perpetually haunted by the grey images of the pair struggling through the dusk, alone in their isolation and misery long after I was gone.