Monday, February 23, 2009

Krishno - III

In October 1937, less than a year after Krishno first set foot in England, news arrived from India that Lt. Col. Trebblewood had met with an accident while hunting tiger. The machan he was on had been built with wood rotten from the inside. It gave way just as he was taking aim. The porters reported a flash of gold and black dragging the young man into the trees. The screaming and thrashing stopped faster than it began, swallowed into the deathly blackness of the forest. An armed search party found half a body the next day. The Lt. Col. was identified only by his boots.

Krishno poured all of himself into taking care of Lady Trebblewood. She was a vigorous woman, but a crucial strength wisped out of her when she realised she had outlived her only son. Suddenly, the cancer she'd staved off so well all these months grew new heads and ate at her ravenously.

Death was new to Krishno. He couldn't understand how she dealt so stoically with her imminent end. An accident was one thing. You couldn't see it coming, it swept you away before you had the chance to judge your life, what you touched and what you didn't, what you were leaving behind and where you were heading. But this moderately paced exit, it gave you time to reflect..and how could anyone be content with their lives? How would they suppress that..that greed to live? How did they make their peace with their lot?

Lady Trebblewood saw Krishno as her own son by then. She spoke to her lawyers to make sure he was taken care of after she was gone. Krishno spent countless hours by her bed, nursing her. She talked to him about how she wanted him to live on in England, do business here and across Europe. She had monies which were going to be his, his family in India would never be wanting. Krishno protested..and stopped when he saw how this deference slashed at her.

The funeral was a solemn affair. Krishno made all the arrangements himself. Black coattails stood listless under a stark grey sky, veils and hats remained soberly in place. A knot surged into Krishno's throat and exploded. His knees gave, and he sank to the ground, muddying his trousers. This new emptiness struck him like a cosh on the back of his head, and behind his eyes, and it sucked away emotion. No tears came, just sounds of hollowness and people moving slowly, reaching for his arm, guiding him back to London.

Krishno spent the next week wrapping up Lady Trebblewood's affairs. He sold the furniture on her insistence, and sent the money to his brother in Calcutta. He saved the bed she spent her last months on. He couldn't decide what to do with it, so he spent nights asleep under it. During the day, he looked for work. The landlord let him stay there while he looked.

It ought to have been easy, this business of finding work. The Lady's farthest-flung acquaintances had let Krishno know to look them up if he ever needed a job. It was an insidious irony - Krishno's notions of dignity and propriety, all antiquated, wholly rustic, stopped him from ever taking up these offers.

Other employment was hard to come by. It was fine to speak english, but how many would want this aftermath of colonial rule selling them soap, or doing their accounts?

Krishno's search ended when he returned to a pub that Lady Trebblewood and he frequented. He'd been embarassed at first, visiting there with her, but he soon grew thick with the blokes. They joked with the Lady, and any friend of hers.. One of the pubbers gave him a Captain's name. They needed a fourth officer on the Queen Mary when it docked in from Chittagong.

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