I and my elder sister, Rina were alone, one evening in our study room. Our mom had gone to my grandmother’s place in Jamshedpur since she had not been keeping well off late. She had informed me that she will have to stay there for a week or so. Both of us could not accompany her to our academic engagements. We were left with our father who was trying his level best to perform all the necessary household chores.
But he would always come late from the office and we had to stay alone after coming home from our institutions. Rina was always engrossed in watching her melodramatic daily soaps. I mostly used to spent my time going through various storybooks that my father used to collect for me. I was a voracious reader. That evening I was devouring the pages of ‘’Oliver Twist” when suddenly I heard a thud.
A few books had fallen from our bookshelf. I quickly went and rearranged the books. But after a few minutes, more books fell on the ground. I could not find out the reason behind this. All the books were properly kept. Also, there was no strong wind blowing at that moment. But the incident did not reoccur that day and I was relieved. But my relief was short-lived. The following day, more books dropped from our bookshelf.I had to inform Rina.
She was also stunned to see the incident since we both could not find out any probable reason behind this. We narrated the incident to father that night. He was a bit pensive and said, ‘‘ Don’t worry. Just observe what is happening. I can faintly understand the reason. But its too early to conclude anything. I would come early from tomorrow.’’ My father did come early the next day. The evening was going along nicely. We were playing an interesting indoor game with my father when suddenly I heard a thud from my study room.
All three of us hastily made our way to the study room, and to our utter surprise, we saw that an invisible force had rummaged our entire bookshelf.Most of the books were scattered on the floor including the
‘’Oliver Twist”.I picked up the book but could not locate the page mark that I had placed in it yesterday. Then suddenly an old book with yellowish pages dropped in front of us and its pages started to be turned by an invisible hand.
We could not believe our eyes and were petrified. Then suddenly, the pages stopped turning at a particular page where I located my lost page mark. My father picked up the book. It was famous, Carrol Lewis authored “Alice in Wonderland .’’ The next morning, father took us to a big mansion located on the northern fringes of the city. A middle-aged man greeted us. My father asked him, ‘’Mr.Sanyal, do you remember that I purchased a few books from your collection last week?’’
The man said with a smile, ‘’Yes, I do remember you. You were the only one who responded to my newspaper advertisement. Those were grandfather’s books. Did you like those books?’ Our father looked at us and said, ‘’Yes, my daughters loved them. The books were indeed quite nice. Your grandfather was fond of children’s’ literature also, I guess. Do you have any more of those children’s classics? I would like to purchase them for my younger daughter.’’The man pondered silently for a while and then said, ‘’Children’s classics? Can you tell me which one was there in those collections? I don’t remember. Frankly speaking, I was never a bibliophile.’’ Our father said, ‘’Alice in Wonderland.’’ The man’s expression now changed and he said remorsefully‘’ Oh, that was my younger brother’s favorite book.
My grandfather used to read out the pages of the book to him every evening. But my brother died of a road accident when he was just nine years old. I am sorry, Mr. Roy, I don’t have any more children classics.”We left the place with a heavy heart. I then told my father, ‘’Now I can figure out the reason behind these incidents. Mr.Sanyal’s younger brother is curious to know the story, which he could not complete in his lifetime.”
My father told me with a smile, The next time you see something falling from the bookshelf, don’t get afraid. Just pick up the Alice in Wonderland and start reading from the page that he indicated yesterday. I hope you remember the page number. Our invisible guest won’t be happy if you forget the page numbers.” I then replied with a smile, ‘’He won’t let me forget. He has borrowed my page mark for that purpose, Remember? ”

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