Sharmaji entered the club in the evening and silently sat in a chair; his chin cupped, head hanging down. The retired officers present there playing Table Tennis felt as if Sharmaji’s missile test had misfired. One of the members confided in his partner at play, “ Sharmaji is going to break some interesting news. See his weather.”
He jokingly said, “What news, Sharmaji?”
“Bill Clinton is dead.”
Sharmaji lamented as if he was his cousin. He’d always command respect for keeping abreast of the latest political developments. But today this news failed to impress his friends. Everyone remarked sarcastically,
“Gone mad or dreaming?”
Words pelted his mind and his heart bled. He left the club silently feeling insulted.
On his way home he wondered if he had heard the news mistakably.
As soon as he reached home, he turned on TV hoping for a re-telecast of the news. Hours passed as he watched in rapt attention owling through the night. He missed his supper too despite his wife’s repeated calls.
Finally power cut sent him to bed. Sleep was nowhere.
“How could I listen wrongly?”
Restlessness ate him for supper the whole night.
He got up early. Hardly had the hawker dropped the newspaper at the gate than he picked it up. He skimmed through the paper in one go. He sighed deeply finding no news of the death of the American President.
“These days papers are publishing no news.”
“Clinton’s death, Clinton’s death. But how to confirm it?”
Another idea struck his mind. Better to ask one preparing for civil service. He asked one of his former students,
“Is Clinton dead?”
“Sorry sir, I have no idea. I didn’t watch TV last night.”
“You seem to be unmindful of your preparations”, Sharmaji grumbled.
“What about asking one living in the USA?”He reasoned with himself. He remembered his school mate, Ashok Nayak ,who had settled there as an engineer. Luckily he found his friend’s contact number in his old diary.
“ Ashok, Sharma here.”
“Sharma! After a long time. Ho ho!!”
“Is Clinton alive?”
“I never care about political species since I ‘m leading a monk’s life. Death is ultimate truth of life.”
“Stop it. Please inform me about the president.”
Anxiety was getting on his nerves.
“Why so worried?Are you going to be the next president here?”
He digested Ashok’s ruthless sarcasm. He felt desperate. But
he had listened carefully to Bill Clinton’s….death on DD1.
“No, I must scan the paper like a needle in the hay has to be searched.”
He resolved. His face brightened up, heart danced to find the news that read as follows.
“The US President has been accused of a serious sex-scandal. Monica Lewinsky, an intern in the White House, was his love interest. Political analysts view this issue causing Bill Clinton’s political death.”
“O God, let the editor publish a corrigendum in the next edition to read the news dropping the word ‘political’ . I will offer you 100 coconuts.”