The sun’s rays beamed through the window pane over Kartik’s sleepy face. He blinked and rolled over as his body refused to get out of bed. He felt groggy and dizzy. Kartik held his head with both his hands. “I should get something or else this headache is going to kill me”.

Kartik staggered out of bed, disoriented and headed straight for the kitchen. “ Amma, can I have a cup of coffee please, I am having a severe headache”. When there was no answer, Kartik walked around the house to find nobody around.

 

“I should stop burning the midnight oil, Amma is right. She has told me so many times to sleep early”. He looked for some pills to treat the headache. Kartik was in his second year at a renowned engineering college. His academic excellence had been appreciated by his parents. They never pestered him for studies though. Kartik’s brilliance was not limited to just academics. He was the badminton champion at college and represented the state team too. His athletic stature spoke a lot about his healthy lifestyle.  

As he wandered, he saw a bottle on Amma’s table. He smiled as he picked up the bottle and sniffed the stuff. It had an Ayurvedic odour. He had seen the bottle in Aachi’s room in Chennai.

He took a spoon and popped the powder into his mouth. He felt a strange lightning like rush in his body as if someone shook him up vigorously. As he stumbled across the room, a queer feeling crept into him.

The doorbell rang. Kartik went to the front door and opened it. The courier boy was alarmed as the door opened on its own. The startled boy screamed and ran towards the staircase. “What in the world is happening”, thought Kartik. The boy has behaved as if he has seen a ghost. He called out to the boy who by then had raced down the stairs. 

“Forget it, said Kartik, annoyed and getting hunger pangs. He walked back the kitchen to fix breakfast for himself. Amma had left a note that she had gone to for grocery shopping. Appa was out of station on office assignment. As he prepared a sandwich and coffee , he heard a sharp click at the front door. Amma must be back. He sat at the table to have his breakfast. But the footsteps outside sounded like creeping, much like a thief. Amma usually walked with heavy footsteps and a constant chatter like a cricket commentary.  

The bedroom door opened with a soft click.” Who could it be?” Curiosity got the better of Kartik as he tiptoed near the kitchen door. He peered out just in time to see a skinny man moving out of Appa’s room. He had a travel bag and his roving eyes moved all over.

“Hey you, what are doing here?”, Kartik mumbled as he was too shocked  to see a stranger in the house. Just then the man turned towards the kitchen. He walked past Kartik without noticing him.” Eh! He has not seen me? “The ruffling sound of Kartik’s movements made the man alert and he turned around. He peered towards the sound.There was nobody around. 

Realisation began to dawn on Kartik. Aachi’s Ayurvedic powder had made him invisible. “Now is the chance. Kartik followed the skinny stranger around the house. The man picked up several things- the table clock, cash from Amma’s drawer, Kartik’s shoes etc. He stuffed few things from Appa’s table into his pocket.

“Okay man, you can have your fill “, Kartik was amused at all that was happening. He let the man move around freely as he sat on the beanbag watching him.

Kartik looked at the stranger whose eyes darted suspiciously across the room. It is now or never! Kartik picked up the golf club and swung it to hit the man on his head. The man howled with pain and stumbled backwards. Kartik pinned him down and tied up his hands.

Just then , as looked out of the window, he saw Amma entering the main gate of the building premise.”Oh no, I cannot allow Amma to enter the house while this stranger is here. I must alert her”. He picked up his phone and called Amma.” Listen carefully to what I say. There is a burglar in the house. Inform the security and call the police”. Amma was a bit shaken up.” Kartik, are you okay, Has the thief hurt you?”, she asked in a concerned tone. “I am alright, he has not seen me”, Kartik grinned as he spoke. The thought of being invisible was exciting.

Amma went to the security cabin to update them about the happenings in our house.The security dialled the police station number.” Saab , building me chor aya hai”. Amma too spoke to the police.” My son called up to say that there is a thief in our house. My son is alone at home.Sir, please come as soon as possible to 1204, Evershine Emerald, Kandivli,West”.

The Police van entered the building compound. Kartik was enjoying the entire episode. As they entered the house , Amma called out, Kartik , where are you?”

The police went all over the house to make a panchnama. The intruder, who was lying in the living room , with his hands tied was taken away.

“Madam, where is your son? They checked everywhere including the washrooms. Kartik was nowhere to be seen. Amma was almost in tears. Kartik hugged her but she could not see him. The Police left after completing the formalities. Amma called Kartik’s number. His phone rang but Kartik was not found.

“Kartik where you? “ I am in the living room. I had that Ayurvedic powder kept on your table. That has made me invisible.

“Oh that is Aachi’s secret powder. Don’t worry; you will be visible by morning”.

Next morning, Amma hugged Kartik, she had tears flowing down her cheeks.

Glossary

Amma – Mother

Appa- Father

Aachi – Grandmother

Panchnama – Investigative record

***

When was the last time you read some modern sea stories—stories of ships and the seafarers who man them? Tales of adventure, love, romance, piracy, intrigue... and human nature? Well, look no further.

These are twelve stories of the sea, but not necessarily for seafarers alone. They are for anybody and everybody who likes to read fiction. And a ripping good yarn, as sailors used to say once upon a time.

Written by a sea captain who has spent his entire adult life at sea, more than forty years on the waves and still counting, these are stories set in the 70s, 80s up till the present day.

Will you come aboard now? The voyage is about to begin.

Link to buy this book: https://www.amazon.in/Driftwood-Beetashok-Chatterjee/dp/9385854771 and also at selected bookstores all over India.


Author:Beetashok Chatterjee, ex-Claws Club member at ArtoonsInn.

***

The story you've read is an entry for UniK-5, #Invisible, a room8 Writing event by ArtoonsInn.
Check the event guidelines here: https://artoonsinn.com/unik-5-writing-event-artoonsinn/

Photo By: The Digital Way

Thanks for reading.

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