I was sifting through the news paper archives of our school library when I stumbled upon 23 pieces of paper. What were they doing here? The librarian is not doing a good job. I collected the pieces and was about to throw them in the dustbin when an unknown inkling forced me to take them to the reading table. I was trying to put the pieces together tediously. Looking at the first few ones I had put together, I was now frantically trying to crack the puzzle.
He was the son of our favorite school teacher and had come back to the village after 3 years. He was driving a luxurious car and had brought gifts to every one in the village. He had presented me with a beautiful toy which I loved very much. He had become the most successful person of the village.
He stayed in the village for a week. The day he was leaving he addressed all the villagers and told them about the hardships he had faced in the city and how he had overcome them. We were very much impressed with his talk. Every one admired him. We had found our new idol.
A week later our school teacher had suddenly expired. But he had died a peaceful death very happy that his son was doing well in life. However, his son did not arrive for the funeral. It had been three years since and he had still not visited the village. Over the time people had forgotten
about him and were busy with their everyday lives.
The pieces had finally been put in place. It had been the pieces of a single article which had been cut into 23 pieces. Now the events were starting to fit in chronologically. I had always wondered about the strange things that happened in the week after he had left. Sometimes I feel I should never have found those pieces or like so many others I should not have been able to solve this puzzle.
The day he had left the village I had seen a police man enter the house of the village elder. The police man wanted to search the house of our school teacher. Our school teacher was a respected man and had served the school and the village for 40 years. The police man was seeking the advise of the village elder as to how he should approach the matter. I overheard their vague talk. But it seemed to me that the village elder had convinced the police man that our school teacher was innocent. How dare the police man blame our teacher? The next day a dead body had been brought to our village. The school teacher had been asked to light the pyre saying he was a student who had died in an accident. The only television set in the village had been sent to the repair shop and there was no news paper in the village for a week. I had seen a bunch of news papers in the village elder's cupboard. The village elder lit the pyre of the school teacher without giving much time for his son to arrive.
The article read. ..., a notorious gangster had been killed in a police encounter not far from our village.... I couldn't say his name. May be that day he was trying to tell the villagers the right way to overcome all the hardships that come our way.
My respect for the village elder had increased immensely.