Chidi Babha was in his cupboard. He was precisely in his cupboard- no misuse of preposition there. His limbs, his palms, the freckles on his nose, and every inch of him was inside the cupboard.
He was an absolutely normal person, yes. But whatever he was doing was nowhere near normal, no prizes for guessing that! I mean, there are a lot of places for a person to be in. Especially, when you have a perfectly fine housing establishment as he had; a 2 BHK enclosure with an adjoining garden. Neither was it due to the fact that he was cramping for space in his residence, since he was the only human being living there. Then what was the apparent reason for his sudden abhorrence towards fresh air?
Olfactory indicators suggested which a mere optical analysis could not. A sickeningly strong smell, something like that of a spoiled toothpaste could be sensed if one decided to stand even a foot away from the source. A smell which a drug addict or anyone with an inclination towards medical science will immediately associate with Cocaine. Was he on drugs then?
But why an addict who was absolutely alone in his house, would choose to enjoy his addiction in such a compromising position and place. A cupboard was definitely not enough to accomodate a well-grown man of about 28 years of age, to say the least. So, was he taking drugs? Negative.
Apart from being a cupboard of perfectly average dimensions, it had nothing particularly appealing about its appearnace either. In fact, it was rather dusty, more so in the insides than on the outsides, which was in turn faded of its colour which apparently was there when the cupboard was bought new. But presently, this very mediocre piece of carpentry was the subject of Chidi’s admiration, which otherwise had suffered complete ignorance under his ownership. Then what might have been the reason of a non-addict’s posession of drugs and that too inside an old cupboard?
Exactly at that moment, a sudden clicking sound and an accompanying flash of briliant white light from inside the cupboard suggested a camera to be another of his acquaintances inside that messed-up studio. Evidently enough a photograph had been captured. Just then, there was a hint of movement from inside the cupboard and Chidi came out of it. He brushed off the dust from his body and hair with his hands. He had finally decided to come back into his commonplace domain of existence and he did so with a huge sigh. Although whether the sigh was due to the pleasant change in temperature he had encountered due to his decision to change his surroundings, or due to the relief from the condition of his non-urgent hypoxia attributed to any cramped place, or just because of the mere satisfaction due to the work he had done in that unusual cubicle of a workplace, it was difficult to tell.
But whatever be the reason, he was definitely doing a work of a very uncommon nature in that cupboard. This, one could tell by seeing the unlabelled glass bottle held in his hand, which looked more like a 200 ml cough syrup container. This evidently was the source of the cocaine like smell. Hanging from his neck was a digicam of the very usual and cheaper kind. He was holding a dropper in his other hand. Just as he came out of the cupboard and went towards his study table, placed on the opposite wall as that of the cupboard, he was blinded by the sudden incidence of sunlight on his eye coming from the window on the left of the table. He kept the dropper and the bottle down on the table, careful to keep them away from his other belongings scattered there, which comprised mostly of not-so neatly stacked books from which bookmarkers were sticking out and a few more glass bottles of various sizes and shapes. He sat down on the chair beside the table, took his time to get comfortable with the different lighting condition in comparison to that inside the cupboard. The light from the window was highlighting his facial features. His face was sunburned with a reddish tinge to it. His hair was jet black, but short and side-parted. He had a remarkably tight pear-shaped face which you would rather associate with the smartest sherriff in a Hollywood movie. He had a moustache so dominant that it covered the better part of his upper lip and went parallel with his drooping lips. Even though he was not exactly the made-for-theatre type person from his appearance, but when you pair that smart face with a five-and-a-three-quarter-inches height, he definitely seemed to be a very reassuring presence in a crowd of laymen. His broad shoulders further played testimony to his confident approach towards life, seemingly. He picked up the dropper again and got up from his chair. His expressions were not giving anything away, but certainly the creases on his forehead showed that he was lost in some thought. He turned and went out of the room with the dropper.
The door of the cupboard meanwhile was completely ajar, as its owner hadn’t bothered to close it after his little photography sessions in there. The contents inside the cupboard were indistinguishable due to the thick layer of dust on them. They anyways seemed to be trifles as can be understood by the ragged manner in which they were kept. On the backwall of the cupboard was a not so brilliant spider web, on which expectedly enough was a spider. But the demeanour of that spider was not as expected, as it was loosely hanging from its web with the help of two of its legs and was not resting on its web in the way a spider, alert enough to catch its trapped prey is expected to be. It seemed more like a miniature model of a tissue skeleton of a jelly fish. It seemed like the clumsiness of the summer had hit even the spider, which further reciprocated its laziness in the kind of pathetic spider web it had wound for itself, as pathetic and dismal as one can ever expect to see. Precisely at that very moment, Chidi re-entered the room while jerking the dropper as one would jerk a roughly-running pen. Water droplets from the dropper fell on the floor of the room. He slid back the door of the cupboard casually without looking towards it, an effort which wasn’t sufficient to close the cupboard completely, but enough to bar the view of the spider and its dismal web. He went to his table, opened a drawer containing many other droppers, kept the one in his hand there and closed the drawer. Then he started searching frantically for something among his stack of books. He sighed, seeming to have found what he wanted and took out a black-binded notebook from the stack. He shuffled through the parchment quality pages and quickly found the one he wanted to have a look at. He sat down in his chair and took a fountain pen from the pen stand kept in front of him. The page he was looking at seemed to be his personal notes on some topic. He traced through a jigsaw like flowchart, or rather a roadmap and stopped at a seemingly large annotation. He thought a little before scratching out a “O” from the segment of the roadmap. He closed the notebook and put it on the top of the pile of the books. Then he decided to move out of his chair again. He took his pen along with him. It took a little while for him to come back, but when he did, he had a laptop in his hand and a small chit of paper. He carefully kept the laptop on the table and put the pen back to its place. Suddenly, he doubled up the speed of his activities and was looking rather hyperactive. He stuck the chit of paper on the small glass bottle which he had been carrying when he was inside the cupboard with the help of tapes. It read- “benzylmethylecgonine derivative”. He placed the bottle along with other bottles.
He took the camera out of his neck and kept it on the table. He opened the laptop and switched it on. He impatiently connected the digicam to the computer and searched among many images for the one he wanted. When he found that particular image, he double clicked it and started to tap the table impatiently with his fingers while the file opened, which seemed like an age to him. Finally it opened.
It was the most remarkable picture one could have expected to see. It was the close-up image of the spider web inside the cupboard! So apparently, he had been observing the strange spider web inside the cupboard. The spider web was rather disorganised as opposed to the usual kind and had huge vacancies between its various series. The spider must have been out of his wits to create a web like that. How can it possibly expect any prey to get trapped in that heck of a web? Almost like the spider was going through a state of depression or perhaps, Parkinson’s disease. Who knows?
Meanwhile, Chidi looked really excited while he examined the web very scrutinizingly on the computer screen. He hurriedly opened a drawer, then realizing he had opened the wrong one, opened the one just below that without closing the first one. He took out a single photograph of some other spider web, in some other cupboard perhaps and looked at it carefully. Then he looked at the one on the screen. Again the one in his hand. Several times- his face looked up and down. Repeatedly, six times in all. And then he hung back in his chair with a wide smile on his face. A relieved smile, which at the same time hinted victory after a long struggle.
Did I begin by saying that Chidi is a normal man? I sincerely beg your pardon for that. He actually happens to be a scientist in the middle of an intriguing research. They’re never normal. Period.